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Beinn a' Chàisgein Mòr from Gruinard

Beinn a' Chàisgein Mòr from Gruinard


Postby Gareth M » Thu May 19, 2022 12:01 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn a' Chaisgein Mòr

Grahams included on this walk: Beinn a' Chaisgein Beag

Date walked: 19/03/2022

Time taken: 16 hours

Distance: 41 km

Ascent: 1745m

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After a nine and a half hour drive from NW Shropshire to the NW Highlands I pulled up in a spot overlooking Little Loch Broom at 1am. Through a combination of dehydration and excitement I'd managed to drive straight through with only a quick stop for fuel. Even by the light of the full moon the hills all around looked spectacular. Alarm set for 5am I curled up on my back seat for a not too bad 4 hours of broken sleep. Up bright and early I got ready, said morning to the deer, and watched the first orange glow behind the hills surrounding the Loch. Five minutes down the road and I was at the Gruinard River ready to go at 6am.

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Little Loch Broom before sunrise


The plan was to walk to Beinn a' Chàisgein Mòr and then decide whether snow and energy levels would let me push on to A' Mhaighdean. The forecast was for sun and warm (for March) temperatures at sea level.

The first few miles were easy going along the track beside the Gruinard River. Although tempted, I didn't bring a bike so I could keep my return options open. If short on time a bike would make this bit way quicker, but the scenery is so good that walking was fine. I left the track just before it dropped to cross Allt Loch Ghiubhsachain. Keeping a bit of height below the crags there was some sort of deer / human / deer-human hybrid path in places as I climbed. This section looked like it would be a bracken infested mess in summer but was straightforward this time of year.

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Gruinard River and Beinn Dearg Bheag


The plan was to cross the now pathless terrain to meet up with the path marked on the OS map to the south. As with most of this walk, paths were short supply and this one didn't seem to exist, or at least I couldn't find it. There was a cabin so I headed for that through the peat bogs, assuming I would be able to pick up the path there. No such luck. I should have checked the map as the path seems to be marked a little bit to the west of here. A bit more peat bog fun and then the rough heathery ground that had been with me from when I left the track turned to something a bit grassier as I started climbing again. There were now views to some of the hummockyist hummocky moraines I'd ever seen on the shores of Loch Toll a' Mhadaidh.

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Perched erratic


I reached the broad ridge between Beinn a' Chàisgein Mòr and Beinn a' Chàisgein Beag and was greeted with my first glimpse of the view to the south with snow-capped Torridon peaks now visible in the distance. After some food it was onwards and upwards towards Beinn a' Chàisgein Mòr. Collecting some water from a snow patch on the way up I made good progress on the short grass and occasional lingering large snow drift and was at the top at around midday. I left my camping stuff and lightened the load. After ten rough, and mainly pathless, miles I was doubting the out and back to A' Mhaighdean. I probably had time but not the energy to make it there and back or to lug the camping stuff up there to save the return trip.

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First view south to Torridon


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An Teallach


Decision made, I'd have a leisurely walk around the vast summit area while rethinking the plan (perhaps that's more decision postponed). What a place to be, An Teallach, Torridon, Slioch, Skye, Lewis, but it was the view to A' Mhaighdean that really caught the eye. A staircase of Lochs and Lochans lead up to its rocky, bulky western face. The views were best from the promontory above Carn Mòr where I could also see the full length of Fionn Loch and the causeway far below. Given that there was still five hours of light left I couldn't really hang around on the top as, despite the great views and sunshine, it was pretty cold in a strong wind. I decided to make my way back to Beinn a' Chàisgein Beag and camp there as that wouldn't be too hard and would save my legs a bit in the morning.

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A' Mhaighdean


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I took it slow and had a bit of a wonder around to use up the time. After a while I was crossing the obvious path at the foot of the hill. It was so clear here that I'm not sure how it disappears, or I couldn't find it, further down. Oh well I like a bit of toil anyway. Toil describes my last climb of the day. I was now very weary, and I found the short climb was pretty tough. However, keeping plodding I soon made it to the top and sat on a rock eating and recovering. It took me about half an hour and a fair bit of food and water to start feeling human again.

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Loch Toll a' Mhadaidh


The views here were almost as good as it's bigger brother, but its bulky sibling blocks a chunk of the view to the east (it's not really a looker from this angle). I set the tent up just below the summit, out of most of the wind and on flattish ground. I then watched the sun setting behind the Isle of Lewis. When it was time to sleep the wind played a cruel trick and changed direction slightly ruffling the tent loudly, so I slept with earphones in and some relaxing music. This worked quite well, and I can't believe I've never done it before.

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Lenticular cloud


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Home for the night


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Sàil Mhòr


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Water everywhere


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An Teallach in the evening light


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Rubha Hunish


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Cuillin


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Sunset behind Isle of Lewis


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Large fire


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Up about an hour before sunrise I packed up and headed to the rocky outcrop to the north of the main summit. I was then treated to a colour show of purples and oranges before the sun rose.

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First light behind An Teallach


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I settled on a return route via Loch a' Mhadaidh Mòr as I thought retracing my steps would be a bit of an anti-climax. A straightforward decent of Beinn a' Chàisgein Beag to the northeast and then across the river, which I intended to follow this to the loch. However, the peat got slightly frustrating, so I climbed halfway up the hills to the east of the river before dropping down to the loch.

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Looking back to Beinn a' Chàisgein Beag


The loch itself was a great place to be, with a remote feeling, I followed its eastern shore via sandy beaches and rocky outcrops before climbing a small hill to its east to avoid some awkward looking rock on the shore. The hill turned out to be an unexpectedly good viewpoint with views of Lochs, hills and sea.

From here I picked up my first proper path since leaving the land rover track the previous morning. It was a very pleasant change to not have to think where I was going and let the path do the navigation until I realised that the lochan I was next to wasn't the right one and the path on the map wasn't the path on the ground. All that time waiting for a path and then it leads me the wrong way, a check of the map and 10 minutes back the way I'd come, and I found where my path should go but no sign of it on the ground. I soon reached the correct lochan, found the path, and from here it was plain sailing back to the land rover track where the path is marked by a small cairn. Then it was just the couple of miles back to the car. 200 yards from the road I met the only people I'd seen all weekend and had a chat about the weather, as you do, then back to the car.

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West side of An Teallach


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A last look back towards Beinn Dearg Bheag and Beinn Dearg Mòr


The long drive back was made slightly easier as I could now see all the views that I'd only seen by moonlight on the way, but I had to resist the urge to stop and take photos as a 9 hour journey is plenty long enough. In hindsight it was a long way to go to climb one Corbett and one Graham, but I didn't care as it wasn't about that, it was about getting out into the middle of nowhere in spectacular scenery and I definitely did that.
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Re: Beinn a' Chàisgein Mòr from Gruinard

Postby gld73 » Sat May 21, 2022 7:34 pm

Great photos, sounds like an excellent trip. Heck of a drive for you to do it though!
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Re: Beinn a' Chàisgein Mòr from Gruinard

Postby kaye.cantlay » Sun May 22, 2022 7:01 am

I was also there that weekend - camping at Fionn Loch - and I did those 2 hills the day after you.
There were footprints on some of the snow patches on BCM.
Maybe they were yours?!
Anyway - what incredible weather - it was definitely worth the long drive up!
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Re: Beinn a' Chàisgein Mòr from Gruinard

Postby Alteknacker » Sun May 22, 2022 10:47 am

Great report on a superb area - and you sure had the weather for it. Brought back some fine memories from June 2018. And not so many folk visit Beinn a' Chaisgein Mor!

I do sympathise with the pain of the long drive - living in S Staffordshire, I also have a 9 - 10 hours drive to the far NW!
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Re: Beinn a' Chàisgein Mòr from Gruinard

Postby Mal Grey » Sun May 22, 2022 11:17 am

Fabulous.

Such an amazing part of the world, and the effort you made was definitely rewarded. Some lovely images and a great description too.


"Water everywhere" made me smile, as it slightly justifies why we used some of those lochs to get to Fionn Loch with canoes last year, an otherwise silly looking idea. It almost makes the route look sane!
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Re: Beinn a' Chàisgein Mòr from Gruinard

Postby Gareth M » Mon May 23, 2022 7:48 pm

gld73 wrote:Great photos, sounds like an excellent trip. Heck of a drive for you to do it though!
Thanks! It was a massive drive but easier than I thought it would be and definitely worth it. Must be good to have all those amazing hills within relatively easy reach!
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Re: Beinn a' Chàisgein Mòr from Gruinard

Postby Gareth M » Mon May 23, 2022 7:52 pm

kaye.cantlay wrote:I was also there that weekend - camping at Fionn Loch - and I did those 2 hills the day after you.
There were footprints on some of the snow patches on BCM.
Maybe they were yours?!
Anyway - what incredible weather - it was definitely worth the long drive up!
They probably were my footprints, I did contemplate going around the snow patches as I felt like I was spoiling them but I couldn't resist in the end. It was an amazing weekend of weather wasn't it?!
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Re: Beinn a' Chàisgein Mòr from Gruinard

Postby Gareth M » Mon May 23, 2022 8:01 pm

Alteknacker wrote:Great report on a superb area - and you sure had the weather for it. Brought back some fine memories from June 2018. And not so many folk visit Beinn a' Chaisgein Mor!

I do sympathise with the pain of the long drive - living in S Staffordshire, I also have a 9 - 10 hours drive to the far NW!

It is a long way from our neck of the woods but worth it. I have all of the Welsh mountains within easy reach, but I've done them all from all sorts of directions, so nice to go somewhere completely new
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Re: Beinn a' Chàisgein Mòr from Gruinard

Postby Gareth M » Mon May 23, 2022 8:04 pm

Mal Grey wrote:Fabulous.

Such an amazing part of the world, and the effort you made was definitely rewarded. Some lovely images and a great description too.


"Water everywhere" made me smile, as it slightly justifies why we used some of those lochs to get to Fionn Loch with canoes last year, an otherwise silly looking idea. It almost makes the route look sane!

Haha that sounds like it could be hard work in-between the water!
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Re: Beinn a' Chàisgein Mòr from Gruinard

Postby weaselmaster » Mon May 23, 2022 10:14 pm

Good reading and a great trip. We just did Beag when we walked in on that track, but I feel the urge to head up there again, add in Mor and maybe the Beinn Deargs too - weather like you had would be nice.
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Re: Beinn a' Chàisgein Mòr from Gruinard

Postby Mal Grey » Tue May 24, 2022 9:04 pm

Gareth M wrote:
Mal Grey wrote:Fabulous.

Such an amazing part of the world, and the effort you made was definitely rewarded. Some lovely images and a great description too.


"Water everywhere" made me smile, as it slightly justifies why we used some of those lochs to get to Fionn Loch with canoes last year, an otherwise silly looking idea. It almost makes the route look sane!

Haha that sounds like it could be hard work in-between the water!


Yeah, but fun too: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=107370
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Re: Beinn a' Chàisgein Mòr from Gruinard

Postby Gareth M » Wed May 25, 2022 8:58 am

Mal Grey wrote:
Gareth M wrote:
Mal Grey wrote:Fabulous.

Such an amazing part of the world, and the effort you made was definitely rewarded. Some lovely images and a great description too.


"Water everywhere" made me smile, as it slightly justifies why we used some of those lochs to get to Fionn Loch with canoes last year, an otherwise silly looking idea. It almost makes the route look sane!

Haha that sounds like it could be hard work in-between the water!


Yeah, but fun too: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=107370

Wow, that looks and sounds well worth the considerable effort it must have been. Spectacular!
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Re: Beinn a' Chàisgein Mòr from Gruinard

Postby Keys92 » Sat Jun 04, 2022 6:20 am

Incredible photos!

Looks like a great trip all in! :clap:
[/b] :clap: :clap:
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Re: Beinn a' Chàisgein Mòr from Gruinard

Postby rockhopper » Sat Jun 04, 2022 12:06 pm

Long way to go but a great result in the end especially in these conditions. The area does give a number of different options particularly if taking a tent - even better, like you, before the midges arrive ! - cheers :)
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Re: Beinn a' Chàisgein Mòr from Gruinard

Postby Woodsy Boy » Fri Jun 10, 2022 12:41 pm

A great trip and well done.
Fantastic photos
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