Archive for Beinn Dearg

Beinn Dearg’s Empty Quarter

Posted in Hiking, Hills with tags , , on July 12, 2014 by Jinja Coo

A mixed, country-wide forecast featuring heavy showers put us off a long drive, so we dropped what has become an annual visit to Ardnamurchan for a closer plan B. That was to take us in to the hills and glens north of Blair Atholl for a two day walk with high camp.

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Good tracks led us along the Allt Slanaidh and beyond with steady ascent all the way until a point where we climbed more steeply most of the way up Beinn a’ Chait and then contoured across to Beinn Dearg’s south eastern side. A final push up to the summit boulder field where we sought out some shelter from the cool breeze and had our lunch. Until now it had been pretty grey but things were brightening and all the tops around us were cloud free except for distant ones to the west which were partly concealed. Ahead to the north lay the rest of our day and we planned our route and decided upon a place to camp too from here.

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We were not long in dropping off the north east shoulder of Beinn Dearg and set up our camp in lovely spot with views north and south, on the bealach at about 860m. The tent was not long in being up and us lying on the soft, dry ground. We were bang in the middle of what feels like a very empty (of human impact) part of the country, only hares, deer, grouse, ptarmigan and buzzards seen all day, rough ground prevails and there was very little evidence of paths in this area. It took some effort to rise again and get going but needs must.

Beinn Bhreac was our next stop after the necessary down and up and it was hot work, but up top the breeze again had us using the cairn for shelter. There were great views of the Cairngorms north of us and, specifically two areas walked in last year, Mullach Clach a’ Bhlair and an undulating loop linking Gleann Einich, Glen Geusachan and the southern end of the Lairig Ghru, as well as some areas intended for walks in the near future, covering the heart and highest points of the ‘gorms.

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We returned by almost the same route to our camp, rough ground depleting reserves further and arrived back at camp with dinner and rest firmly on the agenda. Our high vantage point was breezy and with it, cold so the tent was the place to be rather than outside and that resulted in unintentional napping almost from 7pm to 10pm. Just after dinner with the door open, a herd of deer suddenly appeared and stopped, confused by our tent’s presence, but eventually one of the herd barked and they made off almost as suddenly as they had appeared, quite a nice moment. After waking, I just made it out the tent briefly for a nice sunset, but cold again forced retreat to the tent and an attempt at staying awake for whisky and chat was foiled by more flaking out, more naps than nips!

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We hadn’t really been on much of a path since leaving the top of Beinn Dearg and had crossed some reasonably rough, but thankfully dry ground for a good few kilometres since. That and the reasonable amount of ascent had had an effect on us both over the two days.

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Once on the crest of Beinn Mheadhonach we did find ourselves back on a path and made our way along it, stopping briefly, out the wind for lunch before descending by the hills’ south ridge with Gleann Diridh and Gleann Mhairc revealed to us on either side. Ahead of us the lower glen where these two meet looked quite interesting, heavily wooded and narrow. We were stopped on our way by the distraction of a hen harrier circling and calling repeatedly, it seemed interested in something below it in the vicinity of the burn.

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Our next distraction was the old bridge crossing the Allt Mhairc which was a surprise to us and a pleasant place to linger a while; sun shining, birdsong, water gushing over rocks and smells of plants in the air.

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Eventually, we dragged ourselves away and onwards to Glen tilt where the seemingly long walk out commenced. Still, a nice place to walk even with sore feet and tired legs and it wasn’t that long before we were sitting out in the sun with a plate of soup and a pint each. Bliss!

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Torridonian Wanders

Posted in Hiking, Hills with tags , , , on October 8, 2013 by Jinja Coo

Beinn Eighe was in our sights for the day and we set off on a clock-wise route which in theory would take us first to the impressive corrie at its rear, Coire Mhic Fearchair, where we intended to linger and admire views of the cliffs before ascending the mountain and all its peaks. That was the plan, however the weather deteriorated a tad from the outset and none of us saw much point going up in to the mist, drizzle and gusting wind when these mountains and the views from them should be enjoyed to the full in much better conditions.

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Leaving the cars we were hemmed in almost immediately by the rising bulk of Liathach on one side and Beinn Eighe on the other, but following the gently rising path we were soon given views out on to a more open landscape with smaller island-like hills (Inselbergs) rising steeply out of the moor to the north. Deer were making their presence known with their vocals, below us and surprisingly above too, the first sign of the rut this year for us.

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Dampness and winds had us take our lunch quickly behind a large, slightly overhanging boulder at the entrance to Coire Mhic Fearchair. An impressive place, even based on the views from just one corner, but it was a shame we got no further as it was here we decided against further ascent, the tops seemed to be getting mistier if anything and so we decided soup and a pint was a more appealing way to spend the afternoon. About turns and retreat …

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… almost. A comical debate arose part way out about the potential of actually saving some face and earning our dinner properly with an ascent of Beinn Dearg, seemingly close enough to get up and down in no time and being lower than the giants in the clouds around us, with potential for clear views. In the end, three carried on out and two of us struck off across some rough ground to our new target.

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Some fast work got us up to the low point on the top where some good views were taken in behind a small cliff sheltering us from the winds, which were pretty strong and chilling at this height.

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Heading for the summit still involved a fair amount of ascent from this point and soon enough we were in the mists, losing sight of anything remote from the peak itself. The ridge leading to the summit soon narrowed and and steepened and to our surprise we were soon scrambling our way up and along between gusts with a drop of unknown height off on both sides, great fun and nothing too taxing but our attention to foot and hand placements was definitely focused.

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We may not have had views up top, but we had signal and so we arranged for a pick up close to Torridon House which would allow us to get a traversing route as well as saving us a couple of kilometers and some re-ascent to get back to our starting point. We descended a steep gully down to the path which follows the Abhainn Coire Mhic Nobuil, our route out.

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Dusk was on its way as we descended and headed out and the lowering sun was casting a nice light on the sea out in front of us, a nice end to an unexpected walk.

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After a pretty sensible night at the Torridon Inn’s Real Ale Festival, we woke to conditions which were much more hungover than any of us, so plans of an ascent of Ben Damph were shelved in favour of something lower, a coastal walk from Diabeg to Craig Bothy.

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Craig sits in a lovely, sheltered setting close to a river and seems to be well looked after and respected, somewhere maybe for a return visit for an overnight stay. Not all pleasant though, beasties lurk in the bracken, notes in the bothy had warned of ticks in the area and sure enough we did pick up at least one between us on our short walk.

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