Completing GM/WS-130 Fraochaidh: Tuesday 25th June 2019

After some overnight rain the forecast was for a mostly dry day with some high cloud. Despite an easier day yesterday we felt we didn’t have the legs for a Munro, so headed for the 879m Corbett Fraochaidh. In practice the walk was exhausting as we started close to sea level and it was almost 5 miles each way.

Our starting point was in Duror at NM997553, on a wider part of the road just past where the cycleway along the disused railway crosses and before some houses on the right. The sun was shining brightly as we walked back to the cycleway and headed south on it, crossing the valley. At the edge of the forest the former railway headed under a bridge and we took the forestry track heading left gently uphill. The track meandered up-hill, bending to climb slowly along Glen Duror. There had been some felling which gave fine views of the valley and towards Beinn a’Bheithir. The foxgloves were again producing a fine show. We were looking for a path to take us up through the trees to above the treeline, aiming for the lochans on A’Chruach before heading up the ridge.

We resisted the temptation of a couple of paths heading off the track, which were going reassuringly upwards but probably up Meall Ban rather than A’Chruach. We were getting slightly bored with the evenness of the forest track under out feet as we followed it to its end. There a path headed up from the far side of the turning area which evolved into a made but rough path. The path meandered up the hill, occasionally briefly heading downwards, but then up again. In places it was sufficiently steep that the loose surface became scree like, but path was definitely better than no path when heading steeply up through trees. After a hot slog the path suddenly ended as we emerged above the trees and views opened up.

We were now on rough grass and we continued upwards, knowing that we were looking for a couple of lochans. The first was mostly peaty mud with only a small area of water, we headed round the south end and over a small hump to the second which was a proper water filled lochan. From there it was a matter of following the broad ridge upwards, though with plenty of pauses for breath and to take in the stunning views: north-east towards Beinn a’Bheithir, through north west and west over Loch Linnhe and the hills beyond, south-west towards Mull with Ben More, and as we got higher to the Paps of Jura mistily on the horizon.

Finally the summit cairn came into sight, consisting of some stones surrounded by a cone made from rusted fenceposts which look to have been retrieved from the scattered remains of fences which once met at the summit. Beyond there another set of stunning views towards the hills of Glencoe and Glen Etive opened up. It might not be a Munro, but the views were excellent.

On the ascent we had chased Colywn MM0YCJ who was on Barra, and he was still there when we got to the summit, so we worked him again for the S2S. This summit had only previously been activated twice, the previous most recent was Colwyn in 2011: since we had worked him on that occasion, we now had a complete, and had given him one too. Caroline used one of the still standing fenceposts just below the summit to support the VHF antenna. The initial run on 2m produced 4 contacts, though interrupted by a 40m S2S with Steve G1INK in Germany. The best 2m DX was Esther GI0AZA, though it took us a couple of minutes to successfully exchange reports!

Meanwhile Martyn had 8 contacts on 5MHz, so Caroline took over HF on 40m with 15 contacts. It was very pleasant at the top, so we decided to give 20m a go, with Martyn getting 13 contacts. The first one was a surprise, as Martyn’s 5W managed to break into a pile-up of a special event station GB19IND being run from the Cambridge University shack which is only a couple of miles from our home QTH! Meanwhile Caroline gathered another 3 2m FM contacts.

Nice as it was at the top it was a long walk out, so we had to leave the summit and retrace our steps. It was a really lovely day on the hills with excellent views. Interestingly as the day went on clouds settled on the top of Beinn a’Bheithir but our summit remained clear all day. As we returned along the disused railway, we noted that attractive Hebridean sheep had appeared in the surrounding fields.