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Bein Dearg 6. Sun, inversions, camping. Oh and crashes.

Bein Dearg 6. Sun, inversions, camping. Oh and crashes.


Postby Euan McIntosh » Fri Aug 02, 2013 10:45 pm

Route description: Beinn Dearg - the Four Munros circuit

Munros included on this walk: Am Faochagach, Beinn Dearg (Ullapool), Cona' Mheall, Eididh nan Clach Geala, Meall nan Ceapraichean, Seana Bhraigh

Date walked: 21/07/2013

Time taken: 13 hours

Distance: 30.4 km

Ascent: 2300m

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This was a walk I had been looking at doing, and planning for almost nine months prior to our journey north. It was going to be my first ever wild camp and my first ever solo walk, always nice to role those two together. The route had originally added Carn Bhan onto the end after the descent from Seana Bhraigh but the heat wave curtailed such plans and I shortened the route to just the six Munros.


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The start of the walk is not exactly easy to get to and required a 19.7mile cycle along Strath Carron from Ardgay, then tracks up Gleann Mor to Deanich Lodge and then up another rougher track to the weir in Gleann Beag. Having cycled almost all of this flawlessly in the nice cool fog that filled the valley something was bound to go wrong and sure enough within 500m of the weir a large rock threw me off of the bike and made a nice deep cut in my knee. The following plaster application I’m sure broke speed records due to the cloud of clegs that instantly descended upon me.

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Leaving the bike chained to the weir I set of up the hillside to gain the plateau leading round to Am Faochagach. It was a fairly steep, completely pathless and heathery hillside that did its level best to slow me to a crawl and trip me up at every occasion. I didn’t spend too much time cursing the ground however as I was still surrounded by that swarm of clegs that had now every companion within 10km my presence. The were swarming round and trying to bite me through the swirling and flailing defence my hands put up. For everyone I swatted with grim satisfaction five more flew into my ear, under my sunglasses, down my top and round my face. This of course made it impossible to role my sleeves up and so I started to cook in the sun that I swear was at least 25C by 9am.

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Once on the flatter ground between Am Faochagach and Meall a’ Chuaille the breeze picked up a little and kept them away. The terrain also improves with the heather shortening and the maze of baked dry peat hags providing a lovely soft walking surface. I contoured round the side of Carn Gorm-Loch and surprised a massive herd of deer, at least 200 strong just at the point where I crossed two lovely streams under the N-E slopes of Am Faochagach. The summit was very quickly gained from here and I met my first people of the day who were sunbathing on the summit after having come up from the Ullapool road. I had a bite to eat, reapplied sun cream, sent a text to assure my mother I was still alive and set of for Cona’ Meall.

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The slopes of Am Faochagach leading down to Loch Prille are not as smooth and grassy as the other sides and the unpleasant mixture of boulder field with heather covering the gaps between so you place your foot on solid ground only to fall three feet down. The loch itself is lovely and the spray blowing back up from the waterfall was gloriously cooling. I refilled both my platypus and water bottles here as I had already drunk almost two litres in the heat. From the loch the climb up Cona’ Meall looks slightly intimidating and rather a long way to go to the top. The ascent is steep and in some places very rocky. Directly under the summit there is a large boulder field and crags that have to be negotiated through to avoid the drops down into Coireag a’ Chona’-mhill.

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The summit gives wonderful views over the entire walk and all six of the rounds summits can be seen. The hills of Assynt are also visible each seen side on and arranged as if in a police line-up. I once again sat down to eat and top up on fluids in what was now the hottest part of the day. I was feeling noticeably more tired than I expected for only having done two Munros. The heat was really taking it out of me as well as having done almost half of the entire rounds ascent. I had been planning to camp near the summit of Seana Bhraigh, but now I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to push that far in the heat. The descent from Cona’ Meall was a very irritating scree slope that seemed to stretch on and on right down to the bealach with Beinn Dearg. The start of the famous wall running up the NE ridge of the mountain is at very inviting lochan that tempted me for a swim and only got rejected due to the ever present clegs. I didn’t fancy bare skin around those monsters.

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The climb up Beinn Dearg was fairly quick and the summit views were incredible and I was joined by only the third person of the day. A man who had the sense to leave his rucksack at the bottom and was planning to climb An Teallach the next again day.

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By now I had decided to camp after the fifth munro somewhere with a view over the Assynt hills that were now looking very stately on the horizon. Meall nan Ceapraichean made a very nice change from the previous three mountains as the climb is only 100m from base to summit.

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However the descent to the bottom of the climb up Eididh Nan Clach Geala was rough, steep and very loose. The climb up was by far the worst of the day as by now I was quite tired and the heat was sapping my strength. From the summit however I saw the perfect campsite and with new energy set off to fill my water up and set up camp.

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It was about 7 o’clock by the time the tent was us which meant I had been on the move for about 11 hours. I ate a cold tea of flatbreads and sausages and sat about to watch the sunset. The sky slowly turned red behind the Assynt hills and the sun was reflected down the length of Loch Broom. The soft light settled on Seana Bhraigh and the moon was rising behind the hills to the East.

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The next morning I awoke above the clouds and had packed and left camp by 05:30.

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The terrain on-route to the last munro was a mixture of bog, cliffs and crags that necessitated an annoying amount of zig-zagging that I’m sure more than doubled the actual distance. Nearing the summit I met only the third group of the day. Two people who had also been camping and were off to do Fisherfield the next day. The top was rather cold and I actually had to dig a fleece out my bag for the first time in 24 hours.

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The walk out from Seana Bhraigh was a truly awful experience. I seemed to be a never ending plateau of bog and long heather that I really couldn’t be dealing with. I practically jumped with joy when I reached the start of the path down into Gleann Beag. The bike was of course still there and I pedalled my way rather more slowly than the way in back towards Alladale and then round into Strath Carron. However about 500 yards before the start of the tarmack road at Glencalvie Lodge a particularly nasty gravel corner I stupidly took at 18 miles an hour sent my flying. This time I had much more badly sliced my knee, bruised all down my right leg and cut my elbow. I cursed my stupidity. Cursed the ruined walking trousers. Fixed a jammed front brake while being eaten by midges and cycled the last 11 miles home with mixed feelings of elation and stinging pain.
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Euan McIntosh
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Re: Bein Dearg 6. Sun, inversions, camping. Oh and crashes.

Postby Graeme D » Fri Aug 02, 2013 11:44 pm

:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

Superb! And very timely - I am hoping to get this circuit done next month with a wild camp. :thumbup:
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Graeme D
 
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Re: Bein Dearg 6. Sun, inversions, camping. Oh and crashes.

Postby rockhopper » Sat Aug 03, 2013 12:08 am

Cracking trip and stunning sunset/sunrise photos :thumbup: You have my sympathies re the crash....something I've done more than a few times :roll:

One of my favourite overnight routes so far though had different start and end points to you. It's certainly a lovely area with a real feeling of remoteness - cheers :)
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Re: Bein Dearg 6. Sun, inversions, camping. Oh and crashes.

Postby wilkiemurray » Sat Aug 03, 2013 8:55 am

Great report and amazing photos - the camp spot looked idyllic - not been up these hills for ages - might have to return soon now :)
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Re: Bein Dearg 6. Sun, inversions, camping. Oh and crashes.

Postby wilkiemurray » Sat Aug 03, 2013 8:57 am

PS - Hope you have recovered from your bike crash - know exactly how that feels - broke my arm coming offthie bike last year en route to a couple of tarf corbetts!!
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Re: Bein Dearg 6. Sun, inversions, camping. Oh and crashes.

Postby skuk007 » Sat Aug 03, 2013 9:18 am

Great report Euan.

Was a great read with some stunning photos to grace any wall/desktop.

Apart from the clegs and crashes it sounds perfect.
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skuk007
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Re: Bein Dearg 6. Sun, inversions, camping. Oh and crashes.

Postby kev_russ » Sun Aug 04, 2013 2:47 pm

Braw stuff :-)
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kev_russ
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Re: Bein Dearg 6. Sun, inversions, camping. Oh and crashes.

Postby mrssanta » Sun Aug 04, 2013 5:52 pm

oooh gorgeous. I hope your knee is healing - unfortunately trousers don't mend quite in the same way as bodies.
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mrssanta
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Re: Bein Dearg 6. Sun, inversions, camping. Oh and crashes.

Postby simon-b » Sun Aug 04, 2013 7:07 pm

An excellent round with great views, Euan. You'll soon put the crashes behind you, while the memories of those mountains will endure.
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simon-b
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Re: Bein Dearg 6. Sun, inversions, camping. Oh and crashes.

Postby Johnny Corbett » Sun Aug 04, 2013 8:05 pm

Good stuff thats a fair wee adventure and tough going in the heat. Great report and photos. :clap:
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Johnny Corbett
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Re: Bein Dearg 6. Sun, inversions, camping. Oh and crashes.

Postby Collaciotach » Sun Aug 04, 2013 9:13 pm

Glé mhath a bhalaich ..... a grand report and some cracking photgraph's

:clap: :clap:
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Re: Bein Dearg 6. Sun, inversions, camping. Oh and crashes.

Postby weaselmaster » Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:23 pm

Good report Euan and love the sunset pictures.
i did this round back in june without the views you got, so was nice to see how it can look.
Mind you I didn't get the clegs either :lol:
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weaselmaster
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