walkhighlands

Fisherfield summit camp in the September heatwave

Route: Beinn Dearg Mor and Beinn Dearg Bheag, from Gruinard

Corbetts: Beinn a'Chaisgein Mor, Beinn Dearg Bheag, Beinn Dearg Mor
Grahams: Beinn a'Chaisgein Beag

Date walked: 20/09/2019

Distance: 47km

Ascent: 2300m

Any approach to these hills is relatively long so the option of combining them seemed to make the most sense. I’d had the approximate route planned for some time but was waiting for a decent weather window. Having looked at some other reports (esp thanks to malky and scoob), I got a pretty good idea of what lay ahead but decided to leave the actual ascent route for the Deargs until I got there as I was a little unsure of whether I could cope with the scrambling part when carrying the camping pack.

I had taken a week’s annual leave to cover off a number of projects around the house and garden but was hoping for a couple of decent days at some point. The forecast varied quite a bit but a Friday/Saturday combo looked the best bet. Up early on the Friday, breakfasted then off in the car with travel flask of strong coffee. After a brief stop in Inverness for fuel and a decent run up, I was parked in the wee layby near the bridge over the River Gruinard off the A832 at a little before 10am. Already sunny and warm and looking good – and no midges !

River Gruinard with the hills in the distance

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I set off along the track to the south of the river on the bike. A gate near the start was locked so had to lift the bike over as it wouldn’t fir through the narrow side gate. Other gates along the way weren’t locked. It’s a good track albeit with a few ups and downs requiring just the occasional stop to push and various water crossings which could mostly be cycled. There were another two cyclists going the same way and we had a chat when we stopped at the bridge over the Allt Loch Ghiubhsachain. They had previously lived not far from me but were now in Gairloch and were off to explore the southern approaches to Beinn Dearg Bheag.

I locked the bike up and left it in some long grass not far from the bridge then set off southwards to the west of the Allt. Some fairly rough ground with many hidden boggy holes – managed to get my left foot in one but got it out quickly enough before the socks got too wet. There were some tracks of sorts which made the going a bit easier.

Maintained a rising southerly course until I got to a stream at which point I changed to a SW direction up towards a couple of small lochans with An Teallach in the distance.

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From here it was south until I picked up the stalkers’ path which would take me towards Beinn a'Chàisgein Beag. En route I met two walkers who had been out since the previous day going clockwise – they had camped out below Beinn Dearg Mòr the previous night and were making very good progress. It’s a reasonable path albeit boggy in places - I followed it down and over the Uisge Toll a’ Mhadhaidh and then up towards Beinn a'Chàisgein Beag.

Looking back to Loch Toll a’ Mhadhaidh

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Rather than go up to the bealach and double back, I left the track at NG975822 and went west up to the summit – it’s only about 200m of ascent after leaving the track. Nearing the summit I came across a rather interesting stone and rock formation set into the ground

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Short jaunt from there to the summit trig where I stopped for a break to get some food

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View towards Beinn a'Chàisgein Mòr

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Southwards

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I then set off down grassy slopes SW to the bealach before starting the reascent. The low point is at about 500m which meant that, with a little drop after Frith-mheallan, there was about 400m of ascent to go.

Spotted a group of three ptarmigan in some rocks – well camouflaged, quite tricky to make them out

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My plan was to camp at the summit of Beinn a'Chàisgein Mòr. However, I still had quite a bit of time left in the day and considered whether to go on further. On the up side, I could camp lower down beside water but on the down side the views would be very limited. Decided on balance to stick to the plan to camp at the summit which meant finding water en route. The map showed a couple of streams flowing off to the NE so I aimed a little to the east of the north ridge and kept going until I found the Allt which flows down towards Coireag Riabhach – followed it upstream as far as practical and then replenished my water supplies along with 2 litres for the overnight camp.

Then up to the summit which I reached around 1730hrs.

Towards Fisherfield

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Towards Slioch

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It was still quite windy and a little too rocky right at the summit so I set up the tent just to the north of the summit which afforded some shelter. Rather amazingly for late September, it was still very warm despite the wind and I was quite happy just I baselayer not needing the insulated jacket until after sunset.

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I footered about taking photos and wondering around and then cooked up dinner with the stove sheltered from the wind by a large nearby rock.

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Some nice warm light over the surrounding hills as the sun started to go down

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I wandered over to a rocky area a little to the west of the summit to find a flat rock on which to sit and eat my dinner. I then just sat and watched the sun setting beyond Loch Maree and Beinn Airigh Charr.

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It remained very windy throughout the night and I was actually too warm for once. Tried taking photos of the very clear starry sky but the camera wasn’t up to the task.

Up a little after 0600hrs to catch the early dawn light from the tent looking towards An Teallach to the east

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Then prepared breakfast and, much the same as the previous evening, sat and watched the sun rise. It was a little chillier now but wasn’t to stay that way for long.

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Finished breakfast and packed up – no condensation due to the wind which was still quite strong despite the earlier chill. I skirted round the summit then aimed SE towards the edge Lochan Fèith Mhic’ –illean. I was expecting it to be steep but found it mostly OK over grassy ground taking me down to the edge of the lochan where I picked up the track from Carnmore.

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I then followed the track eastwards past the lochans taking a few photos on the way

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I got to the point where the track starts to drop down into Gleann na Muice Beag and had a good look at Beinn Dearg Mòr.

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Sort of as I was expecting, I didn’t much like the look of the direct route up the south ridge partly due to the heavy camping pack. I decided instead to head round past Loch Beinn Dearg and then start a rising traverse towards the bealach until I got past the lower crags when I could get a better view of a direct route upwards from there. I didn’t really fancy going all the way up to the bealach and then have to double back up Beinn Dearg Mòr.

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I headed northwards rising as I went. At the point when I thought I could see a way up to the ridge, I started steeply upwards. Found myself having to use my hands for much of the way as it was very steep.

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On two separate occasions I did have to backtrack down a little and go round the crags until I could find a way up as it was just too steep but eventually I got up to the ridge at about the 786m point. I then headed westwards towards the top of the NE ridge as it looked quite interesting and thought it would be a good viewpoint.

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Towards An Teallach

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Strath na Sealga with Shenavall in the distance

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Not a bad point at which to sit for a while

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Had a break and some food then donned the pack and set off up round the rim of Coir an Talaimh-tholl firstly up to the rocky promontory to the east of the summit cairn and finally up to the summit cairn itself.

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Didn’t linger around too long as I still had the final Corbett to go. Off down to the bealach following a path which came and went at times. A lot of scree to negotiate making it slippery at times. I met a walker on her way up going at a fair rate of knots. She had walked all the way from Gruinard Bay over Beinn Dearg Bheag via its NW ridge – her intention had been to cycle but on arrival at the layby she discovered that she’d left her front wheel at home.

At one point I had considered descending via Beinn Dearg Bheag’s NW ridge as well but again opted for the longer but more straightforward route due to having the camping pack. Down at the bealach I found a large rock at the start of the ascent to Beinn Dearg Bheag – left my rucksack after putting some essentials and water into a separate, mini packable rucksack.

On the way up I spotted a large bird in the sky – not sure but may have been an eagle.

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Only a little over 200m of ascent from the bealach to the summit. However, there was more scree to cover which was to be trickier on the way down. The wind had been strengthening and was now so strong that I had to walk bent over for the final section to the summit taking care in the gusts.

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Looking back to Beinn Dearg Mòr

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Back down the same way taking care on the scree sections. Found the large rock and changed over again to the larger pack. Now for the long return leg. I went steeply down the grassy, heathery slopes towards the Loch Toll an Lochain. The 1:50,000 shows just a steep slope but I encountered some crags and had to detour a bit to get round them.

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I went round the west side of the loch walking along the sandy shore on the way. Then followed the Allt na Doire Gaineumhaich down towards Loch na Sealga before branching off in a northerly direction to reach the path along the lochside where the Allt Doir’ a’Mhadaidh meets the loch. Then followed a long but uneventful walk back along the lochside.

The path was boggy and indistinct in places but I eventually got to to the northern end where the boatshed used to sit.

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Then back to pick up the bike and cycle back to the car. It didn’t take as long as the outward route. Long drive back to Glasgow getting back very late.


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Comments: 19



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rockhopper


User avatar
Location: Glasgow
Occupation: Occupied
Mountain: Slioch
Place: NW Highlands
Member: NTS, RSPB
Ideal day out: Long walk, a few hills, great views

Munros: 282
Corbetts: 207
Grahams: 60
Donalds: 89
Wainwrights: 3
Hewitts: 2
Sub 2000: 8
Islands: 19
Long Distance routes: West Highland Way   



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Statistics

2019

Trips: 7
Distance: 317 km
Ascent: 19210m
Corbetts: 25
Grahams: 2

2018

Trips: 9
Distance: 400.5 km
Ascent: 26950m
Corbetts: 29
Grahams: 10

2017

Trips: 17
Distance: 528.2 km
Ascent: 30170m
Corbetts: 25
Grahams: 15
Donalds: 30
Sub2000s: 2
Wainwrights 1

2016

Trips: 20
Distance: 578.8 km
Ascent: 32180m
Corbetts: 38
Grahams: 11
Donalds: 25

2015

Trips: 16
Distance: 539.3 km
Ascent: 28665m
Munros: 2
Corbetts: 37
Grahams: 8
Donalds: 14

2014

Trips: 16
Distance: 487 km
Ascent: 31211m
Munros: 16
Corbetts: 22
Grahams: 11
Donalds: 16

2013

Trips: 14
Distance: 437.8 km
Ascent: 37067m
Munros: 53
Corbetts: 13
Grahams: 1
Donalds: 4

2012

Trips: 22
Distance: 607.6 km
Ascent: 42863m
Munros: 85
Corbetts: 7
Grahams: 1
Sub2000s: 1

2011

Trips: 21
Distance: 691.2 km
Ascent: 41118m
Munros: 81
Corbetts: 5

2010

Trips: 16
Distance: 305.3 km
Ascent: 22049m
Munros: 36
Corbetts: 3

2009

Trips: 4
Distance: 56 km
Ascent: 4082m
Munros: 4

2008

Trips: 2
Distance: 25 km
Ascent: 1890m
Munros: 2

2007

Trips: 1
Distance: 6 km
Ascent: 500m
Munros: 1

1992

Trips: 1
Distance: 10.5 km
Ascent: 968m
Munros: 2

1991

Trips: 1
Distance: 11 km
Ascent: 990m
Munros: 1

1987

Trips: 7
Distance: 72.7 km
Ascent: 6197m
Munros: 7
Corbetts: 1
Sub2000s: 1

1986

Trips: 3
Distance: 35 km
Ascent: 2702m
Munros: 1
Grahams: 1
Hewitts: 1

1985

Trips: 1
Distance: 10 km
Ascent: 847m
Corbetts: 1

1984

Trips: 1
Distance: 11 km
Ascent: 920m
Corbetts: 1


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Last visited: Nov 11, 2019
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