Sail Mhòr from Ardessie

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You have climbed 105/282 munros.

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You have climbed 14/221 Corbetts.

As it turned out, occasionally, I can read the mountain weather forecasts cross reference them with the low-level ordinary forecasts and the synoptic, and do better than the Met Office. I'd pencilled in going to The Fara at Dalwhinnie or this one. The forecasts kept changing, but the synoptic suggested high pressure stable conditions. I chose west, not south.

Having failed the previous week at the Corbett of Beinn Airigh Charr at Poolewe I was determined to get a win from this. But... it had been raining in the west for a few days so crossing the Allt Ardeassaidh might be difficult. But... people seem to mainly get across it okay. So I planned the usual route but also had contingencies.

Date started:21/04/24
Distance:7.1 miles
Ascent:778m
Descent:779m
Time taken:6:49
Moving time:4:44
Average speed:1.50mph
Maximum speed:3.86mph

Sail Mhòr from Ardessie

Leaving home it was drizzling and claggy. I really hoped I'd made the right call. I needn't have bothered myself so much as when I arrived at the layby below the water works at Ardessie the sun had come out and it all looked pretty promising. Relieved is an understatement. The only downer was the construction of the new fish farm depot was working, on a Sunday.

Skye along side Allt Ardeassaidh
Skye along side Allt Ardeassaidh

Little Loch Broom
Little Loch Broom

We set off along the road to the east side of the Allt Ardeassaidh and found the rough steps up onto the moor. The ground squelched underfoot from recent rain and the river thundered over waterfalls and cascades. But 'hey, the sun shone'.

We made reasonable progress and soon Sail Mhòr came into view way above us.

Sail Mhòr
Sail Mhòr

Beinn Ghobhlach from beside the Allt Ardeassaidh
Beinn Ghobhlach from beside the Allt Ardeassaidh

A landslip had caused the path to divert a little and crossing the burn coming out from Garbh Choire Beag was no bother. But when we reached our crossing of the Allt Ardesseadh I couldn't find anywhere I felt comfortable with. It wasn't in what I'd call spate but there was obviously a fair bit of water in it. Any suitable stepping stones were too far a reach and covered in moss, or rushing water. Deep, fast flowing pools were everywhere. So we gave up trying and carried on up. By now the path was pretty faint and meandered around bog holes. I had another look at the river and again gave up. We eventually got across the Allt Coire an Teallaich on a set remarkably well placed boulders. It felt good to be on the other side!

Eastern slopes below Ruigh Meallain looking to Sail Mhòr
Eastern slopes below Ruigh Meallain looking to Sail Mhòr

Ruigh Mheallain and An Teallach
Ruigh Mheallain and An Teallach

According to the map, WayMaps, we had another burn crossing, and from OS a fence as well. The fence didn't exist at all, not even a trace. And the burn was a very easy step across from bank to bank. Result!

Rather than head south west and climb Ruigh Mheallan as well I figured on a rising traverse of its east slopes to pick up my original route east of the bealach. The ground wasn't too bad though I did have to pause occasionally to make sure we were heading in the right direction.

Beinn Dearg Beag and Beinn Dearg Mor
Beinn Dearg Beag and Beinn Dearg Mor

Looking down on Beinn Ghobhlach and Little Loch Broom
Looking down on Beinn Ghobhlach and Little Loch Broom

Sail Mhòr's south ridge looked pretty steep and rough but turned out really fine. It was rough, loose, meandering, and everything a mountain path should be. I made good progress so we soon reached the rather lacking pathetic summit cairn and continued directly on to the wind shelter just beyond which had better views anyway.

Skye at the summit ridge windshelter: Sail Mhòr
Skye at the summit ridge windshelter: Sail Mhòr

Looking down on the entrance to Little Loch Broom
Looking down on the entrance to Little Loch Broom

Returning I enacted one of my contingencies: I stayed on the west bank of the Allt Ardeassaidh. It was a no-brainer despite being pathless and uncertain of the terrain. I knew others had been this way, probably for similar reasons. Plus it cut the corner off. I actually enjoyed the stroll, checked the map fairly frequently and picking objectives in the distance to ensure I made a reasonable descent towards the river and eventually the water works path. At one point I felt I was still quite high but spied a large rock with a cairn on top. Checking the map again I figured it might be the end of the path, and it was. Maybe I'm not such a has-been at this navigation lark after all.

Just a final note: It was the first time I've not seen someone else on the hill, at all.

Tags: corbett, outdoor, scotland Written 24/04/24 

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