Munros: A' Mhaighdean, Beinn Tarsuinn, Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair, Ruadh Stac Mòr, Sgùrr Bàn
Corbetts: Beinn a' Chlaidheimh
Date walked: 29/08/2020
Time taken: 15 hours
I awoke to rain pattering down gently on my tent and snuggled back into my sleeping bag. Just a few more minutes. Besides, I was still contemplating my options – break the round into 2 days with a bivvy half way, or go light and storm round in a one-er. Memory still fresh of the heavy pack from doing the Beinn Dearg Round with camping gear the day before, I decided I would enjoy the walk much more if I wasn’t loaded down. I peeked out of the tent… What I could see of Beinn a’ Chlaidheimh was clear – yay, time to get up! Actually, well past time if I was going to nail this in a single day.
With the midges gently encouraging me not to linger over breakfast, I set off down the track until I reached the river crossing. Happily the river was low and not too cold so I easily shuffled across in bare feet. Starting up the slope, I noticed that the clag had come zooming in while I was preoccupied with my river crossing. Soon a light mist turned into persistent drizzle. I thoroughly underestimated how gruelling the pathless ascent of Beinn a’ Chlaidheimh would be… or maybe just how tired my legs would be from yesterday’s efforts. The rain and the relentless trudge up the slopes, plus the discovery that my boots were no longer waterproof, made for a miserable slog and it was with sheer relief that I finally found a path just shy of the ridge. Nearly three hours in and I hadn’t even reached the summit of the first hill yet… not a good sign!
On the ridge I found a wee spot to hunker down and have a reviving cup of tea and contemplate my options. I really didn’t want to do these epic mountains in poor conditions, but I also didn’t want to go down after all that effort of getting up here. In spite of the lack of views, I enjoyed the ridge to the summit, but was already formulating a plan to bail out. I made a deal with myself. Continue on to Sgurr Ban. If the clag dissipated by the time I reached the summit, I would carry on. If not, I would descend via the slabs and walk back through the glen to the tent (and sulk for the rest of the day).
Pressing on, the weather showed little sign of improving. There was the odd tantalising glimpse as I dropped lower out of the cloud.
I stopped to commiserate the bad weather with another walker, coming the other way. 10 minutes later, I had reached the plateau of Sgurr Ban... damn it the mist is still here! Fine, where is the summit… lets go stand on it and be on our way down. But then, just as I reached the summit, the cloud lifted! Hurray, a sign! Now it was breaking up and starting to dissipate… looks like I’ll be doing the walk after all.
Of course, now that the cloud has lifted I can see the viscous looking ascent to the top of Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair. At least there is a path.
After another tea break before starting up, I discovered that the ascent was actually not that bad. Excellent, 2 munros, and a Corbett down. 3 more to go. From here the view of Beinn Tarsuinn is impressive.
On the way down, I look at Meall Garbh and the bypass path cutting across its flanks. It feels more aesthetically pleasing to go over the top, but my legs were tired and I was not making good time, so it was only with a tiny amount of guilt that I took the path. This turned out to be a very sensible decision because starting up the slopes of Beinn Tarsuinn, I noticed the fatigue in my legs really start to set in. I made slow progress up the slope, stopping every few steps to lean on my sticks and “admire the view”.
Eventually I made it to the top. By now the cloud had completed cleared and the views were truly fantastic. Almost makes that slog up Beinn a’ Chlaidheimh worthwhile! Almost.
At this point I caught up with another couple of walkers who were planning to bivvy overnight at the bealach before A’Maighdean. We continued on together for a bit and despite weary legs, the lure of a scramble over the pinnacles was too tempting … nothing too tricky, but enjoyable and it added some interest.
Leaving the campers behind, I bounded gleefully down the easy slope and, since my feet were already wet, romped across the soggy bealach to the other side.
A final cup of tea and some food and I started up the slope I had studiously avoided looking at on the way down Beinn Tarsuinn. Walkhighlands describes the ascent of A’Maighdean as “a very long grind” and a “real effort for tired legs”. Boy, they weren’t joking. But they were also right about the reward – an utterly jaw dropping, stunning view from the summit. The mountain falls away and you are left with miles of airy space and dramatic scenery all around. Truly an impressive view, that comes out of nowhere. Now THIS was worth the ascent of Beinn a’ Chlaidheimh!
After taking approximately 32,462,1001 photos and drinking in the views to the max, I reluctantly continued onwards, aware that it was now 6.15pm and I was at the furthest point away from my camp. About 3 hours left of light… that should be doable, right? Only 1 more top to go after all. The ascent to Ruadh Stac Mor was easier going than expected and I even found more opportunities for a wee scramble.
Another stunning view from the summit, particularly of An Teallach, which was looking fine in the evening sunshine.
By now the time was around 7pm and I was truly exhausted. At least it should be downhill all the way to the track and then easy going back to the tent.
On the way down I took the opportunity for a dunk in the stream, which instantly revived me, but had I realised how much more I still had to go, I probably would have just got on with it. The descent down to the floor of the glen was fairly easy going but took a lot longer than expected. I really underestimated the scale of the area!
It was already dusk by the time I reached the floor of the glen and I pressed on at speed, trying to delay switching on the torch for as long as possible. Eventually though, it had to go on, and this was when things started getting really tedious. The path seemed never-ending and I felt a large stab of jealousy for the folk at the cottages laughing and drinking beer around a fire.
Trying to dodge deep bog in the darkness on the direct path back to Shenavall seemed like a recipe for disaster so I opted to continue along the river to the junction of the two rivers and cross there. Unfortunately, this is when the track started to deteriorate and it seemed to take an age to reach the river junction. Looking across the river for the best crossing, my torch light illuminated a set of glowing eyes and I just about died of fright! Cows! That’s just great. Mindful of the sign on the path to Shenavall warning of the bull and calves and remembering a previous bad encounter, I fretted for a bit over what to do. Should I turn back and cross elsewhere? No, stuff it, I’m tired, I’m crossing here and I’ll deal with the cows when I’m across. The stones of the river were slippery underfoot and painful. Quickly shoving my boots on and casting my light about I could see that there were now several sets of eyes watching me with interest. But so far, none were approaching. I carefully skirted alongside the river until I was past and then struck out away from the river for the track.
An hour or so later, I was starting to think I should have just taken the direct route to Shenavall and taken my chances with the bog, because here I was, after a large detour, painfully picking my way through a bog anyway. Finally, finally I made it to the track and ploughed on towards Shenavall. I lost track of the number of times a bird startled up in a flurry of wings from the grass beneath my feet, taking at least a year off my life. Eventually I reached Shenavall, to be met with even more glowing eyes. This time, I realised that they were deer. That’s ok then. While I have a healthy respect for any wild animal, I’m definitely less wary of deer than cows, and these deer seemed unperturbed by my presence. I started to feel silly... were the last set of eyes actually cows, or were they deer?
It was now that I remembered that I wasn’t actually trying to get to Shenavall. My tent was a bit further on. I checked the GPS. 2 more miles! My heart sank. Marching on, the walk seemed interminable. At least the track was relatively good and I’ve never reached my tent with as much relief as I did that night. All in all, the walk took 15 hours and 40 minutes. Was it worth it? Absolutely.
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Date walked: 26/08/2017
1, 2, 3 Ruadh-stac Mòr (Beinn Eighe), Spidean Coire nan Clach (Beinn Eighe)
Date walked: 15/09/2011
- Pub: Clacaigh Inn
- Mountain: Bidean nam Bian
- Place: Glencoe
- Gear: My Scarpa boots
- Member: John Muir Trust
- Munros: 153
- Corbetts: 27
- Grahams: 6
- Long Distance routes: West Highland Way
- Filter reports
- Trips: 1
- Distance: 33.86 km
- Ascent: 2126m
- Munros: 5
- Corbetts: 1
- Trips: 1
- Distance: 21.5 km
- Corbetts: 2
- Grahams: 1
- Trips: 1
- Distance: 18.5 km
- Munros: 2
- Joined: Jun 25, 2009
- Last visited: Jul 24, 2021
- Total posts: 23 | Search posts