Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Seana Bhraigh

Seana Bhraigh is a wonderful mountain. Although it is huge, it is well back from the road, and hidden from sight. Certainly nearby Ullapool has no view of it, and yet from it lonely summit, An Teallach is visible to the west, as are the distinctive peaks of Assynt to the North, and the adjacent Beinn Dearg group. While Seana Bhraigh is a lovely hill, it is a one which requires a long walk, from whichever direction it is approached, the summit is miles and miles from any road. Aesthetically, it might be best to attck it from the North-West, but I was bike-less, which ruled that out, as that is the only practical way to get through the long miles on the estate tracks which lead in. 

Instead I took the route from Inverlael on the Ullapool Road. The acces point for these hills is marked by a stone bridge, a phone box, and a new walkers car park which has been added since my last visit to these hills in 2008. When I last walked this glen, there were significant forestry and hydro works underway, which meant sinificant diversions, and mess. The glen has started to recover from the works now, and the trees re-growing over the industrial scarring. 

Navigating this section of the walk is now far easier than it once was. With the trees felled, and the works gone, it is easy enough to follow the track on the right of the river, until it crosses to the left, just before the ruin of Glensquaib - an old house set inside a large stone-walled garden. Access to the Dearg Group continues up the glen, but I turned sharp left at Glensquaib, following the track by the stone wall. Many hill reports recount people getting lost here, looking for the Seana Bhraig path, but it was well marked by a little cairn a few hundred metres beyond the ruin. This steep four-wheel-drive track, zig-zags up through the new forestry planting, to reach the only gate in the very high deer fencing, so it is worth finding.

From here, a long, long, path leads eastwards across the heathery expanses, crossing streams and bogs, until rounding a ridge, the path turns Northwards and ascends into the hill via a series of lochans; the Coire an Lochain Sgeirich.

The trickiest section navigation wise, is the pathless area at the head of this glen, round to Seana Bhraigh itslef. I didn't stay close enough to the cliff edge of Cadha Dearg, which would have been a useful guide. As such, I had an awkward navigate through some cliffs, to get to the col. The sight of a pair of Golden Eagles descending into the glen below, was sufficient compensation however!

It was on this section that I met some members of a small walking club, and spent much of the rest of the day chatting to them. My trusty Mammut boots, which have served me well for years, suddenly began to hurt and blister my feet, and one of them handed me a compeede heel plaster - which was a life saver. I have never needed it before, and never carried it. I think it wil always be in my pack from now on!

The summit is a wide, grassy, (cold and windy) spot miles form anywhere. The views are enormous and expansive and well worth the hours of trudging to reach. As I walked out, with the folks I'd met, th eday got hotter and hotter. Layers were shed, water consumed, and the hills looked amazing. Seana Bhraigh has been on my to-do list for a very long time. It is a long day, but one very well spent. I have to say, I wouldn't fancy doing it on my own in bad weather though...

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