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Achnasheen double bill - Fionn Bheinn and Meall a' Chaorainn

Achnasheen double bill - Fionn Bheinn and Meall a' Chaorainn

Postby AnnieMacD » Mon May 19, 2014 4:55 pm

Munros included on this walk: Fionn Bheinn

Grahams included on this walk: Meall a'Chaorainn (Achnasheen)

Date walked: 17/05/2014

Time taken: 9.66 hours

Distance: 21.4 km

Ascent: 1189m

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Track_2014-05-17 Fionn Bheinn.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

I've had a bit of a gammy knee since my Glamaig gallivant, so spent a while on Friday composing a route for these two hills with easy, mossy slopes. I hadn't run or done any hiking for two weeks and was getting stir crazy so decided Fionn Bheinn was the 'easiest' hill around. The forecast from all sources said it would be a nice morning and the rain would come in from the south-west at about 14:00 - spot on as it happened.

Milton Loch and Beinn a' Chlachain early in the morning as I was leaving Applecross.
ImageFionn Bheinn by anniesmountains, on Flickr

I saw from the map there was a track going up through the woods starting about half way along Loch a' Chroisg (just west of Achnasheen) so set off early in the morning and stopped at the gate. The gate was deer-fence height and double padlocked. However, the next gate to the east was also padlocked but had a kissing gate alongside so just parked on the verge and off I went. As I headed back towards the woods I came across a fence but it was obvious the sheep get though it and I went down on hands and knees and pretended I was a sheep :lol: This whole palaver kept me back about 15 minutes but I was pretty glad of it at the end of the day when my car was that much closer!

On the right is the track and original gate I had in mind. I, however, had to crawl through a hole in a fence and then come through the gap in the trees (on the left) to reach the track.
ImageFionn Bheinn Y-2 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

I had intended to walk all the way on the path around to the easy shoulder of Meall a'Chaorainn but after about 2.5 km I was getting a bit fed up of the low level gradual climb and I wanted a bit of adventure. At about this point I looked up to my right and saw a very steep scree gully going up to the summit plateau. What the heck, I thought, my knee is feeling good - let's have a go and I can always turn back if necessary. There were some fence posts starting up the hill so I followed them for a few metres and then picked up a deer path - which avoided the scree and went up the left side. What fun! Now I know what the guide books mean when they say things like "Proceed with interest". I was having too much fun. There was only one scary bit which was really exposed and I had to step over a complete break in the track but it was a small step and no real danger if one didn't look down. It was steep though and needed two hands for much of it. This did take me up to the very gradual ridge and I took a right turn (SE) and headed for the summit.

The top part of the scree gully.
ImageFionn Bheinn X-2 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Looking back down to the burn and path from about 2/3 way up. First sight of Slioch.
ImageFionn Bheinn X by anniesmountains, on Flickr

This has to be the most monotonous and uninspiring trek in the Highlands! Of course there are the usual false summits but these are half a km apart and it's so dis-spiriting to see the next one. It reminded me of a trip driving south-north in New Mexico a few years ago where you drive on the looooong straight roads and after every horizon you get more of the same, over and over again :lol:

Eventually I saw a ptarmigan standing beside a pimple on the horizon - I didn't think it could possibly be the summit as the edifice wasn't much taller than the ptarmigan, so didn't raise my hopes. This is what I came upon with a drop-off all around. What I didn't mention is that the ridge was totally featureless - absolutely nothing to attach the eye to. The good news is that the views of surrounding hills was getting better and better and the walking was easy - mostly carpet-like moss and so easy on the feet!

Summit 'cairn' but what a view! L-R Liathach, Beinn Eighe, Meall a' Ghiubhais, Slioch and then (I think) Lochan Fada and into Fisherfield.
ImageFionn Bheinn A by anniesmountains, on Flickr

View of Fionn Bheinn summit from Meall a' Chaorainn summit.
ImageFionn Bheinn-2 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Here are some more views from the summit.

Down to Loch a' Chroisg and the road to Kinlochewe. Hills are Fuar Tholl, Sgorr Ruadh, Beinn Liath Mhor and Sgurr nan Lochan Uaine with (I think) Beinn Damh at the back
ImageFionn Bheinn-3 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Sgurr Dubh, Liathach and Beinn Eighe
ImageFionn Bheinn-4 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Moruisg etc. The hill in the foreground is Liathanach (Ledgowan Estate) with its network of roads.
ImageFionn Bheinn-5 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

And this has to take the gold medal in the peat hag olympics. Please don't tell the landowner that people used to burn peat for fuel - there's money in them there hills.

Panorama of the peat hags.
ImageFionn Bheinn-6 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Anyway I had bigger and better things in my sights - namely Fionn Bheinn.

I dropped down to 450m (aptly named Coire Bog) and an easy river crossing. I was getting a blister on one of my heels so it was also compeed time but I was a woman with a mission as I really wanted to get to the summit before the cloud came in and I had almost 500m ascent ahead of me. It took me 1hr 20 min and it was relentless - I think the word to best describe it is 'slog'. I'm really pleased the visibility was good as, again, there are absolutely no visual markers to latch on to - not even a rock and hardly a pebble. What a wilderness.

About half way up and the views opened up again - but evem better. However, the cloud was lower - need to hurry up! Slioch on the left.
ImageFionn Bheinn-7 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Sgurr Dubh with little Seana Mheallan below it (cute!) and a peep of Loch Torridon, Liathach and Beinn Eighe.
ImageFionn Bheinn-8 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

However I was spurred on by the approaching weather and it was a positive hive of activity at the summit. Well 5 people :lol: Ok, so the hill then redeemed itself for two reasons - Toll Mor and the views. In fact it was probably more atmospheric due to the storm coming in. Photos:

Three people walking around the corrie rim to the subsidiary top.
ImageFionn Bheinn-9 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Soaking in the views of Beinn nan Ramh and A' Chailleach.
ImageFionn Bheinn-10 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Toll Mor and beautiful Loch Fannich.
ImageFionn Bheinn-11 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Rain coming in from Torridon
ImageFionn Bheinn-13 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

ImageFionn Bheinn-14 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Looking north down the ridge. If I was Malky I would just have nipped over to Beinn nan Ramh before the rain started!!!! One good thing about the low cloud is that you get the feeling of being so high up and having conquered the world! Love it up here.
ImageFionn Bheinn-15 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Everyone else left and just as I was half-way through my lunch the rain started and the mist came down. I didn't hang about and went around the lovely corrie rim to the cairn (there is no cairn on Fionn Bheinn summit just a trig point) at 870 metres. I met one guy going towards the summit but I'm afraid he missed the views. I was hoping to go down the alternative descent but with nothing to see and the rain getting heavier I just headed south-west and intersected the path. By this time the rain was coming down in sheets and the boggy path was becoming a stream. Actually I lost the path a few times but always picked it up again.

One unlucky guy just missed the views.
ImageFionn Bheinn-16 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Now there is a god-awful mess where a hydro scheme is being constructed. They are churning through the peat and diverting part of the burn over black plastic sheeting (presumably to prevent it from carrying all the newly dug up peat down with it) and I had to clamber over all the mud keeping to the turf as much as possible so as not to go up to my knees in peat. Who said this hill is not exciting? :lol:

New tracks snaking up both hills above Achnasheen. What a travesty!
ImageFionn Bheinn-17 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

After this it was fairly easy to follow the path down to the village. I then had another problem (remember I didn't come up this way and all the directional signs are for the people going up the hill!) as I couldn't find my way OUT of all the mish-mash of gates, fences, fanks, more fences etc. Some sheep and three stags were watching me in dismay until I realized I had to cross the burn and go through the hydro scheme building site to get to the road. Now here was I with a map, compass, GPS and knew where I was all the times on the hill but couldn't find my way around Achnasheen - population 50. :lol: :lol:

After taking a detour to the very nice and clean loo (at the station) I had the 4 km walk back to my car with a gale and driving rain coming from the west and into my face. Now I was happy that it wasn't parked at the other gate!

Going up Coire na Ba on the way home, the burns were raging white. There was hardly a trickle in them in the morning on the way over.
ImageFionn Bheinn-18 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Well, to sum up, Fionn Bheinn will not be on my 'must climb again in better weather' list, but every hill leaves an impression and this one is of the magnificent views and Toll Mor.
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Re: Achnasheen double bill - Fionn Bheinn and Meall a' Chaor

Postby BlackPanther » Mon May 19, 2014 5:51 pm

Interesting route. I'm keeping the Graham for a winter outing, having done FB. I must say, this Munro has a bit of a bad reputation, an easy up and down with no thrill in it at all. Yet it gave me one of the best days view-wise. Beinn Eighe looks like a big, white starfish :D

I noticed the new tracks when we drove through Achnasheen a few weeks ago - so it is another mini-hydro-scheme? I can't really see the point in them :( The two tracks bulldozed up Gleouriach-Spidean Mialach duo are just as bad. I wonder how much Co2 is released to the atmosphere when they turn peat hags inside out? Talking eco-friendly? Ehh...
We better climb all the remote hills quickly, before they are all covered with hydro tracks and wind farms :wink:
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Re: Achnasheen double bill - Fionn Bheinn and Meall a' Chaor

Postby AnnieMacD » Tue May 20, 2014 2:26 pm

Yes, BP it's another hydro scheme. I think it'll take a lot of rain water to cancel out the pollution they produce in building these things. At the end of the day the hydro part will not be too obvious and the building controlling it is down in Achnasheen - it's the 'road' that will remain to deface the landscape. I'm sure they could use helicopters to transport what they need but I guess the workers aren't willing to hike half way up Fionn Bheinn every day to start work! The landowner also gains a road which will remain.

OK, that's my rant over! (Don't get me going on this topic - I'm from generations of crofters....)
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