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An early start in the Beinn Dearg group

An early start in the Beinn Dearg group


Postby joenorris » Tue Sep 27, 2011 2:59 pm

Route description: Beinn Dearg - the Four Munros circuit

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Dearg (Ullapool), Cona' Mheall, Eididh nan Clach Geala, Meall nan Ceapraichean, Seana Bhraigh

Date walked: 25/09/2011

Time taken: 12 hours

Distance: 36.9 km

Ascent: 2343m

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My brother (also known as 'benno') and I had been planning to have a big few days of walking at the end of this month, before I head back down south to uni, for some time. Our original plan was to do the twelve Munros around Loch Mullardoch, but upon my brother's arrival, we were greeted with the news that low cloud (20% chance of cloud-free summits), persistent rain and gale-force winds (that could "severely impede walking") were to be the order of the day (sod's law, I know), and the weather would even deteriorate throughout the afternoon. Our only real option was to head as far north as possible and hope to avoid the weather (cue: "famous last words").

So it was with this in mind that we headed up to a campsite in Dirrie More, near the Braemore junction, on Saturday night, with the plan of tackling the Beinn Dearg group and Seana Bhraigh from Inverlael the following day. Looking out towards a darkening An Teallach from the campsite, there was an ominous feeling that this would be the last time we would have visibility, and the last time we would be dry, for some time.


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Setting off from Inverlael by headtorch at 0615 in the morning, however, we were pleasantly surprised. Although cloud enveloped the mountains ahead of us, the sky was dry and there was a tingle of optimism in the air. The route up through the forest (now largely chopped down) was easy-going, and beyond the forest track, a well-trodden path lead up to Bealach an Lochain Uaine. Passing below some serious crags and some noisy stags in the corrie, we began to get views back above Inverlael forest out towards the Beinn Ghoblach and the Ullapool area.

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The view ahead was somewhat less scenic, however.

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We reached the stone dyke that leads from the bealach to the summit of Beinn Dearg after nearly three hours. The low cloud that we had seen from below had lifted upon arrival, however, so we had some great views east into Coire Granda , even down to Loch Glascarnoch. From here, we could see the general layout of the first half of our walk - up to Cona' Mheall and Meall nan Ceaprichean. However, our immediate target, Beinn Dearg, remained shrouded in cloud.

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Down into Coire Granda

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Along the dyke to Beinn Dearg

The dyke proved itself to be a great navigational tool in the cloud, with a fairly clear path leading alongside it, then up through a break in the wall to the summit itself. There was nothing to be seen from the summit, so we descended fairly quickly back out of the cloud to the bealach - the conditions still promising.

We left our rucksacks near the 884m top, descending then climbing up a clear path to the Cona' Mheall summit. The views were steadily improving, although Beinn Dearg still stubbornly clung to the cloud.

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Towards Cona' Mheall from the bealach

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Back towards Beinn Dearg from the bealach

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Beinn Dearg from the ascent of Cona' Mheall

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Down the S ridge of Cona' Mheall

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The route ahead

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To a distant Seana Bhraigh

Returning to the bealach, the ascent of Meall nan Ceaprichean required relatively little ascent or time. However, the cloud returned to this summit by the time we reached it, so our view west of Loch Broom and An Teallach (which we did see on the ascent, I promise!) had dimmed somewhat.

The route towards our fourth summit, Eididh nan Clach Geala, took us back out of cloud, heading NE from the Munro top Ceann Garbh down to a fairly low bealach, and up a gentle slope to the summit. From near the summit, we could see back to the striking NE ridge of Beinn Dearg and towards some familiar silhouettes in the NW.

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Back towards the Beinn Dearg NE ridge

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Looking NW

And still, we were dry(ish)!

We could, from here, see our final target of the day, Seana Bhraigh. In the light, it looked worryingly distant. But having only just hit lunchtime, there was no question that we were going to go ahead with the plan. From the summit of Eilidh nan Clach Geala, we made a beeline towards Meall a' Choire Ghlais, crossing the stalkers path by which we would later descend. A few friendly faces had gathered to greet us at the top of the gully leading down to Loch a' Chadha Dheirg.

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Cadha Dearg is an astonishing corrie from this route - vast, with steep chimneys leading up into the crags on it's NE corner. The land here has an amazing sense of remoteness - the terrain was very wild and there can be seen endless swathes of wild moorland seperating this mountain from the nearest roads and civilisation. A really fantastic spot.

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The views were continuously improving to the west as well.

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An easy path lead up from Cadha Dearg to the summit ridge, passing just below the southern top. The northern corrie was unfortunately filled with cloud, however, the strong winds kept the clouds moving, and we had a few glances into the crags and elsewhere.

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Towards the summit

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NW again

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Quality, An Teallach

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Back over Cadha Dearg

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Towards Beinn Dearg

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Across the N corrie

So far we couldn't believe our luck with the weather. After more than eight hours walking, we had been out of cloud for almost the entire walk, had only been rained on briefly (and lightly), and had been subject only to relatively modest winds. Predictably, upon boasting about this at the summit, this was to be our last dry spell before we arrived back at Inverlael.

As nice a path as the stalkers path from S of Meall a' Choire Ghlais was, the trudge back to Inverlael was fairly arduous and very wet. We eventually reached the track in Inverlael Forest, with knackered feet and bruised confidence (when it came to boasting about the great weather!). We reached the carpark almost exactly twelve hours after leaving it, and the rain then subsided. A (slightly stale) baguette and some of Tesco's very best orange juice were a welcome treat and we sat watching the sun illuminate Beinn Ghoblach and Ullapool, nursing our feet, until we headed back to our campsite from the following night, ready for a good night's sleep and a less ambitious donder up Fionn Bheinn the following day.

Just before heading to sleep, however, that trusty An Teallach gave us one last peek at it's crown jewels - what an awesome day!

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Last edited by joenorris on Tue Sep 27, 2011 5:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
joenorris
 
Posts: 92
Munros:203   Corbetts:63
Grahams:8   Donalds:5
Sub 2000:12   Hewitts:41
Wainwrights:27   
Joined: Apr 20, 2011

Re: An early start in the Beinn Dearg group

Postby monty » Tue Sep 27, 2011 3:12 pm

Excellent report. Wild an remote with few visitors other than munro baggers. Looking at these for next year when the weather improves :lol: Nice photos below the clouds. :D
monty
 

Re: An early start in the Beinn Dearg group

Postby benno » Tue Sep 27, 2011 5:29 pm

You should have called this:

"Blonde-afro-bearing Walter Murphy enthusiast coaxes unfit sibling across many mountains with the promise of tesco own-brand plain chocolate"

Cue the music (sorry couldn't resist)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jx9smvsaqwE&feature=youtube_gdata_player[/youtube]

That's going to be a memorable weekend though, nice one bro.
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benno
 
Posts: 404
Munros:236   Corbetts:21
Grahams:10   Donalds:8
Sub 2000:24   Hewitts:9
Wainwrights:9   
Joined: Aug 15, 2008
Location: Dunblane

Re: An early start in the Beinn Dearg group

Postby benno » Tue Sep 27, 2011 5:34 pm

Or did I mean...

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyMOuIsDyXk&feature=youtube_gdata_player[/youtube]
User avatar
benno
 
Posts: 404
Munros:236   Corbetts:21
Grahams:10   Donalds:8
Sub 2000:24   Hewitts:9
Wainwrights:9   
Joined: Aug 15, 2008
Location: Dunblane

Re: An early start in the Beinn Dearg group

Postby ChrisW » Tue Sep 27, 2011 8:32 pm

Great report Joe and some cracking pics too, hell of a long way though :shock: - would have taken me 2 days :D
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ChrisW
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Posts: 4938
Munros:18   Corbetts:5
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Sub 2000:6   
Joined: Jan 25, 2011
Location: Cochrane- Alberta - Canada

Re: An early start in the Beinn Dearg group

Postby joenorris » Wed Sep 28, 2011 1:36 pm

Cheers Monty - yup, it's well worth combining the five, the land (especially between Eididh nan Clach Geala and Seana Bhraigh) feels mega remote.

Benno - I'm not sure that those videos are appropriate for the eyes of Walkhighlands users - shocking!

Cheers Chris - you say that as if taking two days would be a negative thing! I reckon a wild camp up on the plateau would be incredible, I might have to go back and do that now you've suggested it!
User avatar
joenorris
 
Posts: 92
Munros:203   Corbetts:63
Grahams:8   Donalds:5
Sub 2000:12   Hewitts:41
Wainwrights:27   
Joined: Apr 20, 2011

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