Ben Mor Coigach via the Postie's Path

by Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com ? Jul/2012
This route has been read 2,521 times
Walking

WalkingBen Mor Coigach via the Postie's Path

Ross & Cromarty, SCOTLAND

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Voting 5*
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Distance 12.60 miles (20.28 km)

Total ascent 1,404m

Steepest climb 46% (1 in 2)

Time 7 – 9 hours (Walking)

Start/finish Walker's car park at the road end in Blughasary, NC134014

Summits included en route:
Hill Ben Mor Coigach 743 m

Nearest town Ullapool

Terrain The Postie's Path is hard going, with a lot of rough ground, some rocky bits and a few bogs. Careful footing is required where it traverses steep craggy slopes above the sea. The trail is indistinct in places but marked with occasional posts. The ascent of Garbh Choireachan is steep and pathless. Up on its crest some exposed grade 1 scrambling can be pieced together, though it's mostly optional (paths outflank the best bits). The other summits of the massif are easier going, though care is needed descending the narrow east ridge of Speicein Coinnich. The final few km are on a decent 4WD track.

Seasonal variations The ridges of Garbh Choireachan and Speicein Coinnich qualify as grade I winter routes in hard winter conditions. These are relatively unusual though, given the hill's maritime position and low altitude.

Weather and hill conditions mwis: Northwest HighlandsMet Office: West Highlands

Public transport Scotbus no.811 from Ullapool to Achiltibuie; get out at Strathcanaird

Maps OS Explorer 439 (1:25,000), OS Landranger 19 (1:50,000), OS Landranger 15 (1:50,000)

Classifieds

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Tourist info Ullapool (0845 22 55 121); Lochinver (0845 22 55 121)

It's not even high enough to qualify as a Corbett, but this fabulous mountain is one of the true greats of the Scottish northwest, a complex massif with several sharp summits and an interesting rocky ridge or two. The satellite peaks are more impressive than the main summit - Sgurr an Fhidhleir with its famous Nose; and Garbh Choireachan, a huge wall rising straight out of the sea to a narrow crest. With the tides sucking at one side and a string of inland lochs on the other Ben Mor Coigach seems almost cut adrift from the Mainland proper.

Shorter routes on the hill are possible, but to make the most of its unique coastal setting take the one described here, the stunning Postie's Path. Before a road was built to connect Coigach to the outside world this was the way most traffic came. It has to be one of the best approaches to any Scottish hill, a rough trail on a rugged and remote stretch of coastline, with some surprising exposure and even the odd hands-on move. Don't miss it. Most hills would struggle to live up to the Postie's Path, but Ben Mor Coigach manages fine. All in all, it's hard to think of a better day out.

Close this photo
+On the Garbh Choireachan ridge, 153 kb
On the Garbh Choireachan ridge

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Detailed description

1
NC1348401469 From the car park cross a footbridge over the River Runie and go left on the path signed for Dun Canna (a prehistoric fort). The path - boggy in places - follows the base of the hillside beside the pancake-flat pastures of the River Runie floodplain to reach a junction and signpost for Achiltibuie. Here's where the Postie's Path starts getting interesting.

2
NC1178701047 Turn right onto the signed path (as for Achiltibuie). This makes a long rising traverse across the steep craggy slopes overlooking Dun Canna and Loch Kanaird. It's rocky underfoot in places and soggy in others, and occasionally quite airy. Wherever the trail becomes indistinct look ahead for a marker post. Pass over a distinct level-topped headland with great views over the water to An Teallach, then descend into a burn cutting, following it briefly downstream beneath sandstone crags. Descend across knobbly ground to cross a larger burn.

+An Teallach and Beinn Ghobhlach from the Postie's Path, 174 kb
An Teallach and Beinn Ghobhlach from the Postie's Path
© Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com, Jul 2012


3
NC0981601352 It's variations on a theme for the next few kms, the path weaving through sandstone outcrops, crossing several burn cuttings, visiting the odd bog and making some exciting traverses across steep sea cliffs. There's never a dull moment, and as you progress Ben Mor Coigach begins to make its presence felt. Eventually reach the large bay of Geodha Mor, where the craggy southern flank of Garbh Choireachan drops in a one-er from 700 metres to sea level. There can't be many sea 'cliffs' like it in the British Isles, and you've got to end up on top of it. Traverse across the back wall of the bay to reach the south side of the Garbh Allt gorge. Here the path turns hard right (not, as shown on some OS maps, straight on), climbing steeply alongside an old fence beside the lip of the gorge to reach a safer crossing point quite far upstream; posts show the way.

4
NC0846302688 Cross the Garbh Allt, and at the high point of the Postie's Path on its north side leave the trail and ad-lib steeply uphill, working your way between little rocky outcrops to reach easier-angled shelving slopes. Deer paths and the odd cairn now lead you on a long rough rising traverse around the hillside below the upper crags of Garbh Choireachan, eventually landing you on a level boggy shoulder overlooking the houses of Culnacraig (start point for a much shorter round of the hill - but who'd want to do that?). Here cut right to climb a steep eroded path just left of a series of buttresses, leading onto Garbh Choireachan's airy summit ridge. All 'difficulties' (such as they are) can be avoided on obvious paths, but it's better to stick with the crest, where there's some enjoyable scrambling in a tremendous position above the sea.
5
NC0867403626 From the high point of the ridge continue east along the arete, descending, via a few more bits and bobs of pleasant but avoidable scrambling, to a saddle where the Garbh Choireachan ridge joins the rest of the massif. An easy stroll gains the broad summit of Ben Mor Coigach itself, which stands a little apart from the line of the hill's main east-west ridge.

6
NC0940104204 Regain the main ridge and follow it over a couple of small knobbly tops to a level plateau-like area beyond. Here cut northwest down steep grassy slopes to a low col separating Sgurr an Fhidhleir from the other major summits of the massif. Head to the cliff edge overlooking Lochan Tuath for the best view of the Nose, one of the largest crags in the northwest - seen here in profile. A short stiff climb now gains the airy summit of Sgurr an Fhidhleir with its vertiginous drops and stunning outlook to Stac Pollaidh, Suilven and the rest.

+Sgurr an Fhidhleir, Beinn an Eoin, Stac Pollaidh and Suilven from Ben Mor Coigach, 168 kb
Sgurr an Fhidhleir, Beinn an Eoin, Stac Pollaidh and Suilven from Ben Mor Coigach
© Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com, Jul 2012


7
NC0944205440 Retrace your steps back down to the col and up onto the main massif, then continue roughly east across the plateau. A quick dip and reascent bring you to the sharp rocky peak of Speicein Coinnich, yet another highlight of this remarkable mountain.

8
NC1075404151 A clear path descends the narrow east ridge; it's airy but not at all difficult. From about the 450m contour the ridge opens out onto an easier angled shoulder, and the path tends to disappear. Whenever the urge takes you now, cut south down a steep rough hillside, taking care in poor visibility to avoid occasional tiers of crag. Boggy ground leads to the outflow of Loch Eadar dha Bheinn. Cross the burn and go south to pick up a Landrover track.

9
NC1211203295 This takes a fairly winding course back to Blughasary, but at least it's easy-going and quick.

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