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Beinn Liath Mor

Beinn Liath Mor


Postby snodland » Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:18 pm

Route description: Beinn Liath Mhor, Achnashellach

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Liath Mhor

Date walked: 31/03/2012

Time taken: 7.5 hours

Distance: 14 km

Ascent: 1070m

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Since I started walking hills and mountains just over 7 years ago now – Ben Loyal was number 1 and is still my favourite! – I have had me eye on the three peaks at Achnashellach around Coire Lair. For some years I tried to steel myself for the idea that you could get off the morning train do the round of them and be back in time for the last train home.....allowing for lots of photo stops. When the plan came to the experiment stage I was to realise this was a delusional overestimation of 1. My speed on the hills and 2. The great need to stop so often and either take in a view or photograph it.
Fortunately I found a place to stay in the area which negated the need for early morning trains and allowed me to take at least two of the mountains at a nice leisurely place.
Thanks to a Sainsbury’s Rail Voucher my trip from Glasgow to Achnashellach only cost £19 return. I had a quick stop in Inverness. Ben Wyvis was looking good in the fine sunny weather
River Ness from the Friar's Bridge, Inverness. Ben Wyvis in background (5) (1280x960).jpg
River Ness from the Friar's Bridge, Inverness. Ben Wyvis in background

Arrived at Achnashellach about half past seven. Just in time to meet some of the guests who turn up each night to get fed at the place where I was staying.
Braveheart Achnashellach (320x240).jpg
Braveheart the Daddy Pine Marten of the family at Achnashellach

I have seen Pine Martens before; indeed have even stayed at a place near Invergarry where the B&B Owner fed them each night. The difference here was that they were right by me, less than a foot away. When David, one of the owners of the house said “Would I like to feed one?”...well “BRING IT ON”. To have Pine Martens eating from your hand was one of the best moments I can recall in my life. Nature so close and totally unperturbed by humans (and a nearby Labrador who was similarly a terrific animal).It was about 8 in the evening so photos didn’t come out too well, though I have a series of videos that show these lovely little creatures at very, very short hand.
Saturday dawned a bit misty but that soon cleared up. The plan was to go up Beinn Liath Mor, along the summit ridge then down to Coire Lair and up to Sgurr Ruadh. The path is a welcomingly gradual climb up to Coire Lair. The Coire looks fantastic.
Coire Lair from cairn by the Coire Path. Sgorr Ruadh on the left (1280x960).jpg
Coire Lair from cairn by the Coire Path. Sgorr Ruadh on the left

Started up the slope towards the East summit of Beinn Liath Mor. An eroded path leads up, eventually breaking out to a flatter short grass area at which point the discernible path disappears and you turn right up a quartzite boulder field and reach the summit. There is a fine view on all directions. Over to Liathach and Beinn Eighe.
The other way to Sgorr Ruadh and Fuar Tholl – I was looking forward to coming down that coire. Even over the head of Coire Lair are great views towards Beinn Damh
Sgorr Ruadh, Maol Chean Dearg and Ben Damph (l-r) from east summit of Beinn Liath Mor (1280x960).jpg
Sgorr Ruadh, Maol Chean Dearg and Ben Damph (l-r) from east summit of Beinn Liath Mor
Sgorr Ruadh from East Summit of Beinn Liath Mor (2) (1280x960).jpg
Sgorr Ruadh from East Summit of Beinn Liath Mor (2) (1280x960).jpg
Sgorr Ruadh from East Summit of Beinn Liath Mor (2)
Beinn Damh from East Summit of Beinn Liath Mor over head of Coire Lair (1280x960).jpg
Beinn Damh from East Summit of Beinn Liath Mor over head of Coire Lair

The summit ridge of Beinn Liath Mor has always appeared in pictures to be a long loose rock arête.
West along the summit ridge of Beinn Liath Mor (2) (960x1280).jpg
West along the summit ridge of Beinn Liath Mor
Beinn Liath Mor summit ridge looking back to East Summit from part way along ridge (3) (960x1280).jpg
Beinn Liath Mor summit ridge looking back to East Summit from part way along ridge
It isn’t that narrow however. One or two bits where the path appears to be at the edge of a slope and some might not like being so close to a loose scree slope and I don’t want to sound blasé or macho about this, however I found nothing too dangerous. For comparison, the descent from Aonach air Chrith in Glen Shiel is roughly similar in exposure. There are at least two tors or cairn like pinnacles but it is easier (to save time) to go around one and the other I remember has a little bit of not very dangerous scrambling down the way. I found myself thinking it might put off some of the people I go walking with and that to me is a disappointment as I always wish for friends to have the same feeling of “Wow” that I get from the views on certain peaks - but safety comes first. Can’t remember how many little summits there were but it was hard going at one point. When the loose rock was particularly small and deep I did find myself taking two steps forward, one step back. All told I thought – a bit optimistically – that East summit to cairn would take about half an hour. It was 50 minutes in the end.
At the summit the view over to Loch Torridon opened up, and Beinn Alligin. Maol Chean Dearg and An Ruadh Stac also peeking around the side of Sgorr Ruadh.
Loch Torridon with Beinn Alligin prominent (4) (1280x960).jpg
Loch Torridon with Beinn Alligin prominent
Coire Mainreachean on Fuar Tholl from Beinn Liath Mor (1280x960).jpg
Coire Mainreachean on Fuar Tholl from Beinn Liath Mor
An Ruadh Stac (l) and Maol Chean Dearg from Beinn Liath Mor (1280x960).jpg
An Ruadh Stac (l) and Maol Chean Dearg from Beinn Liath Mor

I headed South West at first. At times there was a path. Most of the time I had to pick my way through rocks and crags. Wouldn’t say it was unpleasant, as I had already had a good day but it would have been nice to have something a bit more straightforward.
Cross a red sandstone slab pavement. Unfortunately you then come across a rather sheer sandstone rock face. A narrow path does wind its way down towards the Lochan at grid reference NG 959 515. If you are coming up Coire Lair to ascend Beinn Liath Mor that is probably a good spot to aim for. If you are descending there is a small cairn on top of a rock that marks the top end of the path down.
I contoured around the knoll just the other side of the lochan towards the head of Coire Lair.
Liathach from top of Coire Lair (1280x960).jpg
Liathach from top of Coire Lair
Sgorr Ruadh and Lochan at top of Coire Lair at NG956 512 (2) (1280x960).jpg
Sgorr Ruadh and Lochan at top of Coire Lair at NG956 512
Coire Mainreachean on Fuar Tholl from Beinn Liath Mor (1280x960).jpg
Coire Mainreachean on Fuar Tholl from Beinn Liath Mor
Saw a couple of cyclists making their way up the Coire Path – pushing the bike of course this was one mother of a path. By now it was about 3 o’clock and whilst I had promised to be back at the B&B before dark, I had also suggested it would be about 5 that I got back so decided to postpone Sgorr Ruadh for tomorrow. Went right to the head of the Coire and took a couple more pics then started off on the path back through this lovely Coire and on to Achnashellach.
Looking back along Coire Lair from descent of Beinn Liath Mor (1280x960).jpg
Looking back along Coire Lair from descent of Beinn Liath Mor
Fuar Tholl and Loch Coire Lair from Coire Lair path (1280x960).jpg
Fuar Tholl and Loch Coire Lair from Coire Lair path
sgurr na feartaig from Forest track above Achnashellach (2) (1280x960).jpg
sgurr na feartaig from Forest track above Achnashellach

I was glad I had got back earlier as my wee friends the Pine Martens were out again to get fed.
What a great day.
I looked forward to the impressive Sgorr Ruadh and possibly Fuar Tholl the next day.
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snodland
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Re: Beinn Liath Mor

Postby Ranger » Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:07 am

Looks like you had a memorable day - feeding the pine martens almost as much fun as the walk! :D
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Re: Beinn Liath Mor

Postby snodland » Thu Apr 05, 2012 7:24 pm

Thanks Ranger - a great day out though and stunning views all around but the pine martens were a big highlight
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snodland
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Re: Beinn Liath Mor

Postby jimandandrea » Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:27 pm

Thanks for sharing this lovely report and photos :D

When we did it last September we didn't get any views and I remember being rather scared on the ridge as we battled to stay upright against gale force winds.

Andrea
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Re: Beinn Liath Mor

Postby Bod » Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:59 pm

Yes, lovely images, and just a couple of days later it was all white again. Been up the neighbouring Meal chean-dearg, but must follow you up into here sometime soon, not far away......cheers :D :D :D
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Re: Beinn Liath Mor

Postby milly » Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:09 pm

How cute is wee Braveheart!!!

Looks like a fantastic couple of days
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