A blog of our mountain adventures in Scotland, hiking, biking, rock-scrambling and more !

Glenfinnan - Corryhully and Gulvain

13-14 October 2018
Two days guided hiking on Gulvain and the Munros in the Corryhully Horseshoe above Glenfinnan. John King was leading....

Day 1 - Corryhully Horseshoe

Glenfinnan is famed for its monument and its viaduct and further amongst hill goers for its ‘electric bothy’, Corryhully bothy being one of the few in the country to have electricity. The glen itself is very scenic with a lovely river winding alongside the track. As a backdrop to all of these things is a fine horseshoe of hills featuring two Munros. Being right on the doorstep of Knoydart these are good, rugged peaks sharing some of the features of the 'Rough Bounds'. We were there last Wednesday trying to bag both summits.

The day got off to an inauspicious start with one of our team suffering a flat tyre en route to the hill at Corpach. A quick scoot back along the road to collect them and the problem was solved (of getting to the walk at least!).Diane, Sue, Rachel, Orion and myself set off around 9am and already hoards of tourists had begun descending on the car park to take photos of the viaduct. As soon as we went beyond the viaduct, we had the hills to ourselves. Or almost to ourselves! At the first buildings in the glen we had a nice chat with Alistair the estate manager, talked about our respective plans and then headed on up the glen.

The rain was steady as we walked up the track and full waterproofs were on, but, as we started to climb away from the glen up a fine stalkers path, the sun made an appearance and we were treated to a spectacular double rainbow. This was to be the first of many rainbows during the day. We were tackling SgurrnanCoireachan first (an clockwise circuit of the hills to have the wind at our backs in the afternoon), so it was a steady uphill pull with several steep bursts interspersed with flatter areas for photo opportunities (or getting our breath back!). Up near the summit a particularly fierce and wintery shower came through but it was short lived and we were able to have lunch on the top with brief glimpses down to Loch Monar and Loch Arkaig. The rock high on the hill was very slippy after the showers so we were glad of the decision not to be descending this way.

Heading on we enjoyed a fine high level ridge walk with views opening up around us, south to the peaks of Ardgour and north towards the Loch Arkaig Munros and Knoydart peninsula. We could even see Rhum out to the west. As we passed the low point of the ridge we met Alistair again, this time with clients and gillie. The guys were all in full tweeds, which was quite a contrast to our full showing of Paramo and Gore-tex! We had another nice chat, and headed our respective ways. We reached the summit of SgurrThuilm just in time to catch a nice glimpse down on Strathan and Loch Arkaig, before the next shower swept through. As a result of the rain, we didn’t hang around and descended steadily back down to meet the track in Glenfinnan accompanied by more rainbows. Here we had a break and met some more estate workers in a Range Rover. We heard from them that our companions on the hill had bagged a stag. Unfortunately there was none for us!

All that was left was a nice, easy walk out the glen. As we reached the viaduct again we re-entered the crowds admiring the viaduct but the sun was out making for a good view of this impressive feat of engineering. It was a nice way to cap off a very successful day in the mountains.

Day 2 - Gulvain

Next morning we were just a short distance east along the main road at the junction between the Mallaig road and the scenic route to Strontian, our target for the day being the isolated Munro of Gulvain. Our start point was much quieter than yesterday and apart from one solo walker near toGulvain’s South Top, we didn’t see another sole for the entire walk. We set off just before 9am and made good steady progress up GleannFhionnlighe. For me, this is an even better glen than Glenfinnan and with the autumn colours in the trees it was looking particularly fine on the day. As we walked, we could see our hill ahead and all was looking good.

It wasn’t all that warm walking up the glen, but once we reached the its head and started our ascent up Gulvain it was soon time to cut back the layers. This is a steep climb that makes you work but it has a reasonable path all the way up and also the advantage that you gain the height fast! My team was on form and we certainly did gain the height fast. As we climbed we got some smashing views back down the glen and also east to the big hills of Lochaber. Before we knew it we were at the South Top and caught a brief view along the ridge to the summit. Unfortunately, despite a promising looking forecast this was the last view we got up on the top and we wandered along the narrowing ridge to the summit in the mist.

After a brief lunch stop on top it was getting chilly and it was obvious that it wasn’t going to clear anytime soon so we about faced and headed back the way we came. It was another nice steady descent, not too heavy on the knees and accompanied by the sound of some stags roaring somewhere nearby. It is an impressive sound and one of the really nice things about visiting the hills at this time of year. It was also quite fitting as the name Gulvain translates as the ‘the mountain of noise’. Back at the track we plodded on out, reaching the cars a good 15 minutes under the suggested time for the walk! Thanks to the team for another great couple of days in the hills.

More photos by John King are here on Flickr.

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