Simply having wonderful Christmas time!

Route: Beinn a' Chearcaill, from Loch Maree

Grahams: Beinn a' Chearcaill

Date walked: 28/12/2021

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 13.6km

Ascent: 714m

28th December 2021. Today was the last opportunity to visit the hills before the New Year 2022 would arrive, hopefully bringing proper winter and good snow conditions. Or so we had hoped (how wrong we had been!!!).

We picked one of our favourite Grahams, Beinn a' Chearcaill. This shy hill on the edge of Torridon is rarely visited by hillwalkers. Most visitors simply overlook it, impressed by the neighbouring Beinn Eighe, Liathach and Slioch. We have a habit of climbing Beinn a' Chearcaill in December. It's a good Christmas hill with fantastic views in all directions, especially to the famous SW cliffs of Slioch, also the summit of the Graham gives an unusual view into Corrie Mhic Fhearchair of Beinn Eighe.

During one of our previous visits we included the top of Creag na Feaol, but today it was the easiest approach up and down the old stalker's path in Glen Grudie:

Track_BEINN A CHEARCAILL 13.6KM.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

We arrived in Torridon with the first light and were witnesses to the spectacular morning sky over Beinn Eighe:
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 004.JPG

The morning sun on Slioch:
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 009.JPG

There is a good layby just north of the start of Glen Grudie path. One car was already parked there when we arrived, but we never saw a soul all day. Usually, if you climb a mountain in Torridon (even in winter) on a decent day, you're bound to meet fellow walkers; we were surprised to have Beinn a' Chearcaill all to ourselves!
Looking back down the path to the starting point and across Loch Maree:
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 010.JPG

I simply couldn't take my eyes of Slioch, it's the same every time we go up Beinn a' Chearcaill, the bigger brother is staring us in the face!
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 026.JPG

The main path up Glen Grudie is excellent. It is possible to climb straight up A'Choineach Beag (another lower top) but we preferred the easier option.
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 028.JPG
Into Glen Grudie, Creag na Feaol in front of us, with Ruadh Stac Mor further in the distance

After about 2km we located a small cairn marking the start of another path, this one climbing gently into Coire Briste. On warmer days, this path can be very boggy but today it was an ice rink and we ended up climbing on the vegetation alongside it for most of the time:
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 046.JPG

Frozen streams:
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 056.JPG

I'm afraid this TR will end up overloaded with photos of Slioch... Here it is, with more distant Mullach Corrie Mhic Fhearchair to the left:
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 054.JPG

The path climbs out of the corrie and disappears just past a small tear-shaped lochan at about 500m. From this point we still had over 200m of ascent over pathless, rocky terrain, but the angle was mostly gentle. Some snow and more ice covered the rocks and we agreed that on the way down we'd better use the spikes, but for now on it was fun and games Panther style:
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 090.JPG

The best views were of course to the north, to Slioch and the Fisherfields...
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 069.JPG

...but also to the more distant Fannichs:
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 076.JPG

A wider pano with the tear-shaped lochan in the foreground:
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 082.JPG

We walked past a second lochan and clambered up the steeper, icy section above it to the summit plateau, where at last we found ourselves out of the shadows and basking in December sun:
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 101.JPG

We were still about 80m below the summit proper but we have now entered the weird world of rolling stones:
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 109.JPG

Beinn a' Chearcaill is well known for this strange feature: many flat rocky "fields" with odd stones scattered around:
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 111.JPG
Meall a'Ghiubhias in the background

After the final, short ascent to the main summit area, we found ourselves balancing on thin yet very slippery layer of ice on the main "field":
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 124.JPG
Can you see the summit cairn?

Meall a' Ghiuthais and Slioch from the summit:
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 137.JPG

Beinn Dearg and Beinn Alligin, looking like one long mountain ridge:
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 141.JPG

The Strathconon Corbetts:
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 149.JPG

The sun was right behind Liathach and very low, so taking a good snap in that direction was a struggle. This is the best we managed:
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 241.JPG
Liathach from Beinn a' Chearcaill

Beinn Airigh Charr and the island on Loch Maree:
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 155.JPG

We "skated" on the icy surface to the summit cairn, where we had a long break. There was virtually no wind and despite the frost, we didn't feel cold.
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 164.JPG
Lucy on the summit

Corrie Mhic Fhearchair and the Triple Buttress:
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 263.JPG

Zoom to the buttresses:
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 265.JPG

The last summit photo of 2021 - not a bad year after all. Nearly 1300 km walked, with the ascent of 52000 m, 66 listed hills (24 new) and, last but not least, 18 plane crash sites. When we started climbing together, we concentrated on bagging as much new stuff as possible, today it is more about enjoying the day, finding a new route up a well known hill, combining different tops. Looking for the crash sites allows us to visit spots we would never see otherwise, often explore the unknown sides of popular mountains. We no longer set ourselves a target - whatever will be, will be. Life's too short to be afraid.
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 196.JPG
Farewell to 2021

Of course, I wouldn't be myself if I didn't finish the summit break with something more... unusual :lol: :lol: :lol:
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 179.JPG
Simply having wonderful Christmas time!

Looking south from the summit cairn:
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 194.JPG

To make the descent easier, we put crampons on and marched down the same way:
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 268.JPG

In Coire Briste, we ditched the icy path and took a line down alongside the stream (Allt a'Choire Bhriste), taking the advantage to photograph the frozen waterfalls:
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 213.JPG

The afternoon light on Slioch, as taken by Kevin:
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 232.JPG

He hasn't said his last words yet. He'll be back to Torridon for more photos :wink:
2021-12-28 beinn a chearcaill 275.JPG

We finished 2021 on a high. Sadly, the New Year didn't start as well as we'd hoped. We both came down with an annoying cold. We did several COVID tests each and all came down negative, so it obviously wasn't the nasty virus, just an ordinary common a-choo, which we both defeated easily in a few days. Weather didn't play ball either and as a result, our score so far in 2022 is 3 Sub2000ers. Well, better 3 Subs than nothing and the year is only beginning! I will post my TRs from these three short local outings next week.

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Comments: 1

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User avatar
Location: Beauly, Inverness-shire
Interests: Hillwalking, cycling, jogging, mushroom picking, aircraft investigations 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: 260
Corbetts: 172
Grahams: 123
Sub 2000: 61
Long Distance routes: Dava Way    Moray Coastal Trail   

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