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Two Corbetts from Alisary

Two Corbetts from Alisary

Postby dkirk1001 » Thu Jul 27, 2017 4:25 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Rois-Bheinn, Sgurr na Ba Glaise

Date walked: 18/07/2017

Time taken: 8.25 hours

Distance: 10.2 km

Ascent: 1130m

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When Sue and I first started hill-walking in Scotland we picked our walks from Ralph Storer’s book “One Hundred Best Walks on Scottish Mountains” and happily ignored Munro’s Tables. We eventually got sucked into the Munro-bagging business and in doing so climbed most of the mountains in the book. Rois Bheinn however, was an omission and we had been wanting to climb it for a while but not quite got round to it. Basically, we didn’t fancy the 5000 plus feet of climbing involved in doing the whole ridge by the usual route from Inverailort. We’re getting too old for that. So when I found a route on the internet from Alisary that left options open on the number of summits climbed, that seemed to be the way to go even though the start didn’t sound too promising.
We were staying at Glenfinnan and the weather forecast was fine so there were no excuses. We parked easily in a large lay-by on the seaward side of the A861 about 3 miles south of the junction with the A830 and 300 yards south of the entrance to the track to Alisary. It was already a beautiful day.
View across Loch Ailort from the parking place

We walked up the road to the gate, which didn’t look very welcoming. There were no signs and the gate was padlocked. Undeterred, we walked up the track and just before reaching the buildings turned right through a gate into a field. This gate was only tied with a rope, things were looking better. Crossing the field, we reached the corner of the large conifer plantation shown on the OS map. Another obstacle, not mentioned in our route description, appeared here in the shape of a fence. However, it was lower at its junction with the much taller fence round the plantation and showed signs of having been climbed over previously.
Start of the route up the Alisary Burn at the corner of the forest

Beyond the fence we picked up something of a path. This might be quite easy to follow in the spring but in mid-July the problem for us was the tall tussocky grass and higher up even taller bracken, which made following the path awkward. To start with, the path stayed fairly close to the forest fence but higher up it veered away a bit into the birch trees, although always being high above the burn. A second fence, also showing evidence of previous climbing had to be negotiated.
Route by forest fence

With relief we reached the end of the forest and emerged onto a broad hillside with more long grass everywhere. We identified a small tree as being close to the point where the path started down by the forest. Rather than plough straight up we continued more or less parallel to the burn below until we met the ruined stone wall that was to provide us with friendly guidance for much of the day. We turned upwards and followed it with the Allt Coire na Cnamha on our left. The intimidating west face of An Stac gradually came into view and out to sea, Eigg, Rum and eventually Skye appeared.
Waterfalls on the Allt Coire na Cnamha, An Stac behind
Looking back down the wall, Eigg and Rum on the horizon

As both the gradient and the vegetation got easier it was time to decide on the day’s objectives. Sue pointed to the obvious ridge coming down towards us from the west top of Rois Bheinn. It looked a nice way up, especially when compared to An Stac, and Rois Bheinn was the mountain we most wanted to climb. In addition, we would be able to take in the west top of Rois Bheinn, which reputedly had the best views, without having to retrace our steps. The decision was easily made.
The ridge coming down from from Rois Bheinn’s west top

The ridge did indeed provide a pleasant if steep ascent on refreshingly short grass and the views compensated for the effort.
An Stac from the north ridge of Rois Bheinn west top
Looking west to Eigg and Rum from the north ridge of Rois Bheinn west top

Eventually after a bit more than 3 hours we reached the west top. The view all round was stunning, everything that we expected and comparable to the views from Sgurr na Ciche or A’Mhaighdean. The photos we took just didn’t do it justice.
Looking north-west from Rois Bheinn west top over the Ardnish peninsula, Skye on the horizon
Eigg and Rum from Rois Bheinn west top
Rois Bheinn summit from its west top

After eating our lunch we ambled easily over to the actual summit of Rois Bheinn. Although not as spectacular as the west top, this is still an excellent viewpoint. The next objective, Sgurr na Bà Glaise, was now in view.
An Stac from Rois Bheinn summit
Sgurr na Bà Glaise and Druim Fiaclach from Rois Bheinn summit

Another hour brought us to the top of Sgurr na Bà Glaise. From there we could see deep into the remote hills of Moidart. Here we met the only other walker we saw all day, a young Frenchman spending the summer working in Fort William and walking the hills on his days off. He had come up from Inverailort round the ridge.
An t-Slat-bheinn and Druim Fiaclach from Sgurr na Bà Glaise

All too soon it was time to move on and we descended back down to the Bealach an Fiona. Although there was a cairn at the lowest point, a quick look-see showed that this was not the right place to start the further descent to the lower bealach above Coire na Cnamha, between us and An Stac. So we continued on uphill slightly until we met the friendly stone wall, which acted as a guide down the steep descent to the lower bealach. At this point I was surprised to find that I had a 4G Wi-Fi signal on my phone. I can’t get any signal at home!
Once down at the bealach, we studied the south face of An Stac. The French lad was already bounding up it at an enviable pace. Being dependent on public transport, he had missed out Rois Bheinn. The climb looked steep and the afternoon was hot. The prospect of picking a way down the even steeper west face of An Stac did not appeal either. Accordingly a unanimous decision was taken to leave An Stac for another day. It would be a relatively easy day from Inverailort we reasoned and give us the incentive to visit the area again.
South face of An Stac from the bealach
Bealach above Coire na Cnamha, Rois Bheinn and An Stac, An t-Slat-bheinn and Druim Fiaclach beyond

Feeling relaxed, we headed down the gradual slopes from the bealach, soon picking up the stone wall again. On the way we passed an interesting perched boulder that Sue couldn’t resist climbing. Bizarrely, at one point there were the remains of an iron gate in the ruins of the stone wall. I always find myself wondering about the people who built the old walls and fences you see on so many mountains in the highlands and why some of them were built in the first place as they no longer serve any purpose.
The descent from the bealach
The perched boulder
The stone wall with iron gate
More waterfalls on the Allt Coire na Cnamha

We found the path by the small tree and made painstaking progress down the final section beside the forest above the gorge of the Alisary burn, at least feeling confident in the knowledge that there was a way through. We were still relieved to cross the fence at the bottom. At the track leading to the road a border collie appeared and was determined to shepherd us off the premises. His owner called him off and gave us a friendly wave so it seemed our presence wasn’t as unwelcome as we had thought at the start of the day. We got back to the car just over 8 hours after starting. According to Naismith, we should have taken less than 4 hours excluding stops. I wonder if he ever needed to adjust his ideas as he got older.
The decision to omit An Stac meant that we were down in time to get an ice cream and a cup of tea at the nearby Glenuig community shop, which is a very friendly place run by volunteers. Afterwards, it was still warm enough for a swim off the beautiful sandy beach at Glenuig, a fitting end to a magnificent day in the hills.
Glenuig beach

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