The Loch Mullardoch Munros

May 1, 2018 | Munros, Scotland

Set in some of Scotland’s most remote countryside, the Loch Mullardoch Munros make for a fine day’s walking and are capped off with a brutal 7-mile slog back to the car. There are a couple of options you have for this hike which we’ll look at later in the post.

Bang in the middle of the Western Highlands, these Munros offer hugely expansive views in all directions. You’re also likely to see plenty of deer and other wildlife.

Only the fit and keen hikers tend to go for all 4 Munros at once and the sheer difficulty of the challenge gives these hills a sort of dominant personality.

View from Sgurr na Lapaich

 

Contents


Munros Climbed


  1. Carn nan Gobhar – 993 metres (3258 ft) – pronounced CARN-NAN-GORE
  2. Sgurr na Lapaich – 1150 metres (3773 ft) – pronounced SKURR-NA-LAPEEK
  3. An Riabhachan – 1129 metres (3704 ft) – pronounced AN-RIA-BAKAN
  4. An Socach – 1069 metres (3507 ft) – pronounced AN-SOK-IK

If you’d like some more information on Scotland’s mountains then check out this post.

Getting There


Definitely some of the harder Munros to get to, if you’re coming from afar then you’ll want to consider staying overnight nearby.

If you’re coming from the south then you can come up the A9 or A82. Either way, head to Drumnadrochit and turn onto the A831 towards Cannich.

Go through Cannich, straight over the junction onto the single track road opposite. 9 miles (14.5 km) later and you’ll get to the giant Mullardoch Dam. The road is bumpy with plenty of potholes, keep an eye out for deer grazing on the roadside!

The car park is on the right-hand side, before the dam. The exact spot is below!

Mullardoch Munros Starting Point

Difficulty


5/5

At the time of writing, this is probably my toughest set of Munros to date. They are rocky, remote and much of the route is pathless.

The walk back along the loch-side capped off an exhilarating but exhausting hike. If you want to knock off 6 – 7 miles then pre-organise the speedboat. More about that soon.

Duration & Length


Duration: 9 – 14 hours

Length: 20 miles (32 km), that’s including the walk back

My time was around the 9-hour mark and that was what I regarded a very fast pace. If you’re taking it easy then 11 – 14 hours would be more realistic. Make sure you keep up to date with the weather before you head off.

In winter I’d probably add an extra couple of hours to this time.

Below is the route I took on Viewranger. My 2 favourite forms of tracking are the Viewranger App and my Garmin Fenix 5X.

Viewranger route of Munros

Where To Stay


The most convenient option is Cannich. It has a great campsite and several B&Bs.

Drumnadrochit is slightly further but has even more accommodation options.

The Hike


Head straight through the gate next to the dam and follow the well-marked path. Enjoy the clear track while you can, the hike doesn’t have much of this!

The tranquillity and silence beside Loch Mullardoch first thing in the morning is hard to beat so take a few minutes to enjoy it.

Beautiful Loch Mullardoch View

After less than a mile you’ll see a hydro building on your left. There’s a wooden bridge beyond this which is the start of the pathless slog up the day’s first Munro.

The initial ascent up the mossy slopes is steep and quite boggy. Head due northwest until you reach Mullach na Maoile, here the ground levels out and the summit of Carn nan Gobhar looms ahead.

The way dips slightly before the final steep ascent to the summit cairn. This final part is rocky and uneven so watch your footing.

Summit of Carn nan Gobhar on Mullardoch Munros

It’s easy to think the first well-built cairn is the actual summit but the highest point is ahead, past the slight dip in terrain.

This is Munro number 1 and the beginning of a very long day! Enjoy the views of Sgurr na Lapaich and its especially big corrie off the east side.

Head down the ridge and straight towards the initially intimidating Sgurr na Lapaich. The route begins to creep up and suddenly becomes a lot steeper. The mossy path quickly turns rocky the higher you get.

Climb up Sgurr na Lapaich Ridge

I recommend sticking to the marked path. This isn’t very clear but saves any serious scrambling. You’ll have to cross over some big rocks but they shouldn’t pose any major problems.

The end of the ridge signals the summit of Munro number 2! It’s the day’s highest peak and the massive cairn is a great lunch spot. Enjoy the views of the cliffs and steep ridge to the south.

Selfie on summit of Sgurr na Lapaich

To the west is the day’s next mountain: An Riabhachan. Its long ridge makes it hard to know where the actual summit is. It’s also the day’s longest trek between peaks with a considerable re-ascent.

The descent from Sgurr na Lapaich is steep and grassy. Follow the path up the initially wide ridge of An Riabhachan. It soon narrows significantly and you’ll have to navigate around some boulders.

The ridge is self-explanatory and when it widens again you follow the grassy ridge over to the summit cairn.

An Riabhachan Ridge

You can see the entire Loch Monar on your right and beyond is a range of jagged mountains stretching over to Torridon and the west coast.

The views are staggering all around on a clear day. My favourite was looking back at the rocky slopes of Sgurr na Lapaich and seeing what I had just climbed. Directly to the north overlooking Loch Monar you can see the solitary peak of Maoile Lunndaidh.

Follow the An Riabhachan ridge around until it veers sharply to the left. Continue down to the right as the path drops steeply onto a narrow ridge.

The ridge is quite sketchy at points but should only pose any significant problems in winter with ice and snow.

After this steep drop, simply follow the narrow pass towards An Socach. On a clear day its cone-shaped peak looms impressively ahead and symbolises your final major climb of the day!

An Socach is one of Scotland’s remotest mountains so make sure you savour the epic views from the summit. You may be able to take in the Isle of Skye, Torridon and Ben Nevis all with one turn of the head!

Cairn on the summit of An Socach

From here, the long journey back to the dam is quite self-explanatory.

Follow the ridge off An Socach. The descent is initially quite steep and eventually levels out to an almost flat ridge. Head left when you get to the bogs and cross over the Allt Coire a’ Mhaim river.

Follow the path alongside the river all the way back to the lochside. There are plenty of pretty waterfalls on the way but I was too shattered to care at this point.

You’ll eventually come to a gamekeeper’s bothy on the right and you take the wooden bridge over to your left.

Bridge at end of Mullardoch Munros

This is you back at Loch Mullardoch and I found the remaining slog back to the car to be torturous. It’s about 5 miles (8 km) of undulating terrain with a relatively poor path.

I saw my first adder on this arduous final section and that was definitely the only plus point!

An adder on the path

Follow the lochside all the way back to the dam and car park. Well done on completing a brutal day in some of Scotland’s most remote wilderness!

Alternative Routes


The nature and location of these 4 Munros don’t always make them the most attractive option – especially doing them all at once.

A couple of alternatives you can take are:

  • Organise the speedboat to take you down Loch Mullardoch to the foot of An Socach and do the 4 Munros the other way. This lets you avoid the walk back to the car at the end of the day.
  • Climb the first 2 Munros – Carn nan Gobhar and Sgurr na Lapaich – and cut back down to the lochside. Do the next 2 on a different day to break up the hike.

NOTE: The Loch Mullardoch ferry only runs from January until August. See here for more details.

Nearby Hikes & Things To Do


Hikes

This part of the country has some of Scotland’s best hikes! With Glen Affric right next door and not long by car, it’s a case of taking your pick!

Some top hikes nearby are:

For the mega-fit out there, you can even incorporate the Affric Munros and Mullardoch Munros into one mammoth hike. You’ll need to do this at the height of summer making the most of the extended daylight hours.

 

To Do

To Conclude


The Mullardoch Munros are not for the faint-hearted. Unless you’re an experienced climber, I’d stay away from these mountains in the winter.

You’ll need the best part of a whole day to comfortably do the entire route. If you’re not up for such a long hike then consider splitting it into two separate days.

A clear day is what you want for these mountains. They offer some extensive views of Scotland’s various peaks and lochs and it really makes everything feel so close together and compacted.

As always, thanks a lot for reading and if you have any questions or anything to add then please drop a comment below. 🙂

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