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It’s a long long way to Beinn Eighe (but that’s okay)

It’s a long long way to Beinn Eighe (but that’s okay)


Postby Lenore » Thu Aug 02, 2012 1:48 pm

Route description: Triple Buttress of Coire Mhic Fhearchair

Munros included on this walk: Ruadh-stac Mor (Beinn Eighe)

Date walked: 31/07/2012

Time taken: 15 hours

Distance: 35 km

Ascent: 1400m

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I’ve been carrying around a tent in my backpack for these past three and a half weeks and haven’t even slept one single night in it. People have (rightly) started to make fun of me because of this. I keep saying, in my defense, that I will use it in Torridon for sure. Having come to the end of my summer in Scotland, I can’t get around it any longer: I’ll have to go and camp.

As Torridon is a whole different level of wildness compared to Kintail and Rum, I never really thought I'd do any munros here this first time. Still, after reading blackpanther’s Torridon reports and seeing those stellar pictures of the weirdly shaped hills behind Beinn Eighe I just had to go and check it out. So for these last few days, meant as a bit of a taster and to give me some inspiration for future trips, I’ve joined two WH routes together: Achnashellach to Loch Clair (http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/torridon/Coulinpass.shtml, day 1, 5 hours, 450 m ascent) and the walk from Ling hut to Bein Eighe’s Corrie Mhic Fhearchair (day 2, 4 hours, 500 m ascent), intending to camp two nights and walk back to Torridon the morning of the third day.

As Tuesday looked to be the best day, I set out on Monday from Achnashellach station. Some rain clouds swirled around Wellington’s Nose, or Fuar Tholl, but it never got wet enough to get out the waterproofs, and I could see most of the tops of these corbetts. I might even get a decent look at Beinn Eighe and Liathach later today!

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Pass near Fuar Tholl


The path over the pass was deserted, but as soon as I got to the teahouse bothy at Easan Dorha I met about a dozen people in the space of 30 minutes, including a family with 4 kids. The last of the family, an overly-plump looking blond boy of about 9 or so, made a face at me while passing by. Not sure if it was an expression of his general misery in not being able to keep up with the rest, or if there was something about me in particular that displeased him. :lol:

Rounding the bend from the bothy all was quiet again and I was given my first views of Beinn Eighe; it would be nearly 24 hours before I could get more ‘up-close and personal’ with this mighty hill, though! Closer by, some of the smaler hills near Loch Coulin were pretty cool as well:

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Hill next to Loch Coulin


When I approached the shore of Loch Coulin I saw a big bird of prey approaching. It came down some, circled above the loch and suddenly dove straight towards the water! I’ve seen ganets do this in the sea, but never a bird of prey in a lake. Quite spectacular :-D I think it came up with a fish in its claws, though that was hard to make out. As it was so big I at first thought it must be a buzzard, but on closer inspection at home I’ve concluded it must be an osprey. That’s a first for me! Pictures are not too great as this was one fast bird:

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Osprey above Loch Coulin


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Osprey flying away


After getting to the main Kinlochewe – Torridon road, I walked for a bit before meeting a Dutch couple with a car, who’d just let their dog have a swim in the stream. They dropped me at the parking place opposite Ling hut, the start of my walk on day two. I made my way to the oddly-shaped hills above Ling hut (there’s a good geological story behind the shape of those hills, but I’ve forgotten what it was) and found a spot to camp that was reasonably dry, somewhat flat, more or less devoid of stones, moderately breezy and absolutely spectacularly situated: with a stellar view of Torridon’s two giants:

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My tent and Liathach and Beinn Eighe


The sun came out before dipping down:

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Ling Hut and Beinn Eighe


If one needs to camp and suffer deprivation, might as well have a view to make up for it, right? Liathach blocked the sunset, so read some and had an early night. I woke up (without alarm) at 5, right in time for the sunrise:

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Sunrise


With the sun came the midgies. The wind had died completely overnight and the little nasties had found my tent by the millions. Even armed with repellent and midge net it was ‘war of the midgies’ out there :crazy: :shock: :( AARGH! I crammed everything into my bag as quickly as possible and literally ran off. Any suffering was soon forgot, though, as I realized what beautiful weather this gorgeous morning was promising. Seems my beginner’s luck has even extended to this last walk of mine :-)

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Liathach in morning light


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Ling Hut and funky hills where I camped


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Morning light in glen Torridon


The route out to Corrie Mhic Fhearchair is pretty straightforward (a two hour walk, and that with a big pack and plenty photo time), though not any less impressive for it, passing between Beinn Eighe and Liathach. How people get up the latter, I do not know, and I’m well impressed they actually do! The South side, which is where there should be a path somewhere, is as steep as I’ve seen. The grand sandstone pillars remind me of the spires of our Gothic cathedral back in Utrecht. A cathedral mountain. Awe inspiring. Need to come back and climb it someday soon :-D Anyone want to come with?

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Spires of Liathach


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The big one.


Still, as massive as Liathach and Beinn Eighe are, it was the smaller hills behind them that impressed me most: an empty-looking brown-green plain, dotted with blue lakes and otherworldy-looking stand-alone hills. These are the ones that so impressed me in blackpanther’s report. I must have taken about 40 pictures of the same cluster of hills as I just couldn’t get enough of that view.

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Hills behind Beinn Eighe


Up in the corrie it turned out to be the lochan that inspired me more than the famed triple buttress: the way its reflection kept changing as the day progressed was something special:

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The triple buttress of Corrie Mhic Fhearchair


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Reflection


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More Lochan


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Nature's own infinity pool


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Waterfalls on the way to the upper reaches of the corrie


Now, you might have noticed the ‘hills climbed’ mentioned at the top of this report, so obviously the report does not end here ;-) I’m no bagger, but ‘just’ a hill-walker. I never intended to chase summits here; always set out on my walks to enjoy myself. I’ll admit that reaching that cairn on top gives a lot of satisfaction, but as long as the scenery is good and the walk fun, bagging a peak is not the begin all and end all of my existence (yet?). However, I quite fancied trying out that scree gully up to Ruadh-stac Mor. From the bottom of the gully it’s only another 300 meters or so, so how hard can it be? I promised myself I’d judge the circumstances once I got there, the circumstances being weather and my own feelings about it. All things being fine (and they were), I would go as far as I’d feel comfortable. After all, though having done 10 munros, I’d never gone up any alone. The 3 corbetts I bagged solo, so I figured the few extra meters hardly make a difference, right? As it happened, the moment at which I started feeling uncomfortable or not confident never came! I went up alongside the scree chute and found it surprisingly easy because there's a bit of a stone staircase going up on the left side of it:

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Scree chute


Before I knew it I was up on the bealach, Ruadh-stac Mor’s white scree summit cone not far away!

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Getting close now


And then it just happened: my first solo ascent complete :D

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View from the top


All of Torridon at my feet and more to the North East I saw hill after hill utterly unknown to me. I have never laid eyes on these before. Not from the road, not from a different hill. I don’t know their names, don’t recognize their shapes. I’ve gotten relatively ‘used’ to the views from Kintail hills as I’ve been coming there for a while now. It then dawned on me how much more there is out there to explore!

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Hills seen from the summit


There's a few I know: Skye:
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Skye Cuillin in back


Down into the glens below:

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River far below


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Lochs


As it was still quite early in the day, I was alone at the summit. Overwhelmed by the scenery around me, and all the memories of this past month, and the promise of all hills that still await me in the future, I actually cried. Right there on the summit of Ruadh-stac Mor.

I had no desire to ‘do’ the other summits on Beinn Eighe right now. I knew anyway that I will be coming back here for sure, and I will gladly go up this way again and walk the whole ridge. Let them wait, the sweeter they will be. I made my way down, and lingered in the sun on the edge of the corrie until I was the last walker still around. The threat of storm later that night (and those midges) made me decide to walk out to the road and hitch a ride into Torridon that night instead of camp. So after all those days carrying my tent I only used it once. What a shame, some would say. I know better, though. This one-night camping trip was worth more than a dozen nights in any other place. I went to sleep with Beinn Eighe and Liathach spread out in front of me and woke up to them slowly being lit up by the dawn of a great day. What more can anyone wish for?
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Lenore
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Re: It’s a long long way to Beinn Eighe (but that’s okay)

Postby Chrisabelle » Thu Aug 02, 2012 3:43 pm

:clap: :clap: :clap: WOW! Great report and those photos............
The osprey, again, WOW great picture, lucky you.
Wish I was brave enough to camp out on my own, you looked to have had a great time.
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Re: It’s a long long way to Beinn Eighe (but that’s okay)

Postby jenniferc6 » Thu Aug 02, 2012 4:21 pm

Great photos especially since you had clear views from the summit :). I have done the walk from Achnashellach to glen Torridon and can't wait to go back and climb Beinn Eighe and the other hills in the area.
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Re: It’s a long long way to Beinn Eighe (but that’s okay)

Postby Lenore » Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:33 pm

Thanks ladies! Yes, was lucky indeed with that gorgeous weather :D
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Re: It’s a long long way to Beinn Eighe (but that’s okay)

Postby SAVAGEALICE » Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:51 pm

those photos are stunning :clap: great report! :)
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Re: It’s a long long way to Beinn Eighe (but that’s okay)

Postby scoob999 » Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:59 pm

Excellent report, one of the best iv'e read for this area :D
And come back soon, really gonna miss your walk reports, and well done on doing your first solo, a great acheivement :clap: :clap:
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Re: It’s a long long way to Beinn Eighe (but that’s okay)

Postby gammy leg walker » Thu Aug 02, 2012 8:27 pm

What a way to finish your holiday in Scotland,hope you enjoyed this wee country we live in.

PS........dont wait too long before you come back.
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Re: It’s a long long way to Beinn Eighe (but that’s okay)

Postby morag1 » Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:22 pm

Wonderful report and photos, one of the best we've had on this site :clap:

I hope you put "reflections" in the photo comp for this month :D
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Re: It’s a long long way to Beinn Eighe (but that’s okay)

Postby mrssanta » Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:34 pm

oh that is just absolutely fab-tastic. Roll on next time. It's been great having you!
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Re: It’s a long long way to Beinn Eighe (but that’s okay)

Postby Stretch » Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:58 pm

I've really enjoyed reading all your reports, Lenore, and this one is especially awesome. You did a great job a capturing an area that I was unable to get to during my 4-year stint in Scotland. Hurry back for more holiday hillwalking adventures!
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Re: It’s a long long way to Beinn Eighe (but that’s okay)

Postby dogplodder » Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:10 am

You have a wonderful collection of photos there which I particularly enjoyed having recently been on Beinn Eighe. Next time you must do the whole ridge - you'd love it! :D
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Re: It’s a long long way to Beinn Eighe (but that’s okay)

Postby Lenore » Fri Aug 03, 2012 8:43 am

I'm overwhelmed by all your kind comments! :D Thanks a lot; it has been fun writing the reports, selecting pictures, storing away memories and getting feedback as I went along. I've had an amazing time here and will surely be back as soon as possible. Scotland's always been good to me, but this trip was truly exceptional. Loved being in touch with you lot online, and met so many walkers along the way who shared their stories with me. I'll try and meet some of you as well next time! Would be lovely to walk together or just meet for a drink in a pub somewhere. I'm already thinking of which hills to do next time :lol: In the mean time, I will have only your reports to read, so keep them coming :wink:
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Re: It’s a long long way to Beinn Eighe (but that’s okay)

Postby BlackPanther » Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:13 am

My best mountain EVER! And this must be my favourite TR on Beinn Eighe (apart from my own but forgive a proud little Pole :wink: ). It's a mountain of many faces and many lovely "corners"and I still haven't explored all of it. Worth climbing more than once :D

Glad you had great holidays in Scotland, your reports definitely proved it. Sure you'll be back soon. At the end of the day, it's not so far away from the mainland Europe, isn't it? :lol: And the hills will always be here, waiting for you.
Cheers
BP
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Re: It’s a long long way to Beinn Eighe (but that’s okay)

Postby Lenore » Sat Aug 04, 2012 7:30 am

BlackPanther wrote:My best mountain EVER! And this must be my favourite TR on Beinn Eighe (apart from my own but forgive a proud little Pole :wink: ). It's a mountain of many faces and many lovely "corners"and I still haven't explored all of it. Worth climbing more than once :D

Glad you had great holidays in Scotland, your reports definitely proved it. Sure you'll be back soon. At the end of the day, it's not so far away from the mainland Europe, isn't it? :lol: And the hills will always be here, waiting for you.
Cheers
BP


Hahaha of course! Your TR was the one that inspired me to go here after all :wink: Thanks a lot for the kind comments, means a lot to me :D You're right, distance only depends on how badly you want to go somewhere. Am already scheming to arrange my return :lol:
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Re: It’s a long long way to Beinn Eighe (but that’s okay)

Postby grantrobertson » Wed Oct 03, 2012 2:44 pm

Lenore, it was once again a complete and utter pleasure to read one of your reports! It is wonderful that you have engaged with Scotland so well. I also rate Torridon as one of my favourite Highland areas and you have whetted my appetite for a return there sooner rather than later. Your enthusiasm, humour and spirit of exploration shines through in this and your other reports. Having met you this summer, I can confirm that these qualities are real!

Haste Ye Back!! :D
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