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Binneins by Touch

Binneins by Touch

Postby NevJB » Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:57 pm

Munros included on this walk: Binnein Beag, Binnein Mor

Date walked: 08/06/2009

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After a sunny, but windy ascent of Sgurr a’Mhaim on Thursday (14/5) we were hoping to do the Binneins on Friday and complete the Mamores. Not so. We had only driven a couple of miles towards the Mamore Lodge Hotel (MLH) when it started to tip it down. Now don’t mind this once we’ve started; but the prospect of rain, wind (lots) and no views all day puts the dampener on our enthusiasm so to speak. So we toured the NW Highlands and imagined the tops we couldn’t see. Saturday was to be better – the proper mountain forecast said so – Sunday not so good. As it transpired – not so – was the other way around.
Saturday morning – not brilliant, but the promise of cloud lifting by the afternoon and only occasional light showers. Wind; a balmy 35 mph, dying to nothing at times. We set out from the MLH and stuck to the Land Rover track – quicker in the end than the more direct route over the footbridge. We intended to do the Beag first and then, pins being willing, skirt around and do the Mor, returning via Sgurr Eilde Beag.
By the 600m contour we were in cloud and rain – not the occasional light stuff – wind driven bullets would be more accurate. By Coire an Lochain it had become decidedly gloomy – late November Sunday afternoon type gloom. But it had stopped raining! Now those of you who know this well will remember a junction of paths just past the largest of the lochans, which we couldn’t see. Get the map AND COMPASS out and check – but, no; I was sure it was the left-hand path; the right-hand one went to Sgurr Eilde Mor (we did that last year) and the one ahead went downhill towards Sidhean Dubh (eventually). In my defence I have a bit of a Hobsons Choice in ‘moist’ conditions. Being long-sighted I can take my glasses off to see where I’m going, but not be able to read the map; or, peer through misty lenses and try to relate map to terrain. Except that we couldn’t see the terrain, save the 20–30m immediately around. Anyway we agreed – the left-hand path. Note to self – GET THE COMPASS OUT, clean glasses and correctly align map with compass. You would have thought that we’d have noticed that we were going up instead of going down a bit and generally contouring around the base of Binnein Mor. Weird how the mind, when set, can banish all other thoughts. But after a few patches of snow(?) a ridge loomed out of the mist. We then realised what we had done and being near the top pressed on. This little bit of ascent didn’t seem to be as severe as the map suggested; again, strange what the mind does when you can’t place what you’re doing that moment in a larger context – that feeling of ‘do we [have] to go up there’? We now followed the ridge to the 1062m spot height. Checked the compass (not wanting to go to Na Gruagaichean and an early bath) and continued towards the south top of Binnein Mor. Went over some narrow rocky bits, but as we could now only see about 15-20m ahead all sense of exposure was lost. The wind faded to almost nothing so just short of the south top (I think) we dropped into the lee and had lunch.
Refuelled we went on and walked straight past the south top without seeing anything – I thought there was a small cairn?? We knew we’d arrived at the north top – the ground in front suddenly went downwards – steeply. Neill produced his camera to record yet another top which looked so much others conquered. Here I could substitute from my back catalogue any of various cairn shots in the mist; but you know there would be someone – a cairn fanatic - who would spot that we fibbed. So here it is – a very murky north top of Binnein Mor.
Neill_Binnien Mor_N Top_small.jpg

Going down. Conscious of the steep drops to out right (east) we set out down that horrible kind of ever so slightly loose shattered rock; the surface of which has an unnerving teflon quality when damp. Steady a she goes! There was meant to be a path down the ridge if only we could see – but we couldn’t, so the descent was rather slow and tortuous. Only after emerging from the cloud base could see that we had veered/strayed too far to the west when seeing the ‘wall’ of An Gearanach and An Garbhanach. We picked up the stalkers’ path – obviously not well used around here as it was indistinct in places. I should mention that it had started raining again and the wind had risen with a vengeance. Still having walked this far [and] that we probably would not walk in this far again, we pressed on to Binnein Beag. Ascending the south ridge should have been straight forward were it not for the wind that was blowing east to west and trying to send us airborne. The rain can best be described as painful. Still, as tradition dictates, pics of two soggy walkers huddling in the little shelter on the summit. We didn’t stay long.
Nev_Binnein Beag top_small.jpg

Don't I look happy? Neill equally so.
Neill_Binnein Beag top2_small.jpg

No sooner had we got off Binnein Beag than the cloud lifted …… for about a minute! During which time Neill managed a couple of pics.
Binnien Mor_nearly_small.jpg

Nev_Binnein Beag_small.jpg

The thought of dinner and beer; no, that’s beer, then dinner, then beer was to the fore. We set off a determined pace (for us) and made it back to the MLH in just under 2½ hours.
Afterthoughts. A good day despite all that the weather could hurl at us. Don’t rely on that infallible sense of direction – it’s fallible. USE THE COMPASS. Mamores done.
The weather on Sunday – sunny, warm, calm. Legs feeling a little tired we opted for a walk along the Caledonian Canal – that was enough.
This year I get another bite at the cherry in August – staying in Ullapool and will hopefully drag my [much] younger nephew across some (all?) of the Fannichs + fishing on rest days = bliss
Posts: 117
Munros:55   Corbetts:3
Joined: Dec 11, 2008
Location: N Essex

Re: Binneins by Touch

Postby canisp » Thu Jun 11, 2009 10:25 am

Cheers for this one :D a fine pair of hills, brought back memories of a similar day a few years back.
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Location: Barrow in Furness/Cumbria

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