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Microadventure in Torridon p.2 – Beinn Eighe Mountain Trail

Microadventure in Torridon p.2 – Beinn Eighe Mountain Trail


Postby Spanish Highlander » Wed Feb 17, 2016 9:38 pm

Route description: Mountain Trail, Beinn Eighe NNR

Date walked: 14/02/2016

Time taken: 4 hours

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Ok, let’s come round, where was I…? Alright alright, here:
http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=59746

So I ended up last night behaving quite nicely and going to sleep at 6 o’clock pm, as I would do, say, 30 years years ago. Good boy. Already in bed I just went through the plans for the next day (provided that I didn’t freeze before): I would have some breakfast while watching the sunrise, take down the tent, and set off to the Beinn Eighe Mountain Trail in the south of Loch Maree. It should take me about 4 hours maximum, as then I should cycle from there to Achnasheen and catch the train back to Inverness at 16,24.

Given that I would be in the tent about 14 hours, you can’t expect I was going to sleep aaaaall the time, at least not me. Indeed, around 1am I woke up. Really thirsty, I reached for the water bottle, but it was so hard and no water would come out of it. “What’s going on?!” I switched on the light to confirm what I suspected… Yes, the two bottles were frozen. Basically they were like ice cubes and there was frost on all the surfaces of the tent. Wowwwww, can’t imagine how it must be like outside… And I was so warm and cozy in my lovely sleeping bag…

I got up around 7,30 and went out to see the sunrise. But rather than that, what really surprised me was all the frost on the tent and the bike. Unbelievable how cold it must have been and I wasn’t cold at any time during the night. Here some pictures, though it is not easy to see the frost, mainly in the last one:
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And a close up of the beast in the sunrise:
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After some tasty breakfast, including some recently-sent home made muffin from my home-town bakery, I took down the tent (so much fun trying to get rid of the frost with a dirty sock) and set off to Kinlochewe, not without before taking the last shot of the Torridon haven: Image

It wasn’t a long ride at all. In about 35 min I was at the foot of the famous and unexpected Beinn Eighe Mountain Trail. I had read about it, and had seen some pictures. But at no time did I expect that it was so scenic, neither that it was that tough. I guess that the amount of ice on the path helped for this perception, but I really had an idea of something easier.

So I hid and locked together the bike and camping gear, and started the walk. To be said, I walked it anti-clockwise, don’t know why. Everybody I came across were doing it the other way around and I bet there is a reason for that. May it be easier that way? After finishing it, I would say so. Next time I will definitely do it clockwise, as I suffered getting down doing it this way.

The first thing I noticed was the forest. What an amazing and well-structured native woodland community. All the trees, bush and grass well represented, in all sizes. I guess that a good sample of what Scotland once was. Shame it doesn’t remain in many places, but this one is so enjoyable:
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The path starts very nice, though steep in places. As you keep walking and leave the forest, just some isolated trees remain in the heather kingdom, always under the imposing figure of Slioch. I couldn’t stop taking pics of this fortress:
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The path becomes rockier once you reach the gorge and at this point there were big ice plates on the rock steps, requiring some care to avoid slipping. Some picture looking across Loch Maree to Beinn a`Mhuinidh:
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And some more pictures of Slioch, before and once the snow level was reached:
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Once I got to the plateau, the landscape changed completely: very rocky, no plants, and just snow everywhere. The weather had changed too, becoming really cloudy and had started snowing, therefore the visibility wasn’t very good at times. The light was very strange over there, with the sun trying to break through the clouds and reflecting the snow. A “yellow” atmosphere. Needless to say, it was freezing cold over there. But the views over the artic-looking Beinn Eighe range were worth the cold. Notice the frozen lochs: Image

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I made quick progress on the plateau, as the path was relatively flat and covered in snow, it was windy and snowing and I thought I’d need to hurry up to be on time in Achnasheen. I definitely had spent too much time on the way up. Soon I started the way down, in my opinion much icier and rockier than the way up. It was really slippery all the time at the beginning, so I had to be very careful not to slip. The big ice plates made it quite tricky in some rocky parts midway, and I ended up slipping twice, one of them falling completely flat on my back on all the rocks. Luckily I was carrying the big backpack which stopped me from getting in contact with the rock itself. Bufffff! Ok, no broken bones, we can carry on!
Loch Maree, Beinn a´Mhuinidh and snowy Fionn Bheinn in the background:
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Close up of Slioch, what an appearance!
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Close up of the pretty gorge of Abhainn an Fhasaigh:
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The dome of Fionn Bheinn covered in snow: Image

Ok, I have to stop taking pictures and soaking in the scenery, and really hurry up, otherwise I may miss the train in Achnasheen and that wouldn’t be anything funny! Don’t really feel like cycling all the way down to Inverness! So I tried my best, kept the camera in the backpack and walked quickly downhill (bearing in mind that ice was there…). Once I reached the woodland again, I was able to walk much faster, but I believe that is more difficult going down this way and that’s why all the people I came across were walking in the opposite direction.

Time to cycle! Ahead of me was the infamous Glen Docherty, which would make me sweat and suffer as no hill before. From Kinlochewe, 3,5 miles of an up the hill road not enjoyable if you carry a heavy backpack and camping gear. But to be honest, it didn’t feel that bad, maybe because my legs were already destroyed after the whole weekend and after the way down the Beinn Eighe Mountain Trail. So after 40 min I was in the viewpoint: Image

After this, it was just a short and easy ride to Achnasheen, accompanied by a pretty light and inspiring landscape: Image

And that was the end of my weekend’s microadventure. Just an amazing way of disconnect from the day-to-day routine and merge with nature and wilderness and feel alive. A bit of an effort though, but totally worth it. One day with sore legs and that´s it!
Spanish Highlander
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Re: Microadventure in Torridon p.2 – Beinn Eighe Mountain Tr

Postby Alteknacker » Thu Feb 18, 2016 12:10 am

A really enjoyable pair of reports, and some wonderful pix. It was clearly a brilliant weekend to be in the North West, if a tad chilly.
BTW what is the sleeping bag, and did you use a mattress of any description??
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Alteknacker
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Re: Microadventure in Torridon p.2 – Beinn Eighe Mountain Tr

Postby ancancha » Thu Feb 18, 2016 1:04 am

Fabulous scenery and nice report :clap:
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ancancha
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Re: Microadventure in Torridon p.2 – Beinn Eighe Mountain Tr

Postby Spanish Highlander » Sat Feb 20, 2016 8:05 pm

Thanks for the comments 8)

Alteknacker wrote:A really enjoyable pair of reports, and some wonderful pix. It was clearly a brilliant weekend to be in the North West, if a tad chilly.
BTW what is the sleeping bag, and did you use a mattress of any description??


I use a Thermarest self inflating sleeping mat which insulates you quite well from the cold ground, and a down Marmot sleeping bag, not sure if three or four seasons, it's not mine. Anyway I went to sleep in a few layers as I wasn't sure whether I would be cold overnight. Was alright most of the time, a bit hot sometimes.
Spanish Highlander
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