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Maol Chean Dearg & Beinn Damh

Maol Chean Dearg & Beinn Damh

Postby Verylatestarter » Sat Aug 28, 2021 5:43 pm

Route description: Maol Chean-dearg ascent, Coulags

Munros included on this walk: Maol Chean-dearg

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Damh

Date walked: 31/07/2021

Time taken: 10 hours

Distance: 24 km

Ascent: 1860m

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Yesterday the Balach na Ba was enveloped in low cloud so the intended target for the day, Beinn Bhan, was put on hold. So we took a leisurely drive through Applecross, stopping at Sand for Ben to do some bouldering on a large outcrop which has at one time been occupied by prehistoric man; I went off on a walk for a couple of miles across country and then a swim in the sea; a good rest day.

The paths from the shore of Loch Torridon towards Coolags and Achnasehllach start at Annat; they should make a decent circular walk but don’t join up until you reach the A890. However, just below Maol Chean-dearg they are less than a kilometer apart and should be connectable by the high ground on the South side of Beinn na h-Eaglaise. I had reconnoitered this Loch an Eoin path last year on a wet Friday morning and planned an ambitious route incorporating the Loch, MCD, An Ruadh Stac and Beinn Damh returning to Annat via the Coire Roill waterfall path. As usual we fell slightly short of the ambition but still had a great day.

South Torridon from Liathach on 020821 - MCD and ARS on left, BD on right and Beinn na h-Eaglaise center foreground, the path from Annat crosses the lower slopes from the road on the right, around the hill then off to Loch an Eoin on the left.

Parking the car in a layby near the Hotel at 9;00, we headed up the little lane under the trees signed for Glen Carron/Coire Lair. We were quickly joined by four cyclists who had parked at the same layby, we leapfrogged each other almost to Loch an Eoin. The path winds around the Northeastern flank of Beinn na h-Eaglaise, rising to about 300m before levelling off below the Loch. As we rounded the hill the bulk of MCD came into view along with Sgorr Ruadh and Bienn Liath Mhor, An Ruadh Stac being hidden behind MCD.

Ben starting out from the small wood at Annat.

Loch Torridon from Annat path

MCD came into view as we round Beinn na h-Eaglaise


Crossing the burn from Loch na Eoin

Weaving our way between a couple of Lochans and up the slope on the other side of the valley we came up level with Loch an Eoin, where the paths for Coire lair and Coulags split. The cyclist could be seen picking their way along the rising path to Bealach na Lice. Our own path lay over the bealach between MCD and Beinn na h-Eaglaise hugging the base of the former we were heading for the distant bealach between MCD and ARS. There is at least one route up MCD from this side but it requires serious scrambling skills (see Cainrgorm Creepers report dated 12/5/2016 https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=62869&p=318689#p318689 ) which we were saving for later in the day. We took the time to reconnoiter our proposed route over Na Mulcaneann to Beinn Damh, it didn’t look too wet and difficult.

Loch na Eoin and MCD, still shrouded in cloud

The path over the bealach between MCD and Beinn na h-Eaglaise

Beinn Damh comes into view

Small Lochan on the level part of the bealach, the area being boggy

View from the foot of MCD showing the notch of Drochaird Coire Roill. We used the patch of exposed rock debris as our take off point to head across the low lying area of Na Mulcaneann.

Having made the loch about 10;05 we reached the Belach a’ Choire Ghairbh about 11;30. I would recommend this walk even if you were not climbing the hills, the scenery is stunning and the mountains are all one offs and dramatic, the geology of South Torridon is so distinctive with it’s tilted wedges of white quartzite and brown sandstone giving witness to the incredible forces produced by plate tectonics.

The path into the coire between MCD and An Ruadh Stac

The reverse view from Belach a’ Choire Ghairbh of Loch Coire am Ruadh Stac

Closer view of Beinn Damh, now clear of cloud

An Ruadh Stac, a somewhat rocky ascent.

The view up MCD from Bealach a’ Choire Ghairbh, with sandstone on top of quartzite

At the bealach we has a snack and met the first walkers of the day, a father a son from Tonbridge had approached from the Coolags side. We chatted as we struggled up the loose screen of the lower portion of MCD. Eventually the ground levelled off into a field of rough grey Quartzite, around the 757m point. As we were coming back this way I hid my grey bag amongst the rocky outcrops, and took a photo in case I could find it later. The next section of the hill was steeper and turning into the sandstone that give MCD it’s name, this forms a tilted dome on top of the sloping quartzite.

The quartzite levels off and the sandstone forms a domed cap. Beinn Damh summit to the left.

Ben enjoying getting away from the quartzite

The upper slope is a sandstone boulder field, grippy and with decent sized boulders.

looking South towards Fuar Tholl and Meall nan Ceapairean

Fuar Tholl, showing the wedges of white quartzite within the sandstone strata caused by the Moine thrust just to the East

An Ruadh Stac, quartzite cap on sandstone base, all tilted up to the West

Eventually the sandstone levels off to form a wide plateau with a large summit cairn at the North end. Given my limited experience of such cairns, this was by a far the most elaborate with a central solid dome and projecting wings that formed what appeared to be dining booths, two of which were already occupied when we got there. We had a wander round, took the usual masses of pictures, chatted and had a snack. The cloud was high enough to view all the local hills, only the high peaks of the Giants to the North were shrouded in cloud; there was even some patches of blue sky.

Beinn Damh, as seem from the Summit of MCD. The lower sandstone strata is almost level (compared to MCD & ARS) with a thin layer of quartzite to the upper levels.

Beinn na h-Eaglaise from the summit of MCD

Loch an Eoin and the route in from Annat

The conqueror of MCD (along with a few dozen others that day). Luxuriously appointed summit cairn, not quite in view.

Happy to be here

More South Torridon geology, Beinn Liath Mhor & Sgorr non Lochan Uaine

The surprisingly level summit of An Ruadh Stac

From such an advantageous viewpoint we debated the route back, given that it was already 12;45 we decided to skip the pleasures of An Ruadh Stac, the ascent looked like too much of the same we had just endured. The route across to Beinn Damh looked feasible and, if you excluded the big lump of a hill and the scrambling, was probably shorter. Decision made; just the minor inconvenience of descending MCD.

Ben on the descent

The view South of the quartzite boulder field

Meall nan Ceapairean

Descending the quarzite rubble, the worst bit of the day.

Sgorr Ruadh and Fuar Tholl

The Bealach a’ Choire Ghairbh, between MCD and ARS

An Ruadh Stac accross the Loch

We headed South down the sandstone boulder field, down the slope onto the level and onto the quartzite then down the rough loose stuff, in retrospect it was not too bad and the views compensated. We reached the Belach a’ Choire Ghairbh about 14;15 and strolled around MCD to our set off point to cross the low lying Na Mulcaneann, trying to keep to the contour without straying up onto the flat boggy area. Given the recent weather the area was dry and easy to traverse, the watercourses could be jumped over. There was a steep grassy area just below Drochaird Coire Roill but this was soon over with and we stood at the foot of Beinn Damh’s SE spur.

MCD and Loch an Eoin viewed from slope of Beinn Damh

MCD & ARS viewed from Stuc Toll nam Biast on Beinn Damh

For The rest of this walk please refer to Beinn Damh https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=107877

Brief timings
Annat 9;00
Loch an Eoin 10.05
Bealach a Choire Ghairbrill 11;30
Maol Chean-Dearg 12;45
Bealach 14;15
Na mulcaneann 15;25
Beinn Damh Corbett top 17;21
Annatt 18;30
Mountain Walker
Posts: 87
Munros:26   Corbetts:4
Joined: Oct 14, 2020
Location: East Anglia (South Norfolk)

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