Beinn a' Bheithir and Gleann a' Chaolais

Date walked: 09/10/2010

I've just returned from an excellent long weekend in Glencoe where an excellent walk over the two Munros of Beinn a' Bheithir ended in infuriating fashion thanks to a lack of clear marking\signposting in Gleann a' Chaolais.

I've walked for many years and have never relied on signposting to get to any destination but this was a particularly troublesome descent that at times bordered on dangerous.

We descended north from the col and walked along what was the only obvious path descending towards the trees. On reaching the fence which borders the top of the forest (East-West direction) the path became less obvious but someone had kindly built what appeared to be stile from a couple of large boulders. Footprints and worn grass again pointed to this being the obvious route so we climbed over the fence and headed into the forest.

We soon came across a horribly steep peaty drop which appeared to fall towards a stream. Again, the odd footprint appeared to suggest this was a known route down, but the awful conditions underfoot, the threat of a fall into a ravine of unknown depth and concern over having to retrace our steps resulted in us backtracking into the forest and looking for the route marked on the OS map.

After a good search through very dense forest and steep ground we decided to check the GPS\map and discovered that we had been over the supposed marked OS route but every attempt to descend to the forest road was thwarted by steep slimy rocky drops with the sound of running water below. We gave up, scrambled back uphill until we reached the fence and followed this over atrocious ground until we reached a cleared area of forest. Another dreadful descent over tumbled trunks, logs, holes and branches followed until we eventually reached the forest road. After a short while we came across a signpost pointing the way off the road for anyone on the ascent but something similar needs to be provided to assist walkers on the descent.

Earlier in the day we commented on the lack of cairns\post pointing the way up Sgorr Ban's NE ridge where a narrow band of grass was the only clue to gain a decent start without reverting to stomping over knee deep heather.

In bad weather the confusion surrounding the descent into the forest could easily result in an accident as there appears to be no obvious route through the forest. We may have found the 'official' route by descending the first tricky step but many others, like ourselves, wouldn't take that risk and look elsewhere.

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Comments: 8


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Activity: Mountain Walker
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Mountain: An Teallach
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Camera: Olympus PEN-F
Ideal day out: Epic ridge walk.
Ambition: To walk into my 80s!

Munros: 40
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Long Distance routes: West Highland Way    Great Glen Way    Rob Roy Way   


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