Great day out: Chaorainn, Ramh & last light on Fionn Bheinn
by malky_c » Wed Nov 23, 2011 10:05 pm
Munros included on this walk: Fionn Bheinn
Grahams included on this walk: Beinn nan Ramh, Meall a'Chaorainn (Achnasheen)
Date walked: 22/11/2011
Time taken: 6.5 hours
Distance: 22 km
Ascent: 1770m6 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Grahams: Meall a Chaorainn, Beinn nan Ramh
Date walked: 22/11/2011
Distance: 22 km
Ascent: 1770 m
Time: 6 hours 30 minutes
Weather: Sunny, clear, cold, biting wind high up.
When I was planning my week off some time back, my nearest and dearest told me that I'd have no chance of getting the car on the Tuesday, as she needed it for work. I knew that when the time came, Tuesday would have a grade 'A' weather forecast. I wasn't wrong either
More typically, the days either side weren't up to much, so boom went my plan to visit Fisherfield to do my last big summits there. I'd also commented in Frogwell's recent report that it had made me want to visit the big hills of Glen Affric again - also out of the question. Luckily I'd kept this route handy in my back pocket for just such a carless day.
The train to Achnasheen was almost empty, and I arrived at 10:25, a few minutes late. I was slightly concerned, as I knew time was tight, particuarly with the last couple of hours before the last train home being dark. However, I was reasonably confident after my more tightly scheduled day out in Mid Wales last week that I'd be able to get round in time.
The route sits rather annoyingly on the boundary of 3 different Landranger maps, which I had folded up to show the correct bits. However, I had a feeling that I wouldn't need to look at any of them at all if the weather kept up its early promise. There was a little mist on the valley floor, but other than that, the weather was stunning, if noticeably colder than the last few days. I could see a dusting of snow on the higher summits. I left the station and set off up the usual Fionn Bheinn path, which was quite squelchy, but fast enough. As anyone who has climbed Fionn Bheinn will know, the gorge of Allt Achadh na Sine which the path follows is very pleasant. At the top of the gorge, the path disappears into peat hags, and I've never worked out the optimum route onward. This time it was irrelevant though, as my initial destination was Meall a Chaorainn to the west. This had plenty of peat hags before the final rise too, although I made fairly short work of them.
The Sgurr a' Mhuilinn/Meallan nan Uan group across Strathbran:
The gorge on the Allt Achadh na Sine:
Fionn Bheinn from the col between it and Meall a Chaorainn:
...and Meall a Chaorainn from the same spot:
Looking back on the final ascent suggests I was lucky rather than canny with the peat hag negotiation!
The final slopes were quite steep with some small crags on them - in fact on my last visit to Fionn Bheinn in Jannuary 2008, a rather attractive cornice was visible on the top of the eastern face. Steep grass and heather led abruptly to the summit plateau, which was beautifully flat and smooth. Suddenly interest was diverted from the bulk of Fionn Bheinn to Torridon, Slioch, Fisherfield, the view straight down Lochan Fada and An Teallach. The sun was out too. Beinn Lair looked smugly back too, knowing that I'd be very unlikely to get any closer to it this year. Meall a Chaorainn - possibly a better viewpoint west than Fionn Bheinn.
Summit, Slioch and Fisherfield:
Liathach and Ben Eighe:
I could see the rather unexciting southern slopes of Beinn nan Ramh away to the right, and felt that I should be heading directly for them. However I stuck to the broad NE ridge of Meall a Chaorainn to enjoy the western views for as long as possible. The walking was so pleasant and easy that it is unlikely to have taken any longer either.
Slioch, Lochan Fada and Fisherfield again from further along the NW ridge:
A steeper, heathery descent took me down to a little used but reasonable stalker's path, and onward to the track that follows the aqueduct leading to Loch Fannaich. At one point I was looking up Coire Bog, which seemed aptly named on the one hand, but on the other hand, no boggier than any adjacent corrie.
Aqueduct and hydro road:
Back to Torridon along Strath Chrombaill:
From the hydro track I dropped down to cross Strath Chrombaill, where I had to wade up to my shins briefly. Once over that, it was a 500m climb up a featureless grassy slope. Probably not the most interesting way up Beinn nan Ramh! I hit the ridge right at the summit, where an icy wind was blowing. The sky over the western hills was darkening, and the cloud descending, but to compensate, there were some beautiful sunny patches on the Fannaichs and a view down onto the end of the loch. Plently of inspiration for a southern approach to the Fannaichs too.
Fionn Bheinn from the ascent of Beinn nan Ramh:
Darkening in Torridon:
...and darker still:
NW to Meallan Chuaich:
Sgurr nan Clach Geala, Sgurr Mor and Sgurr nan Each in front:
Down Loch Fannaich to Ben Wyvis:
At this point, I marvelled at SimonP's recent approach to Beinn nan Ramh from the north. Quite a long way, and no mean feat to add A' Chailleach onto the trip back, as it towered above me. Then I turned to my own adversary, Fionn Bheinn, and realised that it would present a pretty similar challenge . Then I decided it was bloody cold, and put my jacket on.
Fionn Bheinn - shame the light didn't allow a decent photo, as it is undoubtedly its best side:
I followed the broad ridge of Beinn nan Ramh east, finding shelter from the wind and a nice view down the length of Loch Fannaich just above Toll Beag. The ridge narrowed pleasingly here, although the east-most end was covered in peat hags. I had planned to follow the ridge to the end, but conscious of the time, I dropped back down the southern slopes at the foot of the steepening. It was a quick descent down to and across Strath Chrombuill, and I was standing back on the Hydro road at 2:30 pm.
Loch Fannaich again from above Toll Beag:
Back across Toll Beag towards An Teallach:
Ben Eighe and Meall a Ghiubhais:
Reflections in Strath Chrombuill:
I crossed the aqueduct by way of a ladder (you could also crawl under it if you didn't mind getting dirty), and started the last ascent of the day. On my first visit to Fionn Bheinn in the summer of 2006, I had looked down the N ridge and thought that it would offer a great ascent or descent, if only it didn't end in the middle of nowhere! Now I finally had a chance to sample it.
An Coileachan and Loch Fannaich from the ascent of Fionn Bheinn:
Last of the sun hits Beinn nan Ramh and the Fannaichs:
It turned out that the initial 250m were extremely rough, heathery and tussocky - more so than any of the surrounding hillsides. So it took me some time and effort to climb up to the lip of Toll Mor. Once on the ridge itself, the going was much better - short turf and flat stones. I followed the edge of the corrie right up to the trig point - quite satisfying.
Ascending the N ridge - edge of Toll Mor:
Slioch and Fisherfield:
SE across Toll Mor:
The light was fading now, but the clag had lifted from Torridon and the other western hills, and there was a feeble sunset over Bidein Coire Sheasgaich and Lurg Mor. There was also a howling, cutting wind again, so after a couple of snaps, I continued east along the edge of the corrie. Before long I cut down the southern slopes to try and get out of the wind, and also to take the quickest line back. I decided I would like to get back on the path following the Allt Achadh na Sine before complete darkness set in, as there was no moon (I'd been out running around some country lanes a few days before and could barely see where I was going!)
SW across Strathcarron from the summit:
The camera almost got blown over taking this:
Back up to the top:
Bidein Coire Sheasgaich and chums:
Strathfarrar hills and last descent to Achnasheen:
The descent went rather better than planned, and I was back in Achnasheen within 55 minutes of leaving the summit. I was now faced with the opposite problem to the one I had expected. What to do in Achnasheen for the next hour and a half?
I decided to wander along to the Ledgowan Hotel on the offchance that it was open, and mercifully it was. Back in the early 2000's, I remember it being very hit and miss at this time of the year, shutting for the season sometime in November. However, the barman assured me that the current owners were able to keep the place open all year round. Perfect, as was the couple of pints I had by the roaring fire
Nicest pint of the week (Apologies to Goth Angel for the end-of-report photo inspiration):
by Paula Hubens » Wed Nov 23, 2011 11:12 pm
malky_c wrote: Weather: Sunny, clear, cold, biting wind high up.
OMG, and you did this walk in shorts! BRRRR!
Looks like a great walk nonetheless and some stunning pictures. I like the 'bog overview'. Amazing you got across that without a spatter of mud!
- Posts: 272
- Joined: May 23, 2011
by kevsbald » Thu Nov 24, 2011 8:55 am
Shorts indeed - fit a hardy loon fae the North ye are min.
by mountainstar » Thu Nov 24, 2011 9:33 am
I would be more surprised if you wore trousers!
by Alastair S » Thu Nov 24, 2011 12:03 pm
by dogplodder » Thu Nov 24, 2011 2:29 pm
A few years back I set off to climb Fionn Bheinn with a bunch of medical students on placement at Raigmore. The cloud was down over our intended target so we diverted to Meall a' Chaorainn which was in the clear. There was much hilarity and heroic leaping over hags and bogs and we got a good view from top. No one was much bothered we didn't make Fionn Bheinn and got to the tea room early to gorge ourselves on chocolate cake.
by Johnny Corbett » Thu Nov 24, 2011 3:18 pm
by kinley » Thu Nov 24, 2011 6:13 pm
by Graeme D » Sat Nov 26, 2011 12:10 am
by LeithySuburbs » Sat Nov 26, 2011 5:09 pm
by CheeseHat » Sat Nov 26, 2011 5:39 pm
malky_c wrote:Then I decided it was bloody cold, and put my jacket on.
Great photos and an interesting route. But it was this sentence that made it a top report, for me. Added a nice touch of reality.
by malky_c » Sun Nov 27, 2011 5:46 pm
Meall a Chaorainn appears to be quite a popular hill - I've heard of quite a few people who have done it instead of Fionn Bheinn (either by accident or design) or as well.
Looks like I missed out on the snow by a couple of days sadly, although I'd never have got around all that in time for the train home if it had been fresh drifts all the way.