Phoineas Hill and that elusive trig point!

Route: Phoineas Hill, near Beauly

Date walked: 27/09/2020

Time taken: 2 hours

Distance: 5.26km

Ascent: 172m

How often have we thought about doing this walk local to us, but never quite got there? The first time we actually tried, there were timber operations in full swing, so we abandoned ship. Today however, for a short afternoon walk, we decided to give it a go. We followed the route recommended in Walk Highlands, and enjoyed pleasant weather with no wind, and high cloud. We were able to enjoy good views particularly where felling had taken place.

Phoineas Hill 1.jpg
Mast on Phoineas Hill

We reached the mast, which we thought would be our main target, and moved round the back to stand on the rocks and see the view. However, nature takes its course, and the views were obscured by young trees spreading their branches skyward. We consulted the map, and saw the trig point was yet some way. All reports from local friends indicated that it was tricky to reach the trig point due to the density of the trees, gorse and bracken. We had reached our goal, and the Walk Highlands notes return to the main route at this point. "I'm quite happy to go back now" said Chris, "I don't think I need to get to the trig point. It's the same height as this anyway". (Why do I fall for this line every time?). Then we spied a little track going NE from the mast.... "I'll just go and take a look to see where it goes" (Uh oh thinks me). I waited, and waited, then I saw his blue jacket way down in the dip below, working his way across the ground where a significant amount of trees had been felled. With resignation, I followed, GPS unit in hand. Chris is at his happiest exploring new terrain!

The area below had been felled, leaving not only an open access to the rest of the ridge, but giving excellent views over to Beauly, Muir of Ord and Ben Wyvis.
Phoineas Hill 3.jpg
Cleared area below the mast and view towards Ben Wyvis

Phoineas Hill 2.jpg

The trees beyond the felled area were not closely knit, and a faint path continued. "We just need to keep going up" I was encouraged to think. This took us through ferns and gorse, clambering over rocks, down a very steep moss covered rock embankment, over broken fence and wall, and eventually with the help of the GPS, to the trig point, hiding on a rocky knoll, behind a deal of gorse bushes. Customary photo taken, and now to find our way back.
Phoineas Hill 4.jpg
Phoineas Hill trig point 172m

Chris spotted a track going in a northerly direction - no, not today Josephine, I thought to myself! Of course retracing your steps when you know roughly where you are going makes it seem much shorter and closer, and we soon regained the mast and the onward/homeward track. All plain sailing now, I reassured myself, till we got to a section of the track where an old grassy track went off left. "Where does this go?" I pointed out the WH route back, but curiosity prevailed and I tagged along the grassy track. The map showed that this would take us to the upward route, and close to the car. There was a burn to cross though.... but a tree trunk had fallen across the burn just where the path was, and it's helpful upright branches provided a bannister to aid crossing.
Phoineas Hill 5.jpg
The tree-trunk bridge

A muddy section followed, but some time ago planks had been placed along this (now pretty slippery) section to aid progress, and shortly we emerged onto the upward forest road, only a hop, skip and jump to the entrance to the forest. And the moral of the story is - always take your map, compass, gps, water and chocolate bars, because you just never know where the exploring will take you!

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User avatar
Location: Inverness
Occupation: Chief cook, house manager and groundsman
Interests: Walking, cycling, being outdoors
Activity: Walker
Pub: TheCluanie Inn
Mountain: Ben Alligin
Place: Colonsay
Gear: Paramo
Member: Scottish Christian Hillwalking Club
Camera: Panasonic Lumix
Ideal day out: A high ridge walk

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Trips: 1
Distance: 5.26 km
Ascent: 172m


Trips: 1
Distance: 6.5 km
Ascent: 75m


Trips: 2
Distance: 14 km
Ascent: 466m


Trips: 2
Distance: 14 km
Ascent: 340m
Sub2000s: 1


Trips: 1
Corbetts: 1

Joined: Jun 22, 2013
Last visited: May 20, 2021
Total posts: 18 | Search posts