Carn Eighe and Mam Sodhail, Glen Affric Date Completed Friday 3rd June 2011
Start Point (OS Grid Ref) NH 20101 23333 Total Distance 16.3 miles / 26.2 km
Walking Time 8 hr 13 min Total Height Climbed 4,212 ft / 1284 m
Total Time 12 hr 20 min Moving Average Speed 2.0 mph / 3.2 kph
OS Maps Explorers 414 & 415 1:25,000 Landranger 25 1:50,000
Weather Conditions Clear to start, scattered cloud later, 22°C

Summits Height Status Download the GPS data file of this walk
Sron Garbh 3,710 ft / 1131 m Subsidiary Top
Carn Eighe 3,881 ft / 1183 m Munro (M12)
Mam Sodhail 3,874 ft / 1181 m Munro (M14)

Carn Eighe and Mam Sodhail from Sron GarbhThis was the day of the 'big' hills so when the alarm rang out at 6am we leapt out of bed and pulled back the curtains, wall to wall blue skies, excellent . After a quick bowl of cereal we were ready to leave at 6.40am and by 6.55 we were in the car-park at the end of the public road in Glen Affric pulling on our boots and smothering on the sunscreen.

The previous day we had spent trout fishing on Loch Beinn a'Mheadhoin in similar weather and we had both got quite sunburnt so we had to slap on plenty of sunscreen to prevent a similar experience today.

Alan had made a point of getting the closest parking space to the end of the walk, something he said we would appreciate later. At 7:20am we set off up the track which runs along the N side of Loch Affric; the sun was shining and the loch was like glass, truly worth getting up at 6am.

After about 1.5km when we were roughly level with the boathouse on the lochside we turned right onto a stalkers' path ( NH 18639 23058, 25 min actual time ) which weaved its way over rough moorland slowly gaining height. Once in this moorland area it did feel very remote, the sun was still shining and it was already very hot despite it being early.

Loch Affric in early morning lightShortly the path dropped back down to the Abhainn Glean nam Fiadh where we found a suitable place to cross, this may be tricky in spate as it is a fast flowing river, then climbed up the heather bank back to the path.

Here the path deteriorated into a wet, grassy, boggy trod as it weaves its way along beneath Tom a' Choinich and remained like this for far too long, about 2km . However the views were now great, the weather was hot and sunny and we could see where the path improved. It didn't look like far so spirits were still high. It was later, after we met another walker who had come over Tom a'Choinich, that we realised that climbing this first would not make the walk much longer and would also ensure that you miss this boggy, energy sapping part of the route.

Soon we were at the zig zags that climb up the Garbh-bhealaich, this path was a lot drier and although steeper was easier to negotiate and soon we were at the col that separates Sron Garbh and An Leth-chreag ( NH 14776 26530, 5hr 55 min actual time ).

Sron Garbh from the Abhainn Glean nam FiadhHere was an excellent place for a scenery break, vast amounts of orange squash disappeared as it was still very warm. As we rested we were startled by the sound of a falling rock and looked up to see a deer bounding off the hill and a large boulder tumbling down the other side of the col, we think he may have been the culprit!

After our break we attacked Sron Garbh. Apparently there is meant to be a flight of stone steps to the top but there seemed to have been a lot of rock falls which have mostly covered up the steps, so we scrambled up the rocks some of which were mobile and made for an interesting scramble!

Once at the top the views were even better, we could see Carn Eighe but it still looked a long way away and there were pinnacles between us and it. Linda didn't recall reading about pinnacles in the Munros book!

In reality the walk along the ridge was fairly easy level walking over the minor tops of Stob Coire Dhomhnuill ( the pinnacles - which was quite good fun with no problems ) and Stob a Choire Dhomhain before the final pull up to Carn Eighe. This is not at all steep but after the exertions of the day needed a bit of effort.

Once we got to the cairn ( NH 12359 26187, 6 hr 55 min actual time ) as the wind was quite keen we sheltered in the cairn eating bananas and drinking coffee.

The Carn Eighe ridge from Mam Sodhail

Linda at the Mam Sodhail cairnAfter a long 45 min break, during which we decided not to include Beinn Fhionnlaidh in the walk, we continued the route to Mam Sodhail. This was a very straightforward descent and ascent on a nice grassy ridge and 30 minutes later we were climbing into the summit cairn on Mam Sodhail, ready to demolish cheese and pickle sandwiches. ( NH 11970 25337, 8hr 20 min actual time)

The views from here were absolutely amazing and we spent ages identifying the peaks. From Ben Nevis to the Glen Shiel hills around to the Torridon hills and An Teallach and so many more. We even identified Beinn Shieldaig on Loch Torridon, which isn't even a Corbett!!

The wind was still very keen as we tackled the backward scramble out of the cairn ( probably the hardest part of the climbing all day for Linda as she doesn't like backward scrambling ).

We had decided to descend via the Coire Leachavie stalkers' path. This is a good path which zigzags down the steepest part of the descent before levelling out slightly and following the Allt Coire Leachavie passing some fine waterfalls on route.

Beinn Fhionnlaidh from Carn EigheIt was 8 miles back to the car from here and we were both already quite tired due to the heat and exertions of the day, so we took a brief rest by a particularly fine waterfall before the final long trudge back to the estate track.

When we reached the estate road we turned left onto what was an easy track with loads of mini river crossings and seemed to go on forever, but finally as the last of the 4 litres of orange squash disappeared the boat-house came into view and we knew it was only 1.5km from here to the car. Hooray!

As we approached the car after the longest 1.5km of walking we had ever done, Alan's plan of parking as close to the end of the walk as possible paid off and we had never been so pleased to see the car.

Boots and socks were peeled off and after a quick ciggie break we headed back to the lodge. After a quick pint in the Slater's Arms we got showered and headed back to the pub for delicious rump steaks with all the trimmings.

Then a few more pints were enjoyed as we chatted to the friends we had made during the week.

Later a couple of cows trotted down the road, we still think this is bizarre so we trotted / staggered off to bed. A fantastic end to a great week in Cannich.