I was camping just above the beach at the east end of Fionn Loch and had climbed the two Beinn Deargs the day before - now it was time to return to Poolewe and head to Kinlochewe. At 5am, I wolfed down a large bowl of granola and a cup of tea, then quickly stuffed everything into my large and uncomfortable rucksack and by 6am I was on my way, with a hint of light rain in the air and cloud obscuring even the lower hills. The cool conditions were welcome though as I made good progress and after a little over two hours, reached the gate at the start of the forest section.
After a short rest, I continued on the boggy and, in places, very wet path until back on the track before Kernsary Farm. By now was I beginning to feel tired with increasingly sore shoulders and back and when I reached the tarmac, was just wishing away the miles. At just after 9:30am I was mightily relieved to arrive back at the car and take the pack off. At Gairloch I had one of those 'must stop for coffee at all costs' moment - well, I had been without for 3 days! Much perked up, I then headed to the Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve, just a km or so before Kinlochewe.
Another fine day was in store - the drizzle and low clouds at the coast had been left behind and the sun was out, as I set off at 11:30am along various paths which didn't seem to go in the right direction. In fact I ended up nearly in Kinlochewe before heading up a track and then going off-piste to regain the path I should have been on. This took a deal of effort as I had to cross a few deep clefts and fight through heather and bracken across rough ground. At last I made it to the proper path and I could make rapid progress up to the flat area between the two peaks, dominated by quartzite crags and outcrops.
I decided to tackle Meall a' Ghiubhais first and set off along the rocky bealach and then onto the gradually ascending slopes, with increasingly good views back to Beinn Eighe and the other Torridon giants. Made it up to the NE summit and then turned left to head SW up to the main summit, which I reached at 2:20pm. I was now ready for my lunch - well it was over 9 hours since breakfast! I took a few photos in between munching sandwiches then messaged home before setting off back down to the bealach.
The descent to the bealach was fairly easy being mostly on grass with a few rocky sections to overcome and soon I was traversing across the quartzite rocks until reaching the start of the narrow valley between Ruadh-stac Beag and Creag Dhubh, the most easterly top on Beinn Eighe.
A decent but, in places, very narrow path took me all the way up that valley, although at times care was needed on sections of scree. I eventually reached the flatter area at the top and then crossed over to gain the southern spur of the hill. The grass ran out, to be replaced by unstable boulders and sections of scree as the gradient steepened.
I headed more or less up the middle of the face, veering a bit to the right higher up, which involved a bit of careful scrambling on unstable ground. There were numerous tiny cairns visible, but not really any semblance of a path or route to link them. After 45 minutes of high concentration, I made it to the summit plateau and picked my over more boulders to reach the summit cairn at 4:45pm.
I now had three hours to get back to the car and then to the campsite as the gates closed at 8pm. I picked my way carefully over the summit plateau to where I had come up and managed to link together a number of the small cairns with small sections of scree through the boulders. However, this did involve many difficult manoeuvres over large unstable boulders - every handhold and foot placement needed to be tested before committing to a move. It took an interminable hour to get down what had taken only 40 minutes to climb up.
I now had just two hours to get back, however I couldn't rush the next section, back along the path down the narrow valley. I did however manage to cut a corner off near the end to gain the good path. As I was wearing my lightweight walking trainers, I could run down the easier parts and luckily there were plenty of runnable sections on the way down. I was making good progress and when I reached the beginning of the woods a mile or so from the end, I knew I was ok. Arrived back at the car at 7:45pm and at the Kinlochewe campsite at 7:55pm - phew!
Another outstanding day with great weather, but boy, my feet and toes were sore (over 20 miles walked/jogged, 9 with a heavy pack).
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.