When it comes to bagging Munro’s, Seana Bhraigh is one of those summits which involves a long walk in and out and is usually bagged by itself.
It is the last full day in Ullapool for Nick Wild and I after a two week holiday of near perfect weather, and today the blue skies are holding with yet another hot day in the offing. We have just one outstanding Munro to bag in the area but this Munro is by far the remotest we are tackling. Seana Bhraigh lies away and well north of any other Munro and so this one will be the only main summit we aim to bag today.
The weather seems to be getting hotter as we arrive at the car park at Inverlael and we set off up along the same forest track as earlier in the week when we climbed Beinn Dearg and two other Munro’s. At the ruinous buildings at Glensguaib we are taking a winding and rocky side track climbing steeply onto the spur leading up to the spur called Druim na Saobhaidhe. With no breeze and a sweltering heat, we take many breaks and there is simply no shelter from the blazing sun. Well above the forest, the gradient begins to ease and the track by now has turned to a well defined path and so our progress is fairly good thanks to the occasional slight breeze. We ford the Allt Gleann a’ Mhadaidh and promise ourselves a paddle here in the refreshing water on the return. We now walk parallel to this stream some distance into the col to the north of the rocky crag called Creag an Lochain Sgeirich. Next, we walk beside Lochan Sgeireach which comprise a series of small lochans in a boulder field and the path weaves about a bit on this section and we continue by ascending to higher ground. Despite the heat, there is plenty of snow still lying around in this area and we stop at a high point for our morning break. We could imagine here that we are on the roof of Norway on this high plateau with warm sunshine and the snow fields all around.
I had researched this walk earlier and from the information in the ‘Walk Highlands’ website, it suggests to head north to a col to the east of the rocky summit of Meall a’ Choire Ghlais. So leaving the path we head in this direction but due to the nature of the terrain it proves not such a good idea after all with steep slopes and several lochans to get around over the next mile. By the time we do return to the path, a party that we spotted earlier and well behind us are now well ahead. We contour around a deep corrie on our left named Cadha Dearg and this looks impressive and is ringed with cliffs but it’s a corrie that few people see. We are back on a path as we head north and we opt to take in the secondary summit at 905 metres first. On the ascent we spot a place of clean flowing water where we can re-fill our water bottles on the way back. Hopefully I will find this location again.
On the 905 metre summit, the other party are already on Seana Bhraigh, a good half mile to the northwest. Heading in that direction, we pass them coming the other way but without rucksacks. Apparently they had left their rucksacks elsewhere and in conversation with them they are on quite an ambitious walk today and taking in several other summits. Meanwhile, we soon make it to the 926 metre summit of Seana Bhraigh and decide that it is a good spot to have lunch. Despite the summit being fairly flat, there are vertical cliffs a few metres away dropping to the impressive Luchd Choire which is ringed with cliffs all the way around to the satellite summit of Creag an Duine.
To the east, the summit of Creag an Duine looks worth a visit. It will add slightly to the walk and the trek around the top of the Luchd Choire seems quite appealing. After lunch we set off across the flat terrain, and the short vegetation makes the walking easy but there are steep cliffs on our left. From Sgor a’ Bharra, a slight rise leads up to the 892 metre secondary summit of Creag an Duine. The actual summit at 905 metres lies along a narrow rocky spur to the north which means a scramble to gain the summit. Nick opts to wait on the 892 metre secondary summit whilst I set off minus rucksack along the ever narrowing ridge. I haven’t gone far when I am stopped by a sheer drop down to a narrow col. It might have been a cliff face of around twelve feet but I can’t see any easy way down and it’s is not the sort of place to take a fall. I therefore cut my losses and return to Nick. It is a summit that has defeated us but it would have been time consuming to find an alternative route around this obstacle.
From Creag an Duine we head southwest over the eastern shoulder of the 905 metre summit to reach the spot where we can recharge our water bottles. Descending, we opt to stay with the path which continues all the way to the point where had made the diversion in the morning. It is no wonder why the other party had surged ahead of us. The route back to Inverlael is as our outward route and following an increasingly good path. Progress is fairly good as we cover several miles without the need to look at the map. Reaching the Allt Gleann a’ Mhadaidh we opt for a long paddle in the relatively warm waters. It is a job to pull ourselves away from this idyllic spot and the paddle has brought life back into our feet. We later descend into the forest and rejoin the good track back to Inverlael. Again the afternoon is sweltering and we feel very satisfied that we have bagged this remote Munro on this glorious summers day. It has been a round walk of almost nineteen miles and much of it in a sweltering heat.