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Beinn a'Chlachair: an Easterly Route Off

Beinn a'Chlachair: an Easterly Route Off


Postby tussockplodder » Sat Jul 12, 2014 8:32 pm

Route description: Beinn a'Chlachair, Geal Charn and Creag Pitridh

Munros included on this walk: Beinn a'Chlachair

Date walked: 11/07/2014

Time taken: 7.2 hours

Distance: 22 km

Ascent: 890m

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It seemed good to lodge a wee report as I used a descent off the mountain not mentioned in others' accounts or route descriptions (as far as I could find).

I used the Walkhighlands route for my ascent, commencing at 0745 on a warm sunny morning. Not being a marathon walker, I had climbed the other two Munros of the group last year, and promised myself a return visit for the last and biggest of the hills. Beinn a'Chlachair (1087m) has a modest look about it as viewed during the early kilometres - in fact it's an extensive plateau with 4 km length over 900m.

DSC00938 (690x518).jpg
Beinn a' Chlachair from the north (later in the day - about 3pm)

I wanted to reach my destination before the day got too hot (as the forecasters were promising) so I didn't linger at the sandy shore of Lochan na h'Earba; also, I wanted to get the pathless mountain yomping bit over as quickly as possible (the long kilometre diagonally from the stalkers' path the the east ridge Choire Mor Chlachair). I guess if one is going to have to tussock plod, it couldn't have been a nicer day for it - and there were no unexpected difficulties. I enjoyed inspecting some of the wildflowers, including cloudberry and this mystery plant.
DSC00923 (690x518).jpg
Pretty wild-flower I can't identify (any botanists out there?)

Reaching the plateau I enjoyed the panorama of the huge corrie from its rim (so unassuming at a distance). I expected from now on only plain sailing to the summit cairn. However, I found I still had another kilometre's walk over rough stony ground - and all the stones at the wrong angles!

DSC00927 (690x518).jpg
The not-so-distant-now summit

Even so, I made good time, and was pleased to beat the "official" 3.5 hrs, arriving at 11 a.m. It was time for an early lunch, and the weather was so pleasant, with the wind gentle, cool and refreshing, that I wanted to stay there. (With all the effort of a hill-walk it seems a shame to pay the summit only a flying visit - but so often that's all the weather permits.) The views all round were terrific - particularly to the south those relatively inaccessible ranges of Aonach Beag and Ben Alder.

After 50 minutes I dragged myself away. I had thought about returning via the same pathless route, but as I'm a bit of a path-and-track junkie I decided instead to do a longer walk down and explore the track that the OS map shows but no-one describes. The "official" descent route is characterised as "steep" but avoids the precipitous NE end of the mountain by going round it to the north to rejoin the stalkers' path; however, the OS map shows a track, its top at ref. NN491792, following an easterly course off the mountain, over more widely-spaced contours.

I guess I discovered why this track doesn't merit any mention in write-ups: it's vanishingly-faint and hard to keep to. However it is a viable route, and has my vote given the warnings of steepness that accompany descriptions of the north-bound route. It also has my vote as it has a great view over Loch a' Bealaich Leanthain and one gets to see the north-east wall of the mountain at close quarters.
DSC00930 (690x518).jpg
View south-eastwards from the easterly descent

The subsequent additional 60m ascent NW via the stalkers' track to the bealach were well worth the extra scenery, and the descent, eventually reaching the sandy shores of Lochan na h'Earba, was relaxing after the morning's hard work.

DSC00936 (690x508).jpg
Shore of Lochan na h'Earba and view to NE

The sting in the tail was of course the final 5km to the A86, as others have mentioned. (Also, I was buzzed for a couple of minutes by an excited meadow pipit - presumably fearing I was a predator.) Still, the relaxing cuppa out of the thermos in the car was all the more welcome for that.
tussockplodder
Bird-watcher
 
Posts: 7
Munros:180   Corbetts:52
Grahams:5   Donalds:3
Sub 2000:4   Hewitts:50
Wainwrights:65   
Joined: Sep 20, 2011

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