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On the way back home... a'Bheithir in the cap

On the way back home... a'Bheithir in the cap


Postby Alteknacker » Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:50 pm

Munros included on this walk: Sgorr Dhearg (Beinn a'Bheithir), Sgorr Dhonuill (Beinn a'Bheithir)

Date walked: 12/11/2017

Time taken: 5.5 hours

Distance: 16.5 km

Ascent: 1724m

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Sunday morning after WH meet quiz, and I'm not rushing to be off just before dawn
a) because the WH convivialities had gone on quite late; and...

Image
Morning after the night before...

b) the forecast is for poor weather in the morning, clearing up for the afternoon.

Over multiple mugs of tea I decide to go for the Ballachulish 2 (Beinn a’Bheithir), on the way home.
By the time I make this decision, I suddenly realise that time will be a bit tight. Inevitably, frantic packing means that I manage to leave my (favourite) mountain socks on a radiator, and my charger still in a socket somewhere… :cry: . At least it wasn't my boots :lol: .

But the Beinn a’Bhethir ridge looks absolutely brilliant as I approach the Ballachulish bridge. :D
Image

The descent from Creag Ghorm (RHS) looks somewhat precipitous viewed from here... :crazy: More of that later!!

The original thought had been to ascend straight up the hill starting off more or less at the first roundabout after the bridge.
Image
However, from the map this appears to involve close to 300m of flogging up through forestry, which in the light of my recent experience on the descent from Meall na Teanga – and indeed of all experiences of trying to negotiate forestry - seems like a really poor idea, especially as there is nowhere close to park the car and the forestry looks very dense indeed. So then I drive further down the road and park in the layby in front of St John’s church, where a Remembrance Day service is about to start.

Looking at the map, the next idea is to walk a bit further east down the road up to the point that the forestry finishes – about 500m along from the church – there cut up the hill to Bheinn Bhan, then along the steadily ascending ridge to Sgorr Dhearg. However, looking up behind the church, I can see that there is a strip of forestry where the trees have been felled that seems to extend right up to the ridge. True, it is very steep – around 45 degrees – and there are some cliffs at the top.
Image20171112_114103.

But the cliffs don’t look too intimidating, and a walk along a road, even if only 500m or so, can’t compete with getting my shoes on to the raw earth. So this is the option I take.

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Some people truly never NEVER learn...
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Hurriedly I get changed, packed and started.

In the event, though, the yomp through the felled forestry area really isn’t that bad (albeit a bit slow). The real bummer is that my ice axe catches on a branch I am ducking under, and pulls the upper securing strap off my sac; and somehow – I suppose due to the undergrowth temporarily holding up the axe, it manages to slip out of the lower strap (I know: geometrically considered, this shouldn’t be possible – I should feel the axe handle banging on the back of my thighs first; but the fact is: it did disappear). Unfortunately I don’t notice my loss until about half an hour later ☹. Very annoying indeed! I am a bit concerned too, because, at a distance, it looks as if an axe might be necessary near the summit. But in fact it isn’t, so I am able to complete the route.

Image20171112_120434. On the way up the steep slope, the views east over Loch Leven are superb.

Image20171112_124027.

Image20171112_124051. (If you like panos, it's worth clicking on the pics to view them full screen size).

Image20171112_124025. Looking back down the slope I've just ascended. Out of the forestry scrub at this point, and about to start the scrambly bit.

It's a short scramble up the cliffs - but it freezes ma digits...
Image

...and then it's on to the ridge of Meall a'Chaolais. Straightforward going from here on.

Image20171112_130235. As I crest the slope on to Meall a'Chaolais, the other side of the horseshoe I'm planning to traverse comes into view: just peeping out on the LHS, Sgurr Dhonuill, and immediately in front, Creag Ghorm. Even from here I can see that the ridge between the two looks pretty up-and-downy, and so it later proves to be.

Image20171112_130638. Looking back down the approach ridge en route to Sgorr Dhearg.

Image20171112_130655. It's hard to refrain from snapping in the direction of the Mamores and Loch Leven...

Image20171112_132114. As I approach the summit of Sgorr Dhearg, the views of the Beinn a'Bheithir ridge are simply wonderful.

Image20171112_132101.

Image20171112_132134. The final pull to the summit of Sgorr Dhearg. No footprints here - obviously this isn't an "official" route. Easy walking.

Image20171112_134444. It's a really satisfying ridge walk up to the summit - this is looking back along it more or less due north.

Image20171112_134805. As I approach the summit, I see there are 5 or 6 young folk there, the first of the day. The pic is looking approximately south east, with Glen Coe on the far LHS, Stob an Fhuarain and Sgurr na h'Ulaidh centre middle background, and Bidean nam Bian behind (I think - correct me anyone please if I'm wrong).

Image20171112_134805 labelled.

Image20171112_134935. Looking west north west along the ridge towards Sgurr Dhonuill and to the right, the ridge out to Creag Ghorm - in fact most of the high-level part of the remainder of the route.

Image20171112_135911. Descending to the bealach, Fraochaidh to the left of Sgurr Dhonuill.

Image20171112_140307. At the bealach, looking north down Gleann a'Chaolais towards Ballachulish bridge.

Image20171112_141648. Looking back east from the fairly gentle ascent of Sgurr Dhonuill towards Sgorr Dhearg, Bidean nan Bian in the background, and behind it, the snow on Stob Coire Sgreamhach just catching the sun. Magical!

Image20171112_141817. ....while to the west the afternoon sun beginning to sink behind the clouds over Loch Linnhe provides an inspiring spectacle.

Image20171112_142343. Some quite dramatic cliffs on the north face of Sgurr Dhonuill, on which it looks as if one could spend an entertaining few hours scrambling.

Image20171112_142410. The Ben Nevis and Mamores ranges really showing off...

Image20171112_143048. ... as on the summit the eye is inevitably drawn to the west as the sun continues to descend over Loch Linnhe.

Image20171112_143220. Looking almost due west from the summit, I think that the wonderful spiky looking hill just to the right of the fellow walker's head must be Gharb Bheinn (please correct me if I'm wrong).

Image20171112_143244. The way ahead, Meall Ghorm centre pic, and in the background what I think must be Gulvain (the pyramidal shaped hill catching the sun)...

Image20171112_143518. Afternoon sun again in the west over Loch Linnhe (I took over 200 pics on this short afternoon ... :shock: )

Image20171112_143901. The lumpy route ahead...

Image20171112_150026. Pano looking back at Sgurr Dhonuill and Sgurr Dhearg from the lumpy plateau. One gets a bit of an idea from the foreground of just how up and down it is.

Image20171112_150835. And it's characterised by many many little lochans that suddenly appear as an unexpected pleasure, for one cannot see them long in advance because of the up-and-down nature of the terrain. (I know, I found a lot of reasons to photograph the sun going down over Loch Linnhe - my justification is that others seem to find sunsets equally fascinating to judge from the number of pics of them in WHRs!! :roll: )

Image20171112_152500. It's quite exhausting flogging up and down the myriad little ridges that run perpendicular to my direction of travel; but the views continue to enchant. This pic is looking back towards Sgurr Dhonuill again, with Sgorr Dhearg in the background catching the low sun full on. Wonderful. :D . Like the previous 2 days, this is another irrepressible continuous grin day.
Image

[Image20171112_155749. Another of the many many sunsets-over-lochan pics I take on the way.

Image20171112_160519. The setting sun lighting up SG and SD in a wonderful orange glow, viewed from the highest point on Meall Ghorm.

Image20171112_160528. The last sunset pic - promise! :oops: :wink:

Image20171112_161252. The first part of the descent slopes gently, if up-and-downy, and I'm treated to the inspiring sight of Loch Leven and the Nevis/Mamores hills as darkness begins to close in. I can't yet see down to the break in the forestry I'm heading towards, so I'm using my compass more or less continuously to stay on the correct direction.

I recall now the very steep face I viewed from just before the Ballachullish bridge earlier today, and sure enough, the slope suddenly steepens quite dramatically, to about 45 degrees.

Image20171112_162701. Moreover, there are a number of cliffs that have to be circumnavigated, so if one were to repeat this route, one would need to be comfortable in this environment.

The last pic was taken at maximum exposure, and it's very soon too dark to take any more pics. Originally I'd thought I might go straight down to the road and walk along it back to the car; but as I approach the decision point, the thought of ending the day on a road appeals less and less. So instead I follow a forestry track that starts at a radio mast and shed at about 037591. There are multiple turn-offs, and it's so dark that I have to use my head torch to read the map.

But all goes well, and in an hour or so I'm back at the car. Quick change, then head back home, pausing only to purchase a very large bottle of natural orange juice - for some reason I have a desperate urge for citrus, and in addition to the juice, manage to consume a complete net of oranges on the drive home. I take the route via Callendar and Stirling to avoid the big detour around Loch Lomond that I experienced on the way up to the WH meet, and, incident-free, I pull into my drive at half past midnight, still thoroughly suffused with adrenaline after a terrific afternoon, and generally a superb weekend; and with enough time to sit at my kitchen table and make up for the loss of fluid that under normal circumstances I would have made up by a swift visit to the nearest establishment of cultural, historical and architectural distinction.... :D

Image

Image3D of route.
Last edited by Alteknacker on Wed Jan 30, 2019 2:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: On the way back home... a'Bheithir in the cap

Postby malky_c » Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:12 pm

You appear to have missed the standard stop-off after your walk. Perhaps Saturday night was more than enough for the weekend? :wink:

Looks like another fine day out :) . Sorry I didn't give you any useful advice about the forests on these hills - evidently 'just look at it from the Ballachulish Bridge' wasn't really good enough!

I have probably been up this pair more than most of the surrounding hills (we used to spend our summer holidays right at the foot of the ridge up onto Beinn Bhan - you could climb over the fence in the back garden and get straight onto the hill). Somehow I can only really remember the times we've ended up crashing through the conifers and felled areas, so not very useful!
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Re: On the way back home... a'Bheithir in the cap

Postby Mal Grey » Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:26 pm

Fabulous.

There are on my list of hills I'd like to do again, as I saw bugger all from either...
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Re: On the way back home... a'Bheithir in the cap

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:29 pm

Great report and I like your route, we had been wondering about the forestry on the ascent ridge you took so found your account useful. The views looked breath taking in the snow.
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Re: On the way back home... a'Bheithir in the cap

Postby EmmaKTunskeen » Wed Nov 22, 2017 8:48 am

Can't have too many sunsets :lol: But a thieving tree??!! :shock: We're you reunited with your axe?
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Re: On the way back home... a'Bheithir in the cap

Postby Broggy1 » Wed Nov 22, 2017 12:50 pm

Great report and pics.

I enjoyed these two immensely when I did them but they look even better with a winter coat. :clap:
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Re: On the way back home... a'Bheithir in the cap

Postby Malkie » Wed Nov 22, 2017 7:19 pm

Really enjoyed youre report and the fabulous photos
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Re: On the way back home... a'Bheithir in the cap

Postby dav2930 » Wed Nov 22, 2017 11:46 pm

Great read and fantastic pics AK. Those views are amazing and all the more impressive with the coating of snow on the higher tops. Looked a satisfying round trip with the north ridge of Sgorr Dhearg especially exhilerating. It was long ago I did these two; I just took the route suggested by the SMC Munro guide, up to the col between the two, as the forestry approaches to the ridges on either side looked too much like uncharted territory to me! Your route definitely looked worth the perseverence - though an expensive one if it cost you your ice axe (? :( ) :clap:
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Re: On the way back home... a'Bheithir in the cap

Postby Jaxter » Thu Nov 23, 2017 8:42 am

These are just fabulous hills aren’t they :D it’s a steep climb onto the ridge whichever way you go but I think yours was even worse :shock: I managed to avoid the worst of forestry but continuing around the horseshoe and coming down a snowy gully, tremendous fun :lol:

I know how you feel about the orange juice though. I often have a weird craving for that after a walk :D
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Re: On the way back home... a'Bheithir in the cap

Postby Alteknacker » Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:52 pm

malky_c wrote:You appear to have missed the standard stop-off after your walk. Perhaps Saturday night was more than enough for the weekend? :wink:

Looks like another fine day out :) . Sorry I didn't give you any useful advice about the forests on these hills - evidently 'just look at it from the Ballachulish Bridge' wasn't really good enough!

I have probably been up this pair more than most of the surrounding hills (we used to spend our summer holidays right at the foot of the ridge up onto Beinn Bhan - you could climb over the fence in the back garden and get straight onto the hill). Somehow I can only really remember the times we've ended up crashing through the conifers and felled areas, so not very useful!


You'll see I've now remedied the omission in respect of an establishment of cultural, architectural and historical distinction ... :D

As regards the forestry, I get some solace from the fact that even you have ended up crashing through it... :crazy:

Memo to self: AVOID FORESTRY!

Mal Grey wrote:Fabulous.

There are on my list of hills I'd like to do again, as I saw bugger all from either...


Thanks Mal. The dusting of white stuff sure does add the appeal!

Cairngorm creeper wrote:Great report and I like your route, we had been wondering about the forestry on the ascent ridge you took so found your account useful. The views looked breath taking in the snow.


Thanks. I would be inclined next time to follow my 2nd idea, which was to walk the 500m or so east along the road to the end of the forestry, and access Sgorr Dhearg via Beinn Bhan. The start of the route I took - up through felled forestry - is very rough! However traversing the ridge after Sgurr Dhonuill is very worthwhile, although be warned: the descent from Creag Ghorm is pretty steep, and also the gap in the forestry at the bottom that is shown on the map is in fact no longer a gap as it's been replanted (as you can see from Google Earth). Having said that, the route back along the forestry track that I took is quite straightforward.

I'm sure you'll enjoy these 2 whichever route you take - but especially if you do them in snow!

EmmaKTunskeen wrote:Can't have too many sunsets :lol: But a thieving tree??!! :shock: We're you reunited with your axe?


Yeah, we hill folk are somewhat addicted to sunsets :D.

Sadly, I was not reunited with my axe :( . I didn't go back to look for it, because I didn't discover the loss until long after it happened, and I would never have been able to retrace my route through the felled forestry.
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Re: On the way back home... a'Bheithir in the cap

Postby spiderwebb » Fri Nov 24, 2017 11:51 pm

One of the finest walks in winter. Superb photos :clap: shame about your axe, but an excuse for some shopping :D
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Re: On the way back home... a'Bheithir in the cap

Postby Alteknacker » Sat Nov 25, 2017 8:45 pm

Broggy1 wrote:Great report and pics.

I enjoyed these two immensely when I did them but they look even better with a winter coat. :clap:


Thanks Broggy. I can't help feeling that practically any hill, however impressive in green, looks even better with a winter coat!

Malkie wrote:Really enjoyed youre report and the fabulous photos


Many thanks Malkie. Any merit in the pics had everything to do with the place and the day, and very little to do with this point-and-click merchant!

dav2930 wrote:Great read and fantastic pics AK. Those views are amazing and all the more impressive with the coating of snow on the higher tops. Looked a satisfying round trip with the north ridge of Sgorr Dhearg especially exhilerating. It was long ago I did these two; I just took the route suggested by the SMC Munro guide, up to the col between the two, as the forestry approaches to the ridges on either side looked too much like uncharted territory to me! Your route definitely looked worth the perseverence - though an expensive one if it cost you your ice axe (? :( ) :clap:


Thanks Dav. Ref the pics, see my reply to Malkie above! The views were indeed amazing - it reminded me a lot of a walk last year that included an Fhuarain, na h-Ulaidh and Sgulaird: snow-capped hills as far as the eye could see, and wonderful air clarity.

I generally try to avoid reading about others' routes until after I've done my own, and from time to time this has its downsides! This was possibly one of those occasions. Certainly, it was an expensive declaration of independence: I've just ordered my new axe :( .



Jaxter wrote:These are just fabulous hills aren’t they :D it’s a steep climb onto the ridge whichever way you go but I think yours was even worse :shock: I managed to avoid the worst of forestry but continuing around the horseshoe and coming down a snowy gully, tremendous fun :lol:

I know how you feel about the orange juice though. I often have a weird craving for that after a walk :D

Just read your report (don't know how I missed it first time around) and I see you also had a very fine winter trip up there. Very glad you missed the forestry!

Normally what I most crave after a walk is a beer, but this was quite a weird and irresistable citrus craving :?:


spiderwebb wrote:One of the finest walks in winter. Superb photos :clap: shame about your axe, but an excuse for some shopping :D


A very fine walk indeed. Ref photos, see my reply to Malkie above - it had little to do with me!

Ice axe shopping now done... :(. It didn't feel like very satisfying retail therapy :( .
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Re: On the way back home... a'Bheithir in the cap

Postby grumpy old bagger » Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:22 pm

Stunning photos. Just stunning!
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Re: On the way back home... a'Bheithir in the cap

Postby tombombadilio » Sun Nov 26, 2017 10:57 am

Some cracking panos there Alteknacker, have often driven past these and wondered what views you would get from them but never taken it further. One for the future.

And hope your face has recovered from the permagrin :D (tip: along with the pre/post walk hamstring stretches, I incorporate a facial warm up when I know its gonna be an amazing day :thumbup: ).

P.S. How do you eat oranges and drive??
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Re: On the way back home... a'Bheithir in the cap

Postby Alteknacker » Sun Nov 26, 2017 10:19 pm

tombombadilio wrote:Some cracking panos there Alteknacker, have often driven past these and wondered what views you would get from them but never taken it further. One for the future.

AK: Definately worthwhile imho. I wasn't really that inspired by descriptions I'd read prior to doing it, but I was/am certainly converted.

And hope your face has recovered from the permagrin :D (tip: along with the pre/post walk hamstring stretches, I incorporate a facial warm up when I know its gonna be an amazing day :thumbup: ).

AK: Thanks for the advice; but I can't believe that any exercises will cope with the grin rictus that afflict one on days like this was...!!!

P.S. How do you eat oranges and drive??


AK:. Very carefully... :D
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