A remote Corbett the easy way

Route: Ben Aden, by Loch Quoich

Corbetts: Ben Aden

Date walked: 12/06/2018

Time taken: 11 hours

Distance: 28km

Ascent: 700m

Aha! I've just spotted that photos don't need resizing before they are uploaded to the Walkhighlands website. I wrote this just after my big adventure a year and a half ago, but could not upload the photos, so my report never made it onto Walkhighlands. So here's trying again......…

It was with a slight sense of trepidation that I drove along Glen Garry to Loch Quoich. I am bagging Corbetts. Only 16 to go. Ben Aden has eluded me; four years ago I walked from Camusrory to within a kilometre of its summit, but that was on the only wet day of the week: to return in time to the boat which had dropped us off, there was no way we could reach the summit in swirling mist and rain. This time as I looked along Loch Quoich, the weather was set fair. There was cloud on the surrounding summits, but the most important thing was that the wind was light, and the forecast, for today at least, was good.

At the appointed spot, near the bridge over the Loch where Glen Quoich was flooded when the reservoir was built, I meet my guide for the day. I’ve never used a guide before, even on the ‘In Pin’, where I was helped by a group of friends, but the chance of paddling rather than walking in to the mountain made the impossible feasible. Last year I was diagnosed with Morton’s Neuroma, a painful foot condition. The use of inserts in my boots, and exercises, has improved my foot, but a long walk in and out along Loch Quoich is not something on which I wanted to test it. My guide Will Copestake is friendly, knowledgeable and young. We hear a noise, ‘snipe’ he says, ‘and there were red throated divers on the loch a little earlier’. Will says he has only done Ben Aden once, on a continuous winter round of Corbetts. But he has a canoe, fits me up with a spray proof jacket and a buoyancy aid, pulls the canoe down to the loch shore, and we’re off.
My first view of the canoe

Still a long way to go (photo: Will Copestake)

I paddle with my left hand, the right pushing down on the top of the paddle. I’ve never been in a canoe before. We’re moving, a slight head wind. I gaze up at Gairich, and remember climbing up it one February, wondering how I would get down again. ‘Put your crampons on’, one of my companions had said. Ah yes, of course. We paddle close to the northern shore and I think how tiring it would have been to walk all the way along there, and back again. We see birds – divers in the distance, gulls, ducks and redshanks. My arms are getting very tired, I rest occasionally, but Will’s strong arms pull us forward.

We stop off to stretch our legs and we’re already over half way to the western end of the loch. There is little wind here, we are surrounded by high mountains. The cloud on Ben Aden has lifted. I see the stalker’s path beside the loch, which looks a lot easier than the rough shore of the reservoir. We head to the mouth of a stream to the left of the two dams, Will pulls the canoe in, and I step ashore dryshod.

Upturned canoe, now for the walk

Canoe pulled up beside the ruins of an ancient, usually submerged croft, we set off. We head on a stalker’s path beside the Allt Corrie nan Gaill, then leave it to pass through a bog. ‘There should be a stalker’s path heading to Lochan nam Breac’ says Will. Then we spot it, high on the hillock we had bypassed, and not located exactly as it is shown on the map. We use the path for a short while, then head up the steep grassy slopes and into Coire ne Chruiache. We stop for our first lunch, on well positioned rocks, before again ascending on grass. Will points out a four spot dragonfly, and tells me the difference between a butterfly orchid and a common orchid.
The ascent route does not look too steep


Will points out the way

Higher up the landscape resembles the slopes below Ben Narnain, with huge rocks which we can bypass easily. The ground is dry, the rocks grippy. Higher and higher we go, at times steeply, but nothing like the steep grass of the first part of the ascent of Aonach Buidhe I was on last week on a cycle trip to Iron Lodge. Will picks a good route, and sets a pace which is just right for me. I can talk, and have time to look around, but we progress steadily upwards, admiring the flowers and rocks as we go. The ground steepens, a pull up, and we are on the ridge. I look down into the glen I walked up four years before, remote and surrounded by steep slopes. So glad that my previous experience of Ben Aden was not the only one I ever had – last time, we saw nothing. This time, now, even Sgurr na Ciche is clear of mist. We take a rising traverse, with the summit ridge on our left, and suddenly we are there.
We gain the ridge

Summit in sight

Loch Quoich. Did we really paddle all the way along there?

Summit cairn (photo: Will Copestake)

A cairn. Some rocks to sit on. Obligatory photos. Lunch. It’s cool, quite breezy, so we don fleeces. Views all around, but the only sun shining on the landscape is way eastwards, over the far end of Loch Quoich. Never mind, we have views, it’s not raining. Today is the last day of the heatwave/dry spell which the highlands enjoyed during most of May and well into June, so I am so lucky we did not choose tomorrow for our expedition. Meall Bhuidhe and Luinne Bheinn dominate to the west, a good view of the glen around Carnoch, and Loch Nevis. Sgurr na Ciche even today is dark and forbidding; imagine that some of my friends chose a wet cloudy day to go out to Ben Aden over Sgurr na Ciche -and back again- to a bothy where, to their disgust, an inconsiderate party took place all night.
Sgurr na Ciche

Loch Nevis

Will has a bite to eat

Will suggests we ascend the knobbles which are so prominent in views from the summit down to Loch Quoich. This is easy, I'm glad our legs are relatively fresh, and we are not in a hurry to descend. We stop again a little further on, this time Will hands me his camera; ‘press the button twice ‘ he commands, and bounds off to the skyline above a huge flake of rock. The result is stunning.
Will on that flake of rock (photo: Will Copestake)

I'm a happy bunny (photo: Will Copestake)

We descend using our upward route but avoiding the steepest slopes at the bottom. The burn is easy to cross, it could be tricky in bad weather, but ‘Walkhighlands’ states that when the Abhainn Chossaidh is full it would be impossible to even reach the base of the hill.

Once in the glen we admire the cotton grass which reminds me of the moorlands above Ilkley where I cut my walking teeth. We find the stalkers path and ascend for the final time, over the southern slopes of the hillock – the bit we missed on our way to the hill. I pick up a 5 point fallen antler, noticed shortly after we left the canoe earlier, and a few minutes later we are heading back eastwards on the glassy water. It is hard to turn my neck round enough to see a receding Ben Aden, but after a while we pull into the land and have the chance to rest and take some photos of the canoe.
2 in the canoe (photo: Will Copestake)

Looking westwards along Loch Quoich (photo: Will Copestake)

The final pull along the loch seems a long stretch, but it is aided by a following breeze. I rest perhaps more than I should, but when I say my left arm is aching Will suggests I swap paddling sides. I continue with renewed vigour, admiring the sunlit southern slopes of the South Cluanie Ridge and remembering my long day on that route. Soon our cars come into view and Will spots an easy place to land and pull the canoe up to the road.

Will picks up three empty beer bottles out of the water . ‘I hate litter’ he says, and he subsequently does a litter pick on the slopes between the loch and the car. (However he does not take the tupperware container, which he had thought would come in handy – it’s full of dead fish, and would stink the car out if he took it). We pull the canoe up the slope – and when I say ‘we’, I mean Will, with only a little help from me. We sort ourselves out, the midges are here now, but then the wind gets up and blows them away. Will has given me advice on my remaining Corbetts, and for a proposed holiday to New Zealand. And he has shared his knowledge and enthusiasm for the outdoors in a fantastic way. Our adventure took 11 hours, half on foot and half in the canoe. We say our farewells, and I enjoy my drive eastwards, stopping frequently to admire Loch Quoich and the now distant summits, mentally saying farewell to the silhouette of Ben Aden. And now only 15 to go.
Final view of Loch Quoich, now all bathed in sunlight

Click to mark this as a great report. Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Comments: 2

One bike between two

Attachment(s) Corbetts: Aonach Buidhe
Date walked: 06/06/2018
Distance: 33km
Ascent: 965m
Views: 373


Activity: Mountain Walker
Mountain: Suilven
Gear: Paramo trowser
Member: Perth Hillwalking Club
John Muir Trust
Ideal day out: Anything

Munros: 282
Corbetts: 222
Grahams: 76
Donalds: 9
Sub 2000: 17
Islands: 30

Filter reports



Trips: 2
Distance: 61 km
Ascent: 1665m
Corbetts: 2

Joined: Sep 14, 2017
Last visited: Jul 01, 2020
Total posts: 2 | Search posts