The Glen Affric Munros: Tom a’ Choinich and Toll Creagach
Tom a’ Choinich (TAUM-A-HONICH) and Toll Creagach (TAULL-CREA-KICH) are the easiest of the Glen Affric munros to reach. They have a height of 1112 and 1054 metres (3648 and 3458 ft), respectively. Unlike the other munros in this area they lie in close proximity to where you can park your car, but are still a fair walk.
You can do each one individually but for the munro baggers out there it makes much more sense to do both on the same day. Tom a’ Choinich will be your first ascent and you can incorporate the summit of Toll Creagach into a loop which will take you back to the car park.
Tom a’ Choinich lies on the east side of Glen Affric. It has a fine and rocky ascent and, on a clear day, you get amazing views of the rest of Glen Affric and beyond. The summit is narrow in comparison to the mossy dome shape of Toll Creagach.
Glen Affric is situated in the northern highlands and does take a fair bit of driving if you’re coming from down south. If you’re coming up the A82 then take a left at the second bridge in Drumnadrochit onto the A831 following signs to Cannich, which you’ll reach after about 13 miles (20.9km). At the t-junction in Cannich take a left and follow the signs to Glen Affric.
If you’re coming up the A9 then you’ll have to link onto the A82 in Inverness which heads towards Drumnadrochit. It’s 14 miles (22.5km) to Drumnadrochit. Once you pass the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre, which is on your right just before entering Drumnadrochit, turn right before crossing the bridge. This is you on the A831.
Once you get into Glen Affric follow the single track road until you get to Chisholm Bridge (a narrow wooden bridge). Just before the bridge the parking area is on your left. Normally it’s a long lay-by with room for plenty of cars but, at the time of writing (August 2017), there are building works which seem to be using it as a bit of a dumping ground so it’s best to get there early, particularly in summer!
Leave your car here and begin the hike on the forestry track directly across the road. Check out the map at the bottom of the post, you can zoom in and see the exact location.
Tom a’ Choinich And Toll Creagach
Starting on the forestry track mentioned above, follow it for about 1.5 miles (2.4km). Again, at the time of writing (August 2017), there is work going on here involving the hydro scheme which you’ll see at the end of the track.
From the hydro scheme, you can see the rocky ridge of Tom a’ Choinich ahead. It’s got a much pointier peak than Toll Creagach, which you will have been looking at on the track from the car park.
After the hydro scheme, follow the boggy path towards the ridge of Tom a’ Choinich. You’ll cross over two burns flowing down from your right. These could be hard to pass following heavy rainfall or in the winter.
After the second burn, you’ll see a visible stalkers path on your right. Follow this clearly marked trail up the ridge. It is initially steep and rocky with some potentially very boggy sections. The track will then start to zigzag and this is your indicator that you’ve almost reached the summit.
Once you get onto the first clearing, follow the ridge al the way along to the large summit cairn. In clear weather this will be self-explanatory, but could be difficult to make out in poor conditions.
Well done! You’ve made it to the top of your first munro of the day. To the west you are looking down Glen Affric and, on a clear day, you might even be able to see the Cuillin hills on Skye.
You now have the option of going back down the way you came, but most hikers continue on the loop to incorporate Toll Creagach on their way back to the car park.
Once you’ve taken in the views, make your way down the east side of the summit. It gets steep very quickly so it’s worth taking your time at this section. Use hands and feet to ease your way down the bank until the terrain levels out and you can make your way over to the ridge ahead.
As you cross the ridge you can enjoy some spectacular views (on a clear day) of Loch Mullardoch down to your left.
Straight ahead is the dome like shape of your second, and probably final, munro of the day. Toll Creagach is a much more gentle ascent than Tom a’ Choinich and most of the landscape is vast moorland. The most challenging aspect is battling your way over the moss and through some potentially boggy sections.
Continue the ascent until you reach the neatly built cairn on the summit. The views are similar to those of Tom a’ Choinich, but give you a clearer sight of Loch Mullardoch down below.
Give yourself a pat on the back and take the time to enjoy the views on offer.
There’s actually a trig point just below the summit which serves as a better viewpoint than the summit itself.
Now it’s time to begin your descent. Personally, I found this the most strenuous part of the hike, but that really depends on what you find easiest and most difficult.
From the summit, go directly south. Straight away you’ll see the road in the distance which is the same one you started on and where you want to end up.
Follow the mossy slopes all the way back down, watching your step as there isn’t much of a path, and turn left when you reconnect with the track at the bottom. From here, continue along the track back to the car park.
The initial climb up Tom a’ Choinich can be quite tough on the steeper sections. You also need to be careful descending from the first summit onto the ridge between the two munros.
The second ascent is quite straightforward with the toughest part of Toll Creagach being the steep mossy descent back down to the initial forestry track.
In winter you will need to take crampons and plenty of warm gear because conditions in Glen Affric can get brutal. Consider setting off as early as possible in order to get back before the early darkness descends. Make sure you know what time the sun will be setting because it varies considerably between November and February.
In summer you will be fine with standard hiking gear, but make sure you take a good raincoat because, even at this time of year, the conditions can change rapidly.
Duration & Length
Duration: 5 – 8 hours.
Length: 12.58 miles (20.2km) according to my GPS (MapMyHike).
It took me 5 hours and 42 minutes and that was going at quite a fast pace. If you’re a beginner hiker then I would set aside a good 7 – 8 hours for the entire route. If you are experienced then the 5 – 6 hour mark is more than realistic.
Where To Stay
Your closest option is undoubtedly the Glen Affric Youth Hostel. This is the best place for hiking and is located right at the foot of some other munros in the area. Being one of the most isolated hostels in the UK, understandably it provides easy access to all the mountains in the area.
Some slightly further, but still very feasible, options are Cannich, Drumnadrochit, and Inverness, which all have an array of different accommodations.
Tom a’ Choinich and Toll Creagach are two of the more straightforward of the Glen Affric munros, but still shouldn’t be taken lightly. The main plus here is that the initial walk is considerably shorter than what is required to reach the other munros in the area.
Glen Affric is one of the most remote areas of the UK so hiking in these parts really does provide some spectacular views of Scotland’s vast, yet empty, rolling mountain landscape.
I would recommend it to any keen hiker and anyone with at least a general level of fitness. If you’re starting off then maybe consider some easier peaks first but, overall, this route shouldn’t provide any real problems.
As always, thanks a lot for reading and please leave any comments below. 😀