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Before the rain came Spean down

PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 10:01 pm
by Driftwood
After a rest day, when there had been heavy showers near Spean Bridge, I wanted to fit in a few more hills on my way east. The forecast (and skies) still looked a little unsettled, so I decided on a short, though relatively steep, walk rather than longer options south of Loch Laggan, or further northeast.
I parked up near Roughburn (though at a layby; I could have saved a few hundred yards by parking by the forest gate itself) at about 10am. Clouds were wandering over from the south as I followed a track up through the forest, noting what looked like a footpath on the left (though I didn't investigate it fully at that point). After the trees, I turned right through a fenced area, over a high style, then started climbing in earnest. The weather felt warm and humid enough to call for a few breaks along the way.
Looking back

I worked around the southwestern side of Beinn a'Chaorainn, skirting Meall Clachaig along my way. The views were improving, whether behind me to the south:
From the shoulder of Beinn a'Chaorainn

Or on my left, to what should be the second half of the route.
Across to Beinn Teallach

This stretch is a bit of a slog, so I took over two hours since starting to reach the southern Top. That also brought more views, including the great corries on the east side, quite a contrast with the grassy slope I'd ascended. Clouds continued to sweep over, some of them grey enough to threaten showers, but staying dry (and fairly warm).
Looking along the Tops

I continued along the hill, skirting a surviving cornice of snow atop one corrie. These cut into the ridge line, so I can see how it's all too easy to stray onto them in winter conditions. The next corrie, between the middle and northern Tops, bore more traces of winter's effects on the hill.
Coire na h-Uamha

As I approached the lowest northern Top, I found that it still held a bank of snow, not sheltered in a corrie but laying beside the modest cairn. This felt bizarre, especially in fairly warm weather and given the rate that it seemed to be melting and flowing away. I took another break, enjoying a bright spell and the view over to the neighbouring hills.
Creag Meagaidh from the north Top

Then it was time for a long descent (over 400 metres' worth) to the bealach for my second hill. This isn't especially steep, especially when aiming to join the north ridge of Beinn Teallach, but it's quite a drop for two hills usually walked together. At least the peat and boggy area between the hills proved fairly dry, so I was across and trying to regain most of the height I'd lost. As well as finding excuses to pause during the ascent:
Violet on Beinn Teallach

Once onto the shoulder of Beinn Teallach, the gradient eases and there are more views. Beinn a'Chaorainn presents a long grassy slope from this direction:
Back to Beinn a'Chaorainn

But there was a glimpse around that to a familiar part of the Creag Meagaidh hills:
The Window

I crossed and wove between some rocky lumps (though keeping clear of steeper crags off to my left) to reach the day's second Munro after about four hours. This has two slight tops, so I visited both to be certain, though the northeastern cairn does look higher (the other might not even edge over 3000 feet).
Atop Beinn Teallach

With cloud covering the skies and getting closer, I didn't want to linger for too long. The long southern side of the hill makes for an easy descent; there are scattered rocks, but not thick or loose enough to be troublesome. There were traces of a path or track at first, but I left or lost that while tending slightly eastwards, hoping to join and cross the Allt a'Chaorainn further down.
As it turned out, I stayed on (and a way above) the west bank until I joined a rough vehicle track at 400 metres or so. I followed that through a fence-line, then for a while more, until the slopes around the stream eased enough to make a crossing further down. That left me with little over half a km of ground to cross to reach the stile and rejoin my walk in.
I varied that by following the Allt a'Chaorainn down past the forestry track, to try the footpath (marked with green-topped posts) instead. That proved extremely boggy, even in the otherwise good conditions, so it must be a quagmire in wet weather. But I managed to get through with both of my boots and most of my dignity, though needing to jump, scramble round a few trees and use any advantage I could find.

The path saves a few hundred metres' distance (and avoids a little reascent), though the solid track is easier going. After a few more curves and turns down the track, I reached the gate and then had a last short stretch along the road to my car. The verge beside it proved to have been strimmed while it was parked, giving me concern for the tyres, though luckily those had suffered nothing worse than sprinkling with grass.
After changing from my boots, I wandered a little way to take a look over Loch Laggan (the lower part, which is a reservoir). The clouds were definitely turning now, so I didn't hang around, making my escape just as the rain began (and continued, or followed me, for the rest of the afternoon).
Approaching rain clouds

Re: Before the rain came Spean down

PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2014 11:41 pm
by mrssanta
that was good lovely pictures, the violet is really beautiful. We don't often see reports of these two.

Re: Before the rain came Spean down

PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 12:09 am
by Driftwood
I do think twice (though that doesn't often put me off!) about putting up trip reports for the most popular routes, because there are usually dozens of great reports up already. This are a bit overshadowed by having neighbours like Creag Meagaidh, but (especially coming from Norfolk), there's still plenty of interest to them.

As for the violet, flowers and other plants are constantly catching my attention. And they're a good excuse for a photo stop, especially during ascents :lol: