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Finding the perfect dip below the sandstone pavement

Finding the perfect dip below the sandstone pavement


Postby dogplodder » Wed Sep 06, 2023 10:04 pm

Route description: Beinn a' Chearcaill, from Loch Maree

Fionas included on this walk: Beinn a' Chearcaill

Date walked: 18/08/2023

Distance: 12.5 km

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Parked off the road a bit north of the Bridge of Grunie and walked back to take a track leading to a white cottage. About level with the cottage the track swings left but we knew to leave the track and head for a stalkers path which isn't at first all that obvious. The telegraph poles ahead are the direction to go.

Keira sniffs the air while we head for telegraph poles
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It's a narrower path than I expected but gives easy walking at a gently rising gradient with views of shapely hills from the start.

Stalkers path
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Torridon hills ahead
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Zoomed to Ruadh-Stac Mor left, Sail Mhor centre, Creag Na Feol right
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Erratics mimic shape of Slioch behind
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After about 2.5km we reached a cairn marking where to leave the main path for a fainter, rougher path to the right, which turned out to be not too bad, dry and easy to follow.

Right turn here
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Path up north side of Coire Briste
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Slioch again
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We arrived at a large flat-topped rock just asking to be sat on. It was too early for lunch but would have been rude not to have stopped here, causing a ripple of excitement for Keira who associates sitting down with food.

Nice flat rock in Coire Briste - snack time? (Julie's photo)
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Julie and Seamus
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Burn running through gorge here
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Cairn marks end of path
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True to her breed, Keira's main obsession after food is water. All water sources must be checked out, fresh or minging. The burn we were following was fresh and we could have replenished our water supplies from it had we needed to, which we didn't. And preferably before the dogs mooched around in it.

Wot labrador business is this?
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A few minutes later we reached a lochan where Keira could show off her total immersion techniques while Seamus watched.

Good for seal impersonation
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We noted this as a good option for Julie to take a dip on the descent. She's so into wild swimming she carries all her gear on a hill walk in the hope there might be somewhere suitable. I like the idea of the invigorating refreshingness of it and the warm glow after, but I can't be faffed with the disrobing, drying and rerobing aspects of it and am in awe of Julie who does all of the above in speedy manner and with minimum fuss.

After marking this as 'the one' it didn't stop us assessing every patch of water between it and the summit. The second one we passed was well vegetated with weed and looked suspiciously like it could have blue algae lurking so I instructed Keira not to go there and she didn't. After life with previous dogs of a more fixed agenda her compliance is always pleasantly surprising!

This one not so good
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We headed towards some craggy seams but on closer inspection some of the rock was covered with slime and had to be avoided. We made a mental note to keep further west on our descent.

Over to our left loomed Meall a' Ghiubhais looking steep and impressive. A group of us including 3 kids climbed it in 2015 going up from Loch Maree by the Beinn Eighe 'Mountain Trail' to a strange moonscape before the final steep ascent. Another hill around here to be recommended.

https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=56218

Meall a' Ghiubhais (zoomed)
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But that was only a prelude to the main event. Feasting ones eyes on the majestic spread of Beinn Eighe and Liathach from the less seen north side is what it's all about. Beinn a' Chearcaill is one of those hills climbed not so much for itself as for the vantage point it gives to the Torridon giants. We wandered a bit further east over grass to have a better look before ascending SW to reach an extensive slab of Torridonian sandstone, giving easy walking west towards the pile of stones that is the summit cairn.

North side of Beinn Eighe and part of Liathach
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Beinn a' Chearcaill summit cairn (J's photo)
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Summit selfie
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Looking subdued after I told the pair off for goofing around when I was trying to take a photo!
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Now for those summit views.

Loch Maree and Beinn Airigh Charr
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Beinn Dearg & Beinn Alligin
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Liathach
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Zoomed to Coire Mhic Fhearchair and Triple Buttress of Beinn Eighe
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It was windy on top so we found shelter behind a rock for lunch with great views NW. Any direction would have given great views but there's something special about seeing the sea and islands from a summit. We had both carried water for the dogs which they happily lapped up. Lunch over we returned across the flat rock littered with stones to begin our descent. An unusual hill, Beinn a' Chearcaill offers rewards for scaling her out of all proportion to the effort involved. She punches above her weight.

Summit pavement
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Descent towards Loch Maree
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We kept left of where the slimy rocks were and passed a third lochan on our way to the one with weeds and possible algae in it..

Another one not to swim in?
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I wondered if the cooling breeze might dampen my swimming pal's aquatic urges but as we neared the lochan Keira had tested earlier she shot off to get herself organised for a chilly dip.

This looks more like it
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Julie's swim lochan
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I admired her determination. It was cold going in but after a few seconds to adjust was refreshing, invigorating and gave that endorphin hit that is the reward for all those who do crazy things for pleasure. I reckon it's an addiction and the more you do it the more you want to. Like climbing mountains.

Is everything okay over there?
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I'm on my way!
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I also admired her going in when she had an appointment the next day at 9.00am with two others to swim 2.6km of Loch Ness from Aldourie to Dores. She did it too and against a stiff head wind. Seriously impressive, or mad, I'm not sure which.

Slioch with Fisherfield hills behind
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Keira investigating something on other side of gorge
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A guy we'd seen earlier (the only person we'd seen all day) with his springer spaniel was approaching from the other side of the burn. As always Keira was aware of him before I was and barked. I told her it was fine and they crossed over to have a quick chat before speeding off down the path at a faster rate than we were going. The rest of the descent was uneventful until Seamus got something stuck in his paw which needed attention.

Just after reaching the road a bizarre thing happened on the driveway we'd just come out of. A car was revved up and driven noisily in circles at speed, skidding in the process and spilling on to the road, which could have caused a collision if another vehicle had been coming. It made me think of the "Dukes of Hazzard" my sons used to watch in the 1980s, with skidding vehicles throwing up a cloud of dust. An unlikely end to a day of peace in the hills and stunning landscape on every side.
Last edited by dogplodder on Wed Sep 06, 2023 11:34 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Finding the perfect dip below the sandstone pavement

Postby AHillTooFar » Wed Sep 06, 2023 10:57 pm

A very odd summit plateau but fantastic views. Did this a couple of years ago now but it is a great walk for the views and you got the weather for it.
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Re: Finding the perfect dip below the sandstone pavement

Postby Anne C » Thu Sep 07, 2023 10:17 am

Lovely report dogplodder…I’m a big fan of that mountain given the views! Stunning.I can also understand Julie’s wish to swim - having been huckled reluctantly into that by the family in Torridon recently, I’m a convert.Those changing robes make all the difference!
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Re: Finding the perfect dip below the sandstone pavement

Postby dogplodder » Fri Sep 08, 2023 4:20 pm

AHillTooFar wrote:A very odd summit plateau but fantastic views. Did this a couple of years ago now but it is a great walk for the views and you got the weather for it.


As you say an unusual summit - but we really liked it. :D
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Re: Finding the perfect dip below the sandstone pavement

Postby dogplodder » Mon Sep 11, 2023 8:54 am

Anne C wrote:Lovely report dogplodder…I’m a big fan of that mountain given the views! Stunning.I can also understand Julie’s wish to swim - having been huckled reluctantly into that by the family in Torridon recently, I’m a convert.Those changing robes make all the difference!


Julie has a robe like a mini tent. You could spend a night in it. :lol:
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Re: Finding the perfect dip below the sandstone pavement

Postby tweedledog » Mon Sep 11, 2023 9:53 am

Ah, brings back memories Kathleen. Up there many years ago, though without the entertaining company of natatorial friends and canines. What a fine area it is. Maybe I should have retired to that house in Kinlochewe...
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Re: Finding the perfect dip below the sandstone pavement

Postby dogplodder » Thu Sep 14, 2023 10:01 pm

tweedledog wrote:Ah, brings back memories Kathleen. Up there many years ago, though without the entertaining company of natatorial friends and canines. What a fine area it is. Maybe I should have retired to that house in Kinlochewe...


Ah but Andy you did rather well with the house you did retire to! I'm off tomorrow with natatorial pal to Alltbeithe - she to camp and I to the hostel. I had intended camping, packed the tent, camper mat, food etc but couldn't fit sleeping bag in. Pete tried valiantly to attach it to my rucksack but rucksack wasn't intended for that so not very hopefully tried the hostel and despite a good forecast got a bed! I'm at that stage I wonder if every Munro I climb could be my last - so might as well go out with a blast with these ones! :-P
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Re: Finding the perfect dip below the sandstone pavement

Postby tweedledog » Thu Sep 14, 2023 10:06 pm

Have a great time Kathleen. Hostel sounds a better bet than unpredictable weather in a tent 😏
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Re: Finding the perfect dip below the sandstone pavement

Postby dogplodder » Mon Sep 18, 2023 2:02 pm

tweedledog wrote:Have a great time Kathleen. Hostel sounds a better bet than unpredictable weather in a tent 😏


Had a great time thanks. Hostel was good with quiet dorm the first night and loud snorer the second! :lol: Julie camped with her spaniel by river. Did Mullach Na Dheiragain and Sgurr Nan Ceathramhnan as had done Am Socach before, though I was too exhausted to have included it anyway! I'll post a full report in due course. :D
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Re: Finding the perfect dip below the sandstone pavement

Postby Graeme D » Wed Sep 20, 2023 9:42 pm

An incredible summit - one you could possibly land a 747 on - with great views into the back of the Torridon giants and across Loch Maree to Slioch. Also a good one for Labradors and wild swimmers! :D
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