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Beinn Spionnaidh & Cranstackie (from the back)

Beinn Spionnaidh & Cranstackie (from the back)

Postby mountain coward » Sun Jul 04, 2010 3:26 am

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Spionnaidh, Cranstackie

Date walked: 14/06/2010

Time taken: 5 hours

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Stats: 9.5 miles, 3336 feet of ascent, on own (Richard thought my route looked boring and also he wanted a day off - already! :D ) in worsening weather...

I'd read all the books on these 2 and everyone said you should do them from the other side, however, I'd been looking at them from the shore of Loch Eriboll for ages (several visits over the years) and decided that was more my kind of walking - looked really easy from there :D There were easy slopes going up from the road running along the loch shore and Spionnaidh looked an absolute doddle from there. I decided to tackle that one first and parked up at the road end of the fish farm from where it was a short walk along their drive past the forest to reach the open hillside...

I was soon at the fish farm and heading off across slightly boggy ground to the start of the climb, scaring some deer on my way up... I had completed the steepish grassy bit and reached the stony bit in about an hour - not long to the top now I thought - it had been a very hot and sticky climb in the sun and with no wind... At first the stones were well embedded in the ground and just made walking easier - I could see another stony ridge appearing over the one I was ascending though. I thought that would be the summit ridge...

I reached the next ridge and found the stoniness had changed to boulders, some of which were loose as always and the walking became more awkward. No matter, I thought, I'm nearly there... However, as I approached the top of that ridge, I could see another one looming above it. I saw there was a grassy ridge still further round to the left and wondered whether to break off for that but decided again that the top of the next ridge was definitely where the summit lie...

At the top of the bouldery ridge, I saw yet another, more bouldery ridge was looming :( This finally was the last boulder slope but took quite some time, balancing on huge boulders, to reach the top of it where I was pleased to see a chappie coming along the ridge towards me. By now I'd been 2 hours... I asked him how far it was to the summit and he said it was a couple of hundred yards. We agreed the boulders were pretty awful walking! We exchanged route details and he said he'd come up the standard route from Carbreck/Rhigolter. I asked if he'd already done Cranstackie and he had so I sounded him out about the worrying looking ascent onto its nose - he said it was fine but again bouldery and then he headed off back down.
Cranstackie fm Spionnaidh.jpg

I set off in the direction of the summit - I'd say it was twice as far as the guy had said but never mind. It wasn't as bouldery as the ascent had been and there were even some mossy patches :) I stood at the summit for a while admiring the view to Durness and Faraidh Head - unfortunately I didn't have a good enough zoom to get a great pic of it. Then I decided that, as the wind was picking up and some cloud was heading my way, I'd best set off.
Spionnaidh summit to Durness.jpg

As I tackled the boulders (only a short distance this time) to the grassy ridge to the col, it started to rain, the wind became pretty strong and the cloud came down below summit level obscuring where I'd been and starting to obscure where I was headed :(

It was quite a steep descent down the grass to the col and by now I had my coat, buff and gloves on. I soon warmed up on the steep grassy ascent of the little nose going up the other side from the col. I tried not to upset any of the ewes and lambs who were settled on the ridge but there wasn't an awful lot of room to avoid them as it was quite narrow and had crags on the right!
Beinn Spionnaidh-Normal Descent.jpg
Final climb to Cranstackie summit.jpg

At the top of the nose, I eyed the steepish scree slope topped with an even steeper boulderfield suspiciously (in true mountain coward fashion! :lol: ). However, when I reached the scree there were bits of path and it wasn't terribly loose. Just the boulderfield then... When i reached that I found it wasn't alarmingly steep either. There was a section of steppy crag which I thought I'd feel better behind though so I clambered up to it and went round it, coming across a boulder-free area and a path! :D The path was pretty short-lived however and I was soon heading up the final boulders to where I could just see the summit cairn perched on the edge of the craggy escarpment through the mist. I looked behind me to check my route back down and found it looked much the same in any direction - just descending boulders. At this point I could still see the craggy bit I'd contoured round though so took a compass bearing for my cairn to crags route as the visibility was getting rapidly worse.

Due to the rapidly worsening weather I decided to go straight back down and headed back for the boulders which were becoming slightly slippery in the rain. Didn't want to turn an ankle out on my own, even if Richard did know where I'd gone! The descent was nothing like as worrying as I imagined it would be and I had no trouble and was soon bothering the poor sheep on the grassy nose again.

On my descent from the col it stopped raining and I was sheltered from the wind so managed to get back down to a t-shirt again - the summits didn't come out for any more photos however :(
Coire an Uinnseann fm Cranstackie col.jpg

I headed onto Spionnaidh's slopes for my descent and headed rapidly down on a slightly different line. I was amused at one point to come across this tiny lochan almost completely filled with a huge standing boulder! :D
Conamheall fm Spionnaidh descent.jpg
Lochan Rock! Spionnaidh.jpg
Around this point, I startled the poor deer again who thought they were hidden in the corrie away from bumbling walkers...

I was soon back down the grassy slopes and just had the short walk back to the car which was now accompanied by lots of cars! Turns out, this spot is where the school bus drops off the kids and their Mums pick them up... I may well do these 2 again from the other (normal) side if Richard ever wants to do them as they weren't bad hills really...
Last edited by mountain coward on Sun Jan 02, 2011 1:23 am, edited 2 times in total.
mountain coward

Re: Beinn Spionnaidh & Cranstackie (from the back)

Postby mountainstar » Sun Jul 04, 2010 6:20 am

I remember Beinn Spionnaidh as being one of the most boulder ridden summits I have ever been on, a bit like when you are approaching Scafell Pike from Esk Hause.
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Re: Beinn Spionnaidh & Cranstackie (from the back)

Postby monty » Sun Jul 04, 2010 9:19 am

Nice report MC,
Love the boulder in the Lochan :D

Re: Beinn Spionnaidh & Cranstackie (from the back)

Postby walk aboot » Sun Jul 04, 2010 9:23 am

I haven't counted but I think you mention the word 'boulder' about 624 times in this report :lol: .

Great trip report though - 'from the back' too, you're going to have to stop referring to yourself as being a mountain coward (not :) ) soon.
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Re: Beinn Spionnaidh & Cranstackie (from the back)

Postby gaffr » Sun Jul 04, 2010 11:38 am

There's no boulders on Cranstackie......merely Fields :lol:
The boulder field.jpg
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Re: Beinn Spionnaidh & Cranstackie (from the back)

Postby mountain coward » Sun Jul 04, 2010 10:47 pm

Yeah Walkaboot - you gonna count all those boulders in that last pic then?? :lol: There are one or 2 up there... Going the back way doesn't make me less of a coward though - it looked much less steep from the back which is why Richard wasn't interested - he preferred the steep option up the normal route... I have to say that I haven't been doing well anxiety-wise on my own in the Munros lately which is why I probably kept putting references to 'worrying bits' - when you look at the photos, it's hard to see what there is to worry about - and indeed there wasn't anything!
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