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Beinn a Chreachain and Beinn Achaladair

PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 2:15 pm
by old danensian
When a window of good weather coincides with a few free days, you occasionally do some daft things: but they can be worth it. That’s why the Sunday before last, after a charity walk down the Test Valley Way during the afternoon, I left Hampshire at 5, dropped off the incredulous but tolerant other half at home in Warwickshire at 8, and then continued straight on and up the M6 for a late-night drive. My northwards flight was curtailed by a road closure at Tarbet at 1.30 the next morning, so a few hours sleep was snatched in the car before a clear, blue, but chilly morning was greeted.

North west from Bridge of Orchy

Stob Ghabhar from Achallader Farm

Bridge of Orchy was passed, through skeins of early morning mist clinging to the course of the river, while the wraiths of thin cloud cutting the tops above Loch Tulla formed a glorious backdrop. Then, barely twenty four hours after starting a wander down a valley 500 miles further south, my boots were brushing the frost from the grass and heading up the glen from the farm at Achallader. As the rising sun broached the ridge it lit the tips of the gable ends of the ruins at Barravourich – from a distance it looked like a pair of incongruous golden minarets

Before being drawn across the river at the bridge over the Water of Tulla, the yellow way-markers point you up between the southern bank and the fence enclosing the woodland above. With the track at times being boggy and always dripping with melting frost from the long grass and bracken, boots and trousers were soaked within the first hour.

The drenching continued once the fence was broached in favour of the path heading up through the trees and across the West Highland railway line. More dripping shrubbery was ploughed through before the upper fence was crossed – and then another skirted round to the left – before Allt Coire an Lochain was reached and the tree line left behind. This was then followed upwards as it cascaded down the slabby geology, and the path towards the Coire an Lochain climbed. As the lochan lay in the murky shadows of the crags above I traced a bee-line for the sun-lit ridge above and upper slopes to the summit of Bienn a Chreachain, and in doing so left behind the only others I saw during the whole day.

Distant inversions from north east ridge of Beinn a Chreachain

Lazing in the sun at the top I discovered that midges must be intelligent beings, and well informed as well. They’d obviously been listening to the weather forecast on the Today programme that morning when listeners were treated to an explanation of the inversion phenomena that was about to occur across swathes of Scotland. The wee flying beasties must have been listening too as they began to gather in the still warmth of the summit – they obviously got used to the cold last winter.

Dissolving ridges from Meall Buidhe

The traverse across Meall Buidhe just took half an hour or so of gentle strolling, with the inversions in sight to the north and east and clear views to enjoy across Rannoch to the Ben. From the bealach below the north east ridge of Bienn Achaladair I expected to endure a zig zag up to the left, but instead a steep route led immediately upwards, weaving its way safely and speedily: it’s surprising how quickly height and time passes when you’re having to concentrate on where to put hands and feet.

Loch Tulla and Stob Ghabhar etc. from Beinn Achaladair

From the top I could spend time drinking in the view southwards as one ridge and summit after another disappeared into the distant mists. Then descent called, heading south along the ridge and down towards the head of Coire Daingean, and through what from above looked like a bog-fest glistening in the sun – and my boots had just dried out.

Looking south down the ridge from Beinn Achaladair to head of Coire Daingean

Down the Allt Coire Achaladair

It was, thankfully, a far drier experience than initially feared and a welcome dry descent was enjoyed back to the farm at Achallader – where the final few yards were as muddy as hell. You just can’t win.

After being on the go for what seemed like an eternity, I then mustered up enough energy to drive up to Glen Nevis to renew acquaintances with the Mamores - more of which anon.

Re: Beinn a Chreachain and Beinn Achaladair

PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 2:29 pm
by Stretch
The 'dissolving ridges' photo is top notch! A fine pair of hills these are with great views on clear days.

Re: Beinn a Chreachain and Beinn Achaladair

PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 10:01 pm
by LeithySuburbs
You drove from Hampshire :shock: :? ? Looks just about worth it though :D . Agree with Stretch, that "dissolving ridges" pic is one to get framed on the mantlepiece back in sassenach-shire ;)

Re: Beinn a Chreachain and Beinn Achaladair

PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 11:40 pm
by old danensian
Yes, 540 miles - and I'd have climbed anything after that just to stretch my legs. But it was worth it, especially with the day that followed on the Mamores.

Re: Beinn a Chreachain and Beinn Achaladair

PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 2:48 am
by mountain coward
Yeah the 'Dissolving Ridges' is a great pic.

Very timely post that thanks as I'm thinking of doing that next week on the Glencoe Meet instead of the Corbetts I had planned (will probably depend on the weather though). I'm wondering whether there isn't some advantage in doing the walk the other way round? Particularly from the wet feet point of view - it would be nicer to only get them wet at the end of the day rather than have a longish walk with them soaking wet from nearly the start. What do you think? Is there any sort of continuous path from Achaladair farm up to the summit of Chreachain or just sketchy bits and pieces?

Re: Beinn a Chreachain and Beinn Achaladair

PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 9:39 am
by kinley
8) Some lovely photos.

We were thinking about re-doing these 2 sometime. The set of hills running S of Rannoch have grandstand open views (and a contrast to the crowded hill view S).

Cheers - you picked just the kind of day I was looking for 8)

Re: Beinn a Chreachain and Beinn Achaladair

PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 10:13 am
by old danensian
Thanks for the comments - with surroundings and settings like that I sometimes think you can't fail to take good shots.

MC - you could do the route either way - and in hindsight I think the reverse would have given a far more gradual and steady ascent - once beyond the farm at Achallader there is no problem about route finding up through Coire Daingean. If you manage it next week - I'm sure you'll enjoy it - and hope for cracking weather for your 200.

Re: Beinn a Chreachain and Beinn Achaladair

PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 2:44 am
by mountain coward
Thanks for that. Well I have to say I'd rather go up steep and down gradual but if it comes to when I get wet feet, I'd rather that was at the end of the day! :D And it would be nice to have some good weather for a change for my 200th! :D

By the way, was there a continuous path up to Chreachain from Crannoch Wood or just sketchy bits? I saw the 2 bridges over the railway from the train last month but couldn't see any kind of path continuing up the hill across them...

Re: Beinn a Chreachain and Beinn Achaladair

PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 8:32 pm
by briansolar1
some great photos in there!


Re: Beinn a Chreachain and Beinn Achaladair

PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 10:36 pm
by old danensian
MC - the path through the woods from the Water of Tulla was way-marked and clear up to the railway line. Once over the bridge the path goes left and stays parallel with the line for ages - so long in fact that I thought I'd missed a path up to the right. As a result I thrashed up towards the fence above when I saw a ladder over in the distance. Once over that I then headed left and upwards to reach the Allt Coire an Lochain, where I met the path from below - this is clear and goes straight up to the lochain itself. After that, just strike up to the ridge - you'll know when you get there even in poor visibility.

Re: Beinn a Chreachain and Beinn Achaladair

PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 12:41 am
by mountain coward
Great thanks for that. I'm wondering from a dry-feet point of view however, whether to go the other way recommended in the books and walk along the landrover track as far as Gorton? where there is another bridge back over the river and another bridge over the railway. I'm thinking this might be a bit drier as it should then tackle the side of the ridge directly. I keep thinking Crannoch Wood is going to be the really wet bit? Doesn't look like it's going to be frozen either as it's due to rain by the weekend I think :( (as it tends to on me!)