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Barcaldine hills...after work

Barcaldine hills...after work


Postby malky_c » Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:02 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Creach Bheinn (Loch Creran)

Grahams included on this walk: Beinn Bhreac (Loch Creran), Beinn Mheadhonach, Beinn Molurgainn

Date walked: 09/08/2011

Time taken: 5.75 hours

Distance: 18.5 km

Ascent: 1710m

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Corbetts: Creach Bheinn
Grahams: Beinn Bhreac, Beinn Mheadhonach, Beinn Molurgainn
Date walked: 09/08/2011
Distance: 18.5 km
Ascent: 1710 m
Time: 5 hours 45 minutes
Weather: Warm, sunny, breezy.

I had a meeting and site visit in Oban to attend to, which I had been looking forward to immensely. Not so much because of work, but more because if I set off nice and early, I'd have some time for a walk on the way home. I'd been looking at the Grahams (and Corbett) to the east of Benderloch for a year or so, but Kinley's rather good report from last November had sent them way up the 'to do' list. As I would be starting in the afternoon, I wasn't too sure how far round I would get, but I thought it worth a bash anyway.


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As it happened, there was less to see than expected on site, and I was parked up on the Bonawe - Loch Creran road at 1pm. At the top of the hill, there is a little bit of parking room next to a passing place and opposite the gate I wanted to start off through. There was already a 4x4 in the space, but I was able to squeeze in and still leave room for cars to pass.

I'd been eyeing the weather and already identified Tuesday as the best day to be out. I didn't want to have to do my site visit in the rain, I'm sure you'll understand (nothing to do with the walking, honest guv) :wink: . Starting out through the gate on the east side of the road, the weather was lovely and sunny, with a breeze keeping the midges at bay. There was already a nice view back down to Loch Etive to the south. Almost immediately I had to climb down across an unexpected mini-gorge which didn't really show up on the map, but after that the walking to the summit of Beinn Bhreac was much easier than expected. Pathless and occasionally boggy, yes, but not overly steep and not particuarly tussocky. I passed a cairn and a small lochan on the way up, and in a little over an hour, I was at the massive summit cairn.

Loch Etive from the road:
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Unexpected crossing:
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Small loch, looking towards Mull:
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Eunaich, Chochuill, Cruachan, with Beinn Mheadhonach in front:
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North to Bheinn a Bheithr and Ben Nevis:
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The main draw of these hills is the views down the Firth of Lorn, across to Mull and over to Ben Cruachan. All of these now appeared to spectacular effect, although Cruachan was partly hidden by Beinn Mheadhonach. A casual glance at the map of this area can leave you confused as to how many Grahams are in this area, and which points are the true summits. The true summit of this Graham was the un-named 726m one to the east. You could probably cut straight over to this on the ascent, but you wouldn't want to miss the views from the 708m summit.

Mull and the Firth of Lorn:
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Appin and Ardgour:
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South across Oban and Kerrera. Jura in the cloud in the distance:
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Beinn Breac summit cairn looking SW:
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Boats moored in Loch Creran:
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Gleann Dubh, the northern corrie of Beinn Breac:
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The Ben:
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I headed east, surprised at how easy going the terrain was. Mainly lovely short grass and moss underfoot. After having a late lunch on the top, I continued east, where the ridge narrowed pleasingly over Mam Hael and lovely rounded boulders added to the underfoot experience. At the col, the going was more steep up the back of Creach Bheinn, but not overly so. I popped out next to the trig point rather sooner than expected and enjoyed the views to Beinn Sgulaird.

Ben Starav from Mam Hael:
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Creach Bheinn across Mam Hael:
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Cruachan:
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Ben Sgularid from Creach Bheinn:
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An ascent of Beinn Sgulaird in the summer of 1994 had been my last visit to the hills in this area. That had been a fun family walk, where we had set off far too late. My dad was all for us moving faster, while my mum slowed her pace even more, probably just to spite him. We did the last hour of descent in darkness. Happy memories :lol:

Across Loch Etive and up Glen Kinglass:
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I approximately retraced my steps to the col, then contoured round Mam Hael in the general direction of Beinn Morlugainn. I'm not always a fan of contouring, but this was fine, with even sketchy animal tracks to follow in places. In no time at all, I was at the twin summits of Beinn Morlugainn. Occasional glimpses of the mid-section of Loch Etive had been seen previously, with Ben Starav providing the back drop, but these views began to open up properly.

Cruachan from Beinn Molurgainn:
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So far, the theme of the day seemed to be arriving at summits way earlier than estimated, which is the reverse of what usually happens for me. It had taken me 3 hours to get this far, so I was now drooling at the prospect of carrying on to Beinn Mheadhonach, which I hadn't expected to have time for. Other reports and comments make mentions of the roughness of the ground between these two hills, and I could see some of this now. As I was lucky to have good visibility, I took a couple of minutes to plot a route through the jumble before heading down. I thought it might take 2 or maybe even 2.5 hours to reach the next summit.

The rough ground to cross between Beinn Molurgainn and Beinn Mheadhonach:
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It might be partly the reputation playing on my mind, but the ground did seem to make an abrupt change to rougher, more tussocky, heathery and slippy going underfoot as soon as I left the summit of Beinn Morlugainn. There was a high deer fence to cross at the bottom of the first slope, and I couldn't see any sign of a gate or stile, so had to climb over it. Surprisingly I didn't see a single deer all day, despite the hundreds I'd spotted in the Monadliath a couple of days before. From here, I headed west, bypassing Meall Dearg and aiming for the 548m spot height. A faint deer track went this way, although it was more obvious from afar than when actually on it. A bit of a climb, and some weaving about up and down above a couple of lochans, and I was suddenly overlooking Lochan Bealach Carra. This surprised me somewhat, as I'd expected it would take me twice as long to reach this point. Possibly the reputation had me expecting it to be really tough, so in the end the reality wasn't too bad.

Looking back to Beinn Molurgainn from near Meall Dearg:
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Beinn Eunaich and Beinn Chochuill from midway through the traverse:
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Ben Starav again:
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NE ridge of Beinn Mheadhonach:
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Loch Bealach Carra:
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Another fence to cross here, but thankfully only a stock one. I aimed SE to hit the NE ridge of Beinn Mheadhonach fairly low down, and followed this to the summit. The ground was definitely harder going here - a mixture of deep, soft mosses and tussocky grass and heather. However between this, the ridge was quite rocky, and provided intermittent easy scrambling. Nothing sustained or difficult, but stepping across large blocks and walking up slabs was much nicer than sticking to the vegetation.

Starav from the NE ridge:
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Looking up the NE ridge:
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The summit was probably the most impressive of the day - a rocky ridge split by clefts running at an angle to the crest. This effectively made for a twin summit with some steep terrain in between, with the cairn perched precariously on tottering blocks to the west. The weather was more overcast by now, and Ben Cruachan had clouded over, removing the best view, but it was still a cracker of a day. I had a second lunch/first dinner here. Surprisingly, it had only taken an hour and 20 minutes to get here from the previous summit - I began to think my watch must have stopped!

Main summit from eastern summit:
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Lower Loch Etive and Mull:
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It was too late now to carry on to Beinn Duirinnis, as envisioned when I first came up with the route, but with the cloud on the higher summits, I was happy to save it for another day. Instead I took the broad west then NW ridges down towards the River Esragan. While the terrain superficially looked the same as the earlier hills, it was still more ankle-grabbing. I dropped off the ridgeline towards the confluence of rivers on steeper terrain, getting to the final hurdle (and a re-crossing of the stock fence).

Last look at Starav on the descent:
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Connel Bridge:
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I discovered that the part of the Esragan I was trying to cross was actually in a rocky gorge, so went upstream briefly to cross at a better place. Both sides of the river were well vegetated, with tall heather, small trees and bracken. Surprisingly, the midges were only mildly annoying at this point.

Mouth of the gorge:
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On the north bank, the going was still difficult. I picked up an overgrown vehicle track which climbed out of the valley and through another fence. I lost this and had an unpleasant km contouring above the river, before I was free of the valley and on the same bit of ground I had started out on. It was a simpe 10 minutes back to the car then, climbing the deer fence once more. I never did meet the owner of the 4x4 parked next to me at the beginning, or anyone else for that matter.

These hills don't really catch the eye from anywhere else due to their forgettable profile. However they do provide some of the best views in the area and some really enjoyable walking. The northern part of the area is mainly very easy going and pleasant underfoot, while the southern part is intricate and has some fun scrambling. Well worth the effort, and glad I managed to catch a rare good day in between the rain.
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malky_c
 
Posts: 5834
Munros:282   Corbetts:222
Grahams:219   Donalds:74
Sub 2000:252   Hewitts:256
Wainwrights:102   Islands:33
Joined: Nov 22, 2009
Location: Inverness

Re: Barcaldine hills...after work

Postby foggieclimber » Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:10 pm

A very impressive after-work walk. :)
Good job it wasn't today as the weather has been awful in this area.
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Posts: 1041
Joined: Aug 9, 2009

Re: Barcaldine hills...after work

Postby malky_c » Fri Aug 12, 2011 12:07 pm

Cheers FC. You seem to have been pretty busy around these parts yourself in the last few days :)
User avatar
malky_c
 
Posts: 5834
Munros:282   Corbetts:222
Grahams:219   Donalds:74
Sub 2000:252   Hewitts:256
Wainwrights:102   Islands:33
Joined: Nov 22, 2009
Location: Inverness

Re: Barcaldine hills...after work

Postby henrym » Thu Nov 06, 2014 10:45 pm

Update on this walk.
There are now extensive workings around the junction of the Eas na Geair and Eas a' Chrinlet. If you follow the described route, or come down from Beinn Mheadhonach (as described) or from Beinn Molurgainn wanting to get back to the Bonawe to Barcaldine road, use the new bridges to cross these rivers (as appropriate) to the southern ridge of Beinn Bhreac and follow the bulldozed track (initially steeply uphill, then turning southwest) to regain the B845 close to the corner near the 157 spot height. If you have time before sunset, you can alternatively try to follow the putative path north of the River Esragan - maybe saving some climb at the expense of scrabbling around through developing undergrowth! The gorge seems impenetrable. There is a large parking place (possibly for the workings, so avoid obstructing it) opposite the gateway leading to the bulldozed track - maybe a better starting point to get onto the southern Beinn Bhreac ridge than cutting up from the road further north - and no road walking!
henrym
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Posts: 2
Joined: Nov 10, 2011
Location: Rotherham

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