A rainy day in Flowerdale 24km 1580m 8.5hrs 17/05/1998
Beinn an Eoin and Baosbheinn, together give a combined ridge walk of 11.5km. My original plan involved a club stay at the Ling hut, couple these with Beinn Dearg then walk back via the Coire Dubh Mor. Alas, due to a lack of transport, this plan was shelved and so I climbed Beinn Dearg from Torridon in 1996 (mainly in the hope it would be a new munro) Such is life.
I drive to gr855720 for the Red hut, now painted green; the weather does not look promising. Park and gear up. The outflow from Am Feur loch runs to loch Bad a Sgalaig, a bridge here leads on a very good path into the heart of the Flowerdale forest. An odd name. Until recently there were very few trees here and hardly any flowers, but today there’s new plantings of native pines by the Gairloch estate, a regeneration project for 1 million trees. Don `t think I`ll ever see them, as Scots pines take a long time to grow. L across a burn lie the Lochan and crags of Meall Lochan a` Chicrich and the – as yet unnamed “ stone valley crags” I will return and climb here in later years. The track winds above a gorge and past a large sandstone block “the grouse stone”. Here yesterday’s shooters would leave their catch for a later collection by the ghillies of the estate. Pass a level section then rise for a gated deer fence, beyond lies a broad barren landscape. Good views of Slioch, Baosbheinn and Beinn an Eion before rounding the knoll of Meall Lochan na Geala where I rest. The waters coming from loch na h Oidhche unusually split here, obviously man made with one river running to Loch Sgalaig - the other to loch Garbhaig. Over stepping-stones where another rise finds the loch and a rusting corrugated iron barn, which turns out to be rust painted boathouse. A distant Beinn Eighe and Beinn Dearg with the mass of Liathach behind, an awesome place. Wind whips up the loch waters as I move on. Strike L here climb the lower slopes up crags to reach a long grassy ridge. The weather, that up til now had been OK suddenly turned. Cloud coming in from the coast, maybe it will blow over. Or maybe not. First a batter of rain, I pull on my waterproofs. Windy too, with the rain cloud sweeping in and soon I can see nowt. Climb on sandstone, but no time to admire the wind shaped rocks. Bear left to avoid some higher crags and reach the cairn top of Eoin. A stone wall offers shelter for a time, but it’s not a place to linger, water drips from my hood as I head SW. The climb down thro rock bands proves tedious when good lines fade out but eventually I reach broken ground, grass and the loch. Now below the clag, I spy Poca Buidhe, a private bothy, owned by the estate for fisherman so I go for a looksee. Well built, the main section is locked, but an end door is open and lets me in out of the elements. My jacket needs reproofing, water dripping off me. Ifn hill walking teaches you anything, it is that when you’re wet, there’s no point worrying about the rain. I had good views of Baosbheinn before the weather closed in, but study my map to work out a route. A check of the hillside behind me, cloud about 30m above the bothy, so 50m above the loch. 1 kilometre SW should hit the slopes. Compass bearing from the bothy- cross the end of the loch, sandy then bog for grass - uphill to a lochan on Cean Beag @ 500m. Pass sandstone tiers NW finds the 705m. top down then R turn in rain and wind again. Altimeter reads 830m and there are crags on this one, so shy NW to a col @ 700m and climb again to reach a broader top with a small cairn @875m. Cracked it. Too wet to hang about, so I decide to shorten the walk. Head NE stay on the grass, crags to my R and possibly at the bottom so allow myself to drift N into An R`eidh–choire and below the clag, follow a burn to the river. A wet crossing finds the inward path and gives a wet trudge back to the car. Seen enroute – no one on the hills, some bird life and fish in the lochs. Miffed the way my day turned bad, pleased I managed both hills given the conditions, but I would rather had the views. Some days are like this, you learn take the good with the bad and there’s measure of comfort knowing the others of your party suffered the same weather as you.
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