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Fionn Bheinn - Sunshine, Snow, Raven, Spectacular

PostPosted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 9:07 pm
by keithturrastane
Firstly, I'm embarrassed to say that I've reached 132 Munros, and never published a public walk report! I've keenly devoured other people's over the years, and they have given me a sanity check/inspiration at times, so thank you all!

It was one of those weather days that you know is going to be special. Driving towards Inverness, the pink light of the sunrise illuminated the Moray Firth and the hills beyond. Onward to Dingwall and Garve and into lonely Strath Bran, Fionn Bheinn was prominent ahead, covered in snow - I can't say that I've ever noticed it like this before on the countless journeys along this stretch of road.
View along Strath Bran

I left the nice little parking area in the city centre of Achnasheen around 9:30am. The path is well signposted and leads up behind the village, past the water treatment building, and up the hillside to the right of the Allt Achadh na Sine burn, following a fence. It's a bit of a slog for the first hour, and I imagine it would be very wet if not frozen. Soon, it levels out a bit and the snow line brought easier walking conditions - the walk ahead was opening up.
Hitting the Snow Line

The Monar, Strathfarrar & Achnaschellach hills are prominent to the South, and the views just keep improving as height is gained. The flat area between Fionn Bheinn and the Graham Meall a' Chaorainn looks like it would be a hugely boggy heat hag fest most of the year, but today it was covered in hard frozen snow, and easy to negotiate. There was evidence of recent avalanche debris on the Graham, which just goes to show that you are never far from potential danger - even on lower hills:
Recent Avalanche on Meall a' Chaorainn, Near the Summit

The views become more interesting as more height is gained - Slioch and the Fisherfield hills are prominent:
Slioch and Fisherfiled

I realized now that I had probably come too far, and should have diverted right and taken the easy ridge route up Creagan nan Laogh, however the direct route up the frozen snow slope toward the summit was not too steep - I did take the excuse to use the crampons in my bag for the first time in 2 years.
Looking back towards Achnasheen, it was just a perfect icing sugar kind of day:
Winter Wonderland

Hitting the corrie edge below Fionn Bheinn just revealed more of a panorama, as Loch Fannaich and the Fannaichs were revealed:
Fionn Bheinn ridge and Fannaichs

There was a huge amount of cornicing on the North side of the ridge, with wide cracks ready to go bang, so I stayed well back:
Keep well clear

I was joined at the summit by Darren & Mark from Cumbernauld, and another older couple from Inverness who had some interesting stories, and then by a group of skiers who looked to have a fantastic descent when I saw them whizzing past on the way down. The views from the summit were just fantastic, full 360 panorama of snow covered Munros all around.
Achnashellach, Torridon, Slioch, Fisherfiled


Trig Point

At this point, I should mention one of the yet unfulfilled prophesies of the Brahan Seer -
" The day will come when a raven, attired
in plaid and bonnet, will drink his full of human blood on
' Fionn-bheinn,' three times a day, for three successive

I'm glad to report that the Raven is alive and well, and should have been wearing his bonnet and plaid, given the wintry conditions. I left him a piece of my sandwich, lest he gets a taste for human blood.
Brahan Seer's Raven

Sadly, all days like this have to end at some point, and with a last look at the Fannaichs from the ridge:
Last look at Fannaichs before descent

and a look back towards the summit:
View back to Fionn Bheinn summit

I headed back down the direct steep slope, the snow well frozen and easy to walk on. The sun was getting lower, bathing the hills of Achnashellach beyond:
Heading Down

Back at the car in Achnasheen at 15:30, that's good I thought - home in good time tonight. Sadly, on reaching Garve, I learned that the A835 was closed due to a fatal accident. There's not much in the way of alternative routes in this part of Scotland, so it was a choice between Ullapool-Bonar Bridge-Tain-Inverness or Achnasheen-Kyle-Glen Sheil-Invermorriston-Inverness - I chose the latter. Two hours later, I was in Inverness, and then another 2 hours to home. The bonus was driving down Glen Carron/Glen Sheil, which was looking spectacular.
5 Sisters From Sheil Bridge

Re: Fionn Bheinn - Sunshine, Snow, Raven, Spectacular

PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2018 12:28 am
by Alteknacker
Great stuff! Sunday was clearly an absolutely stunning day in the Highlands - just mad that I couldn't be there, given that I'd had to pull out of a trip with my brother to Glen Shiel at the last minute.

You certainly picked a superb trip to write up as your first WHR!

Some fantastic pics there, especially the panos (BTW if you use a Flickr link for your pics, it's possible then for readers to click on the image and get a full screen view of the panos).

Re: Fionn Bheinn - Sunshine, Snow, Raven, Spectacular

PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2018 11:57 am
by BlackPanther
Great hill, maybe a bit underrated, but you showed the best side of Fionn Bheinn :D Views are extraordinary in every direction.

We visited FB (and Meall a' Chaorainn) last year in January. It felt like April or May up there. Snow was nowhere to be seen... I found a similar pano snap from that day:
What a difference! I think this year we're getting too much of the white stuff... At least it has consolidated and walking is much easier on harder snow.

PS. Welcome to the Trip Report Writers Society! :lol:

Re: Fionn Bheinn - Sunshine, Snow, Raven, Spectacular

PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2018 4:10 pm
by ancancha
A great day of blue and white 8)
The cracked cornices are really interesting, thanks for posting :clap:

Re: Fionn Bheinn - Sunshine, Snow, Raven, Spectacular

PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2018 11:12 pm
by Sick Kid
Thankyou for posting a positive report on Fionn Beinn! In my circles it has a rather bad name, both times I’ve been up there has been a major bog fest!!! :roll: Although I did get fab views the first time :wink:
Maybe if I ever go up there again I’ll wait till winter :D

Oh and don’t feel bad about this being your first report, I’ve still never done one, I leave that to my hillbuddy :lol:

Re: Fionn Bheinn - Sunshine, Snow, Raven, Spectacular

PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 8:27 pm
by Mal Grey
Excellent. It was a rather good day, wasn't it, we were over on Beinn Damh.

Re: Fionn Bheinn - Sunshine, Snow, Raven, Spectacular

PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 3:52 pm
by litljortindan
Great first report and good that you lived to write about that raven.

Re: Fionn Bheinn - Sunshine, Snow, Raven, Spectacular

PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 5:13 pm
by spiderwebb
Was just talking about this one, as it was one of the hardest days out I've had, conditions were very white like yours but much softer :lol:
Great photos :D

Re: Fionn Bheinn - Sunshine, Snow, Raven, Spectacular

PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 10:14 pm
by Graeme D
Cracking first report and the visit from the raven on this hill is a touch of class! :clap: