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Beinn Bhan - From the West

Beinn Bhan - From the West

Postby Verylatestarter » Sat Sep 10, 2022 6:32 pm

Route description: Beinn Bhan, near Kishorn

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Bhan

Date walked: 20/08/2022

Time taken: 4.6 hours

Distance: 10.8 km

Ascent: 747m

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Having stayed in the Ratagan SYH on Friday night and having a very disturbed sleep we set off late morning in pouring rain and high winds. One of the walkers from the hostel, John, was off to his completion Munro on Beinn Sgrithall, determined to do or die; we were less inclined towards the latter and decided on a short day which we could fit between the pulses of bad weather. We chose Beinn Bhan in Applecross – a route that has been on the to-do list for 3 years and was originally intended, somewhat ambitiously, to be done in combination with Sgurr a Chaorachain. We would make that decision when we got to it. The sky was overcast at the Bealach na Ba and we ascended in rain, cyclists were struggling uphill impressively whilst we sat in our nice warn, dry car; we chatted to a Dutch couple who stopped to admire the views before coasting downhill to Applecross.
Beinn Bhan from the top of the Bealach na Ba. the route takes us from middle left diagonally upwards to the top of the ridge shrouded in cloud - we started off after heavy rain had just cleared.

The start of the path - marked by a stick - just down from the parking spot

We went down the North slope and parked at a layby at NG 763437; I got out looking for the sheilings that indicated the start of the track that went across the moors. These turned out to be concealed over a small ridge and the path start marked by a stick on the roadside just down from the layby; I’d originally missed it because I was avoiding some boy racer who was attempting his best Top Gear manoeuvres on the NC500. The weather was clearing over Skye so we set off. The track was reasonable, given the amount of rain, somewhat faint in placed but navigation was straightforward in clear visibility, we just aimed for the lowest point in the ridgeline to the East. The path wound a little, crossed two small streams and ascended the slope on the opposite side of the depression. There were a few cairns and large boulders to guide the way.

The faint track across the moor, we never lost it so, although it could not be ranked 'excellent' it was 'good'.

The track is faint but we headed for the dip in the ridge and the boulder of the skyline.

Two small burns cross the shallow depression, neither were difficult to cross despite recent rain

A path marker, note skyline boulder behind - whoever put that there did us a service.

Approaching the skyline boulder

We reached the crest of the ridge after about 40 minutes. This opened up the fantastic views down into the Coire nan Arr and across to Beinn Bhan. Below us the ground dropped in a series of rocky terraces and over to the left (North) was the Bealach nan Arr, we worked our way across and down the steps in easy stages. We met an Irish couple having lunch just below the crags of Carn Dearg, we had previously met them at the upper car park just before they set off with the same destination but via the track to the radio mast on Sgurr a Chaorachain. They confirmed that the route from the mast was awkward as they had to navigate a series of large rocky steps, and were not looking forward to going back the same way. It turns out our route was much less arduous if missing the drama of walking along the coire edge for most of the way. Although we saw the couple following us they appeared to have given up soon after as we did not see them on the open plateau.
Looking back to the boulder on the skyline and the Bealach na Ba road beyond

Looking across the coire rim to the rocky bealach nan Arr and Beinn Bhan

Na Ciochan comes into view

Looking back to the low point in the wall to the West of the coire

Looking up from the low point of the bealach, we bore to the left to avoid the large blocks, beyond this is a dip and a second rocky rise

Looking South into Coire nan Arr

Two walkers in a dip after the first rise in the bealach - faint path above the small lochans

Having started late we pushed on over the grassy bealach, we bore to the left of the first rocky step avoiding most of the big blocks we then swung right up the rubbly second step, finding a faint path. This eventually opened out onto a flat stony plateau as we got higher we could set the large summit cairn in the middle of large flat area.

The rocky upper part of the bealach, after the first rise - a faint diagonal path can be spotted

A view worth the walk

Looking West over the rocky part of the bealach

The tiered sandstone terraces of Na Ciochain - definitely not a scramble

The spacious summit cairn/enclosure on the wide open plateau that forms the ridge

The drama on most hills we go to is either the summit or adjacent ridges and spurs. The peak of Beinn Bhan is fairly mundane having enough flat area to fit several football pitches on; it’s what is below that makes the hill so special. Bypassing the cairn I went straight to the far edge as distant views of Torridon opened up. Below the East flank of the mountain were the beautiful Coire nan Poite and it’s Lochans which looked stunning in the ever changing light. The two adjacent spurs A’ Poite and A’ Chioch climbed up either side of the coire and offered great scrambling – if we had dryer weather and more time we might has attempted the latter but this was not the day for it. Clouds were already gathering over the islands so we needed to hurry on.

Looking down on A Chioch from near the summit

A Phoit and Sron Coire an Fhamair beyond

North across the shallow undulations of the plateau top

A Phoit from directly above - probably not a scramble

The South side of Sron Coire an Fhamair - a straightforward scramble?

Looking East to the South Torridon hills, Beinn Damh is the dark profile

North side of A Chioch - looks like a great scramble and one we hope to return to do.

I first wandered along the escarpment to have a look at the Coire an Fhamair as a possible down route and at the Sron Coire an Fhamhair spur as another way back up, maybe with the idea of returning next year. On the way back I collected Ben from the cairn to have a closer look at A’ Chioch. We didn’t go that far South as the ground slope off and we were distracted by the cloud build up West of us, so we set off back to the bealach conscious of the fact that route finding could be difficult over the open ground and bealach. Ben collected a discarded surveying poll on the way, clearing rubbish shows respect to the landscape.

The cosy cairn and trig point

View South showing the WH route off the hill and Kishorn in the distance

Zoomed view of Kishorn and loch Coire nan Arr - somewhere down there is a boulder with Ben's name on it and a muddy puddle i spent 3 hours standing in a few years ago

Cloud building up as Ben carries his prize surveyors poll back towards the bealach

The faint path down to the Bealach nan Arr - Applecross and North Skye beyond

View from high up on the bealach to Carn Deag and the ledges that lead around the NW edge of the coire - we bore left (South) along the widest ledge.

Another view of the North side of Na Ciochan and Sgurr a Chaorachain

View from the bealach North into Coire Atadail

The route back was a reverse and took 1 hr. 40min to return to the car. For the last 100m or so it was raining and by the time we had changed and got back to the bottom of the pass the weather had closed in. Feeling rather smug for avoiding bad weather we set off for the inland route to Ullapool and the prospect of a better day the next!

Looking along the ledge, mast on Sgurr a Chaorachain in distance, note how rocky the route along the coire edge is.

Route back along the wide ledge to the low point on the West side of the Coire

Last view South down Coire nan Arr as clouds build up

The view North into Coire nan Arr as we were leaving - impeccable timing for once
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Re: Beinn Bhan - From the West

Postby gaffr » Sun Sep 11, 2022 9:07 am

Although I have been down that road to the camping in Applecross after visiting the other Na Ciochan on the other Corbett Chaorachain. Had not noticed the path leading to the Beinn Bhan....well a path on part of the way and then it fades somewhat. :)
The other A'Chioch on Beinn Bhan is a fine way to the summit area with plenty of choice through the Sandstone outcrops that make up the final section that perhaps looks a bit daunting from above the final wee col but all unfolds when you view from down in the col.
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Re: Beinn Bhan - From the West

Postby jmarkb » Sun Sep 11, 2022 12:10 pm

Nice report - an interesting alternative to the more usual route! I fairly recently did a round of the two Corbetts from Drochaid Coire nan Arr, and can confirm that the section from the mast to the first col is pretty rough going. There are lots of hidden shelves full of boulders that makes it hard to pick out the best line.

Na Ciochan is usually done by the classic climb of Cioch Nose (traditionally graded VDiff, but hard for the grade, and given Severe in some guidebooks). The new edition of the SMC Highland Scrambles North book describes a more devious line which is mostly scrambling with a couple of sections of Diff.

A' Cioch on Beinn Bhan is a very good scrambling expedition. The new book has upgraded it to Mod - the main difficulties are the downclimbs into the gaps and in the shallow gully on the final climb. I think top of A' Poite itself can be reached quite easily, but the upper ridge is Severe and is rarely climbed.
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