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Retreat from the Heat on Beinn Eunaich

Retreat from the Heat on Beinn Eunaich


Postby tweedledog » Sun Jul 28, 2013 4:52 pm

Date walked: 27/07/2013

Time taken: 6.5 hours

Distance: 16.7 km

Ascent: 996m

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Hello everybody. I've been lurking on this site for a while now so thought it was time to be a bit more active. I've been climbing/walking in Scotland since the 1960s, but access always limited by a lifetime working in England. I've now retired to Argyll so, along with The Whippet (of whom more later) I can now get out on the hills at whim. What that means, of course, is that I don't have to follow the fast, standard routes and can wander the region as the mood takes me. For this walk, the mood took me to climb Beinn Eunaich by its 'back door': Up Glen Strae, climb to the Lairig Dhoireann which sits between Beinn Lurachan and the Beinn Eunaich Corbett top Meall Copagach, up to the summit of Meall Copagach and then along the up-and-down ridge to Beinn Eunaich. From thence down whichever of the various unappealing descents of Beinn Eunaich took mine or the dog's fancy.
Ah, the best laid plans.
Started out in cloudy conditions - Beinn Eunaich summit completely clouded in - from the parking place at the foot of Glen Strae. Stopped to read a new sign which has appeared just up the track in the last week or so.
P1060782.jpg
Hill at background left is Meall Copagach

Most of the nature to be protected appears to be a fleet of young ducks that have been rehomed on the pond just up the the way (I gave up counting at 100), and there are now half-a-dozen not very hidden 'hides' along the edge of the pond. The Whippet eyed the ducks with distaste and we continued on to the bridge crossing the Allt Dhoirrean (don't blame me for the inconsistent spelling - that's what the OS map says). After the gate and before the bridge, it's up through another gate to the left and follow the variously visible track up the west side of the stream. The best route climbs high above the stream. There are tributaries to be forded, some of which may cause problems in spate: for instance, the crossing of the Allt Coire na Garbhlaich at NN154 322 which stopped me in my tracks a few weeks ago. Today, though, water is low. Up to our left the NE ridge that we are aiming for is still cloudy.

P1060784.jpg

Just as we reach the final steep part of the climb to the Lairig a White-Tailed Eagle cruises past. Unmistakably huge and white tailed it heads west with a casual flap of those enormous wings. Who knows what it's doing up here with us - The Whippet doesn't look much like a fish supper - but I suppose it's only a wing-flap or two from Loch Awe and not very far as the eagle flies to Mull from whence, presumably, it has come. Wonderful to see though, and makes my day. Which is just as well given the rest of it.
We stop to admire the view from the Lairig then, led by The Whippet, I head up the slope to Meall Copagach.
P1060794.jpg
The Whippet, roped up, leads the ascent

Boulder fields on the ascent are not whippet-paws-friendly, and he and I have several bad-tempered route-finding disagreements before the summit is reached and dog biscuits provided. Once there, though, the views are good and the cloud has cleared away.

P1060801.jpg
Glen Strae from Meall Copagach summit

P1060803.jpg
Looking along the now cloud-free up-and-down ridge to Beinn Eunaich

Now it gets hot, though there is still some breeze at this height. Along the ridge we go, up and down, up and down, to finally reach the unnamed Corbett top, NN145 335, 880m. This is a fine viewpoint, the landscape to the SW encompassing Beinn Eunaich itself, Beinn a' Chochuill to its right, and Cruachan and Taynuilt Peak in the far distance.

P1060816.jpg

However, The Whippet is becoming increasingly hot (as is his companion) and for much of the ridge has insisted on stopping for a rest and a pant. The breeze has dropped as well, and while he is sufficiently interested to have a sniff at the summit cairn, mostly he just wants to lie around in the sun.

P1060831.jpg
Checking the cairn for errant dog biscuits

P1060826.jpg
Summit sunbathing

We push on toward the bealach between this summit and the start of the slope up Beinn Eunaich, though The Whippet clearly feels that it's time to go home. I sit on a rock and admire Beinn Eunaich's splendid Coire na Garbhlaich and spend some time considering our options. We could surely reach the Beinn Eunaich summit, but The Whippet is over-heating (as am I) and the descents will not help. We could try to work our way round the mountain's northern shoulder to Lairig Lanachain and hence to the hydro track, but, although we've been up and down to Lairig Lanachain several times before, I've no idea what the slopes of the shoulder will be like.
Steep, certainly, from the map contours. In the end, with a final look up the ridge to Beinn Eunaich's summit and with the sagacity only available to a 70 year old man accompanied by an eight-and-a-half year old whippet, we decide on retreat.

P1060835.jpg

The Whippet looks mightily relieved to be going back the way we came, though what he doesn't know is that I have no intention of going over Meall Copagach again faced with the prospect of whippet paws descending through the boulder field. On the way along the ridge I'd made a mental note that Coire Raineach looked like a practical escape route and so it proves.

P1060838.jpg
Looking down Coire Raineach

It's mostly rather steep grass, so I wouldn't fancy it much in the wet, but OK on a hot, dry day. Down we go, zig-zagging across the steep sections: I zig, he zags, I zig, he zags. Sometimes I wonder why I climb mountains with this dog when he is so insistent on taking his own route. But there is much canine relief when we reach the lower sections and the Allt Raineach which provides a lengthy drink and a paw-cooling paddle. The stream joins the Allt Dhoirrean in due course and we rejoin our outward route. It's now just a question of fighting our way through the vociferous clegs until we reach the Glen Strae track. There is a splendid swimming hole here, and as we emerge from the hillside two bikini-clad lassies sunbathing by the pool hastily don shirts - maybe they were just in their underwear! They have a couple of small, yappy dogs who rush over to insult The Whippet. But he looks on them with the natural superiority of a dog who has just walked 10 miles and ascended 3270 ft on a hot day. It's back to the car and home where, I might say, the dog flops out for the rest of the day.
This is not, then, a record of magnificent summit achievements as are most walk reports, but I hope of interest nonetheless. And to anybody who hasn't tried this route to Beinn Eunaich I would certainly recommend it. You will get a much better sense of the mountain than is possible from the standard bagging route which combines Beinn Eunaich with Beinn a'Chochuill from the Castle Farm track.


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tweedledog
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Re: Retreat from the Heat on Beinn Eunaich

Postby Collaciotach » Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:37 pm

Got to watch the dogs in the heat right enough :D

Interesting route as well ,next time eh ?
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Collaciotach
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Re: Retreat from the Heat on Beinn Eunaich

Postby tweedledog » Mon Jul 29, 2013 12:57 pm

Yes, a nice cool day in the Autumn sounds more whippet friendly. It is indeed a worthwhile route.
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tweedledog
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