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Essan Bothy - A Legal Approach

Essan Bothy - A Legal Approach


Postby Sunset tripper » Thu Nov 28, 2019 12:04 am

Route description: Beinn Odhar Bheag and Beinn Mhic Cedidh

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Mhic Cedidh

Date walked: 10/11/2019

Time taken: 6.5 hours

Distance: 18 km

Ascent: 1000m

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Essan Bothy sits just a few hundred metres from the A830 and even closer to the west highland railway line. You would think that access to this bothy would be fairly easy but there are two major obstacles - Loch Eilt and the railway line. I have tried to find what would be a good walking route in, but the general consensus seemed to be to walk the line as everything else was a bit tough. For me the railway wasn't an option. After looking at the map and routes for the nearby corbett I came up with a plan and decided to give it a go. :roll:
Essan Bothy as seen from across the loch
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We decided to take in the corbett also and this is the route we took which went mostly to plan.

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A830 parking spot
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This route can be a wee bit boggy as we found out the next day but this morning the entire route was frozen and conditions were ideal.

Approaching Loch Eilt
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Under the railway
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The route all the way from the road up to the bealach follows a rough ATV track which crosses the Allt a'choire buidhe on a bridge not marked on the OS map.

Looking back
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Zoomed
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We dumped the gear and supplies for the bothy at the bealach and had a straightforward climb to the top in fantastic conditions.

Beinn Mhic Cedidh summit
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It was then a quick decent down to where we had left the gear from where we could see the bothy in the flat area to the left of the loch.
The descent to Essan bothy which is just visible left of centre
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We packed up and started off on what I thought would be an easy saunter down to the bothy. Wrong! - it all started off well but about halfway down I decide to cross the burn just above a waterfall. After that the terrain got worse and worse. Their were big unseen wet boggy holes between the tussocks, many falls were endured with heavy packs, progress was slow and I was starting to think the advice about it being too rough was maybe correct. I wasnt the most popular person on planet earth, but we made it across some of the most annoying terrain I've ever witnessed. In hindsight I was quite tired and it was fairly short lived.

Just to rub salt into the wounds at this point a network rail vehicle flew past along the railway line with ease. :twisted:

TAXI!!!
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There at last :D
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The bothy was brilliant, in good nick, a small amount of rubbish which we carried out along with our own. Surprisingly it had a 4G connection and we listened to some of the football. :crazy: I had a look through the bothy log book and not surprisingly most visitors come in via the loch. There were a couple of horror stories one in particular where a group had got hit by a flash flood while kayaking under the railway bridge - and to think we had laughed at the sign earlier, I had never seen such a warning in the scottish hills before. :shock:
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I like reading the bothy logs, on the odd occasion when I stay overnight, and some great entries in this book. A couple had swam across Loch Eilt to get there a few weeks beforehand.
The bothy maintenance guy had to fix the steps to the bunks one day because someone had chopped them off and burnt them - unbelievable! There was also word of a swedish netball team visiting the bothy. :shock:

We had brought in a few kilos of coal and soon had the bothy fire going. A few beers were had and I then cracked open a bottle of Talisker which I had received from WH - thanks Helen and Paul, not a drop was wasted. :D We stuck a few tunes on and a great night was had in the now warm bothy.
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The next day it was decided we had to find some better ground for the walk out. This was the route chosen and took 2 hours from bothy to car. It was still a bit rough on the initial climb but a far better choice than the day before.

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The way out
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After the day and night before it was a tough climb of around 240m but with great views back to the railway.
The 10:41 Lochailort - Glenfinnan Express passing Essan Bothy (not a request stop :( )
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After the climb it is pretty much all down hill back to the road.
The way home
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The east end of Loch Eilt
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The easy way in to Essan is by boat or maybe swimming if you're capable, but if walking in is what you are planning, this is a good route and a better, safer option than the railway for only about an hour longer walking ......... plus it's legal. :wink:
Last edited by Sunset tripper on Fri Feb 07, 2020 12:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Essan - A Legal Approach

Postby malky_c » Thu Nov 28, 2019 5:05 pm

Nice hill that, and a great bothy too :) . Without a canoe, it would have taken me ages to get around to staying there I think.
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Re: Essan - A Legal Approach

Postby Graeme D » Thu Nov 28, 2019 8:51 pm

A very interesting read and one I will certainly return to take a look at when Kev and I head to Essan and the two nearby Corbetts. I am wondering about the canoe option though. I wonder if I could manage to get one of the school/cooncil minibuses for a weekend and lob one of the school canoes in the back???? :crazy:
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Re: Essan - A Legal Approach

Postby Essan » Fri Nov 29, 2019 9:38 am

Good report and pleased to hear Essan was in good order.

I normally recommend walking in from Glenshian (Lochailort) via Creagan an t-Sagairt - as you discovered, the descent from the Sgurr na Paite col, if coming in from the east, is rather steep and tussocky and not all that easy, especially with a full pack.

There used to be a track along the south shore of Loch Eilt. But they built the railway on top of it!
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Re: Essan - A Legal Approach

Postby Sunset tripper » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:04 am

malky_c wrote:Nice hill that, and a great bothy too :) . Without a canoe, it would have taken me ages to get around to staying there I think.

Canoe is the best option especially for transporting fuel for the fire.

Graeme D wrote:A very interesting read and one I will certainly return to take a look at when Kev and I head to Essan and the two nearby Corbetts. I am wondering about the canoe option though. I wonder if I could manage to get one of the school/cooncil minibuses for a weekend and lob one of the school canoes in the back???? :crazy:

There is a small parking area directly across the loch from the bothy where you could launch a canoe from. I was thinking about a canoe but never got round to organising it. It's a great bothy - all the best with your trip. :D
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Re: Essan - A Legal Approach

Postby Sunset tripper » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:29 am

Essan wrote:Good report and pleased to hear Essan was in good order.

I normally recommend walking in from Glenshian (Lochailort) via Creagan an t-Sagairt - as you discovered, the descent from the Sgurr na Paite col, if coming in from the east, is rather steep and tussocky and not all that easy, especially with a full pack.

There used to be a track along the south shore of Loch Eilt. But they built the railway on top of it!


I had a look at the Lochailort option. I went for the approach from the east because it was a lot shorter plus a good route for the hill also. The route we took on the way out was pretty good, not too steep or too rough, just normal Corbett terrain a bit rough and pathless but with fantastic views. It only took 2 hours from bothy to car and many people would manage it quicker I'm sure. The only obstacle is the burn at the start beside the road which could be difficult if in spate.
If it is not possible to cross here all is not lost. You can cross the railway line by walking over the top of the 2nd tunnel (the most western one) and also using the railway crossing and bridge at the access point above the muidhe.

It's a great area and a great wee bothy - all the best. :D
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