Sgurr Marcasaidh and Creag Loch nan Dearcag.
Height - 580/537 metres. Map – OS Landranger 21.
Climbed - 13 March 2010. Time taken – 6.5 hours.
Distance – 16 kilometres. Height climbed 920 metres.
Trip Report Details:
My initial plan was to go across to Kintail and climb the Munro, A’Ghlas-bheinn. However the weather forecast wasn’t very favourable in respect of the west coast so I decided to stay closer to Inverness, where I was staying, and head for Strathconon. The Sub 2000 foot hill, Sgurr Marcasaidh looked a strong contender depending on the snow cover. I was aware that another Sub 2000 foot hill, Creag Loch nan Dearcag could have been included but dismissed this idea due to the recent snow fall.
I drove to Marybank on the A832 then up Strathconon and was immediately confronted by signs relative to a wind farm construction at Fairburn. I have always considered Strathconon to be a beautiful glen, comparable to Glen Affric, except for the electric pylons, but with fewer tourists. However in my opinion the approach route to this glen has been permanently ruined by the construction of these monstrosities. My own fear is that in time the whole of Scotland will be ruined by wind farms and massive pylons.
Well that’s the rant over with for now so back to the trip report. I passed the access road leading to the wind farm then arrived at the dam at the east end of Loch Meig. I drove across the dam and back along the north side of the River Meig to Lower Scatwell. Just beyond this hamlet a private road lead to Glenmarksie and I parked on a grass area beyond the private road sign.
I walked up this vehicle track, which was tarred beyond the bridge over the Allt a’Ghlinne, to Glenmarksie, which was occupied. I never saw anyone as I walked passed the house and through an open gate which led to the vehicle track along Gleann Marcasaidh. This track is not shown on my old OS Map nor on my version of Memory Map. Just beyond Glenmarksie I heard lots of croaking and saw numerous frogs rushing about and disappearing into the water filled ditch at the side of the track. On closer inspection I noted that the ditch was covered in spawn so at least the frogs think it is Spring.
The track passed through a small area of forest and at the first burn on the right I decided to leave this track and head uphill following deer tracks. These animal paths, although at times wet and boggy, were better than walking over the heather. Initially they led me to a small knoll before a more direct and steeper ascent. On this climb I was watched by a deer perched on a rock high up on the hillside. On reaching the east ridge of Sgurr Marcasaidh I crossed a couple of knolls to gain the summit trig point.
It was quite windy here and I encountered another short lived light shower but still managed to find a bit of shelter for a coffee and to contemplate my next move. It had taken me less than two hours to reach this top and I had encountered very little snow. The weather wasn’t bad so I decided to add Creag Loch nan Dearcag to this outing.
I had hoped that the cloud would clear a bit so that I could get some photos but that didn’t happen so I descended towards Loch a’Bhealaich and then to the west end of Loch a’Chairn Duibh, avoiding some rocks as I did so. I crossed an all terrain vehicle track before reaching a deer fence, which I had spotted on my descent. However there didn’t appear to be any reasonable way of avoiding this hazard so I followed this fence to the south-west end of the loch before clambering over it.
On the other side of this fence the vegetation was longer and harder to cross as the deer had been excluded but the snow had at least flattened some of it and there were several areas of small trees that I had to walk round or pass through. Eventually I reached the top end of this area and re-crossed the deer fence, there being no gates that I could see. I climbed onto the north-west ridge of Creag Loch nan Dearcag where I disturbed a few hinds. It was then an easy walk to the summit cairn where once again it was windy and I encountered another rain shower. I found a bit of shelter, this time for lunch, and on finishing my snack the cloud had cleared a bit so I had some views of the Fannaichs and Strathconon Corbetts.
The descent was down the contorted east ridge with a few knolls to clamber over. Just before Loch na Sgarbh the ridge split and I took the northerly one as it didn’t appear possible to head south to the River Meig. My route took me towards the edge of the forest where I saw more deer, some of them disappeared into the trees. This was a mature forest with no obvious fire break so I followed the deer fence to the Allt a’Ghlinne which was a bit high due to snow melt. A break in the fence allowed me to enter the forest and follow the south bank of the river, as had the deer, although this involved clambering over some fallen trees. I came to a dam where some of the water was being pumped away and continued along the south bank of this stream until the road bridge leading to Glenmarksie. I then followed the vehicle track back to my car.
Photos taken on walk.