Glorious Kinloch Hourn but with a very sad ending

Route: Ben Aden, by Loch Quoich

Corbetts: Ben Aden, Buidhe Bheinn, Sgurr a'Choire-bheithe, Sgurr nan Eugallt

Date walked: 29/05/2018

Distance: 65km

Ascent: 4000m

Given the circumstances, I was very unsure whether to write and post this report or to leave out certain parts but eventually decided that it would be fitting to do so. I do hope that anyone reading it understands and feels the same way.

Tuesday 29 May
Sgurr a'Choire-bheithe and part of Ben Aden

Route for Sgurr a'Choire-bheithe and Ben Aden

Kinloch Hourn 29-30may2018 activelog SaCb&BA.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Left Glasgow very early for the drive up to Loch Quoich. Blue skies and sun most of the way until around the turn off from the A87 for the road alongside Loch Garry at which point I was shrouded in mist and fog. Little visibility along the Kinloch Hourn road such that when I got to the parking area at NG994035 I couldn’t see the level of the loch in the distance so couldn’t assess whether I could go the more direct route. Accordingly I drove about 1km further along the road and managed to park near the old, ruined bridge over the Caolie Water.

Got ready and set off – decided against trying the bridge and the water was very low anyway so quite easy to cross. Still very misty with little visibility walking SE close to the shore before turning the corner and reaching part of the old road which made things a little easier for a while. Then back on the path which came and went and was quite boggy at times.

The mist was starting to be burned away by the sun and I was getting more frequent glimpses until it cleared completely. No difficulty at all crossing the Abhainn Chosaidh. I saw some people in a couple of canoes on the loch before getting the first views of the distant hills.


I continued along the path then over the first dam with a view over Lochan na Cruadhach.


I continued on the path skirting round the 254m outcrop then turned to head west on the path towards Mam Unndalain. As I passed the foot of Ben Aden, I had a look for possible routes up for later in the day. Continued on the path until the descent down towards Lochan nam Breac and its sandy beach.


I met two walkers at this point, one male, one female. They had both stayed over in Barrisdale and were heading for Ben Aden before going back to Barrisdale later in the day. I thought it odd when they said that one had stayed in the bothy and one had camped until they explained that they were each married to other (non hillwalking) people and had just met up. Even more of a coincidence that their forenames were the same as my wife’s and mine. We wished each other well noting that we might meet again later and set off on our separate ways.

I continued along the path with the occasional strong whiff in the air of deer carcases – topped up my water supplies en route. The path continued to rise up towards Mam Unndalain.


When I got to the high point in the path, I stowed my camping pack and poles behind a rock and continued up with a light, packable rucksack with essentials. I was probably at about 500m and still had 400m of ascent but it involved finding a way through the cliffs. I had read a few reports beforehand so had an inkling about it and the clear weather made it easier to find a route upwards.


I headed up towards the 816m point then veered off to the right underneath it. After that I was up at about 800m with the relatively straightforward walk to the summit of Sgurr a'Choire-bheithe.

Barrisdale Bay


Looking towards Knoydart


Back to Loch Quoich






I spent quite a bit of time up there and had some more food. Eventually I set off back down the same way as I had ascended.

A little below the summit I met a walker on his way up and we stopped for a chat. He was staying in Kinloch Hourn and had walked in that day to go up Sgurr a'Choire-bheithe. He explained that he had also walked in and out the previous day to go up Ben Aden. I found this very impressive given that I was taking the easier way out and had a brought a tent with me. He struck me as a nice, quiet guy who enjoyed being out and about in the hills. We chatted a bit more before he wanted to push on – we wished each other well and set off on our separate ways. (Refer note at end of report)

I got back down to Mam Unndalain, picked up my rucksack and set off back SE towards Ben Aden topping up with water again as it was very hot. I met another walker who was from Ireland and was walking the CWT. He had a rather large pack and was looking forward to his next food drop in two days.

As I neared Lochan nam Breac I again met the two people I’d met earlier on – brief chat again about how we’d each got on.


Late afternoon sun on the lochan


I continued to the base of Ben Aden then started up the hillside to the right of the Allt Coire na Cruaiche. Probably not the best idea as I move further west to get up round a small cliff before rejoining the allt further up. I continued up the side of the allt to just past 400m the found a grassy area to set up the tent for the night. Cooked up dinner and got to bed early as I wanted to be up early the following day.


Wednesday 30 May
Rest of Ben Aden and Buidhe Beinn

Nice colours in the sky as I was having breakfast.


Left the tent and set off up the side of the allt heading for the summit of Ben Aden. The sunrise came a little before I got to the top.


Inversion building below.



Warm early colours from the sun as I made my way towards the summit.



It was a little windy at the top but was developing into a nice day.


Loch Nevis




Another selfie




Eventually I decided I had to leave and set off back down towards the tent.


Packed the tent away and made my way down to the foot of Ben Aden this time sticking to the south of the allt. On the way back towards the loch, I took a shortcut round the shores of lochan na Cruadhach then back to the track round the loch.

Heard a noise and managed to get a quick photo of this plane


Just before reaching the mouth of the Abhainn Chosaidh I met another walker who was heading for Sgurr a'Choire-bheithe but he was going to ascend by the Druim Chòsaidh ridge. I continued on until I got to the old road again but this time with clear weather I headed down towards the water. I got to the point where there’s a ruined bridge; the water at this point was too deep to cross but a little further to the east it got very shallow with some stepping stones. Crossed at that point and followed the old road back up the Loch Quoich road after which I had about 1km to walk back to the car.

Back at the car I got changed into lighter clothes and shorts as it was getting very hot then drove along the road to car park at Kinloch Hourn. Spoke briefly to a couple of guys, with a horse box, who were waiting on two riders. Paid my parking fee and completed the register before setting off back down the road, across the Allt Coire Sgoireadail and then along the track for Buidhe Bheinn.

A few years ago I had been up and over Sgurr a'Bhac Chaolais when it was twinned with Buidhe Bheinn. However, since Sa’BC was “demoted”, I thought I’d better also walk Buidhe Bheinn.

The track seemed quite new and headed up the hillside beside some pylons. Quite steep but a relatively easy way to get to about 250m. At the high point I branched off on to a stalker’s path aiming to walk the loop in a CW direction.

Loch Hourn


Ladhar Bheinn


I continued up the path until it started to disappear then went steeply uphill until I got to flatter area before the ascent to the 879m point.

Kept looking back at Loch Hourn


Got to the 879m point then had the out and back section to the summit. It looked a bit further than I had imagined but it didn’t take that long to walk although there were a few tricky bits to get passed at the start.


Got to the summit of Buidhe Bheinn – view towards Sgurr na Sgine and The Saddle.


Looking back


Retraced my steps to the 879m point then headed off to the south before going round in an easterly direction to rejoin the outward path.

Loch Hourn.....again.....


Further down I heard the sound of the SAR helicopter in the distance and watched it as it made its way up towards Kinloch Hourn. It landed for a short time before taking off again.


I continued down and when I was passing the houses at the bottom said hello to some people at one of the houses. The man asked me if my name was Ian explaining that the coastguard helicopter was looking for a missing walker; I replied that it wasn’t me. (Refer note at end of report)

I walked back to the car then drove back up the road to the parking area just to the south of Coireshubh. There was another car there already which had also been there earlier on – I had a quick look in the window and saw that a note had been left of a walking/camping itinerary with the walker due back the following day so no need to take any action.

My original plan had been to walk up Sgurr nan Eugallt that evening and come down by headtorch if necessary. However, I wasn’t feeling that great at this point and think the heat was starting to get to me. Instead I had an early dinner and got to bed early with the intention of setting off at about 0300hrs with headtorch.

Thursday 31 May
Sgurr nan Eugallt

I was awakened by the sound of heavy rain at about 0215 which continued for a while so decided to hold off a little. Had breakfast and after a while the rain stopped – set off about 0330hrs instead. It was quite misty lower down but there’s a decent stalker’s path to follow for much of the way.

Early light and the way forward


After the stalker’s path stops, there’s an old fence which I followed for much of the rest of the way. The clag was coming and going but in between the sun was starting to rise above the cloud.



Partial inversion developing lower down


When I got to the trig point, it was in clag. I’d noted that this wasn’t the true summit so took a quick photo of the trig then set off NW for the final 2/3km to the summit. Again the clag blew over and I could see further afield. I imagine this would be a good viewpoint on a clear day but it was just a bit too hazy to see much.




After a wee while I returned to the trig point then walked back down to the car. Got changed and started off on the long drive back to Glasgow stopping in Ballachulish for some food. Roadworks in Dumbarton had led to a very long, slow tailback which took about an hour to clear so was a bit delayed getting home early afternoon.

I hadn’t had any phone signal for the whole of my time in Kinloch Hourn and hadn’t had time to look at the news. When my wife got home in the evening, she explained that a walker in the Sgurr a'Choire-bheithe area had been reported missing on the Wednesday from a walk the previous day. That was the same day that I had been on the same hill so checked the BBC website and realised that it was the person I had met just below the summit of Sgurr a'Choire-bheithe. I emailed Lochaber MRT and phoned the police to give a statement just in case they needed it. As I noted above, we had a chat at the time and I was most impressed by what he had achieved. This really made me stop and think and my thoughts and sympathies go out to his family and friends.

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

Munros: 282
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Grahams: 57
Donalds: 89
Wainwrights: 3
Hewitts: 2
Sub 2000: 8
Long Distance routes: West Highland Way   

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