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Into Glenelg and the Arnisdale Grahams

Into Glenelg and the Arnisdale Grahams


Postby malky_c » Wed Sep 01, 2010 10:05 pm

Grahams included on this walk: Beinn Clachach, Druim Fada (Loch Hourn)

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Beinn a'Chaoinich

Date walked: 31/08/2010

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 21 km

Ascent: 2000m

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Another site visit which had been floating around for ages before suddenly coming together rapidly, hence some rather last minute organisation. I could see a great opportunity to climb Druim Fada and Beinn Clachach in the afternoon, but even before that, the first part of my site visit took me up to the weir and intake on Loch a Mhuilinn above Glenelg. Having climbed that far, I couldn't help but carry on to the summit of a nearby Marilyn, Beinn a'Chaoinich. I have split the walk report into 2 parts, one for Beinn a'Chaoinich and one for the Grahams.

Beinn a'Chaoinich

Time taken: 2 hours 20 minutes
Distance: 6.5 km
Ascent: 450m
Weather: Sunny with cloud caps on higher summits

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Seems to be the first report for this hill - not surprising really. My first task of the day was to go and do a survey of the weir on the outflow of Loch a Mhuillin, so I parked up at the Scallascaig junction and walked up to Scallascaig Farm itself. Just before the end of the road, I took a right turning onto a track, and passed by a couple of new houses. Narrowly avoiding being chased by a horse, I followed this track to the ruin at Balavoulin, then up the W bank of Allt a Mhuilinn. It was a decent path, occasionally used by quad bikes, and led nicely to Loch a Mhuilinn.

Across Glenelg to Beinn a Chuirn:
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Sgurr na Coinnich and Beinn na Caillich on Skye:
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Looking over to the summit of Beinn a'Chaoinich from near Loch a Mhuilinn:
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I spent 40 minutes or so at Loch a Mhuilinn, before traversing east for a mile or so over very rough ground. Lots of bog, deep heather and small crags to negotiate. For the final ascent I followed then crossed a new fence, unmarked on the map.

Views were good to the complex northern corries of Beinn Sgritheall, as well as the surprisingly rocky N face of Beinn a Chapuill. Other than that, while pleasant, they were inferior to the views from any other hill I have been up in this area, hence the lack of ascents. There wasn't even a cairn at either of the summits marked as 410m (I think the W one is highest).

N face of Beinn a Chapuill:
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Across the Sound of Sleat to Ben Alask, Sgurr na Coinnich and Beinn na Caillich:
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N side of Beinn Sgritheall and Beinn na h-Eaglaise:
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I opted for a shorter return route and descended NW directly towards Scallascaig. This was similarly rough, and had a steep step prior to the 353m spot height, but other than that, descent to Scallascaig was rapid. I managed to make some bad judgements about the best way back to the road, and ended up climbing a fence or two and skulking through the undergrowth.

View down Glen More again with Skye Grahams in background:
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By now, the cloud had burnt off the surrounding summits, and the temperature had risen. My next task was to assess the feasibility of a pipeline route to Arnisdale. This had the distinct advantage of leaving me in Arnisdale with my work for the day complete.

Beinn Clachach and Druim Fada

Time taken: 5 hours 30 minutes
Distance: 14.2 km
Ascent: 1550m
Weather: Sunny but hazy, with sun getting stronger into the evening

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Over the previous hour, a thin film of white cloud had spread across the sky, taking away the intensity of the sunshine. Everything looked a bit washed out, but compared to the weather of the last few weeks, it was still a great day. I dillied and dallied about, visiting Sheena's tea hut in Corran for a much needed coffee, and finally set off at about 2:20pm.

First target was Beinn Clachach. I was unsure why I had not previously included this in a round of the Arnisdale Corbetts, But no matter. It gave a good excuse to make a circular route out of Druim Fada, despite the large drop between the two hills. Beinn Clachach also turned out to be a n interesting little hill, making up in rockiness and complexity what it lacked in elegance.

Beinn Clachach from Glen Arnisdale:
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I took the path marked on the S bank of the River Arnisdale, although as before I found that it wasn't very clear on the ground. Once I behind Achadh a Ghlinne, it became a good stalker's path, upgraded for quad bike access. I followed this until just before the waterfall of Eas na Cuingid, before taking the direct route to the W summit. This was very steep and rocky, and could be avoided by following the stalker's path further, but where's the fun in that?

Looking back down Glen Arnisdale to Loch Hourn:
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Ladhar Bheinn from a steep section on the ascent of Beinn Clachach:
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Although the steepest part of this face was very rocky, the rock was intimidatingly overhanging, so I ended up following runnels of heather between the outcrops. Higher up, the strata changed, and there was a little bit of lovely scrambling on faulted slabs.

The W summit was a lovely spot, but not the highest, so I carried on across short heather and moss to the main summit. There was some more (avoidable) scrambling to be had on the final ascent, and the terrain was quite complex.

Beinn Sgritheall from the W summit of Beinn Clachach:
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Approaching the main summit of Beinn Clachach:
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Only when sitting down at the summit cairn did I realise how sweaty I was. It was pretty hot! I also realised that being my 56th Graham, I was now precisely 25% of my way through the round. A fairly minor milestone, but not one I had even contemplated reaching a couple of years ago. Any other thoughts and musings were cut short by the need to get moving again, as the flies and midges were out in full force.

Looking SE towards Knoydart from the summit of Beinn Clachach:
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I headed S towards the SE ridge descending into Glen Arnisdale. Once over the humps and bumps near the summit, I found myself looking straight down into Dubh Lochan, 450m below. I had a feeling that this might be slightly less straightforward than I'd hoped.

Descent and reascent - Down the SW ridge to Glen Arnisdale, Druim Fada in background:
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Happily, the upper 250m were fine, although admittedly pushing the maximum gradient at which grass and heather can grow to new limits. The views into the gorge formed by the Allt Bealach an Fheadain were impressive - just had to avoid ending up in a heap at the bottom of it!

The Allt Bealach an Fheadain gorge:
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Looking down the gorge:
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It was only lower down that things got awkward. The last 20m into the sharp nick of Bealach an Fheadain were vertical, so I had to traverse leftwards and head for the shores of Dubh Lochan. While covered in grass and heather, this was very thin, and the slope was essentially a great big slimy slab of rock. All thoughts went to avoiding any rock and staying on the vegetation. Eventually I was on the path again.

The lochs of Glen Arnisdale:
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Narrowing of Glen Arnisdale:
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This was a really impressive spot. Virtually unknown to Munro baggers, but probably quite familiar to mountain bikers and long distance walkers. Dubh Lochan was dammed at one point, but this has now been breached anyone know why it was dammed? I'm guessing an early hydro scheme, but there is no infrastructure in place.

River Arnisdale waterfall:
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I went down to the footbridge, filling up my water bottle and passing some impressive waterfalls. Once over the bridge, I tried to get my brain into gear for another 600m ascent, the only downside to this route. I started climbing up the steep and vegetated slope on the S side of the glen. I traversed leftwards round the foot of a rocky buttress, and ascended some easy slabs to get myself on the ridge leading to Druim Fada. This led steeply to the W of Coire na Cosaig, and onto the upper reaches of the hill.

Looking back at the awkward descent:
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Loch Hourn and the Black Cuillin from Druim Fada ascent:
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...and again, with Beinn Sgritheall too:
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Rocky N face of Druim Fada:
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The ridge was ill defined higher up, and I made my way across various lumps and bumps to the summit of Druim Fada, arriving shortly before 6pm. Amazing. This summit really does live up to the hype that some people have thrown at it, even without the views into Coire Dhorcaill on Ladhar Bheinn (wrong time of day to fully appreciate this view). There are two summit cairns a short distance apart. Not sure which is higher, but both need to be visited for the separate views east and west.

I sat at the eastern one and devoured a pork pie, looking down to Kinloch Hourn and wondering how what was essentially a day at work could have ended up so brilliantly.

Kinloch Hourn and Sgurr a Mhaoraich:
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Across Loch Hourn to Sgurr nan Eugallt:
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Zoom to Kinloch Hourn:
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The sky had got bluer again, making for better photos, and I didn't want to move, but time was marching on and the midges and flies were back again. I was aware that this hill wasn't called Druim Fada for nothing, and looking west, I could see it was a looooong, knobbly way back to the car.

Luinne Bheinn and Barrisdale Bay:
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Sgurr nan Eugallt again:
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Out to sea and the W end of Druim Fada:
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The ridge westwards is not one to be hurried, as it has numerous re-ascents. Most are only 10 or 20m each, but multiply that by a dozen or so bumps and you're going nowhere fast. It took me the best part of an hour to reach the collapsed trig point just past Sgurr Mor, a distance of little more than a mile.

The views got better and better as the sun began to set, but I was wishing that like claiming my expenses back, I could claim back the energy expended earlier on the walk up to the weir at Loch a Mhuilinn.

Beinn Sgritheall from Druim Fada:
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Across to Ladhar Bheinn:
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Back up Glen Arnisdale to the Saddle:
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Sgurr a Choire-bheithe:
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Back east along Druim Fada:
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Finally, I was descending properly, and looking right out over the Sound of Sleat. The last part of the ridge down to Corran had a deer fence on it, which I assumed meant the gradient wouldn't be too steep. How wrong I was, as the fence went down a short section of 55 degree slope!

Beinn Sgritheall from the W end of Druim Fada:
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Beinn Clachach:
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Looking over Camas Ban to Skye:
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Zoom to Skye:
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I floundered at the bottom again, crashing through a back garden to get back to the car. Probably should have dropped to the shore of Loch Hourn or into Glen Arnisdale instead. Finally got back to the car at 8.45pm, a bit later than expected.

Stopped off on the way back round to Glenelg to get some sunset photos of Skye, then again on my way up the Bealach Ratagain.

Ladhar Bheinn from near Sandaig:
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Cuillin sunset:
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Rhum Cuillin:
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Looking back to Skye from the Bealach Ratagain:
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Well that's it for now. The last 6 weeks or so have been busy on the hills for me, despite the so-so weather. I'm off out of the country for a couple of weeks now, so if that was the last gasp of summer, I'm glad it was as good as this.
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Re: Into Glenelg and the Arnisdale Grahams

Postby Barnety2000 » Wed Sep 01, 2010 10:25 pm

Fantastic report and amazing photos! :D I went to Glenelg quite a few years ago when I was young and stayed in a cottage with my family for a week. I can't remember that much of it, other than it rained all the time and we got soaked on numerous occasions! :( :lol: Your photos have certainly inspired me to return, and in good weather hopefully.

Also amazing shots out to the Skye Cuillin! :D
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Re: Into Glenelg and the Arnisdale Grahams

Postby mountain coward » Thu Sep 02, 2010 8:47 am

What a great job you must have! And what a fantastic report and pictures of that second walk. Looks very challenging country to walk, especially with the lack of paths and the steep, rocky route-finding. Thanks especially for the looks into Knoydart at all the Corbetts and Munros I have yet to do - very helpful! :D Must already be a contender for Walk Report of the Month - September! :D
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Re: Into Glenelg and the Arnisdale Grahams

Postby magicdin » Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:36 am

Terrific report on a terrific area - have done the Corbetts round there but fancy these two hills as well
Wish my job gave site visits to such places instead of Glasgow,Edinburgh,Dundee etc
Think my most exotic site visit was to Rothesay - Haud me back :shock:
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Re: Into Glenelg and the Arnisdale Grahams

Postby walk aboot » Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:48 am

Fantastic report and photos malky_c - top job in all respects :D .

Did you get back in time for an evening meal on work expenses this time? (Think you missed last orders for meals when you were on a work jolly in Mull).
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Re: Into Glenelg and the Arnisdale Grahams

Postby DonnyW » Thu Sep 02, 2010 12:08 pm

A great report of one of my favourite areas Malky_c.

I wondered what the views of the loch would look like from the top of Druim Fada and thanks to your report I now know :-D

In return here is a seal’s eye view of Beinn Clachach and Corran taken the day before your walk

Image
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Re: Into Glenelg and the Arnisdale Grahams

Postby malky_c » Thu Sep 02, 2010 3:02 pm

Cheers for the comments. As I've said elsewhere, these site visits only come up occasionally just now, so I tend to milk them dry! Anyway, surely Rothesay isn't that bad - there's a Marilyn you can bag nearby isn't there? :lol:

Barnety2000 wrote:I went to Glenelg quite a few years ago when I was young and stayed in a cottage with my family for a week. I can't remember that much of it, other than it rained all the time and we got soaked on numerous occasions!


More often than not my experience of this area! Was lucky this time though...

No meals this time WA - Arnisdale is close enough to home for this to be a day trip only :( . Did get some dried up Spaghetti Bolognaise when I got home though!

DonnyW wrote:In return here is a seal’s eye view of Beinn Clachach and Corran taken the day before your walk


Looks lovely. I know it isn't really walking, but are you going to do a report? If you could organise it, the ideal way to do Druim Fada would be to walk the entire length of the ridge then return by canoeing up Loch Hourn. Not sure how you would get your canoe from one end to the other though :?
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Re: Into Glenelg and the Arnisdale Grahams

Postby DonnyW » Thu Sep 02, 2010 3:58 pm

I think the way to do the ridge of Druim Fada would be to turn north at the end and pick up the footpath going through Glen Arnisdale back to Coran. Unless you can get one of the locals who do boat trips to drop you off at the eastern end.

There is a lovely, well constructed footpath runs along the coast to a point opposite the three islands across from Barrisdale Bay as shown in the photo below. Beyond that though the hillside looks pretty impassable along the coast for a return that way.

I will try a report of the full loch soon as there is a lot of interesting places for a walker to go in the area.. did I mention I love it in that neck of the woods :-D

Image

Image
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Re: Into Glenelg and the Arnisdale Grahams

Postby kinley » Thu Sep 02, 2010 6:23 pm

Malky C wrote:This summit really does live up to the hype that some people have thrown at it, even without the views into Coire Dhorcaill on Ladhar Bheinn


If it lives up to it.....surely it wasn't hype ;)

Fantastic report the Kinloch Hourn/Arnisdale/Barrisdale area is just jaw-dropping 8)

A hard route there too.

Druim Fada is just an absolute gem 8)
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Re: Into Glenelg and the Arnisdale Grahams

Postby ramblingsteve » Sat Oct 02, 2010 3:35 pm

Brilliant, Malky... Any jobs goin??
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