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Beinns a'Chochuill & Eunaich: Sunburn, in Scotland, in April

Beinns a'Chochuill & Eunaich: Sunburn, in Scotland, in April


Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Tue Apr 29, 2014 9:57 pm

Route description: Beinn a'Chochuill and Beinn Eunaich

Munros included on this walk: Beinn a'Chochuill, Beinn Eunaich

Date walked: 18/04/2014

Time taken: 6.5 hours

Distance: 13 km

Ascent: 1210m

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I've been fortunate with the weather on several occasions recently, but I really lucked out on this one :D .

I'd had my eye on Beinns Eunaich and a'Chochuill for a while now, and they seemed ideal for a solo outing on Good Friday, in that unpredictable mid-April Tiger Country between "Winter Conditions" and "Summer Conditions"... they were a straightforward enough pair by all accounts, but given a promising weather forecast, they should hopefully give good views of the Cruachan ridge.

I got a reasonably early start, and managed to bag a space in the rather limited parking available just before the bridge over the Allt Mhoille on the B8077 road (it's the one signed for "Stronmilchan" off the A85 just before Lochawe). The sun was already splitting the skies:
WR1.jpg


The route started just across the bridge, and up the track to Castles Farm. Fine views already of the Dalmally Horseshoe:
WR2.jpg


The initial bit is navigationally straightforward, even for the likes of me: you just take three successive left-hand turns as the track forks, to walk up the glen on the western flank of Beinn Eunaich's south ridge, gradually rising, with expanding views westwards all the time over the Cruachan hills, and Beinn a'Chochuill's summit already clearly visible although the closer (and higher) Beinn Eunaich was hidden at this point.
WR3.jpg
Before long, I passed a cairn marking the point where the return path comes down off of Eunaich's south ridge, which would hopefully be my return route at the end of the day ... and a right steep brute it looked :shock: !
WR4.jpg


A bit further up the glen, the path dips briefly to bridge the Allt Lairig Ianachain, after which it climbs and forks yet again. Interestingly, although the standard route (and, needless to say, the one I followed) takes a steep, faint path up Beinn a'Chochuill's SE ridge and then (after walking the full length of the ridge) makes an even steeper descent back down off the west flank of Beinn Eunaich's south ridge, anyone looking to avoid steepness could just plod up from this bridge to the bealach between the two Munros and then bag each one in turn. This would involve a wee bit of back-tracking, and there's no path to the bealach, but it does look a fairly gentle way up:
WR5.jpg

Not what I did, though: I took the Trade Route, i.e. when the track forked just a bit past the bridge I took the right-hand fork for a couple of hundred metres, then started off left up the initially pathless (or maybe I just didn't find the path :? ) SE ridge of Beinn a'Chochuill. It was pretty steep at first, but the views of the Cruachan hills just kept getting better and better, and provided useful distraction.
WR6.jpg
Higher up, a sketchy wee path did materialise, and this speeded my progress. Eventually, this joined the main six-lane autostrada that runs along the main ridgeline, with the track junction marked by a big boulder (which is in the process of evolution towards a cairn, by the looks of it). Beinn a'Chochuill's summit ridge loomed up to the west, decorated with a lovely long cornice.
WR7.jpg

Although I was initially worried by the amount of snow around, in fact the White Stuff stayed completely clear of the track all the way to the summit, and it was a straightforward enough romp up to the cairn, where I met a father-and-son team taking photos in all directions. And no wonder: the views were stunning. They took a photie of me at the cairn, in return for my taking one of the two of them. I think you can tell from my cheesy grin just how amazing the views were on a day like this:
WR8.jpg

When you're actually walking the Cruachan ridge (which I was lucky enough to do on an equally good day last summer :) ), you don't really get an idea of its spectacular series of wild northern corries, but Beinn a'Chochuill gave a panoramic view of them:
WR9.jpg

Further to the west, there was an intriguingly complex coastal vista, with (I think) Mull and other islands hazily visible in the distance:
WR10.jpg

Just a bit further north, lower Loch Etive was basking in the sunshine:
WR11.jpg

The higher part of Loch Etive was hidden between Beinn Trilleachan to its west (with its amazing Etive Slabs glinting in the sunlight) and hulking Ben "Stavros" and pals to its east:
WR11a.jpg

A zoomed shot of Trilleachan and those Etive Slabs:
WR11b.jpg

Turning back eastwards, Bein Lui was looking queenly as ever in the mid-distance, with (I think) Crianlarich's Twin Peaks of Ben More and Stob Binnein visible in the distance over Lui's left shoulder, and the elegant snaking ridgeline beckoning me onwards towards Beinn Eunaich:
WR12.jpg

Luckily, although there were bits of cornice down the length of the ridge almost as far down as the bealach, and then again on the other side as the ridge rose again towards the marginally higher second Munro, the snow barely encroached on the path at all, and it proved to be an enormously enjoyable but entirely straightforward ridge walk.
WR13.jpg

The path got a bit steep again on the other side of the bealach - in fact, it initially looked a bit scrambly up through a boulderfield about halfway up, bit in fact the path picks its way through this without any real fuss. It was a bit steep all the same, so I resorted to my usual expedient of stopping for lunch :lol: . There were nice views back to Beinn a'Chochuill (with Cruachan and Stob Daimh behind it), and also back down to lower Loch Etive, to admire while I munched my cheese rolls:
WR14.jpg
WR15.jpg

The lunch stop revigorated me nicely, and it wasn't much further to the summit cairn.
WR16.jpg

If anything, Beinn Eunaich was an even better viewpoint than Beinn a'Chochuill. A zoomed shot of Ben Cruachan, looking impressively pointy from this angle:
WR17.jpg

And another zoomed shot, this time northwards to the unmistakeable profile of Ben Nevis in the distance:
WR18.jpg

Sron an Isean (the "Chicken's Nose" :? ??) was prominent to the south-west:
WR19.jpg

A scary view of a bit of cornice dangling over several hundred metres of Nothing, and looking about ready to fall off! I'm not sure that I'd like to be tackling this ridge in the Clag at this time of year - it would be all too easy to walk onto a bit of cornice like this unawares, rapidly followed by a Wile E Coyote-style moment of running on empty air :shock: ...
WR20.jpg

Further round, Loch Awe was glinting in the sunlight at the foot of Beinn a'Bhuiridh, the fine wee Corbett that forms the SE end of the Cruachan horseshoe:
WR21.jpg

From here, the route continues down Beinn Eunaich's fine south ridge, giving yet another grand stomping ridge walk. However, towards the southern end of the ridge, the path takes a sudden dive to the right (west) just after a peat hag to make a fairly precipitous descent of the western flank of the ridge back down to the path. Without exaggerating its difficulties (it's only a couple of hundred metres of descent and would have been straightforward enough if I hadn't been a bit bushed by this point), this path is steep and fairly loose, and I made heavy weather of it with my legs getting tired at the end of the day.

It was around this point that I also realised that I had acquired quite a bit of sunburn :shock: - something of an achievement in Scotland at this time of the year, really. But then, although I originally had dark hair before it went grey, I clearly have a recessive Red Hair gene lurking like a big ging-er skeleton in my genomic closet, given that my eldest daughter is a card-carrying Ging-er :lol: ... To give further entertainment to friends, family and colleagues, when one walks steadily eastwards along a ridge for the best part of a day, one acquires sunburn only on the south (i.e. right) side of one's body ... yes, that's right, bright red right-side-of-face and right hand, but my left side was still the usual Scottish pale-blue skin tone... not a pretty sight :shock: ! Ah well, it was still well worth it for these views :) .
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bobble_hat_kenny
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Re: Beinns a'Chochuill & Eunaich: Sunburn, in Scotland, in A

Postby Silverhill » Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:19 pm

Nice report and great pictures! I like these two. They have a very good effort:views ratio, that is until you get to the descent from Beinn Eunaich’s south ridge :crazy: . As you said, a steep brute that seemed to go on and on. Love the picture of the northern corries of Ben Cruachan. 8)
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Re: Beinns a'Chochuill & Eunaich: Sunburn, in Scotland, in A

Postby litljortindan » Thu May 01, 2014 9:19 pm

Excellent, entertaining report. A sunny day with a little bit of snow left is a great prize and those are good hills for such a day. Good to see this report as these are on my list of train attainable hills. Been on Chochuiil before but not t'other so useful to see a description of both. Some great pictures there too. So did you get yourself down to a tanning salon to "even up"?
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Re: Beinns a'Chochuill & Eunaich: Sunburn, in Scotland, in A

Postby tweedledog » Fri May 02, 2014 11:24 am

Glad you got a clear day. I live just down the road from these two and we haven't had many clag free days lately.
The route up to the bealach (Lairig Lanachain) that you mention is indeed straightforward, though boggy and full of rivulets and tussocks. I wander these hills with the dog and often use it as a descent route. Views are better, however, climbing Chochuill up its shoulder as you did. It is possible to ascend or descend Eunaich past the Eas Eunaich from/to Glen Strae which, although longer and sometimes steep, is a more pleasant route than the standard descent and gives you a fine view of the long ribbon of the falls. Maybe I'll post a report of that route. And, of course, the most striking way to approach Eunaich is from further up Glen Strae via Lairig Dhoirrean, Meall Copagach, and the NE ridge.
How were the Highland cattle on the track? They have been a bit edgy in April with the very small calves. Or maybe it's just The Whippet...
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Re: Beinns a'Chochuill & Eunaich: Sunburn, in Scotland, in A

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Fri May 02, 2014 12:39 pm

litljortindan wrote:Excellent, entertaining report. A sunny day with a little bit of snow left is a great prize and those are good hills for such a day. Good to see this report as these are on my list of train attainable hills. Been on Chochuiil before but not t'other so useful to see a description of both. Some great pictures there too. So did you get yourself down to a tanning salon to "even up"?

Cheers!
Since you ask, the Master-Plan is to do another ridge walk (Mamores) tomorrow, but walking westwards rather than eastwards, so I get the sunburn on the LEFT side this time :lol: ...
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Re: Beinns a'Chochuill & Eunaich: Sunburn, in Scotland, in A

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Fri May 02, 2014 12:42 pm

tweedledog wrote:Glad you got a clear day. I live just down the road from these two and we haven't had many clag free days lately.
The route up to the bealach (Lairig Lanachain) that you mention is indeed straightforward, though boggy and full of rivulets and tussocks. I wander these hills with the dog and often use it as a descent route. Views are better, however, climbing Chochuill up its shoulder as you did. It is possible to ascend or descend Eunaich past the Eas Eunaich from/to Glen Strae which, although longer and sometimes steep, is a more pleasant route than the standard descent and gives you a fine view of the long ribbon of the falls. Maybe I'll post a report of that route. And, of course, the most striking way to approach Eunaich is from further up Glen Strae via Lairig Dhoirrean, Meall Copagach, and the NE ridge.
How were the Highland cattle on the track? They have been a bit edgy in April with the very small calves. Or maybe it's just The Whippet...

Some lovely hielan' Coos (and calves) on the lower bit of the track right enough, but they were friendly enough when I passed them, thankfully!
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