Tom a' Choinich and Toll Creagach, Glen Affric Date Completed 30th May 2011
Start Point (OS Grid Ref) NH 21548 24184 Total Distance 10.42 miles / 16.78 km
Walking Time 6 hr 55 min Total Height Climbed 3,595 ft / 1096 m
Total Time 9 hr 53 min Moving Average Speed 1.5 mph / 2.42 kph
OS Maps Explorer 415 1:25,000 Landranger 25 1:50,000
Weather Conditions Sunshine with scattered showers, snow shower on summit of Tom a'Choinich. 15°C in glens, 0°C on summits - high wind chill

Summits Height Status Download the GPS data file of this walk
Tom a' Choinich 3,648 ft / 1112 m Munro ( M41 )
Toll Creagach 3,458 ft / 1054 m Munro ( M77 )

Tom a' Choinich from the track beside the Abhainn Gleann nam FiadhOn a previous holiday we had driven up Glen Affric and Linda had become intrigued with the hill-walking in this area so for our summer holidays we booked a week in a timber cabin in Cannich, a perfect base from which to tackle the Glen Affric munros.

The weather forecast for the day was scattered cloud with occasional showers with good visibility, so we decided to tackle Tom a' Choinich and Toll Creagach -- as our training walk!!! After a quick breakfast of toast and coffee we drove down Glen Affric to the parking area at the Chisholm Bridge at the west end of Loch Beinn a' Mheadhoin ( NH 21548 24184 ).

Once boots and sacks were on we started up the track towards Gleann nam Fiadh at 8.50am. This started as a good track with a few fords to negotiate, winds up past Beinn a' Mheadhoin and was good going all the way. Unfortunately, the track ends after about 4km ( NH 19542 25896, 1 hr actual time ) and turns into 1.5 km of bog sploshing walkers path beside the river .

Just after crossing the Allt Toll Easa we took the stalkers path ascending the slopes to our right which continued up the west side of the burn.

On the ridge approaching the summit of Tom a' ChoinichThere was a definite feeling of being in the middle of nowhere in this wonderful remote glen as we had not seen another soul. After gaining height on this good quality stalker's path it levelled out at a small cairn marking a walkers path to the left ( NH 18148 26481, 2 hr 25 min actual time ). We turned onto this path which gained height quickly up the SE ridge of Tom a' Choinich. Here we had our first exceptional views over to Carn Eighe and Mam Sodhail.

The wind had increased and was surprisingly bitterly cold , after all it was nearly June. In hindsight Linda should have stopped and added extra layers, but it was a fine rocky ridge and it didn't look far to the top so she carried on in her T-shirt.

As the ground levelled out on the approach to the summit, Tom a' Choinich Beag and Sron Garbh came into view, showing us for the first time the true quality of the high level ridge running all the the way from Toll Creagach to Mam Sodhail. Once at the summit ( NH 16406 27320, 4 hr 17 min actual time ) the views were excellent, particularly of Carn Eighe and Mam Sodhail and the Five Sisters of Kintail and down to Loch Mullardoch and the onward route to Toll Creagach.

Linda at the summit of Tom a' ChoinichThis delayed the adding of layers even further but eventually the bitter cold took hold and we could see a shower coming, so we donned our waterproofs. It was then that Linda discovered she had not packed her fleece. A T-shirt and waterproof shell was not enough in this biting wind and now the snow had started , everything disappeared in the blizzard that was whipping around the cairn ( at the end of May!! ). There was nothing else to do but plant backs to the cairn, drink hot coffee and eat lunch until the shower passed.

For 20 minutes we sat and waited, Linda was getting colder and colder, shivering violently and then feeling really sleepy and quite warm. She didn't realise this at the time but this is how hypothermia starts, scary!!

Finally the snow began to cease and the shapes of hills started to return. We really needed to get moving to get some heat back into Linda. Although she just wanted to sleep she forced herself to get up and move despite feeling very confused and depleted of energy, so we slowly began the descent.

Toll Creagach from Tom a' ChoinichAs we descended the snow cleared and the wonderful views returned. The descent route is a steep walker's path which was fairly easy to negotiate even with what felt like wooden legs! We saw a couple of ptarmigan on the ridge, who looked very surprised to see us and thankfully we were soon down at the bealach. It was noticeably warmer here which came as great relief to Linda.

We required a few jelly babies before tackling the ascent of Toll Creagach, although this ascent is very easy it seemed to go on for ever; a 1km walk along the broad level ridge before a slight descent to a col and then the final bitchy ascent to Toll Creagach itself ( NH 19448 28285, 5 hr 53 min actual time ). It was again very windy so we walked beyond the summit to the shelter cairn and stopped for more coffee and mini rolls. We walked to the edge to get great views of Loch Mullardoch, all around the views were fantastic.

After a while we started the descent south down easy grassy slopes with what appeared to be weird bands of pebbles across mini terraces then after approx 1.5 km ( NH 19179 26551, 8 hr 20 min actual time ) we had to move to the right where the ground steepens, to avoid the crags on Beinn Uan.

An Socach and An Riabhachan from Toll CreagachOnce we got back to the track in Gleann nam Fiadh we stopped for a rest before the final 4km plod back to the car. By now Linda had warmed up sufficiently to remove her waterproof shell and two pairs of gloves. Halfway along we met a man who had come off of Beinn a' Mheadhoin and we had a pleasant chat whilst walking back to the bridge.

Once back at the car we drove back to the cabin and after a quick pint or two in the Slaters Arms, enjoyed hot showers then steaks with red wine. When popping outside for a ciggie late in the evening we thought we had overdone the wine when we saw a cow come trotting down the road !! We were reassured by the locals who told us this was a regular occurrence in Cannich as the cows cross the river and run down through the village to the lusher grass at the end of the village. Bizarre!!