Fish(erfield) on a Friday
by malky_c » Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:38 pm
Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Lair
Grahams included on this walk: Beinn a'Mhuinidh, Meall Mheinnidh
Date walked: 13/04/2012
Time taken: 11.75 hours
Distance: 39 km
Ascent: 2375m18 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: Beinn a Mhuinidh, Meall Mheinnidh
Date walked: 13/04/2012
Distance: 39 km
Ascent: 2375 m
Time: 11 hours 45 minutes
Weather: Cold and showery, with strong sunny spells in between
More Letterewe really, but I tend to think of everything between Loch Maree and Little Loch Broom as Fisherfield. After days of unpromising weather, the forecast finally showed something worthwhile. I wanted to get at least one long route in over the easter holidays, and was originally veering towards the ridge bounding the north side of Glen Shiel. However, unclimbed hills always seem to exert a bigger pull on me, particuarly when they are Beinn Lair.
The original plan was to approach from Kinlochewe and include Beinn Airigh Charr and Meall Mheinnidh, using a bike to speed things up. However, after negotiating the car for the day, I had persuaded my wife that she might like to cycle to work, so couldn't take her bike as well (mine is stuck down south). Instead, I dug this route out of the file again, dropping Beinn Airigh Charr and adding Beinn a Mhuinidh. I had originally planned to do this on last October's SHills meet, but had to cut my visit short then. This route was longer and seemed pretty illogical, but also visited lots of interesting corners of the area that probably don't see many people at all.
I was parked up at Incheril and walking by 8:15 am, the weather looking promising, with most hills clear and some sunshine. I soon left the main Slioch path and started traversing the west facing slopes of Beinn a Mhuinidh. While I had enjoyed all of the reports that I had seen on this hill, I hadn't paid much attention to the routes used. I wanted to ascend next to the waterfall on the Allt na Still.
River Ewe and Beinn Liath Mhor:
Beinn Eighe and Ruadh Stac-beag:
Route up Beinn a Mhunidh:
I failed to get that close to the falls, but found an interesting route up through the bands of crag, first working towards the falls, then doubling back on heathery terraces. It was never quite scrambling in the proper sense, but involved a fair bit of teetering along exposed ledges, ascending crumbly quartzite blocks and grabbing armfuls of heather. There were great views down Loch Maree. Before long the gradient fell back, leading me to Meallan Gobhar. This was still some way from the summit, but the going was great over small humps and around lochans. This is the sort of place you could easily spend a couple of hours exploring.
Loch Maree and Meall a Ghiubhais:
Torridon from Beinn a Mhuinidh:
Loch Maree and Slioch:
Looking east on Beinn a Mhuinidh:
Lochan on Beinn a Mhuinidh:
The summit had great close-up views of the eastern corrie of Slioch and down Gleann Bianasdail. For the best views, I backtracked to the edge of the NW facing cliffs.
Lochan Fada, Beinn Tarsuinn:
Loch Maree, Meall a Ghiubhais:
East to Groban and the Fannaichs:
Descent to Lochan Fada was steep at first, before becoming more boggy and flat. The odd flake of snow drifted by, and after a slight re-ascent, the views began to open up down Lochan Fada to A Mhaigdhean and Ruadh Stac Mor. At this point, A Mhaigdhean and Slioch were competing for attention, but A Mhaidghean was to become the star of the show for much of the day. A Last exciting look down Glean Bianasdail before dropping down to the Lochan Fada outflow.
Torridon down Glean Bianasdail:
A Mhaigdhean, Ruadh Stac Mor and Beinn Tarsuinn:
Sgurr an Tuill Bhain:
Head of Gleann Bianasdail:
A Mhaigdhean and Ruadh Stac Mor:
I managed to get wet feet crossing here, as the water went over my boots. This isn't something I'd normally notice, but having decent boots that were actually waterproof for a change brought this home.
I followed a short section of stalkers path before striking out on my own along the shore of Lochan Fada. Anyone who has tried to follow the pathless shore of a Scottish loch before will know that the going is unlikely to be easy, but it added to the sense of adventure. I was clearly into the remote part of the trip now.
To begin with, the way was boggy, and I was quite a distance from the shore, but as the slopes of Slioch reared up, the sides got steeper and I was soon traversing some lovely sandstone boulders above the loch. I had an early lunch break here, before being pulled on by the increasingly intricate slopes of A Mhaigdhean.
Beinn Lair and Lochan Fada:
Beinn Lair was also in view now, although the best of the cliffs for which it is known were not visible. I spotted what I thought were a couple of kayaks on the loch too - some effort as the kayakers must've had to carry them all the way up past the Heights of Kinlochewe. As they got closer, I could see that they were actually Canadian canoes, with two occupants each.
For the last section of loch before gaining the SE end of Beinn Lair, I started a rising traverse, crossing a stalker's path at about 500m. After that, the ascent proper began. I was hit by a brief snow flurry here, but it didn't take long to pass. The end of Beinn Lair was covered in short heather and was surprisingly dry. It was also steep, but having started at 500m, it didn't take too long.
East along Lochan Fada:
Slioch from Beinn Lair:
Suddenly I was on flat and grassy terrain, which is typical of the whole Beinn Lair plateau. It was quite a contrast. A couple of rocky sections to cross descending from theSE summit, but you could follow easy short grass all the way over Sgurr Dubh to the main summit. Normally I would stick to the high ground, but I wanted to look at the NE facing cliffs properly.
Eastern four of the Fisherfield Six:
Beinn Lair plateau:
Shower over Loch Maree:
Down to Lochan Fada:
Along to the summit of Beinn Lair:
East along Lochan Fada:
West along Beinn Lair crags to the coast:
Crags on A Mhaigdhean:
Sgurr Ban and Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair:
North to An Teallach and the Beinn Deargs:
It was well worth skipping Sgurr Dubh (although it wouldn't have added much to include it). The crags are very broken, but massive. With water on the plateau, there would be number of great high camping spots here. I contoured back over to the main plateau and climbed the last section to the main summit. It had taken me over 5 and a half hours to get here.
The actual summit is a slight anti-climax, as it sits well back from the edge of the plateau, but the cairn is massive - about 10ft tall. Surprisingly, I met another person here, a guy who was trying to complete his Corbetts before he reached 70 (he had about 15 summits and 8 months left). We chatted for a bit before I headed off to Bealach Mheinnidh, taking a route along the cliff edge for the best views. He cut more directly across the plateau, heading for the same point.
Although I was faster, he was moving at a fair rate - certainly not showing his age! He said he'd been having nightmares about doing Beinn Lair for about 10 years, but he'd found it OK in the end. It was certainly a highlight of the year for me, as all the remote hills tend to be .
Beinn Lair summit cairn:
Beinn Lair crags and Fionn Loch:
Meall Mheinnidh and Beinn Airigh Charr:
Beinn a Chaisgeans and the causeway:
Down one of the Beinn Lair gullies:
Next stop Meall Mheinnidh:
I hardly need to talk about how good the scenery is around here - the above photos say it all. I stopped for a break at the col, and the guy caught me up again. He had decided to take in Meall Mheinnidh on his return to Poolewe, so I joined him. He was another person who seemed to manage to get up an incredible amount of Scottish hills despite living in the Midlands. He offered me a lift back from Poolewe to Kinlochewe if I fancied walking right through, but as he had a bike to speed him back, I declined this offer (I have to say I was sorely tempted though!) I left him at the summit, and returned almost the way I'd come, before cutting south to the stalker's path to Loch Maree.
Back to Beinn Lair:
Beinn Lair from Meall Mheinnidh:
...with A Mhaigdhean:
Beinn Airigh Charr:
It as now paths all the way home - pretty good ones mainly. That thought almost belied the fact that I had about 10 miles of walking to get there!
Slioch from the descent to Loch Maree:
Torridon and Loch Maree:
SW across Loch Maree:
Meall Ghiubhais and Ruadh Stac Mor across Loch Maree:
The path was very well maintained approaching Letterewe, before walkers were diverted on a pathless but easy route around the lodge and onto the main track in the area. Pleasant walking along to Furnace, where I passed some horses. I had always fancied a walk down the side of Loch Maree, but was concerned that the path would be poor, or there would be lots of up and down (it certainly looked that way on the map). As it turned out, the path was great and well engineered. Threre were a couple of wet bits, particuarly towards Kinlochewe, but on the whole it was a really great experience, with views across to the snow showers coming and going in Torridon.
Horses at Furnace:
Abhainn na Fuirneis:
Back along the lochside path:
Across to Beinn Eighe:
Path along the lochside (actually nowhere near the loch at this point):
The gradient was fine too, and the path mainly stuck to a high contouring line above the loch, without too much up and down. I was afraid that I'd be cursing every little bit of re-ascent by then, but surprisingly I wasn't, and the 3 hours it took me to get back to the car from Letterewe breezed by.
Finally Kinlochewe and Beinn a Mhuinidh hove into view, signalling the end of the walk. The only bit that dragged in any way was the section where I re-joined the Slioch route, and that was only because I thought I was just about done then, when I still had over 2 miles to go. To help me along, the sun came out again, and I was able to get some views of the waterfall that I had been trying to see on the way up Beinn a Mhuinidh, almost 12 hours earlier.
Beinn a Mhuinidh:
Beinn a Mhuinidh cliffs:
Back at the car for 8pm, and there was still plenty of daylight. I was surprised how fresh I felt, as walks of that distance usually leave me crippled. It seemed to be a combination of comfortable new boots, not rushing, and having loads of food. On the drive home, the weather was horrific from Achnasheen onwards, with fresh snow falling low on Wyvis. It didn't look like winter would be over any time soon, but I'd managed to sneak a bit of spring in today.
by gammy leg walker » Sun Apr 15, 2012 3:19 pm
by adamarchie » Sun Apr 15, 2012 3:44 pm
by Klaasloopt » Sun Apr 15, 2012 4:22 pm
by dooterbang » Sun Apr 15, 2012 4:34 pm
I thought i posted too many photos for the fersit route but i believed all were relevant...these photos are simply stunning and i could have taken in more, that 1st Torridon photos is superb.
What an amazing area...if reading/viewing this and your not lusting after a visit then thers something wrong with you.
Very detailed and a great read...and what a lovely new haircut that is
p.s im hoping to do the fishy field 6 in May - i pray for a clear day.
by clivegrif » Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:01 pm
I hope to get up there later in the year, thanks for spurring me on by showing what I've been missing.
Look forward to your next reports.
by IreneM » Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:29 pm
Thanks for a super read ( having a sneaky break from the ironing! )
by Collaciotach » Sun Apr 15, 2012 7:31 pm
by Bod » Sun Apr 15, 2012 8:11 pm
Read every word and studied each photo, knowing only some of what you have shown; now well informed of much more. An area that I have been in once or twice over the years, but derserves so much more. Once did a bit of voluntary deer counting many years ago when I was about 15, canoed on Loch Maree when about 25 and then a much more recent holiday based in Poolewe that got me thinking up many ideas.
Cheers for posting, and glad you got your big day out over Easter......
by Johnny Corbett » Sun Apr 15, 2012 8:57 pm
by jimandandrea » Sun Apr 15, 2012 9:25 pm
by Gavin99 » Sun Apr 15, 2012 9:57 pm
by Yipyipcoyote » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:15 am
by foggieclimber » Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:59 pm
Great route, great photos and great weather!
... and a pretty-good time for the distance and ascent covered
I was up Beinn a Mhuinidh yesterday but didn't get such nice weather.
C'mon Webtogs Gareth - a great contender for Trip Report of the Month
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