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Beinn a'Chearcaill - with memories of Morrison's Gully

Beinn a'Chearcaill - with memories of Morrison's Gully


Postby AnnieMacD » Tue May 05, 2015 10:31 pm

Route description: Beinn a' Chearcaill, from Loch Maree

Grahams included on this walk: Beinn a'Chearcaill

Date walked: 02/05/2015

Time taken: 8.75 hours

Distance: 15.4 km

Ascent: 892m

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Well, once again I've lost my walk report as I left the computer unattended and then carried on typing when I came back. There was no indication that I had been logged off - that's what is so annoying about this issue.

Anyway, Beinn a'Chearcaill was high on my list of Grahams for at least a year but I wanted to be sure I got the visibility to see all the surrounding hills as I've read the reports and viewed all the photos. Saturday's forecast was for full sun until noon then light cloud for the rest of the day.

As usual I kept stopping to take photos on the way. Liathach looked particularly stunning and the sea had an azure tint to it.

Mullach an Rathain and the azure Upper Loch Torridon.
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Liathach from the other side.
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-3 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Looking back on the approach to Kinlochewe. Spring is definitely in the air.
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-4 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

I parked at the small area after Bridge of Grudie - it's actually part of the old single-track road and will hold 6-8 cars. Just as I was getting my boots on another car drew up and it contained David who was also going up the Graham but had had to turn back a couple of days previously as he said the path had been churned up and was a knee-deep bog and virtually impassable. He suggested just heading straight up the hill to gain the plateau which is what I did and it was an easy ascent. There are plenty of deer paths to get you to the top at 300 odd metres. Once up at that altitude, the hill is undulating with lots of minor 'tops' and locans and slabby rocks which make for great walking.

Slioch totally dominates the view and it's very hard not to stop every few metres to take photos!
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-5 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

The west end of Loch Maree and Beinn Airigh Charr.
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-6 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Slioch and Beinn a'Mhuinidh to the right and the Fisherfield Munros showing up.
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-7 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Meall a'Ghuithais, Ruadh-stac Beag and Spidean Coire nan Clach.
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-8 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

I then headed for the 658m top of A Choineach Beag. By now it was quite windy but the visibility was superb and Slioch totally dominated the views. After finding a spot out of the wind, I had my first lunch break.

Lunch spot view. The summit of Beinn a'Chearcaill is just right of centre with Beinn Eighe on the left and Beinn Dearg on the right.
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-9 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Beinn Dearg on the left, Horns of Alligin and Sgurr Mhor (Beinn Alligin) in the centre and the south-east end of Beinn an Eoin looking huge and intimidating.
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-10 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Slioch again with the cairn and my super-duper new backpack that can be seen miles away!
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-11 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Beinn Dearg and Beinn Alligin.
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-12 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

On my way again and passing the lochan above Coire Briste.
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-14 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

The walk from this top t to the next minor top at 690m was a delight except for a small area at the tope of Coire Briste where there was a section of large rocks that had to be negotiated. There are lots of areas of red sandstone slabs that make for easy walking in dry weather - the conditions were just perfect for walking and even I was zipping along.

Just as I was winding my way through the rocky area before the final ascent (best to follow deer paths here) I spotted David not too far ahead of me. I'm a bit scared of snow fields but he ploughed through them so I just followed in his footsteps as I knew if the snow supported him I'd have no problems. I then took the wee detour to the next top.

690m top - not far from the summit.
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-15 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Looking back the way I had come. I took a line between the two wee lochans in the centre
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-16 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Slioch again with the top part of Coire Briste visible.
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-17 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

I didn't stop long here and then headed for the short ascent to the summit. Here I met David again as he was coming back down. Turns out he has only 10 Graham to compleat and then he can join the "Full House Club" as he will have climbed all 1099 summits - he told me what they were but other than Munros, Corbetts and Grahams, I can't remember the rest! We agreed that going back down the corrie and stalker's path was probably OK on the return as we both had clean clothes and shoes in our respective cars. Good Luck to David for finishing off the hills this month.

I knew that the summit of this hill was on a flat rock-strewn slab with great views, but nothing quite prepares you for it. It's a huge area and the views of Coire MhicFhearchair are simply stunning. I believe I was pretty lucky to be there on a day where there was fresh snow on the higher hills but the plateau itself was snow-free.

For those of you who have read the account of my descent of Morrison's Gully you can imagine my awe looking into the mouth of it. It looked impossible from this angle - I still can't quite believe how stupid I was! Here's the report if anyone wants to read it. http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=45124

Coire MhicFhearchair with Sail Mhor on the right and Morrison's Gully splitting it in half. You can clearly see the choke stone more than half way down. The Triple Buttresses are left of centre.
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-18 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Wider view with Ruadh-stac Mor on the left,
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-19 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

The whole bulk of Beinn Eighe. Ruadh-stac Beag is on the left and you can see the Black Carls behind.
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-20 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Sail Mhor and Liathach.
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-21 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Meall a'Ghiuthais looks pretty daunting from this direction.
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-22 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

The north side of Liathach.
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-24 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

The huge, empty expanse of the south section of Strath Lungard. I'm sure it's inhabited by deer but it looks pretty empty and desolate. Liathach, Beinn Dearg and Beinn Alligin form the backdrop.
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-25 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

As I was wandering around, I saw my first ever snow bunting. When I got home I looked up the bird book and they are supposed to have left for Iceland in March so either this one got left behind or it's one of a breeding pair. Apparently, there are only about 100 breeding pairs in the UK, so a treat either way.

Hope you can see the snow bunting at the bottom right. Where's the birding lens when you need it?
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-26 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

As usual, I spent ages on the summit but it was too exposed to have my second lunch so took a few more photos and left heading for Creag na Feol just to complete all the tops. I met a couple who were on their way up and they confirmed that the path was just a huge, muddy bog near the cottage but they managed to get around it without getting too wet. I then hit a huge snow-field with no footprints and I chickened out crossing it. I don't know how you guys know if the snow is 2 inches or 2 feet deep and I was scared I'd totally disappear :? I would have had to take a wide detour with quite a drop and re-climb to get around it so I just decided to head for the wee lochan above Coire Briste instead.

Summit cairn looking north-west.
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-27 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

... and south.
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-28 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Looking back the way I had come. The 690m top on the left and A Choineach Beag in the centre mid-distance.
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-29 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Strath Lungard, Loch Maree and Beinn Airigh Charr. The 690m top is on the right.
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-30 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

After having another bite to eat I just followed the burn down from the lochan NNW of the summit. This led to the bigger lochan above the corrie and I followed it too on a deer path which brought me directly to the main stalker's path. It's a great path but quite narrow, and as I got further down I was dreading the muddy bog. I was getting closer and closer to the cottage and no mud. Confusion solved when I got to the house with dry feet. I guess most people keep following the track which takes a turn round to the south-east (left) after passing the cottage. Do NOT do this - just keep walking straight ahead towards the electricity poles. The path is unmarked and very unclear but just for a few metres. See photo - head for the pole!

Slioch from the descent into Coire Briste.
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-31 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Down at the path, the Beinn Eighe massif is still in view. Creag na Feol is on the right.
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-32 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Just keep walking straight on towards the pole. The path will then make itself clear!
ImageBeinn a'Chearcaill-34 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Then a short walk back along the road to the car.

A fantastic day on a fantastic hill.
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AnnieMacD
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Re: Beinn a'Chearcaill - with memories of Morrison's Gully

Postby weaselmaster » Tue May 05, 2015 10:50 pm

Wow!
Super pics as usual.
Morrison's Gully does indeed look ferocious - puts your earlier report in context
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Re: Beinn a'Chearcaill - with memories of Morrison's Gully

Postby dooterbang » Tue May 05, 2015 11:58 pm

I didn't think it could get any better after reading weasalmasters Knoydart trip, but it did :)

Awesome photos - beautiful and rugged.

I open a word doc and do my reports on that first as word has an auto save :wink:
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Re: Beinn a'Chearcaill - with memories of Morrison's Gully

Postby Alteknacker » Wed May 06, 2015 12:59 am

Incredible, breathtaking photos, as usual :clap: :clap: :clap: (I think we were both out in this area last year on 1st May, and your photies were SOOOO much better than mine - nothing's changed :lol: ).

I also saw snow buntings on Ruadh stac Mor on 1st May last year - I hadn't realised that they were so rare, nor that they should have been a long way further north by then.

Like dooterbang, I also do report drafts in Word first if the text is going to be of any length. It's worth it :)
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Re: Beinn a'Chearcaill - with memories of Morrison's Gully

Postby gaffr » Wed May 06, 2015 7:14 am

Some fine images from the grand viewing platform on the 'Giants bowling slab'. :lol: This is a very fine Elsie and a fair bit of work is needed to thread the tortuous terrain, after the path ended, on the approach line that we took. :)
I think I am right in saying that the M gully was first ascended in the snow filled condition as shown in your image maybe even more snow needed to cover the huge boulder. :)
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Re: Beinn a'Chearcaill - with memories of Morrison's Gully

Postby ilovescotty » Wed May 06, 2015 9:38 am

That first photograph makes me want to go there now! I have never been to the Torridon area. I only get to go to Scotty once a year, and this year I am off to Affric and Strathfarrar this May, but next year this will definitely be my first choice!
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Re: Beinn a'Chearcaill - with memories of Morrison's Gully

Postby roughwalker » Wed May 06, 2015 11:33 am

Great report and those photo's are absolutely stunning :clap:
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Re: Beinn a'Chearcaill - with memories of Morrison's Gully

Postby Mal Grey » Wed May 06, 2015 11:42 am

Superb. Wonderful photos.

Haven't done this one, despite doing almost everything in the Torridon area.
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Re: Beinn a'Chearcaill - with memories of Morrison's Gully

Postby BlackPanther » Wed May 06, 2015 12:00 pm

Stunning photos. I've been eyeing this one for a long time, for the views to Beinn Eighe, hopefully will manage to climb it this year!

We were on a Graham in Sutherland on Saturday and it was so bitterly cold my hands went numb even in warm gloves! Where has spring gone??? :lol:
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Re: Beinn a'Chearcaill - with memories of Morrison's Gully

Postby Beaner001 » Wed May 06, 2015 1:28 pm

Wonderful pics Annie :clap: :clap:
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Re: Beinn a'Chearcaill - with memories of Morrison's Gully

Postby foggieclimber » Wed May 06, 2015 7:44 pm

Terrific report with nice atmospheric photos. Beinn a'Chearcaill is one of my favourite Grahams - a very distinctive summit area. Can I ask please what kind of filter(s) you are using on your camera? Thanks
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Re: Beinn a'Chearcaill - with memories of Morrison's Gully

Postby AnnieMacD » Wed May 06, 2015 10:46 pm

Thanks everyone - glad you enjoyed the pics.

I know to use Word but I never bother to - maybe that will change now!

@foggieclimber I used a polarizer filter on some of the photos but not on the ones where there was no water. I take RAW photos and then develop in Lightroom. I then ran many of them through Nik Efex Pro to give them a bit of 'pop' and balance the exposure. If you want any more info - just ask.
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Re: Beinn a'Chearcaill - with memories of Morrison's Gully

Postby foggieclimber » Thu May 07, 2015 8:31 am

Thanks Annie. I wondered if you were using a polarizing filter. I've tried using one but keeping it on all day. It is great for sky shots but not good for wildlife shots so the answer may be to keep it off by default and only put it on for the sky shots.
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Re: Beinn a'Chearcaill - with memories of Morrison's Gully

Postby AnnieMacD » Thu May 07, 2015 1:14 pm

foggieclimber wrote:Thanks Annie. I wondered if you were using a polarizing filter. I've tried using one but keeping it on all day. It is great for sky shots but not good for wildlife shots so the answer may be to keep it off by default and only put it on for the sky shots.


I agree. And you lose two stops of light which can make quite a difference when the light is not so good. It's a bit of a pain putting it on and taking it off but worth it IMHO!
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Re: Beinn a'Chearcaill - with memories of Morrison's Gully

Postby Sgurr » Thu May 07, 2015 2:04 pm

This is such a great grandstand for the Torridon giants, and you have shown it off perfectly. Hadn't read your Morrison's gully report. Now have :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: Great presence of mind to keep on taking pics all the way down. All photograpic thoughts just disappear as soon as I am faced with anything remotely like that.
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