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A'Ghlas-bheinn - Kintail revisited
by Clach Liath » Fri Apr 06, 2012 5:20 pm
Munros included on this walk: A' Ghlas-bheinn
Date walked: 03/04/2012
Time taken: 7 hours6 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).
The wind was brisk and chill and snow flurries blew by as I started off. Yet the weather omens were promising. Although the cloud was still sitting on top of the higher hills, there were patches of blue sky – including around the target for today.
From the turning area at the end of the public road beyond the Centre a bridge is crossed and a sign soon directs you through the settlement of Inchnacroe on a clear path that leads in half a kilometre to the banks of the Abhainn Chonaig. You are on the path to the Falls of Glomach. There then followed a pleasant walk through woodland and on to open hillside beyond. The views also began to open out behind me.
In a couple of kilometres the path splits. Once upon a time, before it was sold by Forest Enterprise into private ownership, it was possible to drive into the Dorusduain forest to a car park. This saved about four kilometres walk when tackling either A’Ghlas-bheinn or Beinn Fhada. The “P” is still shown on some maps but access is now denied.
To the left is the path to the Falls. To the right the path goes on to Gleann Choinneachain and then to the Bealach an Sgairne, the Gates of Affric. This, of course, is a common route up Beinn Fhada and separately a couple and a chap were heading that way. Shortly beyond that sign there is a gate in a fence and you now feel as though you are starting to climb.
Despite the snowfall the path was still clear as it wriggled up through the white coated heather.
The path is well constructed and at a pleasing gradient making for swift progress. At about the 200m mark there was a further fence with a gate across the path. At this point the transformation in the path was remarkable. It was as if someone had carefully swept away the snow to that point but had then given up. The path was obliterated. Its line could be followed where it appeared from under the drifts.
Even though the sun made its appearance from time to time, the air in the glen was chilly. Plumes of spindrift rose, driven up and around by the stiff north easterly wind causing the snowdrifts on the route I was taking.
The way alternated between knee deep drifts, teetering on the firmer edge of the path and the softer heather. Occasionally holes hidden under the carpet of snow sent me flying forward with curses. In time I reached the crossing of the Allt Coire an Sgairne. It is interesting to compare the next photo with the third photo in Monty’s report of his walk a couple of days earlier which was taken nearby.
I stopped for some food and drink and the single chap passed me. He soon left the route of the path to take a direct line up the corrie. Meanwhile I continued towards the pass. I lost the path completely for a while. Its route re-appeared occasionally once the glen narrowed in its final approach to the Gates. Meanwhile the lone walker became subsumed into the vastness of the landscape surrounding him.
The Glen narrowed significantly. From there, what should have been a 10 minute walk to the top of the pass became a 40 minute battle through thigh deep snow with occasional respite on rocky outcrops. Of course, I had miscalculated. That north easterly wind was carrying the Affric snow through the defile and depositing soft powder on the more sheltered slopes. I am not shamed to admit that it was sometimes faster to crawl on all fours – not a technique that I have often been known to use.
But eventually I did make it to the Gates and received a face full of flying snow and a slightly gloomy outlook. 500m altitude and 2 hours 40 minutes after I had set out. I reckoned that St Duthac probably never had these problems. Kilduich, located at the northern end of the causeway at the head of Loch Duich is associated with him. And Loch Duich is Loch Dubhthaic in Gaelic (Duthac’s Loch). He probably passed this way on his journeys between Tain and Ireland. The Catholic church in nearby Dornie is St Duthac’s.
Here a path leads onwards and upwards towards the rough southern ridge of A’Ghlas-bheinn. Again the path came and went. Now, however, the battle was with the wind. At times I just had to stop and brace myself until it relented. Any difficulties with the cliffs ahead were circumvented by turning them to the right (east). The terrain became easier. As I got higher the wind eased.
And the views opened out to Beinn Fhada.
Sgurr Gaorsaic and Loch a’Bhealaich.
This hill is one of many false summits, but eventually I reached the top at 2.15pm – almost 4 hours after setting off. But it was worth it. The cloud was lifting further, and breaking. I managed to find a sheltered spot a few feet beneath the summit cairn for a rather late lunch. Mini tornados sprung up around me and from time to time I was showered by fine flakes of snow – it was quite refreshing. What a perch I had – views all around.
Breaking trail had been hard but well, see for yourself….
I revelled in it. I had this spot all to myself. There was no-one there to share the experience. Sometimes that is a shame but today I was greedy. I wanted this experience to myself. I felt that I had earned it. No-one was nearby. For all I knew the nearest people to me were on Fhada.
After almost an hour on the top, I knew that I had to tear myself away. I also knew that I was not going to return the way I had come up. So I headed northwest. I was going to aim for the point where the path to the Falls of Glomach exited the forest. Until the final kilometre down to the path the slopes were gentle and most deep snow was avoidable. The final drop to the path was steep and what snow there was tended to slough off from the grass underneath, which was awkward. But it was a good way down I felt. In the glen I shed a couple of layers. The wind had died down and it was a bit of a suntrap. The northwest end of Beinn Fhada and the western flanks of A’Ghlas-bheinn now towered above.
And it was good to have the firmer track beneath my soles. A left branch in the track was taken before it went into the forest followed shortly after by a path through a gate into fields passed sorry Dorusduain.
The footbridge across the river is hidden from view but access is via an obvious gate above a couple of hundred metres beyond Dorusduain.
As short rise took me back to the sign shown in the third photo above and from there the path led back to the day’s starting point.
by tamw51 » Fri Apr 06, 2012 5:42 pm
by yokehead » Fri Apr 06, 2012 8:41 pm
4 hours to the summit - who cares! Surely time doesn't matter - the experience does. Yes it certainly was worth it, in fact a battle can make it all the more worthwhile I feel. Marvellous conditions for a proper day out!
Clach Liath wrote: I revelled in it. I had this spot all to myself. There was no-one there to share the experience. Sometimes that is a shame but today I was greedy. I wanted this experience to myself. I felt that I had earned it. No-one was nearby.
Yeah, sometimes it's a magic thing - just your footprints, just your thoughts, not the slightest distraction. Other times when on my own, I wish I'd had someone with me to experience what I had. Then I'd have been saying "look, look, just look". And probably ruining their own quiet reflections!
by ChrisW » Fri Apr 06, 2012 9:31 pm
by Bod » Sat Apr 07, 2012 12:36 am
Another fine inspiration for me to return to Kintail,
Cheers Ritchie would like this one
by PeteR » Sun Apr 08, 2012 12:19 pm
And you had the summit to yourself. I often find these to be the best summits, giving a time of reflection and the chance to appreciate the achievement of making the summit - especially if there has been a bit of an effort to get myself there.
by RicKamila » Sun Apr 08, 2012 1:28 pm
by Clach Liath » Sun Apr 08, 2012 4:58 pm
PeteR wrote:A very nice report and pictures of (in my opinion) an underated hill I still have A Glhas-bheinn to do, but really enjoyed my day on Bheinn Fhada when I was there recently. Your report and pictures suggest it won't be too long until I return to finish the job off
I agree, an underrated hill which suffers because of its proximity with Beinn Fhada and the other Kintail peaks.
PeteR wrote:And you had the summit to yourself. I often find these to be the best summits, giving a time of reflection and the chance to appreciate the achievement of making the summit - especially if there has been a bit of an effort to get myself there.
One of the reasons we play this game of course.
by Clach Liath » Sun Apr 08, 2012 5:01 pm
monty wrote:Smashing report Clach Liath. Geeze what a difference the weather makes. Done this three days before in good sunshine with no snow.
Cheers, Monty. The joys of Scottish weather??
by Clach Liath » Sun Apr 08, 2012 5:03 pm
yokehead wrote: 4 hours to the summit - who cares! Surely time doesn't matter - the experience does. Yes it certainly was worth it, in fact a battle can make it all the more worthwhile I feel. Marvellous conditions for a proper day out!