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Glorious day on Beinn a' Bheithir

Glorious day on Beinn a' Bheithir


Postby Silverhill » Tue Jan 07, 2014 9:31 pm

Route description: Beinn a'Bheithir

Munros included on this walk: Sgorr Dhearg (Beinn a'Bheithir), Sgorr Dhonuill (Beinn a'Bheithir)

Date walked: 06/06/2013

Time taken: 8.5 hours

Distance: 14.2 km

Ascent: 1476m

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Catching up on trip reports of last summer....


Beinn a' Bheithir.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


Decision, decisions, decisions! With so many options laid out in front of me, I saw myself facing a major multiple choice conundrum at breakfast today. No, not how many eggs, pieces of toast and what cereal to have, but which way to go up Beinn a’ Bheithir, and which way to come down. A nice wood walk or an exhilarating ridge walk? The scrambly sections or the ‘straightforward’ route?
At home, way back before Christmas, I had highlighted all the possibilities on the map and calculated distances and timings. Couldn’t make a decision then, couldn’t make a decision now.
However, a stroke of genius simplified things by re-formulating the matter to ‘where to park the car? At Ballachulish or South Ballachulish?’. A blind stab at the map and Ballachulish it was!
I parked at the Tourist Information Centre, which meant the legs got a nice warm up en route to the school before the serious work would start. Looking at the map, I had quite fancied taking the short and steep ridge up Sgorr Ban. That was earlier, when having breakfast. Now, after one look at it, the legs were already walking towards the Beinn Bhan ridge!
There seemed to be a path along the river, but the cross country route, through heather and bracken, looked like the way of least resistance. Crossing the fence at 250m required a bit of deliberation and focused action, but I managed, keeping all limbs intact. The ascent was now getting really steep and the thick heather made it difficult to gauge whether the next step would be in a void or on the slope. Big steps, working those quads! I stumbled upon a path coming in from the left, contouring the hill. It was narrow but very good, so not to be sniffed at. With both feet on reliable ground, I finally managed to take the first picture of the day.

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Ballachulish, Loch Leven and the Pap of Glencoe

On the ridge the going was much easier and more enjoyable, with good views that could be appreciated without the risk of stumbling or tripping. My route of ‘least’ resistance had taken forever and had been energy sapping, so this was great. After Beinn Bhan the ridge steepens, but the ascent was never tricky.

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On the steeper slopes after Beinn Bhan

Sgorr Bhan was now getting nearer, hurrah! From here the view towards Sgorr Dhearg ridge and its sweeping corrie was magnificent. So was the view over to Loch Leven, the Mamores and Ben Nevis. Just great to be here!

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Ridge towards Sgorr Dhearg

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Loch Leven, the Mamores, Ben Nevis

Walking on the ridge was fantastic, with all those views. On the summit, the feast for the eyes continued. Stunning!
There were two other people on the summit, perched on the edge of the ridge, looking over Loch Leven and I joined them. It was lovely sitting there, feet dangling, chatting a bit, eating lunch, enjoying the views. I could happily have sat there all day! :D

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Bidean nam Bian

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Loch Leven, the Mamores, Ben Nevis again

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Sgor na h-Ulaidh and Beinn Fhionnlaidh

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The Paps of Jura in the far far distance

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Across Loch Linnhe

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Not to forget: the cairn

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Sgorr Dhonuill looking fine

But Sgorr Dhonuill was beckoning. It was looking very grand. On the descent I met a walker who was virtually running up Sgorr Dhearg. We exchanged a quick hello. And before I arrived down at the bealach he had overtaken me again on the descent. Not one for loitering!
It was a straightforward climb to the next summit. Some walk reports mention a scary section, which I must have missed. Or maybe I had manned up after the hairy descent from Stob Coire Sgreamhaich a few days earlier!
The views from Sgorr Dhonuill were equally stunning.

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Summit Sgorr Dhonuill

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Ben Nevis and the Mamores

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View towards Mull

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View towards Garbh Bheinn in Ardgour

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Sgorr Dhearg and Bidean nam Bian

No-one else on the summit. Glorious weather. Far reaching views. Work and worries left behind. This was here and now. What more does one need? 8)

The way back to the bealach was fun with a few scrambly bits to start with. After that it was easy going again. Originally I had planned to return via the north ridge of Sgorr Dhearg, but at the bealach the re-ascent up this munro didn’t look very appealing anymore. Instead I dropped down from the bealach. Once away from the crags it is a matter of following the fence line towards the wood. With there being a path on both sides, it seemed logical to stick to the left of the fence. That way I wouldn’t have to cross it when eventually heading down into the woods.

Ah, how reality defies logic.
Where the wood on the left becomes nice and dense, the path petered out. The way ahead was blocked by trees and a deep muddy trench. I tried going downhill into the wood, but gave up after 10 meters or so. It was too dense and too steep. Back to the fence, where oh irony the path on the other side merrily continued. B@gger that!

I slithered through the fence and followed the path. What’s that ahead? A sign on the hillside?! Indeed. Pointing the way to the Forestry Commission car park at South Ballachulish. Not that my car was parked there, but this path was bound to take me to one of the forestry tracks that would lead back to Ballachulish.

The path turned out to be very well engineered, making the steep descent through the wood a very comfortable walk. The wood itself was enchanting. Cool and quiet apart from the rushing of a few streams and with the sun playing through the trees, not as dark as pine woods sometimes can be.

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The well engineered path

After crossing a couple of forestry tracks I left the path to make my way back to Ballachulish. At the picnic table I stopped for some motivational chocolate. My legs were definitely feeling it now. Come on, only three more kilometers to the car! The views along the way helped.

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Viewpoint and motivational chocolate spot

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Loch Leven and the Pap of Glencoe

My original plan to walk down from Sgorr Dhearg’s north ridge and join the track at the Allt na Leachd would not have worked out, as I discovered. Walls of rock on that side of the track!
The track joins the main road just before the church, where the bluebells were out en masse. Then the final yomp on tarmac to Ballachulish back to the sauna on wheels. With all windows down and doors open, it still took a lot of wafting with the map before the heat was bearable for the drive back.
Last edited by Silverhill on Thu May 01, 2014 9:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Glorious day on Beinn a' Bheithir

Postby Lightfoot2017 » Wed Jan 08, 2014 11:13 am

Nice report with some gorgeous pics. Loving that pic of the ridge towards Sgorr Dhearg... Just fabulous!! :clap:

Looks like you lucked out with the weather too. And the summit all to yourself! Doesnt get much better than this, huh? Lucky you!! :D
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Re: Glorious day on Beinn a' Bheithir

Postby Silverhill » Wed Jan 08, 2014 9:10 pm

Thanks for the comment Lightfoot! With such shapely hills, pictures really can't go wrong :wink: But I was really lucky with the weather, which continued for a good few days. :D
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Joined: Jan 13, 2013

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