Voyages of the Graham Bagger: Beinn Clachach

Grahams: Beinn Clachach

Date walked: 11/03/2018

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 14.2km

Ascent: 726m

Our spring climbing holidays turned out to be a week of fighting the elements. I had been looking forward to bagging some new Munros and Corbetts, but due to windy conditions we were restricted to Grahams and Subs. Not that I don't like lower hills. Sometimes they give you more joy than their higher counterparts, and many of them are located in places, where Munro baggers would never go. Of course, we could attempt Munros and spend hours either swimming in thick cloud or being battered by chilly gusts of what was left from the Beast from the East. But we preferred to pick more benign hills and actually enjoy the whole experience rather than suffer through it. Overall, we climbed 5 Grahams and 4 Sub'2 Marylins, walked 80km, ascended nearly 4500m. Not huge numbers, many of you might say, but in given circumstances we are more than happy with these stats, and we consider our time was well spent. There's nothing better to do on hols than exploring the great Scottish outdoors, even if wind gusts almost make you fly :D

Our campaign started on Sunday the 11th of March. weather was forecast to be good on the western coast so we headed for Arnisdale, hoping to climb one of the mouth-watering little Grahams in this area. We agreed that the lovely, long ridge of Druim Fhada was better left for a longer day (it looks a cracker with lots of rocks to scramble over!). It rained the day before and the ground was waterlogged from melting snow as well, so Beinn Clachach looked like a good target, considering it has a nice stalkers track up to 350m.
The idea was to use the track on the way up to the col between Beinn Clachach and Beinn nan Caorach, climb to the western top and then traverse to the true summit. Graham guides suggest descending south to Glen Arnisdale, but as the lower slopes on that side look very steep, we didn't fancy this route in wet conditions and opted for easier descent into Coire Luachrach, where we could pick the track again.
To make a longer day, it is possible to add the Corbett Beinn nan Caorach to the tally, but we had done this one before (in combination with Beinn na h-Eaglaise) so this time we could concentrate on the Graham only and take time to enjoy the views... Even if they were occasionally obscured by cloud.

Track_BEINN CLACHACH ARNISDALE 8-3-18.gpx Open map in GPS Planner  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Starting point is from the public car park in Corran, with superb vistas across Loch Hourn to the rough bounds of Knoydart:
Black Arrow admiring our target hill :lol:
From the amount of cloud still sitting on hill tops we guessed correctly, we were not in for a clear day, but what we could see was enough to make us gasp for breath :D
Beinn Sgritheall and Beinn na h-Eaglaise:
The track along River Arnisdale and Beinn Clachach - looking very inviting!
We crossed a grassy meadow to reach a metal footbridge over Allt Utha. The bridge is very corroded and should be crossed single-file or it may collapse into the river :lol:
Allt Utha and distant Beinn nan Caorach:
It was a very pleasant walk up the zig-zagging track. Most of the views were blocked by high mountains around, but we enjoyed vistas down to the glen and across Loch Hourn to parts of mighty Ladhar Bheinn ridge:
The steep gorge of Allt Utha divides three mountains and when surrounded by such high slopes, one feels dwarfed by the nature...
Friends from the hills 8)
It was surprisingly warm and quiet... Easy walking so far:
Ladhar Bheinn still covered in snow:
We stopped for a few minutes by Eas na Cuingid waterfall, it was not in total spate but still spectacular:
Panoramic snap of the waterfall and the two Corbetts in the background:
We followed the track for another 300m into the corrie but when it crossed the river, we decided to stay on the southern side and begin to slowly gain height. Slopes above us seemed very steep and we knew we had to be careful, especially on slushy snow patches higher up.
Judging the route to the first top:
Friends from the hills decided they had something important to do somewhere else and left the scene :wink:
The ridge leading to the western top is steep but mostly grassy, a bit slippery in wet conditions,slushy snow from 500m on:
As we were busy clambering over wet ground, the steep ridges behind us emerged from the cloud... or at least tried to emerge, resulting in fantastic "cuddling cloud" effect:
Black Panther and Beinn nan Caorach:
Panorama - the two Corbetts:
The summit of "our" Graham (right), Beinn nan Caorach (left) and some bits of the peaks in Glen Shiel in the middle:
Are you sure we don't need crampons for this? It's getting very steep!
We had crampons in our rucksacks, just in case, but managed all right on soft snow and grassy patches, soon to emerge on flatter ground around the lower summit... Views behind us were spectacular at the moment!
Aaah SGS peeking out from the clag :D
We were lucky this time. We caught a gap in the cloud as we climbed to the first top, it lased maybe 30 minutes and then the clag thickened again around higher peaks. Shame it never cleared fully, but what we got was enough to cause a few gasps of admiration and make me smile like... well, like a cat :D :D :D
The final walk to the lower top was rocky but no scrambling required:
A moment of meowing madness:
The summit of the western top is marked by a substantial cairn (much bigger than the pathetic pile of stones on the true summit :lol: ), a good spot to sit down and contemplate the beauty of surrounding landscape. We were alone on the mountain. No soul in sight. Patchy mist drifted around us but we still caught a decent portion of the views...
Down to Loch Hourn:
Beinn nan Caorach and the summit of Beinn Clachach - again:
SGS still visible at the moment:
Hills of Knoydart and part of Druim Fada ridge:
We sat on the western top for quite a long time and only when the cloud began to close in, we moved on to reach the summit. The traverse is easy over a wide, shallow bealach with less than 100m of reascent.
Come on, let's go! Druim Fada in the background:
When crossing the bealach, we came across a long peat hag filled with snow. Kevin crossed it without any problems, but I must have been still preoccupied with the "cuddling cloud" spectacle around me, because I stepped into a hole, lost my balance and... performed a clumsy somersault into the snow. Well, maybe not exactly a full somersault as the dictionary meaning of described maneuver is "an acrobatic movement in which a person turns head over heels in the air or on the ground and lands or finishes on their feet." I finished on my backside, but snow under me was soft so I didn't suffer any painful bruises. Kevin spent the next half hour making fun of me and suggesting that I should join the local circus as Somersaulting Panther. Ha ha ha.
Over countless little crags and rocky bumps, we reached the summit eventually. Lucy was disappointed - no views!
We sat and waited for some time, maybe the clag would thin, but no luck this time :(
Graham no. 87 (54 for wee Lucy):
To return to the track in the upper glen, we descended into Coire Luachrach, this way we avoided any steep slopes and the necessity to fiddle with crampons. The clag was only "hugging" the very summit of Beinn Clachach, so as soon as we returned to the high bealach, we were out of the milky mist and into the sun again!
Kevin was very sure of himself as he marched quickly down the slopes, but his attitude was soon punished. He slipped on a wet patch of snow and went flying. Thankfully, the slope wasn't steep so he just ended up sitting on his bum and complaining that his trousers were now soaked. It was my time to laugh :lol:
The descent route follows the little gully to the right hand side:
Frozen stream:
Once we reached the track again, it was all plain sailing.
Both tops of Beinn Clachach from the track:
We followed the track back down to Glen Arnisdale, with more stops for photos and sighs of admiration. Maybe it's not the most inventive way to climb this Graham but we really enjoyed it - and we hoped that the rest of the week would be just as good if not better...
Beinn na h-Eaglaise:
Sadly, our hopes were not fulfilled. From Wednesday on, weather went downhill. We had other, non-hillwalking duties on Monday, so our next Graham bagging day on Tuesday. At that moment, weather still held, just about, so we climbed two more G's. TR to come soon.

As for Beinn Clachach, It can be easily added to either Beinn nan Caorach or Druim Fada as a sidekick hill, but in my opinion, it's best climbed on its own at a lazy pace. Whichever route you take, be assured that this modest Graham will not disappoint you.

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Comments: 2

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Location: Beauly, Inverness-shire
Interests: Hillwalking, cycling, jogging, mushroom picking and many other outdoor activities, meowing on mountain summits included :P
Activity: Mountain Walker
Mountain: Beinn Eighe
Place: Isle of Skye
Gear: well... my husband ;)))
Camera: FujiFilm Finepix HS10
Ideal day out: Anything - from beach strolls to scrambling up icy slopes. Just bring it on!
Ambition: Tick off all Munros...

Munros: 217
Corbetts: 133
Grahams: 91
Sub 2000: 27
Long Distance routes: Dava Way    Moray Coastal Trail   

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