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Beinn Mheadhoin: 1 for the price of 3

Beinn Mheadhoin: 1 for the price of 3


Postby Alastair S » Tue May 03, 2011 8:20 pm

Route description: Beinn Mheadhoin via the Shelter Stone

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Mheadhoin

Date walked: 29/04/2011

Time taken: 8.18 hours

Distance: 18.6 km

Ascent: 1499m

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Beinn Mheadhoin profile.jpg


I'd clocked Beinn Mheadhoin when I tackled Bynack More last summer and thought what a mighty fine looking mountain it was. While it is doable from the south via Derry Lodge the northern approach looked much more interesting. And this approach also provided the opportunity to get in some scrambling practise ahead of my upcoming attempt on the Forcan ridge. So with a fine forecast & the opportunity to escape the wedding coverage headed off earlyish and was on my way by 8:45.

So the Fiacaill ridge... I'd seen malky_c's excellent & detailed report on this arête and it didn't look too bad. However when I got there the wind was blowing some from the east so I made for the shelter of the west. So I didn't go over all the pinnacles. The west way leads to a steep gully that doesn't have any exposure but does require you to use your hands the whole way up (so no photos I'm afraid). There were a couple of walkers half a k ahead of me and I would have liked to catch up with them to see which way they went. Unfortunately I didn't catch up, but from what I could see it looked liked they also took the west way. No mind, this was still more scrambling than I've managed to date so it was well worth while.

Fiacaill Arête Conquered - two climbers top the Fiacaill arete ahead of me.
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Fiacaill Arête (West)
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Fiacaill Arête (East)
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Now on the plateau it was easy to pick out a direct route across a large patch of snow down to Coire Domhain. Kept the Allt Coire Domhain to my left as I headed down into Glen Avon. Once down out of the wind I stopped for lunch #1. The descend of Coire Domhain was quite tricky. The stream isn't a simple affair with bits popping up all over the place plus it's pretty steep. I kept fairly west so as to employ a divide & conquer strategy when in came to crossing the streams. This proved a doddle. Once over these I descended further to pick up a path to the Stone Shelter. Hard to believe 17 clansmen took shelter here - but I didn't venture in. There were also 2 or 3 other similar shelters in the vicinity. Had lunch #2 here and watched various groups making their way about. A group of four made short work of crossing the stream that flows into the head of Loch Avon.

Allt Coire Domhain - looking across the head of Glen Avon towards the cliffs of Carn Etchachan.
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The Head Of Glen Avon
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Feith Buidhe Cascade
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Castlegates Gully (I think)
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The ascent out off the glen (is this known as the Goat track?) crossed one large steep patch of snow but that was the sole difficulty on the way to Beinn Mheadhoin. The plateau was amazingly desert like and the barns are quite something. The wind was fairly strong up here and I had to take my usual me-at-the-summit photo sitting down. On the way back I made for the crags to the south to try and get a photo looking down Glen Derry, but when I got there the blast of wind coming up the valley was so great that I had difficulty standing yet alone take a photo. In hind-sight I should have headed north for the Top of Stacca Dubha which would have given me excellent views of Loch Avon.

Beinn Mheadhoin Panorama
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Beinn Mheadhoin Saddle
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The Barns Of Beinn Mheadhoin
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Beinn Mheadhoin Tor #1
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Beinn Mheadhoin Tor #2
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Beinn Mheadhoin Summit Tor - not a great photo but it shows the easy way up the back
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Approaching Pilgrims
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So back via Coire Raibeirt. The crossing of the stream flowing into the loch was a snitch. Kept my boots & didn't get any water in them. Meet a group of eight here on their way to the Hutchison hut (having failed to get a place the previous evening at the Ryvoan bothy). And I thought the scrambling was over but the way up (the east side of) the stream involved more use of hands.

Loch Avon Beach - there are stepping stones across the stream and with the recent dry spell it looked like you could get across without getting your feet wet.
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Loch Avon Beach Panorama
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Taking A Breather
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Allt Coire Raibeirt
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So: 1,500 metres of ascent despite the 600m start - truly one for the price of three - but still well worth it :D

Flickr set over here.
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Alastair S
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Re: Beinn Mheadhoin: 1 for the price of 3

Postby Johnny Corbett » Tue May 03, 2011 8:25 pm

Nice one Alastair, some cracking photos there. How was it crossing the inflow to Loch Avon?
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Re: Beinn Mheadhoin: 1 for the price of 3

Postby malky_c » Tue May 03, 2011 8:42 pm

That was worth waiting for :D

Looks like (yet) another great day out in the Cairngorms - you seem to have been hitting these pretty reguarly of late. Unlucky with the wind on the Fiacall, but it's still the most fun way onto the plateau I think (without climbing, at least).

Interesting route down Coire Domhain. I seen to remember HighlandSC went this way once, and it looked pretty steep. Was looking over to it when I was up there last July, and I thought it could be potentially very awkward if you didn't follow the right line.
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Re: Beinn Mheadhoin: 1 for the price of 3

Postby Stretch » Tue May 03, 2011 8:52 pm

I love this hill, certainly like this approach too. Really good pics as usual Alastair, we'll be seeing you in Glen Shiel soon.
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Re: Beinn Mheadhoin: 1 for the price of 3

Postby davgil » Tue May 03, 2011 8:53 pm

Brilliant Alastair!

These photos are excellent with the landscape bathed in some beautiful light.
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Re: Beinn Mheadhoin: 1 for the price of 3

Postby Klaasloopt » Tue May 03, 2011 9:26 pm

Fascinating route. Lot of work. It's in my to do list now (that's getting unbearably long these days).
(the pictures are good in their composition and views, but do balance the very 'dearg' colors, it's 'gorm' out there :? )
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Re: Beinn Mheadhoin: 1 for the price of 3

Postby Alastair S » Tue May 03, 2011 10:01 pm

malky_c wrote:Interesting route down Coire Domhain. I seen to remember HighlandSC went this way once, and it looked pretty steep. Was looking over to it when I was up there last July, and I thought it could be potentially very awkward if you didn't follow the right line.

Yes to the above - a couple of times I came to some 20 ft drops & had to crab sideways for a bit. Looking back from the bottom there looks like a path to the north of Allt Coire Domhain. Disappeared half way up & it would mean crossing one large stream at the bottom rather than 3 smaller ones as I did (but would be fine right now though).

Johnny Corbett wrote:How was it crossing the inflow to Loch Avon?

A snitch - kept my boots on and didn't get a drop in them.
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Re: Beinn Mheadhoin: 1 for the price of 3

Postby rockhopper » Tue May 03, 2011 10:05 pm

Fantastic Alastair - photos are brilliant, great detail in the tor pictures. :D

Hoping to get up this way in summer when we're at Coylumbridge - will be looking again at your report when planning :thumbup:
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Re: Beinn Mheadhoin: 1 for the price of 3

Postby LeithySuburbs » Tue May 03, 2011 10:31 pm

Some cracking pics as usual :D . Fiacaill ridge is on my list too :) (I may have a scrambly report coming up when I find my camera :? ).

The tors look like something from Easter Island :) .
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Re: Beinn Mheadhoin: 1 for the price of 3

Postby IainWhite » Wed May 04, 2011 12:44 am

Great report Alastair, and the pics are stunning I have only started walking recently, got the bug bad, doing the caledonian challange next month, but looking for some challenging hills after that, this one look like a cracker
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Re: Beinn Mheadhoin: 1 for the price of 3

Postby HighlandSC » Wed May 04, 2011 12:54 pm

Very nice Alastair :D
Some cracking shots there, you've done justice to the beauty of the Loch Avon basin. The torrs are great too 8)
Beinn Mheadhoin is likely to be the next big thing I do from that side of the Cairngorms.


Alastair S wrote:
malky_c wrote:Interesting route down Coire Domhain. I seen to remember HighlandSC went this way once, and it looked pretty steep. Was looking over to it when I was up there last July, and I thought it could be potentially very awkward if you didn't follow the right line.

Yes to the above - a couple of times I came to some 20 ft drops & had to crab sideways for a bit. Looking back from the bottom there looks like a path to the north of Allt Coire Domhain. Disappeared half way up & it would mean crossing one large stream at the bottom rather than 3 smaller ones as I did (but would be fine right now though).


Malky is correct. I once did a loop from the ski centre down to Loch Avon and back, although I did the reverse of you, going down Coire Raibeirt and coming back up Coire Domhain. I recall a few tricky bits descending Coire Raibeirt, but coming back up Domhain was a killer. If I remember right there is a faint path for most of it (which I failed to find at first) but very steep in places and crossing back and forth over a stream.
The twist to my tale is that I was doing it all with a camping pack on – had recently got all the gear and was out for a trial run of walking carrying all that weight.
My route and pics are here: http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=2295
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