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The days before lockdown: Beinn a'Chaorainn

The days before lockdown: Beinn a'Chaorainn


Postby BlackPanther » Wed May 06, 2020 7:46 pm

Route description: Beinn a'Chaorainn and Beinn Teallach

Munros included on this walk: Beinn a'Chaorainn (Glen Spean)

Date walked: 22/03/2020

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 17.5 km

Ascent: 928m

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This was our last "proper" mountain before the lockdown started and looking back to that day, I can literally feel my heard bleeding. I miss the hills. If we didn't have the Beauly ridge to climb every weekend (as part of our Boriswalking routine) I'd probably go completely bananas!

That day in mid-March was kind-of-bright but the distant views were quite hazy, creating the "fake sunset" effect in most pictures. The idea to climb Beinn a'Chaorainn on its own seems a bit silly for most baggers, as there is so little reascent for the neighbouring Beinn Teallach that nearly every walkers climbs both Munros together. We had done the full traverse in the past, in summer conditions (no trip report as it was in my pre-WH years) and I always fancied returning to this duo in winter. The full traverse is not difficult and can easily be done even on a shorter day, but we decided we didn't need to do them both, could just climb one at lazy pace 8) Plus I wanted to explore the secretive glen of Allt a'Chaorainn on the way back.

Track_BEINN A CHAORAINN 17.5KM.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


Parking space at the start of the walk is limited so we left our car in a layby 300m to the west and walked to the entrance of the forest. To our disappointment, most of the forest has been felled, creating quite a sad landscape:
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 004.JPG

I remembered from our previous visit to Beinn a'Chaorainn, that the initial climb tot he ridge is a long, boring slog,but still looked forward to it, especially the upper sections, where we'd probably need crampons. The bottom part looked (and was) wet and slippery:
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 006.JPG

...but as we started gaining height, interesting views showed up behind us. Here, the Fersit Munros from the north:
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 010.JPG

Loch Treig:
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 013.JPG

The Easains:
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 019.JPG

It might have been a slog at the beginning but we expected some fun and games later up, so spirits were high!
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 011.JPG

About half way up the slope, there is a little saddle (Meall Clachaig) where we stopped for five minutes to prepare for the winter conditions:
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 034.JPG

Grey Corries and Ben Nevis behind:
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 031.JPG

The final 300m of ascent were on snow, very soft initially but about 100m below the summit we encountered icy, slippery surface and decided to put crampons on.
Fun and games begin:
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 039.JPG

Beinn Teallach from the ridge of Beinn a'Chaorainn:
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 049.JPG

The long slog ended eventually on the southern top (1049m). From here, it's only a short, almost flat walk to the true summit. But before we aimed for the top, we couldn't resist a few minutes for photos. We immersed ourselves in the pristine white world around us (well, not literally, we didn't swim in the snow :lol: :lol: ) and simply sank in the views. Maybe deep down in our hearts we knew that it was the last opportunity to enjoy the crude beauty of the Scottish mountains...
The summit behind me:
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 061.JPG

The enormous cornice over Coire na h-Uamha:
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 055.JPG

Looking south past the lower top:
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 057.JPG

View west past Beinn Teallach:
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 059.JPG

View east to Creag Meagaidh group:
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 053.JPG

The summit cairn was nearly buried in snow, but I managed to find it somehow:
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 069.JPG

Moody cloud over Grey Corries and Nevis range:
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 073.JPG

We cautiously kept a safe distance from the edge of the giant cornice, admiring it from the distance, relying on zooms in our cameras to see the details :lol:
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 079.JPG

Black Panther in the white world:
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 087.JPG

We continued along the ridge past the summit to the next top (1043m). I remembered our first visit to this Munro. It was in the middle of a relatively cold spring of 2011 and we spent half an hour sitting on the grass and gazing down Coire na h-Uamha. I might write a separate TR about this old trip - it doesn't seem I will have any material for new stories in the near future :(
Beinn a'Chaorainn picnic, May 2011:
bein teallach 064.JPG

Back to 2020 and to the summit of Beinn a'Chaorainn:
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 088.JPG

We stopped for a few minutes for a sip of hot tea and some sugar, we had enough time and strength to add Beinn Teallach, but decided against it out of pure laziness. We'd simply head down to the col between the two hills and then walk back along Allt a 'Chaorainn. Very few people do it as it saves no distance and only a few hundred m of ascent, but let's say, we wanted to be original :lol: :lol:
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 103.JPG

"Fake sunset" over Loch Treig and the surrounding peaks:
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 100.JPG

2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 102.JPG

2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 115.JPG

The peaks of Ardgour seen over the ridge of Beinn Teallach:
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 117.JPG

Beinn Teallach - panoramic shot from the col:
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 131.JPG

It turns out, there is a decent path/ATV track along Allt a'Chaorainn. It was wet in places mostly because of the melting snow, but we really enjoyed this alternative way of descent. Or should I say the shortcut for lazy walkers :lol: :lol:
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 138.JPG

Despite the meltdown, the river was not in spate and we had no problems crossing it further down the glen:
2020-03-22 beinn a chaorainn 140.JPG

Despite only doing one of the two Munros, we still had the feeling of a Sunday well spent. On Monday, the lockdown was announced and any plans of climbing another hill (apart from quickies above Beauly) had to be put on hold. When will it end? I don't know, but I know one thing: the memories of the snow-covered slopes of Beinn a'Chaorainn are definitely a memory I'm going to cherish for a long time...

Stay safe, everyone :D
User avatar
BlackPanther
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 3402
Munros:260   Corbetts:163
Grahams:112   
Sub 2000:48   
Joined: Nov 2, 2010
Location: Beauly, Inverness-shire

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