Meall Innis an Loichel and a traverse of Beinn na Muice

Grahams: Beinn na Muice
Sub 2000s: Meall Innis an Loichel

Date walked: 14/02/2015

Time taken: 4.3 hours

Distance: 11.4km

Ascent: 820m

During the winter months, vehicular access to Glen Strathfarrar is now restricted to MCofS members only. I contacted the MCofS yesterday to obtain the combination code for the gate padlock. Winter is a great time to visit Glen Strathfarrar as you can let yourself in without having to face the gatekeeper!

I drove along Glen Strathfarrar today to circa 700m before the Monar Dam. There are several places to park before reaching the dam. The drive through Glen Strathfarrar was in thick fog. I suspected this to be inversion.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

I set off walking along the road towards the Monar Dam. I didn't take any photos of the initial section of walk as visibility was minimal. After crossing the Monar Dam, I continued walking for a few hundred metres before starting my ascent of Meall Innis na Loichel.

My suspicions were correct in that it wasn't long before I climbed up through the thin layer of inversion :).

I hadn't taken my axe and crampons up Meall Innis na Loichel. As Beinn na Muice looked mostly devoid of snow I decided I also wouldn't need them for Beinn na Muice.

Looking across to Beinn na Muice during ascent of Meall Innis na Loichel:

Ascending Meall Innis na Loichel:

Above the inversion on Meall Innis na Loichel:

Within thirty minutes of walking, I had reached the summit of Meall Innis na Loichel. This wee hill provides maximum reward for minimal effort.

View from Meall Innis na Loichel:

I spent around five miunutes at the summit taking photos of the inversion and enjoying the views.

Inversion in Glen Strathfarrar from summit of Meall Innis na Loichel:

Inversion below Meall Innis na Loichel:

Inversion panorama:

At the summit of Meall Innis na Loichel, I took a full zoom photo of Bidein an Eoin Dearg. I ascended this deleted Munro last year. It is a great hill.

Bidein an Eoin Dearg (zoom):

After descending back down to the Monar Dam track, I re-crossed the dam and made my way round towards Monar Lodge.

I wasn't sure whether Beinn na Muice was best tackled via its East ridge or West ridge. All internet reports I have read of this hill, go out and back via the East ridge. To be different, I decided to traverse the hill ascending via the West ridge and descending via the East ridge.

Trees beside Monar Dam:

Beyond Monar Lodge, my OS map suggested there was a footpath. It is now a wide vehicle track. I followed this vehicle track for almost 2km. This track is not dog friendly as there are three locked six foot high gates to climb over.

Looking across to Beinn na Muice from track beyond Monar Lodge:

As I walked along the vehicle track I could see that the Western slopes of Beinn na Muice looked straight-forward.

Western slopes of Beinn na Muice:

On looking back I could see the inversion dissipating.

Looking back towards Loch Monar:

Getting down to the Allt Coire na Faochaige was not that straight-forward. I had to continue up the glen a bit further than planned to get down to the Allt.

View after crossing the Allt Coire na Faochaige:

Beyond the Allt, I made my way up the hill.

Loch Monar during ascent of Western slopes of Beinn na Muice:

As I gained more and more height, the views became increasingly good. I took numerous photos looking down to Loch Monar.

Loch Monar during ascent of Beinn na Muice:

Ascending Beinn na Muice:

Loch Monar:

Loch Monar:

Loch Monar Dam (zoom):

Above 600m, the ridge narrows but remains quite straight-forward.

Approaching the Western top of Beinn na Muice:

Strathfarrar Munros:

The Western top of Beinn na Muice is worth a visit as it provides better views than the summit.

Panorama from Western top of Beinn na Muice:

View from Western top of Beinn na Muice:

Looking towards the summit of Beinn na Muice:

At the summit of Beinn na Muice:

From the summit, I began my descent of the East ridge.

Descending the East ridge of Beinn na Muice:

The East ridge still had loads of snow and was very steep in places. I was now regretting not having my ice axe. I made my way down various lengthy sections of snow just using my poles. The snow was not particularly hard, just very steep.

Looking back during descent of East ridge of Beinn na Muice:

Looking back during descent of East ridge of Beinn na Muice:

At one point during the descent, I was stopped in my tracks as I reached the top of a small crag. I had to back track and find another way down. Do not underestimate this hill. Its Eastern slopes are very steep. I am glad the visibility was good.

Crag that I had to reverse from:

I was happy and relieved to eventually reach safer ground.

Looking back at very steep descent from Beinn na Muice:

Looking back at Eastern slopes of Beinn na Muice:

I eventually reached the track used to access the Strathfarrar Munros and followed this track back down to Glen Strathfarrar. I then walked circa 1.5km back along the road to reach the car.

A stag in Glen Strathfarrar:

Another excellent day out. Winter 2015 is proving great thus far :).

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Location: Aberdeenshire
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