Essan Bothy - A Legal Approach

Route: Beinn Odhar Bheag and Beinn Mhic Cedidh

Corbetts: Beinn Mhic Cedidh

Date walked: 10/11/2019

Time taken: 6.5 hours

Distance: 18km

Ascent: 1000m

Essan Bothy sits just a few hundred metres from the A830 and even closer to the west highland railway line. You would think that access to this bothy would be fairly easy but there are two major obstacles - Loch Eilt and the railway line. I have tried to find what would be a good walking route in, but the general consensus seemed to be to walk the line as everything else was a bit tough. For me the railway wasn't an option. After looking at the map and routes for the nearby corbett I came up with a plan and decided to give it a go. :roll:
Essan Bothy as seen from across the loch

We decided to take in the corbett also and this is the route we took which went mostly to plan.

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A830 parking spot

This route can be a wee bit boggy as we found out the next day but this morning the entire route was frozen and conditions were ideal.

Approaching Loch Eilt

Under the railway

The route all the way from the road up to the bealach follows a rough ATV track which crosses the Allt a'choire buidhe on a bridge not marked on the OS map.

Looking back


We dumped the gear and supplies for the bothy at the bealach and had a straightforward climb to the top in fantastic conditions.

Beinn Mhic Cedidh summit

It was then a quick decent down to where we had left the gear from where we could see the bothy in the flat area to the left of the loch.
The descent to Essan bothy which is just visible left of centre

We packed up and started off on what I thought would be an easy saunter down to the bothy. Wrong! - it all started off well but about halfway down I decide to cross the burn just above a waterfall. After that the terrain got worse and worse. Their were big unseen wet boggy holes between the tussocks, many falls were endured with heavy packs, progress was slow and I was starting to think the advice about it being too rough was maybe correct. I wasnt the most popular person on planet earth, but we made it across some of the most annoying terrain I've ever witnessed. In hindsight I was quite tired and it was fairly short lived.

Just to rub salt into the wounds at this point a network rail vehicle flew past along the railway line with ease. :twisted:


There at last :D

The bothy was brilliant, in good nick, a small amount of rubbish which we carried out along with our own. Surprisingly it had a 4G connection and we listened to some of the football. :crazy: I had a look through the bothy log book and not surprisingly most visitors come in via the loch. There were a couple of horror stories one in particular where a group had got hit by a flash flood while kayaking under the railway bridge - and to think we had laughed at the sign earlier, I had never seen such a warning in the scottish hills before. :shock:

I like reading the bothy logs, on the odd occasion when I stay overnight, and some great entries in this book. A couple had swam across Loch Eilt to get there a few weeks beforehand.
The bothy maintenance guy had to fix the steps to the bunks one day because someone had chopped them off and burnt them - unbelievable! There was also word of a swedish netball team visiting the bothy. :shock:

We had brought in a few kilos of coal and soon had the bothy fire going. A few beers were had and I then cracked open a bottle of Talisker which I had received from WH - thanks Helen and Paul, not a drop was wasted. :D We stuck a few tunes on and a great night was had in the now warm bothy.

The next day it was decided we had to find some better ground for the walk out. This was the route chosen and took 2 hours from bothy to car. It was still a bit rough on the initial climb but a far better choice than the day before.

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The way out

After the day and night before it was a tough climb of around 240m but with great views back to the railway.
The 10:41 Lochailort - Glenfinnan Express passing Essan Bothy (not a request stop :( )

After the climb it is pretty much all down hill back to the road.
The way home

The east end of Loch Eilt

The easy way in to Essan is by boat or maybe swimming if you're capable, but if walking in is what you are planning, this is a good route and a better, safer option than the railway for only about an hour longer walking ......... plus it's legal. :wink:

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Sunset tripper

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