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Winter colours in Torridon: Beinn a Chearcaill

Winter colours in Torridon: Beinn a Chearcaill

Postby malky_c » Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:54 pm

Route description: Beinn a' Chearcaill, from Loch Maree

Fionas included on this walk: Beinn a' Chearcaill

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Bidein Clann Raonaild

Date walked: 04/11/2012

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 17 km

Ascent: 1010m

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Grahams: Beinn a Chearcaill
Sub 2000 Marilyns: Bidein Clann Raonaild
Date: 04/11/2012
Distance: 12km & 5km
Ascent: 770m & 240m
Time taken: 3 hours 45 minutes & 1 hour 10 minutes
Weather: Cold and sunny. More overcast later on. Snow down to 550m.

I've spent a lot of this year running around trying to cram big routes in around public transport timetables, so it has been nice to spend the last few weeks doing shorter days out with less time constraints. This Sunday was no exception - a quick look at the weather forecast on Saturday night suggested that things were going to be much better than I previously thought in the NW, so I made a quick decision to go over to Torridon.

Chearcaill.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

No early start for me today - I left the car just after 10:30 and started walking up the stalkers path which follows Glen Grudie. There was a single car parking space on the driveway of the house at Bridge of Grudie, but a car already filled it. It looked like I might meet some other walkers for a change! I left the car on the road verge instead, where there was just enough space to get it off the tarmac.


Beinn Lair:

Despite not going anywhere of note, the path was well maintained, and it was an easy walk to Coire Briste. Views back to Slioch and forward to Beinn Eighe were spectacular, and I couldn't wait to gain some more height. I had briefly toyed with the idea of doing Slioch instead, but this would have been less relaxing, and anyway, cloud lingered on the highest summits for a lot of the day.

Head of Glen Grudie: Ruadh Stach Beag and Spidean Coire nan Clach:

I ignored a cairned path ascending the corrie itself, planning to come back this way. Instead I ascended rough ground on the south side, reaching snow just as the gradient began to ease off.

Ruadh Stac Mor and the Triple Buttress appear next:

The snow was deep in a couple of spots, which coupled with some very holey ground made for rough going on the second steepening which led to Creag na Feol. Happily this levelled off again, with the full vista of the Torridon hills now coming into view. I was surprised just how much snow there was at this level, as the hills further east hadn't been covered this low down.

Fannaichs from Creag na Feol:

Meall a Ghiuthais and Ruadh Stac Beag:

It was a straightforward stroll to the summit of Beinn na Chearcaill, and I picked up some footprints on the last stretch, shortly before spotting a couple of figures on the summit. They had picked the hill as an easy day because of the conditions and were initially surprised when I mentioned that I'd been saving it for a nice day. I suppose when you get into the mentality of doing Grahams you tend to forget that this is one of the least consequential hills in Torridon. Still has some of the best views though :D

Beinn Alligin and the Trotternish peninsula:

Across Strath Lungard to Beinn an Eoin:

The back of Liathach:

Loch Maree and Beinn Airigh Charr:

Beinn Alligin including the Horns:

After the other two guys moved off, I sat down and had lunch, as well as wandering about the summit area. There are some steepish cliffs on the west side of the hill, and looking down into Strath Lungard, the red of the heather nicely complemented the white of Beinn an Eoin. The area between these northern hills and the Torridon giants looked remote and rough. The thought of crossing this to do hills on both sides never really occurred to me until I saw SimonP's report of doing just that. It was also interesting to try and trace Monty's recent one-day gruelathon across the main Torridon summits. Two more different trips it would be hard to imagine, but both pretty inspirational :)

The snow meant that the flat sandstone summit which gives this hill so much of its character was not seen at its best, but with such great weather this was a minor complaint. Eventually the breeze, which was light but chilly, drove me away, and I followed the footprints of the other two guys back down.

The sandstone bowling-green on the summit of Beinn a Chearcaill:


Coire Mhic Fhearchair and Triple Buttress:

Sail Mhor of Beinn Eighe:

Beinn an Eoin again:

Beinn Dearg and Beinn Alligin:

Descent from the summit plateau:

I was quite grateful for the tracks, as the snow was even deeper on this part of the hill, and they had highlighted the biggest gaps between the boulders for me. As the snow petered out below 500m, I was surprised to find myself on a reasonably substantial (if boggy) path. Obviously more popular than I thought, this hill, but rightly so. It curved around the head of Coire Briste and put me back on the stalker's path again. Most of the descent to the car was spent remembering my long day out on the hills in front of me back in April, when I'd finally climbed Beinn Lair.

Ruadh Stac Mor and Ruadh Stac Beag:

Beinn Lair and Slioch from Glen Grudie:

Beinn a Mhuinidh:

Beinn Airigh Charr and Meall Mheinnidh:

Beinn Lair again:


The afternoon was still sunny and spectacular, and it was only coming up to 2:30, so I phoned my wife and told her I would be back slightly later than planned, and parked up at the top of Glen Docherty. Although I hadn't paid great attention to the reports, I knew that Bidein Clann Raonaild had a reputation for good views of Torridon, so I thought I'd have a look.

I was just about able to pull the car off the tarmac at the head of the glen, from where I headed through a kissing gate and across pathless moor to meet the vehicle track which ascends this hill (there is a radio transmitter on the summit). It turned out that this wasn't a great time saver, and I might as well have parked at the track junction a little further east. The weather was much more overcast here than Torridon, but the views were opening up.

Raonaild.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Loch a Chroisg and the Sgurr a Mhuilin group:

I thought that I'd probably seen Torridon from every angle possible by now, so I was surprised with the sheer bulk of Beinn Eighe in front of me when I reached the summit. This was new and spectacular, not to mention very moody, with snow showers moving in from the south.

Sgurr Dubh and Liathach from Bidein Clann Raonaild:

Beinn Liath Mhor, Sgor nan Lochan Uaine and Sgurr Dubh:

Meall a Ghiuthais and Loch Maree:

Glen Torridon:

Beinn Tarsuinn and Mullach Choire Mhic Fhearchair:

Reason for the summit track:

Last look down Glen Torridon from the summit cairn:

Carn Bhreac and Fuar Tholl - more snow coming in from the south:

A quick dash back down the track until I was level with the car, then I traversed over to the pass. I managed to get a similar view to the one from the viewpoint on the A832, except with the advantage of a little more height, before dropping back to the road.

Loch Maree from the hillside above the A832 viewpoint:

Two magnificent viewpoints for the Torridon area, and neither of them particularly difficult :D
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Re: Winter colours in Torridon: Beinn a Chearcaill

Postby Paula Hubens » Tue Nov 06, 2012 7:27 pm

Stunning pictures malky_c! 8)
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Re: Winter colours in Torridon: Beinn a Chearcaill

Postby dawnfoth » Tue Nov 06, 2012 7:41 pm

Wowsers! Beautiful pics! Thats not you in the shorts is it? :crazy: Superb day for walking near Torridon. :D
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Re: Winter colours in Torridon: Beinn a Chearcaill

Postby Bod » Tue Nov 06, 2012 7:41 pm

Wonderful report malky, an inspirational insight to the joys of climbing all the hills and mountains that you can find! And Torridon, what a place :) :) :)
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Re: Winter colours in Torridon: Beinn a Chearcaill

Postby clivegrif » Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:10 pm

Superb!! :clap:
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Re: Winter colours in Torridon: Beinn a Chearcaill

Postby McLEOD » Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:20 pm

looks like a cracking day oot, cheers :thumbup:
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Re: Winter colours in Torridon: Beinn a Chearcaill

Postby ChrisW » Wed Nov 07, 2012 12:04 am

That first one is an absolute gem Malky, given the incredible photos you got I can only imagine how beautiful the scenes were in real life. Isn't it time the shorts went in the wardrobe for a few months now though :shock: :lol:

The second little jaunt was clearly worth the effort too, but the third....all I can say is you must love it man :lol:

Great effort and stunning photos :clap:
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Re: Winter colours in Torridon: Beinn a Chearcaill

Postby Scott69 » Wed Nov 07, 2012 12:44 am

Now that was hillwalking, and not a Munro trodden upon.

Excellent stuff.
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Re: Winter colours in Torridon: Beinn a Chearcaill

Postby Stretch » Wed Nov 07, 2012 3:55 am

Great shots Malky, and done in true Malky form - shorts.
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Re: Winter colours in Torridon: Beinn a Chearcaill

Postby Alastair S » Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:50 pm

Superb stuff there Malky :clap: :clap: :clap:

Just one tip: if there's snow on the ground try wearing trousers. Helps keep the chill out old chum :lol:
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Re: Winter colours in Torridon: Beinn a Chearcaill

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Wed Nov 07, 2012 2:36 pm

Marvellous report Malky. That wee Graham looks a gem with views to die for.
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Re: Winter colours in Torridon: Beinn a Chearcaill

Postby Stuart Angus » Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:05 pm

.........in shorts :shock: ................ye mad? :lol:
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Re: Winter colours in Torridon: Beinn a Chearcaill

Postby Hillwalker and Her » Wed Nov 07, 2012 9:33 pm

Superb shots. We were up on the Lawers range on the 1st Nov and the views were awesome. So it looks like the weather held over the weekend for you. Great stuff :clap:
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Re: Winter colours in Torridon: Beinn a Chearcaill

Postby HighlandSC » Wed Nov 07, 2012 11:57 pm

very nice malky! 8)
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Re: Winter colours in Torridon: Beinn a Chearcaill

Postby foggieclimber » Thu Nov 08, 2012 12:52 am

Wonderful report Malky.

Great to see a nice snowy report of Beinn a'Chearcaill and also of the great wee Sub2000ft hill Clann Raonaild. I'm not in a hurry to do it, as I am thinking of leaving it 'til last.
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