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Meith Bheinn & An Stac - 2 Wonderful, Rough, Remote Grahams

Meith Bheinn & An Stac - 2 Wonderful, Rough, Remote Grahams


Postby weaselmaster » Sun Oct 16, 2016 10:48 pm

Grahams included on this walk: An Stac, Meith Bheinn

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Druim a'Chuirn

Date walked: 16/10/2016

Time taken: 14.75 hours

Distance: 30.6 km

Ascent: 2504m

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At last it was time for this pair - two of the "awkward squad" of Grahams, deep into difficult terrain. They are the least climbed of any of the 2000-feet plus hills on Walkhighlands and I'd been thinking about climbing them for some time. It's been patricularly irksome in the last 2 weekends, to have had fantastic weather but not to have been able to tackle them for other reasons. This weekend was going to be one of the last chances before days got too short, to get them climbed this year. The forecast was far from encouraging - rain all day Saturday, clouds and showers on Sunday, but mind was made up. Allison was up at Corran finishing off the second week of her holidays, so we would at least be in the right area. I drove up after work on Friday with the big packs and we set off early-ish on Saturday morning.


anstac.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



The walk starts from Arieniskill, just east of Lochailort, where there are roadworks replacing a bridge at present - there's a layby just to the west of the bridge that facilitates parking overnight (always a slight worry on a main road). A sign asked pedestrians to call a mobile number if they wanted to walk along the section of road currently being worked upon - we chose not to do that. There's a construction footbridge crossing the stream - to the left of this is a small railway bridge which you walk under, coming out onto a rough track that follows the west bank of the Allt na Criche. Easy enough going, not even that boggy after the recent dry weather. A fence line is crossed then comes a challenging section - dropping down through woodland to reach the west end of Loch Beoraid. There is one obstacle to be negotiated, a rocky gorge which contains the Allt a'Chuirn Mhoir. The path peters out to be replaced by several deer tracks. We initially kept too far to the west and descended steeply near the end of the treeline. On the other side of the river there are banks of steep rocks to be navigated. Once a way is found up here, grassy bracken-clad slopes have to be traversed on the west bank of Loch Beoraid in order to reach the footbridge over the River Meoble. Meith Bheinn was in view just across the hillside.

ImageP1130975 by Al, on Flickr

Dire warnings!
ImageP1130979 by Al, on Flickr

Under the railway
ImageP1130980 by Al, on Flickr

View back to the Rois Bheinn hills
ImageP1130982 by Al, on Flickr

Iron stile
ImageP1130984 by Al, on Flickr

Meith Bheinn ahead
ImageP1130987 by Al, on Flickr

It was quite awkward to find the right way down here, but we managed to keep sight of the track coming from the footbridge. The first bridge is a little past its prime, a second newer bridge passes a hydro building. We joined the road and turned right at the base of Meith Bheinn, turning off onto a faint track that skirts the southern flanks of Meith Bheinn, then headed up the hillside on a deer track. The going was steep for the first 300m or so, thereafter becoming more gentle. To the north, Loch Morar was glimpsed with the Knoydart hills beyond. As height is gained the terrain becomes rocky pocked with lochans, and the views out to the west include Rum. We reached the un-named 660m summit (Simm) before dropping down to a cleft and climbing up to the true summit of Sgurr a'Maothaich. From the slightly damaged trig point we gained our first sight of An Stac - less dramatic than I was expecting due in part to its proximity to Beinn Garbh and Sgurr an Ursainn, Corbett Tops of Sgurr nan Coireachan. I had included both these tops in a hopelessly ambitious alternate route for today's hills :roll:

Descent through the woods
ImageP1130988 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Beoraid
ImageP1130991 by Al, on Flickr

Steep going
ImageP1130992 by Al, on Flickr

Meith Bheinn
ImageP1130993 by Al, on Flickr

Footbridge
ImageP1130995 by Al, on Flickr

Beginning the climb up Meith Bheinn
ImageP1130998 by Al, on Flickr

North to Loch Morar
ImageP1140001 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1140002 by Al, on Flickr

View west
ImageP1140007 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1140008 by Al, on Flickr

Approaching summit Sgurr a'Maothaich
ImageP1140009 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1140010 by Al, on Flickr

An Stac
ImageP1140011 by Al, on Flickr

View west
ImageP1140012 by Al, on Flickr

The summit attained, we followed the NE ridge for a time, dropping down over slabby rocks into Slaite Coire. My plan was to pitch the tent somewhere between here and the start of the ascent up An Stac, meaning we'd have less to carry up that hill. Near a kidney shaped lochan in Slaite Coire, or somewhere in Gleann Taodhaill were my preferences, and we chose some flat ground encircled by boulders before the descent into Gleann Taodhaill. It was very windy, so I secured the tent with some large stones before we left. It was by now 2.30pm - I reckoned we'd manage the ascent and back from An Stac before the light started to fail.

Down into Slaite Coire
ImageP1140013 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1140016 by Al, on Flickr

An Stac ahead
ImageP1140017 by Al, on Flickr

An Stac, Gleann Cul an staca
ImageP1140018 by Al, on Flickr

Following a track or maybe a deer path down from Slaite Coire, crossing the Abhainn Taodhail and joining the track leading into Gleann Cul an Staca was fairly straightforward. We stayed on the track for a short time then followed another deer track up th SW shoulder of An Stac. I was expecting a more ferocious climb, but the going was rather easy. For those of a scrambling disposition there were plenty of options to climb up over rock, but there was always a grassy rake that bypassed anything difficult. The whole length of Loch Morar became visible as we gained height - the deepest loch in Scotland. From this altitude we didn't manage to spot Nessie's sister Morag, but I am sure she was swimming away somewhere in there.

Bidean a'Chabhiar
ImageP1140019 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1140021 by Al, on Flickr

View back to Meith Bheinn
ImageP1140023 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1140024 by Al, on Flickr

Meith Bheinn, Druim a'Chuirn
ImageP1140026 by Al, on Flickr


We pulled up to the rocky summit of An Stac, admired the view east to Loch Arkaig, then headed north to the 646m northern Top. From here we contoured round the western crags, eventually rejoining the ascent route. At the bottom of the hill it was a little difficult to be sure where to cross the several branches of the Abhainn Taodhail, one of which coursed through a steep rocky gorge, with very smooth and slippy rocks. I found this out to my discomfort as I managed to upend myself and land on my coccyx at one point :( I was getting tired and irritable with the crossing business now, but we managed to get ourselves back on the deer track we'd used coming down from Slaite Coire and wend back up to the tent. It had taken a bit longer than I'd envisaged to do this part of the walk and was 6.30pm by the time we arrived back. Twilghlight fell as I rummaged around with the stove getting the tea ready. I noted that an alcohol stove is more difficult to light when the temperature around falls - I did despair of getting it to ignite and envisaged cold noodles (eek) but perseverance paid off and a tasty meal finally ensued. At least there were no midges to ruin the out-door dining experience today.

Nearing the summit
ImageP1140028 by Al, on Flickr

Summit, Loch Arkaig in background
ImageP1140029 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1140030 by Al, on Flickr

View to Rum
ImageP1140031 by Al, on Flickr

The northern Top
ImageP1140032 by Al, on Flickr

Meith Bheinn
ImageP1140036 by Al, on Flickr

Slippy river
ImageP1140037 by Al, on Flickr

Day 1 stats
ImageP1140038 by Al, on Flickr

We crawled into the tent, both tired and hoping for a decent night's kip. All day the roaring of stags had been a soundtrack to our journey, and I didn't reckon they'd shut up much overnight. Video-game players of a certian vintage will recall the snuffling growling sound of the monsters in Doom, and the stags around here bore some resemblance to this. What I hadn't banked on was the intense moonlight - as soon as darkness fell it was as if a searchlight had been switched on - I got out of the tent to see the most intense golden white globe beaming from the heavens - a real harvest moon. it was like trying to sleep with the light on - and neither of us got much sleep at all.

ImageP1140039 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1140040 by Al, on Flickr

Sunday dawned dry and quite bright, some pinky-red residue still in the cloud over An Stac as we breakfasted. Today's route took us up the adjacent Marilyn of Druim a'Chuirn which would be my 600th Marilyn, providing me entry to the Marilyn Hall of Fame (Lower Division). We set off northwards, scaling the steep grassy flank of the hill which walled the northern side of Slaite Coire. A succession of rocky tops eventually led to the summit and there were fine views along the way - some blue sky today enhanced the scenery and Skye was much clearer than yesterday. Numerous rocky lochans provided photo opportunities as we continued along the undulating back of the ridge. It was such a satisfying vista that the time passed pleasantly despite the continual ups and downs. Even if you didn't want to do the Marilyn, walking along this ridge is so much more satisfying than taking the valley route due to the views that you'd be mad to miss it. Eventually we turned off to the south and joined another rough track along the Allt Slaite Coire towards Meoble, coming out near the helicopter landing pad.

Up to Druim a'Chuirn
ImageP1140041 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1140043 by Al, on Flickr

Knoydart hills
ImageP1140044 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1140045 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1140047 by Al, on Flickr

Towards summit Druim a'Chuirn
ImageP1140049 by Al, on Flickr

600th Marilyn
ImageP1140051 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1140055 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1140056 by Al, on Flickr

Descent route
ImageP1140057 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1140061 by Al, on Flickr


From here it was down the road back to the footbridge at the hydro building we'd encountered on our outward journey. We stopped for lunch before crossing the river, knowing that we'd benefit from sustainance before traipsing up through the wooded section again. We followed a faint track up to the gorge, decended into it gingerly then up through the trees to regain the track to Arieniskill. Back at the car in something over 5 hours - both of us quite tired by the rough nature of the past couple of days - only 30km, but 2500m ascent for two Grahams :lol: I noted that Robert Phillips had done much the same route in one 12 hour day - hats off to you sir, not sure I would have managed that.

ImageP1140063 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1140065 by Al, on Flickr

The rocky gorge again
ImageP1140066 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Beoraid
ImageP1140068 by Al, on Flickr

day 2 stats
ImageP1140069 by Al, on Flickr
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weaselmaster
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Re: Meith Bheinn & An Stac - 2 Wonderful, Rough, Remote Gra

Postby Collaciotach » Sun Oct 16, 2016 11:34 pm

'S math sin ...grand stuff :clap: :clap:
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Re: Meith Bheinn & An Stac - 2 Wonderful, Rough, Remote Gra

Postby malky_c » Sun Oct 16, 2016 11:53 pm

I'm impressed - weather on Saturday in Inverness was dire to say the least, and I was expecting the same in your report. But no, looked perfectly reasonable :) . One of my highlights of last year, and somewhere I'm keen to return to. Congratulations on the 600th Marilyn by the way - quite a stylish way to enter the hall of fame 8) .
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Re: Meith Bheinn & An Stac - 2 Wonderful, Rough, Remote Gra

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Oct 17, 2016 8:14 am

malky_c wrote:I'm impressed - weather on Saturday in Inverness was dire to say the least, and I was expecting the same in your report. But no, looked perfectly reasonable :) . One of my highlights of last year, and somewhere I'm keen to return to. Congratulations on the 600th Marilyn by the way - quite a stylish way to enter the hall of fame 8) .


Cheers Malky. I did of course look at your immense route for these hills and had planned something almost as grand including sgurr nan coireachan, beinn garbh and sgurr na ursainn but reality got in the way :lol:
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weaselmaster
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Re: Meith Bheinn & An Stac - 2 Wonderful, Rough, Remote Gra

Postby robertphillips » Mon Oct 17, 2016 10:44 am

well done wm hard couple of grahams these 2. :clap: :clap:
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Re: Meith Bheinn & An Stac - 2 Wonderful, Rough, Remote Gra

Postby Sgurr » Mon Oct 17, 2016 2:29 pm

Congratulations on entering the Hall of Fame: a much nicer Marilyn than the rather anonymous one that was my 600th. To those less intrepid than you, and wanting the Graham Bagging for Softies route (i.e. the over 70s), you can hire a boat up Loch Morar and stay in the Oban bothy, but not at this time of year as they close it for stalking.


Boat details: Viv de Fresnes(Loch Superintendent)
Telephone: 01687 462 388
Mobile: 0778 743 1962
Email: vivmorar@aol.com
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Re: Meith Bheinn & An Stac - 2 Wonderful, Rough, Remote Gra

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Sun Feb 19, 2017 8:58 pm

Superb WR :clap: ! I'm definitely feeling a bit jealous now; An Stac must be a great hill to have bagged... Ah well, maybe someday.
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Re: Meith Bheinn & An Stac - 2 Wonderful, Rough, Remote Gra

Postby Alteknacker » Mon Feb 20, 2017 12:15 am

Wonderful read, and wonderful pics :clap: :clap: :clap:

Quite inspiring!
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