Loch Mullardoch Munros Route Introduction
There are nine Loch Mullardoch Munros – mountains which encircle Loch Mullardoch in the Scottish Highlands and they are rather awkward to access. This route links Carn nan Gobhar, Sgurr na Lapaich, An Riabhachan, An Socach, Beinn Fhionnlaidh, Mam Sodhail, Carn Eige, Tom a’ Choinich and Toll Creagach. The route card below explains how these nine Loch Mullardoch Munros can be walked over two days, incorporating a wild camp.
Adventurer Nic walked this route on Saturday 28th September 2019 as part of her Munro Bagging Challenge. These were Munro numbers 242 to 250 for Nic. Here, she explains how you can bag these Munros too.
Loch Mullardoch Munros Route Stats
Mountains: Carn nan Gobhar (992m), Sgurr na Lapaich (1,150), An Riabhachan (1,129m), An Socach (1,069m), Beinn Fhionnlaidh (1,005m), Mam Sodhail (1,181m), Carn Eige (1,183m), Tom a’ Choinich (1,112m) and Toll Creagach (1,054m)
Total Distance: 43.5km / 27miles
Total Ascent: 2,450m / 8,038ft
Approx Walk Time: 2 days
Grid Reference Start: NH 228315
Loch Mullardoch Munros Route Report
The Lead Up
The previous day we’d climbed the Munros north of Glen Strathfarrar. Our friend Sally had kindly offered to let us stay at her house so we woke there and drove to Mullardoch House through Glen Cannich from Drumnadrochit. The nine Loch Mullardoch Munros were now in our sights.
The Beginning (and almost a Premature End)
We parked just below the dam and walked uphill along the tarmac road when a tractor and a four wheel drive vehicle with a party of hunters passed us. I started to get anxious that our presence hill walking that day might be heavily discouraged. The convoy stopped up ahead to fire practice rounds with their shotguns just off the track. Eventually, we caught up with them and we greeted the tractor driver. He was an older gentleman dressed in hunting attire with a deerstalker style hat that reminded me of Sherlock Holmes. He asked us where we were headed in a very upper-middle class accent. My heart sank, I was certain we were about to be told that the mountains were a ‘no go’ area.
We replied with a description of our proposed route of the Loch Mullardoch Munros, starting with Carn nan Gobhar. “Well it’s a great day for a walk!” he guffawed, a broad smile stretching across his face. He explained that they were planning on taking a boat to the end of the loch but that they’d be finished deer stalking at 4:30pm. Sticking to the crest of the ridge would ensure that we’d be well away from their activity. With a ‘rather you than me’ chuckle, he added that he’d be drunk on whisky back at his cottage by the time we were done walking for the day.
The vehicles descended to the boat house by Loch Mullardoch to start their day, whilst we followed the track ahead. The track gradually became less clear as we yomped further up the hillside. A lone figure walked briskly up ahead but we never caught them. He/she was moving faster than us (most likely not carrying overnight gear).
We made it to main ridge and followed it up to the summit of the first of the Loch Mullardoch Munros – Carn nan Gobhar.
Carn nan Gobhar
Next to the summit cairn which marked the top of Carn nan Gobhar, we had something to eat.
It felt quite early to be having lunch but the first ascent was always the toughest and we’d earned our lunch.
We looked back over to the north side and we could see down into Glen Strathfarrar and the mountains we’d climbed the previous day.
The summit of Carn nan Gobhar was covered in small rocks which were awkward to walk along but the sun was shining and I was happy have got the first summit in the bag.
Sgurr na Lapaich
From the summit of Carn nan Gobhar, we descended west to a col before heading uphill again towards Munro number two – Sgurr na Lapaich.
The ascent began on a path but ended with a slippery scramble over boulder strewn ground. It was muggy and the rocks carried a light sheen.
The sun was long gone at the point we reached the summit but cloud was washing over the tops on and off, teasing us with occasional bright spells.
The weather couldn’t make up its mind whether or not it wanted to be sunny or dull.
We were making good progress as we descended from Sgurr na Lapaich in a southwesterly direction along the ridge.
We started to noticed how vocal the stags were. The rut was getting underway and we went on to see deer in huge herds throughout the afternoon and evening. I secretly celebrated the fact that they were managing to evade the hunters that day.
We ascended and approached An Riabhachan, over its long flat summit.
From the summit of An Riabhachan we continued along a rocky ridge with many undulations before reaching the cylindrical summit trig pillar of An Socach (one of three Munros with the same name).
At 1,069m, An Socach wasn’t the highest mountain of the day but the views were the most spectactular due to the weather being back on our side.
We enjoyed stunning views down over Loch Mullardoch and An Socach’s long southeast ridge.
As much as I wanted to get down and settled for a the wild camp, I was happy to rest here momentarily and take in the beauty of the area.
An Socach Descent
We paused on the descent as the rays of sunlight cast a heavenly glow over Loch Mhoicean and Loch na Leitreach. We could see the westerly Munros of Glen Shiel in the distance. It was a beautiful scene.
Beauty aside, it was a pathless descent over grassy, mossy and wet ground – ankle twisting stuff. Large herds of deer surrounded us. They probably wondered what on earth we were doing there, descending into a remote valley so late in the day.
Weariness had set in and yet we were tiring ourselves out further by guessing the height of the river from above and fretting about it.
We knew we’d have to cross it in order to continue our route on the other side of the valley. Yes, we’d had many a thigh high crossing during our Munro challenge but getting all wet before a wild camp was never an appealing prospect.
We made it to the riverside and after all my whittling, the river was only ankle deep. I took my boots off and slowly ventured across barefoot. The water was cold but I tricked myself into believing it was a treat for my hot, tired and swollen feet.
Wild Camp by Loch Mullardoch
The area on the other side of the river was perfect for a wild camp. The sound of the river would hopefully drown out the moans of the nearby stags.
We pitched the tent, content in the knowledge that the last of the midges had died off a week or so ago.
The camp meals went down a treat, but I managed to spill chicken bites into my sleeping bag.
After retrieving them all (or at least I hoped I had), we settled down to sleep at 8:15pm.
Our bedtime was getting earlier and earlier as the challenge wore on.
Those early morning alarm calls didn’t get any easier as the challenge progressed. In the tent we were warm and cosy as light rain pitter-pattered on the tent fly sheet. We resisted the temptation to repeatedly snooze the alarm and turned our attentions to brewing coffee and eating breakfast. Leaving no trace of our wild camp, we began walking just after our 7am target.
We summised we had an ample weather window to get the remaining five Loch Mullardoch Munros bagged and back down to the car, before returning to Sally’s in time for a shower and meal out at the Loch Ness Inn in Drumnadrochit.
At this point in the walk, some might like to extend the route to take in Mullach na Dheiragain, Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan and An Socach, but we had already bagged those Munros from Camban bothy (in the southwest). So we proceeded towards Beinn Fhionnlaidh.
A rough path led us to another river, where we took our boots off to cross. I noticed two ticks on my feet. I removed them in the rain as James got a bit impatient waiting for me. Five months into our challenge and spending 24 hours a day with each other, we now knew not to let our tired snappy outbursts get the better of us. We chatted it out on the ascent of Beinn Fhionnlaidh, all was forgiven and we both got over it quickly.
The ascent of Beinn Fhionnlaidh was pathless and long but we made it to the summit just as the rain had dissipated into a mist.
James strode ahead of me and by the time I reached the summit he was sat enjoying his John Grisham!
Heading south down the broad ridge, we marched on. We had a decision to make – either make a pathless traverse around the bulk of Carn Eige in the direction of Mam Sodhail, or summit Carn Eige twice. We chose the former.
Navigating over bouldery terrain to gain the col between Carn Eige and Mam Sodhail, we stopped for a break and stowed our heavy camping gear before walking up Mam Sodhail as an ‘out and back’.
The ascent seemed fairly quick and trouble free. The cloud had persisted but at least it wasn’t raining.
Mam Sodhail has a big storm shelter which offers full protection from the wind on all sides. We sat in it for a short while but the true summit was actually 45 metres further on, by a small cairn, so of course we visited that too.
We returned to the col to retrieve our gear before starting the ascent up Carn Eige (sometimes spelt Carn Eighe).
The summit trig pillar marked the highest point of the entire Loch Mullardoch Munros route and is the bulk that separates Loch Mulladoch and Loch Affric.
Once again the cloud gave us a bit of a break and at the summit of Carn Eige we were treated to views back across to the long eastern ridge of Mam Sodhail.
Tom a’ Choinich
After leaving the summit of Carn Eige we looked in the direction of the next Munro – Tom A’Choinich. The route would take us over some dramatic looking pinnacles along the narrowing ridge. The route incorporates the Munro Tops of Stob a’ Choire Dhomhain, Sron Garbh, An Leth-chreag and Tom a’ Choinich Beag. A forboding moody atmosphere came as a result of the clouds coming and going over the ridge.
There were a lot of ups and downs to the summit of the fourth Munro of the day – Tom a’Choinich.
I needed at least a couple of breaks for snacks and water as I felt really low on energy.
When we made it to the summit cairn I had a sit down and really struggled to get back up again!
It was a much more straightforward walk between Tom a Choinich and Toll Creagach. My pack had started to dig into my hip so we swapped packs for the last part of the walk. A great benefit of adventuring in a pair.
We descended east from Toll Creagach to a col. Next we ventured in a northly direction, heading for the edge of Loch Mullardoch over a never ending sea of mushy ground with the occasional batch of heather, grass and rock thrown in for good measure. It was really tough going. We hit a section of ferns that were up to our shoulders.
Frustratingly, the dam seemed to be in our sights for the entire descent but it took us an age to reach it. When we saw a gate, we assumed (wrongly) that there may be a path on the other side of it but somehow it was worse on the other side. Another gate led us to a muddy path but that didn’t last either. We made our way into a small ravine and climbed up the other side and over a stile. But we couldn’t get down to the road becuase of a 5 metre drop over a small cliff.
It really did feel like we’d either made a series of bad navigational choices, or it was just that we were so exhausted that it would have been fine with fresh legs. We managed to swing around a fence on the edge of the cliff and made it down to the road from there, back to the car.
Back at Sally’s we put our meal reservation back to 8pm and had a hot shower (for Sally’s benefit as much as our own) before heading to the pub. Between us we devoured a burger, seafood pasta and a lamb dinner followed by sticky toffee pudding, toffee sundae and pannacotta. Scrummy!
We nicknamed these Munros:
- Can Nan Gob Hard? – Carn nan Gobhar
- Stir Nan’s L.A. Peach – Sgurr na Lapaich
- I (need) Rehabilitation – An Riabhachan
- Anne’s Sock Axe – An Socach
- Ben and Fiona Got Laid – Beinn Fhionnlaidh
- Mam’s Sodden Hair – Mam Sodhail
- (Dale) Carnegie – Carn Eige
- Tom is Chinese – Tom a’ Choinich
- Tall Creature – Toll Creagach
Find out why we nicknamed all 282 Munros here.