Winter kicks off in style on Beinn Dearg

Munros: Beinn Dearg (Ullapool), Cona' Mheall

Date walked: 19/01/2019

Time taken: 9 hours

Distance: 24km

Ascent: 1430m

Munros: Beinn Dearg, Cona Mheall
Date: 19/01/2019.
Distance: 24 km.
Ascent: 1430m.
Time taken: 9 hours.
Weather: Sunny, calm, deep, fresh snow.

I didn't have any great plans for this weekend until David (Rounsfell) got in touch suggesting the Beinn Dearg group. Weather forecast didn't look too bad, so why not? We got off to a bit of a late start due to Rounsfell struggling to find my house (partly my fault admittedly :roll: ) - it was getting on for 9:30am by the time we left the car at Inverlael.

We weren't overly concerned - we could shorten the walk if required. More importantly, the weather looked even better than the tentatively optimistic forecast 8)

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Beinn Mhor Coigach

Beinn Dearg from Gleann na Sguaib

After strolling up forestry tracks through the Inverlael plantation, we decided to get straight on the ridge that would lead us to Beinn Dearg via the Famine Wall - the better to appreciate the more open views from.

Crossing the river...could be dodgy

The initial scrabble out of the glen was a bit of a wade through fresh snow and deep heather, but the going improved as the ground levelled out....the views to An Teallach quickly opened up too, fully justifying our route choice :D .

An Teallach

Diollaid a' Mhill Bhric

It was quite a long walk to reach the end of the wall (never mind Beinn Dearg itself) and after a short spell of easier going, we hit all sorts of fun. The snow was largely unconsolidated, but was beginning to form a slightly harder crust in a couple of places. Along with a few small drifts in more exposed places, it made for slower going as every step was different. This only got worse as we reached the wall and more bouldery terrain, but it couldn't dampen our spirits on such a great day.

Beinn Dearg Mor and An Teallach

Beinn Ghobhlach and Loch Broom

An Teallach

Beinn Enaglair

Meall na Ceapraichean and Beinn Dearg

An Teallach

Fisherfield hills

Eididh nan Clach Geala

Beinn Dearg and the wall


Meall na Ceapraichean

Following the wall

The worst section was the final main pull up to Beinn Dearg, which would probably have been quite rough going even without the snow. We realised at this point that there was no way we were getting around to Eididh nan Clach Geala, and even a second summit may be out of reach.

Small pinnacle on the way up

On the ridge next to the Famine Wall


It was worth the effort though, with plenty of Scotland's finest on show, including most of the places I had been over the New Year (Loch a' Bhraoin, Fisherfield, Achiltibuie, Suilven). The final ascent over the plateau was much easier going, and we had a decent break on top - after 20 minutes I realised I was still just in my t-shirt!

Beinn Eneglair with a smorgasboard of peaks behind

Finally getting close to the summit

Looking across to Meall na Ceapraichean from Beinn Dearg

Inverpollaidh hills

Loch a' Bhraoin from Beinn Dearg

Cona Mheall and the hills of the Kildermorie forest

Time to drop down to Bealach an Lochain Uaine, which was the slowest and most painful part of the day. Soft snow covered all manner of holes and angular blocks. Much more difficult than normal in these conditions, but completely unsuited to axe and crampons too. Many swear words were uttered over the next 30 minutes, with Rounsfell's key quote being 'you can't be at one with a mountain unless you have told it to **** off a few times' :lol: .

Down Coire Mhathair Lathail

Cona Mheall

Down Coire a' Ghranda

Once at the bealach, we were unsure whether to continue even to Cona Mheall - it was now after 2:30pm and there was potentially more crap snow to come on the way down the glen. In the end, we opted to go a little further just for the views down Coire Ghranda.

Frozen lochan

Lochan Choire Ghranda

This rapidly morphed into 'lets ditch our bags and make a dash for Cona Mheall after all!' We did, and there was some more skittering about on angular boulders (as well as a big, steep snowdrift to descend to the lowest point of the bealach - can't say we were looking forward to that on the return leg :roll: ) but it was nowhere near as bad as the descent from Beinn Dearg, and we were on the summit in the late afternoon light, glad we had bothered. A swift return to the bags followed (apart from the snowslope re-ascent), before we spent about 0.2 seconds contemplating the quick addition of Meall nan Ceapraichean (******** to that!)

Run, it's going to get dark!

Loch Prille from Cona Mheall

SE ridge of Cona Mheall

Fannaichs from Cona Mheall

Beinn Dearg

Assynt above the cloud

Seana Bhraigh and Ben More Assynt

Assynt was looking particularly fine floating above a sea of cloud as we rounded the various frozen lochans in search of the top of the path down the corrie.

An Teallach

Lochan Uaine

An Teallach from the top of the corrie

The path was well obliterated by drifts high up, so we weren't able to make any decent speed until much further down. However I've never been in the top of this corrie before, and despite the awkward underfoot conditions, it was the place to be at this time of day. The sun was setting over An Teallach and the sea to the west, and a short while later on, the moon re-appeared, rising above Meall nan Ceapraichean behind us.

Descending Coire Mhathair Leathail

N face of Beinn Dearg

Lochan Lathail

Looking back to Beinn Dearg

Meall na Ceapraichean and Beinn Dearg

We were a good way down the glen before it got particularly dark, with torches only being needed to avoid some of the ice on the last half-mile or so to the forest edge. Then it was a quick tramp back down to the car, ending what could potentially end up being one of the best hill days of this winter 8)

Moon up

Cheers to Rounsfell for suggesting this. If I'd been heading out on my own, I would probably have opted for a longer lie in bed and somewhere slightly closer to home, which wouldn't have been half as much fun!

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Trips: 4
Distance: 109 km
Ascent: 5775m
Munros: 3
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Distance: 1529 km
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Munros: 20
Corbetts: 29
Grahams: 21
Donalds: 28
Sub2000s: 41
Hewitts: 51
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Ascent: 54765m
Munros: 27
Corbetts: 11
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Sub2000s: 36
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Ascent: 59985m
Munros: 18
Corbetts: 20
Grahams: 20
Donalds: 4
Sub2000s: 33


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Grahams: 35
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Corbetts: 23
Grahams: 43
Donalds: 33
Sub2000s: 23


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Munros: 9
Corbetts: 23
Grahams: 36
Sub2000s: 26


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Ascent: 64050m
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Grahams: 16
Sub2000s: 19
Hewitts: 96
Wainwrights 16


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Corbetts: 21
Grahams: 31
Sub2000s: 11
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Grahams: 32
Sub2000s: 10
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Corbetts: 35
Grahams: 14
Sub2000s: 5
Hewitts: 1


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Munros: 15
Corbetts: 22
Grahams: 18
Donalds: 3
Sub2000s: 6


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Ascent: 30550m
Munros: 22
Corbetts: 19
Grahams: 7
Donalds: 3
Sub2000s: 4


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Ascent: 32785m
Munros: 39
Corbetts: 7
Grahams: 4
Hewitts: 1


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Ascent: 27635m
Munros: 29
Corbetts: 7
Grahams: 1
Sub2000s: 2
Hewitts: 5
Wainwrights 8


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Ascent: 47975m
Munros: 60
Corbetts: 6
Grahams: 2
Donalds: 2
Sub2000s: 1
Hewitts: 1


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Ascent: 51905m
Munros: 68
Corbetts: 5
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Ascent: 42245m
Munros: 46
Corbetts: 3
Grahams: 3
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Corbetts: 1
Sub2000s: 1
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Wainwrights 23


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Wainwrights 26


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Wainwrights 4


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Ascent: 44205m
Munros: 19
Corbetts: 4
Grahams: 1
Donalds: 2
Hewitts: 63
Wainwrights 6


Trips: 40
Distance: 476.5 km
Ascent: 40740m
Munros: 12
Corbetts: 2
Hewitts: 75
Wainwrights 17


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