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The Sutherland hinterland - a flying visit
by malky_c » Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:58 pm
Route description: Beinn Leoid and Meallan a' Chuail from the A838
Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Leoid
Grahams included on this walk: Meall an Fheur Loch, Meallan a'Chuail
Date walked: 20/01/2013
Time taken: 5.5 hours
Distance: 15 km
Ascent: 1175m9 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: Meallan a' Chuail, Meallan an Fuar Loch.
Distance: 15 km.
Time taken: 5 hours, 30 minutes.
Weather: Clear summits, but cold, grey and breezy.
Not really got off to a flying start on the hills this year - 20th of the month already and only my second walk. I think I've turned into a fair weather walker - I keep looking out for a good forecast then staying at home if it changes. As other folks reports have shown, there have been some good days this year - you just have to keep going out to get them.
I had been saving this group of hills for a more relaxed visit and a stay in either Glencoul or Glen Dubh bothy, but this weekend, it appeared that the entire country would be buried under snowdrifts apart from the far north. I had always considered Beinn Leoid to be remote, so was surprised when I measured off a route over the 3 main hills in this group that it wasn't a long day at all.
This meant I could ditch the early start, so leaving the house at 8 am gave me a 9:45 start (as expected, the driving conditions were fine up here). While things were looking a bit greyer than forecast, most of the summits were clear, with the exception of Ben More Assynt.
My initial plan had been to head up Coire Gorm to get onto the high ground, but I realised that using the most common approach between West Merkland and Kinloch was slightly shorter without missing out on anything. The path was good and views opened up towards Arkle then Foinaven. After levelling off and crossing some moorland, the path ended and I opted for a slightly descending contour into Loch Dubh, picking up another path. Beinn Leoid and Meallan a' Chuail popped into view.
Looking towards Arkle and Loch More:
...with Foinaven too:
The ground here was a bit tussocky and I floundered in the snow in places, but it wasn't too bad. There were some interesting ice formations on the face of Meallan a' Chuail, and before long I was back on a path. This zigzagged nicely up to the col between Meallan a' Chuail and Beinn Leoid.
Beinn a Bhutha and Loch Srath nan Aisininn:
Beinn Leoid from Loch Dubh:
Some ice on Meallan a Chuail:
Beinn Leoid from Drochaid Beinn Leoid:
On the ridge up to Beinn Leoid, there were a few floundery sections lower down, followed by some snow covered rocks higher up. Trying to avoid falling into the gaps between these was entertaining, as they were filled with soft snow. The wind increased dramatically on the final pull to the summit, making standing at the top less than fun. I was able to get a little shelter in the lee of the summit cairn and have some lunch.
Nearing the summit:
The views were not as good as they could have been on a sunnier day, but Quinaig looked impressive and I could even see Suilven. I could also look down onto the summit of the Stack of Glencoul, something I would have visited on the overnight version of this walk. Must try from the west sometime. Little of the widespread sunshine predicted by the weather forecast was evident, but a couple of shafts opened up over Kylesku. My camera was too full of moisture by now to snap them.
Canisp and Suilven:
Out to sea across Kylesku:
Arkle, Foinaven and Meall Horn from the summit of Beinn Leoid:
I retraced my steps after a few minutes - going down was less pleasant as I was facing into the wind, but much faster! The ascent up to Meallan a' Chuail was steeper, and much more rocky higher up. I finally spotted the cairn, and was rewarded with an impressive drop straight down the other side into Lochan Meallan a' Chuail. While it was breezy here too, I only had to drop a couple of meters below the cairn to get some decent shelter. Good enough for another break.
Arkle and Foinaven catching some sun:
Meall an Feur Loch and Ben Hee from Meallan a' Chuail:
The descent was also quite rocky, with more care needing to be taken to avoid twisting an ankle in a hidden gap. All the way down the views back to the summit were impressive. Meallan a' Chuail is actually a more interesting hill than Beinn Leoid, with multiple lochans at different levels. The only thing it lacks is a good view of Quinaig, as Beinn Leoid sits directly in the way.
Lochan Meallan a' Chuail from the descent:
Arkle and Foinaven from Lochan Cul a' Mhill:
Onward to the third hill of the day, the much less imposing Meall an Fuar Loch. I hadn't realised this was a Graham until 3 or 4 years ago - in fact a friend had made the same omission and missed it out when he had done this walk back in 2006 or 2007.
Looking back to Meallan a' Chuail:
Meall an Fuar Loch adheres to the inverse law of importance when it comes to the summit cairn - it is quite substantial! From here there were good views to Meallan Liath Coire Mhic Dhughaill, Carn an Tionail and Ben Hee, which I had done on a similarly snowy but worse day in 2010 (plus Beinn Direach, which hides away from this angle). Also the ever-dominating Ben Stack.
Meallan Liath Coire Mhic Dhughaill and Carn an Tionail from Meall an Fuar Loch:
On the summit of Meall an Fuar Loch:
It was a pretty easy descent to the stalkers path that I'd started up, and there were good last views to Quinaig, Beinn Leoid and Meallan a' Chuail, with another glimmer of sunshine behind. I passed a rather conspicuous pair of Black Grouse on the way down.
Meallan a' Chuail:
Not very well disguised grouse:
All that remained was a quick retracing of my footsteps back to the car, watching out for some icy bits on the path. I had another break once down out of the wind and admired the views across Loch More. Then home.
Looking back at the stalkers path from the road:
I'll be back for my overnight visit to this area one day, but that was an enjoyable quick visit for now .
by ChrisW » Sun Jan 20, 2013 10:12 pm
by SusieThePensioner » Sun Jan 20, 2013 10:18 pm
We shall be there in October for a week and really looking forward to it!!
by Lenore » Sun Jan 20, 2013 10:59 pm
by gaffr » Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:16 am
by mountainstar » Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:53 am
I had a great stay in Glencoul Bothy whilst doing Beinn Leoid, we took the tourist boat that sails up the Loch to view the falls, but as there is no jetty near the Bothy the skipper had to get as near as possible to a rock outcrop and we then had to jump for it!
And the same coming back
A note on Glenbeg Bothy from the MBA website....
"Intending users should note that the Association is no longer maintaining the building at Glenbeg in the Northern Highlands as an open shelter"
No mention as to if it will be left unlocked by the estate.
by BlackPanther » Mon Jan 21, 2013 12:10 pm
We were in Torridon on the very same day, similar conditions, even some sunshine and blue sky in places... At last some decent weather
by LeithySuburbs » Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:27 pm
by hills » Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:17 pm
by Torridon_snails » Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:10 pm
All the best,
Daniel and Clare (Torridon_snails)
by malky_c » Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:42 pm
ChrisW wrote:Quick visit
All relative I know, but I thought it would be at least a 9 hour day for me in the summer, so was pleasantly surprised
BlackPanther wrote:We were in Torridon on the very same day, similar conditions, even some sunshine and blue sky in places...
Maybe should have gone there instead. It didn't look any better from where I was but your photos definitely look more sunny than mine!
Cheers for the bothy info Alan - that'll save a major shock in the future when I turn up to find it locked
by kevsbald » Fri Jan 25, 2013 4:48 pm
by rob munbett » Thu Jan 31, 2013 3:37 pm
by michael_joanna » Tue Feb 05, 2013 9:30 pm
by rockhopper » Fri Feb 08, 2013 12:47 am