A return to the character building Deargs – the re-match
by PeteR » Thu Jul 03, 2014 12:40 am
Route description: Beinn Dearg - the Four Munros circuit
Munros included on this walk: Beinn Dearg (Ullapool), Cona' Mheall, Eididh nan Clach Geala, Meall nan Ceapraichean
Date walked: 28/06/20142 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).
MrsR was off to a sister’s neighbour’s daughter’s cat’s uncle’s mother’s wedding reception..........well, something like that On account of the fact I can come across as anti-social at such gatherings I had been excused Obviously I had expressed disappointment at not attending this social event
Then I cleared off into the hills.........
A Saturday pass is a special gift........
......like a woman agreeing that a man is right, they can be rare, almost unheard of.....
......but when they happen they’re an opportunity not to be scorned........
.....and a chance for a long, tough day in the hills.....
And so it was.
I had toyed with the idea of an early, early start with an audacious attempt at Seanna Bhraigh and then approaching the 4 Deargs on the return via a slog up on to Eididh nan Clach Geala so that I could turn Cona Mheall’s red balloon blue too (the other 3 having already been bagged on an eventful day in August 2012 ) . My plans for this weekend though didn’t happen as planned, on account of the fact I didn’t get up and out in time.
On the drive up to Inverlael I was undecided on whether to go for Seanna Bhraigh, or to take on a re-match and tackle the 4 Deargs. I was still undecided as I set off from the car park. On my first attempt at the Deargs the forecast had been promising, but in the end early morning sunshine had given way to clag, cloud, wind and rain. My water proofs had failed, as had my boots and I’d taken a hell of a beating. This time round the forecast looked like it might be a role reversal, with conditions improving during the afternoon. So, by the time I arrived at the fork in the path where a decision was needed the decision was taken, and the Deargs it was. Hopefully I could witness the views I had not had on my first visit
My recollection from my first visit was that this was a tough route. I think I’d found the initial walk in a bit of a slog and the climb up onto Eididh nan Clach Gealla had felt like hard going too. Maybe I’m a bit fitter these days, as the walk seemed to happen without too much effort. Eididh nan Clach Gealla slowed my pace a tad, but still seemed easier than I recall. The ascent gives good views back across Loch a’Chnapaich across to Meall nan Ceapraichean.
It was as I was arriving on the ridge and the final climb up onto the summit of Eididh nan Clach Gealla that the whole nature of this walk changed. Initially the motivation for the day was simply to turn a rogue red balloon blue. Suddenly though I was being treated to all the views that had been denied me first time round and the blue balloon seemed of much less importance all of a sudden. From this point it was to be all about the views.
And oh, what views they turned out to be.....
It was f...f...f..freezing on the top of the Munro, so it was on with the windproof jacket. I spent a short while on the first summit (there are two high points, so I visited both just to be on the safe side), just enjoying the views across to Assynt The mighty An Teallach was also on show although cloud cover came over it at times during the day. Neither words not my photos can do the views justice. Simply jaw dropping, even from a distance
From the summit it’s an easy descent down to the lochans on the bealach between it an Munro number 2 - Meall nan Ceapraichean.
Without the clag and rain of my first visit I was able to easily pick up the start of the path that makes easy work of the climb onto this bulky hill. Height was quickly gained, although on the boulder sections near the top the path now appeared intermittent. Just keep heading up and soon enough the whaleback top is reached. First is the cairned top of Ceann Garbh and then a bit of boulder hopping to the summit of the Munro itself.
More great views from this one too, although a bit of a shower came across while I was on the top. Then it was an easy descent down to the Bealach an Lochain Uaine.
It was here in 2012 I’d got myself a bit disoriented in the mist trying to locate the path to Cona Mheall!!! This time round is was a piece of cake. Arriving at the end of the famine wall I got my first view of the impressive Coire Granda Spectacular
It’s a nice little descent down to the saddle that precedes the climb to the summit of Cona Mheall. As I started off from the famine wall I was stopped in my tracks by a thunderous, rumbling, cracking noise At first I thought it was a rock fall close by, then perhaps quarrying. Finally I thought it might be thunder off in the direction of the Fannaichs. Still not sure what it was, but if it was thunder I was keen to get up and off Cona Mheall smartish.
At the saddle I was pleased to see there was a path up onto the top of the hill. As usual it was a bit intermittent over the boulders, but made easier going than just slogging up and over the boulders. By now as well my feet and legs were beginning to show signs of fatigue.
The thunder risk seemed to have passed by the time I hit the summit and although there were patches of blue sky I still managed to get hit by my second and most persistent shower of the day. It couldn’t take away from the views though. Seanna Bhraigh and Creag an Duine looked impressive in the distance. There were also fine views down onto Loch Prille and the impressive waterfall. Am Faochagach, despite being a bit of a lump looked an impressive lump from this vantage point. Beinn Dearg just looked stunning. A big bruiser of a hill, with its steep cliffs dropping down to Loch a’Choire Ghranda
Dropping down off Cona Mheall was a lot quicker than I’d found getting up it. I was soon back at the famine wall and starting the ascent of the mighty Dearg
As a climb this is in complete contrast to the three Munros that had gone before. If you take each hill on its own they are all easy Munros. It’s the combination of a long walk in and out and the length of the circuit that makes the round a tough day out. Beinn Dearg requires you to get your hands out of your pockets and put hand to rock as you climb up by the famine wall. There's a good path all the way, but I took the opportunity to vary the ascent with a bit of boulder hopping and mild scrambling in places. All very enjoyable, as I arrived at the top of the wall where I then undertook the final slog to the summit.
Suddenly I was hit by great views across to the Fannaichs , as well as the mighty An Teallach , a hazy Fisherfield, Slioch and a distant Torridon
On my previous visit to these hills I had hatched a plan to descend off Beinn Dearg's long north westerly ridge via Meall Breac. This had resulted in a bit of a minor disaster, as a number of bad route choices once off Meall Breac led me to negotiating giant bracken, brambles and all manner of nasty stuff on a steep final descent to the roadside (see here for an account of the experience - http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=25254) .
This time round I thought I had it sorted. I would drop down into Gleann na Sguaib at a suitable point and pick up the main path back to the car at Inverlael. Well, that was the theory. Here goes for the execution
Firstly, the walk down by the wall is superb Great views ahead toward An Teallach great views looking up and down the wall At the point I can't quite understand why this route isn't more popular as a descent.
Then the fun began Traipsing over the moor I’d arrived at a line of fence posts that would probably have taken me easily, if steeply, down to the River Lael, which was practically a wee burn on the day, and then easily back onto the main path and an easy walk back to the car.
Didn’t do that.....
Instead I carried on to the right of the minor bump of Cnoc na Moine and dropped down from there. Easy at first, over grass and heather. Had to negotiate a deer fence, which wasn’t too difficult and then........
Easy going gave way to steeper ground. Grass and heather gave way to heather and bracken and all manner of nasty stuff. Careful foot placement was vital as I was in ankle breaking territory. Initially I’d headed toward a burn (the Allt no Moine), thinking this would make the going easier.
If anything it was steeper and more dangerous. A quick “time out” was taken to survey the mess I had landed myself in. It seemed to me the ground to my right was less steep and would make marginally easier going. It was less steep, but no less treacherous. Careful foot placement remained vital, as I made my way down slowly, on account of the depth of the heather, the remnants of past tree felling and holes here, there and everywhere that I could easily step into. Into the trees and I could see the track. Just a couple of hundred yards and I was on the home run. First there was another deer fence to negotiate and then more careful foot placement before I was on safe ground
Relieved at reaching safety I had a choice. Left or right. From memory the map suggested left, with a plethora of tracks being available to get me back to the car. So off I toddled. I was a bit shocked when half a mile later the track simply stopped. That wasn’t what the map said
So it was an about turn and retracing my steps. I was now walking away from my car, which didn't feel god for my sore feet. Eventually the track took a swing to the left and had me in the right direction. Shortly after I was back on the main track and enjoying the mile or so walk back to the car park.
By the time I arrived back at the car I felt completely exhausted. My alternative descent route had added extra mileage as well as extra time to my day, but despite the mini adventure toward the end I was more than happy to finally nailed the route I’d initially planned and put those “character building” Deargs to bed
by jmarkb » Thu Jul 03, 2014 8:46 am
PeteR wrote: I was a bit shocked when half a mile later the track simply stopped. That wasn’t what the map said
It looks on Google Earth as though several sections of track have disappeared under felled trees and new planting.
In case you ever do it again, (or for the benefit of other readers!) it's probably better to descend the burn which starts 400m east of Cnoc na Moine: there is a trace of a path through the deep heather on its east bank (the line of fenceposts is on the other side of the burn and crosses some steep rough ground). There's then a gate into the forestry next to the River Lael, and a short section of track not marked on the map which connects to the hairpin at NH212849.
by dogplodder » Thu Jul 03, 2014 8:46 pm
by Fife Flyer » Thu Jul 03, 2014 9:06 pm
Notice your day pass also included some decent weather
You don't like to do things the easy way, must be a male trait - he says speaking from experience
by rockhopper » Thu Jul 03, 2014 9:47 pm
by Collaciotach » Thu Jul 03, 2014 9:49 pm
Yet to do these so maybe the overnight camping six
by Alteknacker » Thu Jul 03, 2014 9:51 pm
by Silverhill » Sat Jul 05, 2014 5:42 pm