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Cloud inversion on Beinn Leoid
by BlackPanther » Mon Jun 20, 2016 4:14 pm
Route description: Beinn Leoid and Meallan a' Chuail from the A838
Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Leoid
Grahams included on this walk: Meall an Fheur Loch, Meallan a'Chuail
Date walked: 08/06/2016
Time taken: 7.5 hours
Distance: 17.6 km
Ascent: 1140m1 person thinks this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
With my summer boots wet, I had to wear my winter Brashers, quite heavy for this time of year, but I had no choice! Kevin's rucksack didn't dry overnight either, so he dug up his old one. Apart from some changes in gear, everything went as planned. We bagged all three hills, didn't get wet and as a bonus, we were blessed with wonderful cloud inversion. So here it goes, the Leoid circuit...
WH walk covers only the Corbett and one Graham, Meallan a'Chuail, but a second one, Meall an Fheur Loch, can be added with little extra effort. The starting point is at 358333, limited parking for a few cars only. When we arrived, there was another walker getting ready, but she was planning to do the Corbett only
We crossed the stream on a footbridge and began climbing on an excellent stalkers path. The path is currently being upgraded with fresh gravel and as we gained height, we discussed how much it must cost the estate! Obviously this is sheer stalking area and it has to bring the owners profits, if they decided to invest in this path. So better to stay away from this route in autumn! We were glad, we came here now, well before stalking season.
The path and the small car park seen from above:
It was a cloudy morning but forecast suggested sunny weather later on, so we entered the cloud with our hopes held high. Originally, we planned to walk over the Grahams, but because the clag was still thick, we decided to reverse the route and to go to the Corbett first, then return along the ridge and over the two G's. Needless to say, it was a brill idea. We had fantastic views from all three summits
But at the moment, we were still surrounded by milky cloud. Navigation would be a nightmare if it wasn't for the path, zigzagging through peat hags, bogs, lochans and puddles. It does really help in misty weather... We followed it till it ended abruptly by a small cairn at 349316. From here one can either climb Meallan a'Chuail or skirt around its western slopes into the corrie of Loch Dubh. We chose the latter, as we wanted to give the tops some time to clear. We navigated carefully, with map, compass and GPS, heading SW over rough terrain. In wet weather this wouldn't be a pleasant experience, but thank heavens, our dry summer means most of the bogs have dried out. After about a mile of hopping over tufts of grass and heather, we managed to find the second path, climbing up into the corrie. The cloud was thinning and I kept my fingers crossed for total clearance:
We cought a glimpse of the summit of Leoid emerging from the clag, but then we passed Loch Dubh and entered the thick cloud again. The new path guided us up to the col (564m), then we turned right and followed the final ridge uphill. The path petered out at some point, but navigation was easy now. We passed a small cairn at 650m and soon, the clag started to thin and step by step, we emerged from the milk and into the clear air.
First moments out of the cloud:
It looked like we were going to witness a first class cloud inversion! I couldn't hide my excitement. Meow!
The final 100m of climbing is on more rocky terrain but we could see the summit now and nothing could stop us!
Meallan a'Chuail still "cuddled" by cloud, in further distance, Ben Hee popping out of the clag:
Zoom to Ben Hee (photo adjusted to show the inversion better):
The clag was holding on to the east and south of us, but the northern peaks were clag free: Arkle and Foinaven proudly presented their white slopes:
We didn't mess about, headed for the summit. It's got a trig point and a wind shelter:
Corbett no. 105, Lucy's 21st
View NE, with Ben Hee to the right of the photo, and the thinning cloud:
To the south, Conival -Ben More Assynt, sticking out of the cloud:
Zoomed Conival/BMAssynt, again a bit of cheating with contrast, to enhance the inversion
The cloud looked more like a white sea, with waves leaping against the steep slopes of the mountains.
Suilven (left), Glas Bheinn and Quinag (right):
The best way to illustrate the cloud circus around us would be with panoramic photos. North side from Ben Stack to Ben Hee:
2016-06-08 beinn leoid 214 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
South from BMAssynt to Quinag:
2016-06-08 beinn leoid 215 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
East - the cloud filling the glen like a portion of ice cream:
2016-06-08 beinn leoid 216 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
We spent some time on the summit despite midges. Kevin studied the map... What's left to do in Assynt/Sutherland, darling? Not a lot, to be honest!
We simply couldn't get enough of the inversion, but at some point the cloud simply... disappeared. In 5 or 10 minutes, it burned off completely! It was a signal for us to start the traverse over the two Grahams. First, Meallan a'Chuail:
We descended to the col and then climbed the easy slopes of the Graham. The air was getting more and more humid as we walked...
...but the nature paid us back for the effort, as we were gifted superb views from the summit of the Graham. The best - to the north-east, where multiple lochans dot the landscape:
G' number 49, the cairn is perched at the very edge of vertical cliffs:
Back to Beinn Leoid and the remnants of the clag:
Zoom to Conival/BMAssynt again:
2016-06-08 beinn leoid 245 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
2016-06-08 beinn leoid 244 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
2016-06-08 beinn leoid 243 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
The descent from Meallan a'Chuail goes along the shoulder in the middle of this photo. Some very easy scrambling on the way down, but we didn't stick to the path, so it can possibly be avoided.
Looking back up Meallan a'Chuail from half way down the shoulder:
Our last target for the day, Meall an Fheur Loch. It just about makes the Graham list, both by height and re-ascent. In this picture, it looks like an insignificant, boring lump in the ground:
Even Ben Stack, thanks to it's pointy shape, looks more interesting!
Arkle and Foinaven. I can't stop thinking about Foinaven, it's going to be an epic climb, I know! Can't wait to walk this ridge!
Meall an Fheur Loch and Loch Cul a'Mhill:
We stopped by the loch for a few minutes, enjoyed the solitude and the silence. This is not a very popular circuit, especially the Grahams...
View north from Loch Cul a'Mhill:
Beinn Leoid and Meallan a' Chuail from the slopes of Meall an Fheur Loch:
It didn't take us long to reach the summit of the last target hill, here we sat for a longer time, enjoying the views, now clear in all directions. Only at some point I realized, it was our 50th Graham! I never expected to bag half a ton of G's, I always treated them as "training ground" for more difficult mountains, but here I am. If I ever get to 100 G's, I'll consider myself lucky!
Meall an Fheur Loch is a good viewpoint, but apart from that, it lacks any interesting features, no hidden lochs or vertical drops anywhere. Yet it makes a nice addition to the circuit with little extra effort.
Foinaven and Arkle:
Meallan Liath Coire Mhic Dhughaill (left) and the two Grahams I haven't climbed yet: Carn an Tionail and Beinn Direach. They can be combined together in a longer walk, so this is another route for WH meet:
To return to the stalkers path, we descended the northern slopes of the Graham, past a wee lochan. Views on the way down - priceless:
Just before we left this forgotten corner of Scotland, we had a last look at the hills we just climbed:
I felt a bit sentimental... This trio is much neglected, even by hill baggers, and unfairly so, as Beinn Leoid and his two lower brothers offer a wonderful day out. They might lack the steepness of Ben Stack or the rocky features of Arkle, but on a good day, if you choose them, they will pay you back with great vistas and the quiet solitude one can only experience in true wilderness.
Having returned home, we celebrated our 50 Grahams with a glass of wine, but then I remembered, Kevin was on 199 Munros at the time, so the next morning saw us trudging up steep slopes of the Mamores, to reach my husband's double ton! TR to follow soon
by The Rodmiester » Mon Jun 20, 2016 4:45 pm
by gaffr » Mon Jun 20, 2016 5:29 pm
The hills behind the loch Loch Cul a'Mhill are Arkle and Foinavon.
Not much on Meall an Fheur Loch?
- White Loiseleiuria on Meall an Fheur Loch
by dooterbang » Mon Jun 20, 2016 5:57 pm
The moontin porn just keeps giving this summer, thank goodness we all participate
by BlackPanther » Wed Jun 22, 2016 10:56 am
Rod, I'm all happy to help with route info
We don't have much left to do here so unless we decide to repeat something, the targets for the meet would be:
2. Carn an Tionail and Beinn Direach
3. Beinn an Eoin if it's dry enough (wet approach to this one)
4. Sabhal Beag
As for mountain p*rn... I think 2016 is the year of orgy
by malky_c » Wed Jun 22, 2016 1:16 pm
by BlackPanther » Wed Jun 22, 2016 5:31 pm
malky_c wrote:Bit grey but still nice photos . Great area. I really want to walk in to Beinn Leoid from the Kylesku direction now, around the waterfalls and sea-lochs
We read your TR and actually, used your route
I wondered, sitting on the summit of Leoid, if the western approach was possible. Some wild terrain to cover, I guess, but I'm sure it won't be a problem for you