When a Corbett isn't a Corbett - adventures in the snow

Corbetts: Beinn Loinne, Meall Dubh, Stob Coire a'Chearcaill

Date walked: 18/03/2019

Time taken: 17.5 hours

Distance: 45.9km

Ascent: 2531m

Some of you might know the feeling - you get home, sit down to do your stats and realize that you haven't actually climbed the hill you thought you had. So for the second week in a row, my haul for a hard weekend's walking has been two Corbetts, not the three I thought I'd bagged. To make matters worse, I discovered when I was route planning that I hadn't "reset" a couple of Loch Ness Corbetts from my last round...

The tale of woe begins, as all too often recently, with the weather. Another blowy, snowy weekender was promised. I'd originally planned to head up to Glen Lyon and polish off a few hills lurking there - but the forecast for snow down to ground level on Saturday made me think twice - I didn't want to be snowed in at the wrong end of that long glen. So I started casting around for hills that were close to main roads, when I noticed Carn a'Chuillin and Carn na Saobhaidhe, on the east side of Loch Ness were both showing as having been climbed. I was sure we'd only been up them once...check Hill-Bagging, yes, only one ascent. so they had to be "unticked" on WH and my total number of Corbetts dropped by two. This, coupled with last week's weather related fail to get up Garbh Bheinn puts a bit more pressure on my hopes to get the round finished by the end of the year.

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I settled on Beinn Loinne, Meall Dubh (across the road, literally, from Loinne) and then Stob Choire a'Chearcaill on the way home. Camping spots around the first two, Loch Linnhe for a hot shower on the Saturday night. We set off into rain on Thursday, with big winds promised overnight and the next day. Stopped at a wee woodland track to camp on Thursday night, mercifully the rain abated when we arrived although it did rain heavily overnight. Drove on a little to the beginning of the track for Cluanie Dam - last time we'd done Loinne from the west, this time we'd go east. You follow the forestry track for a bit and then head up onto the hillside - what could go wrong? I'd had a look at Scoob & Fi's video of this approach - seemed alright.

We sat in the warmth of the car, Allison groaning that she "didn't want to go" out in the rain and general miserableness. But, of course, we did. Track was soggy, the snow started raking down before we'd got very far. We left the main track on a vague ATV track heading up to our right, which we followed til it became clear it was heading too far northeast. So it was a case of ploughing on over trackless heather and bogs aiming for Coire na Creadha where we planned to ascend. We hit the snowline about 350m but were sheltered on our approach from the worst of the winds til we climbed higher up. My plan had been to climb the west top (750m) then dip down and summit Beinn Loinne, 775m. It was fairly brutal high up, with a vicious wind hurling itself from Loch Cluanie.

One of them days
ImageP3150492 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP3150494 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP3150495 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP3150496 by Al, on Flickr

Eastern top
ImageP3150499 by Al, on Flickr

We got our first top, found a slightly sheltered spot for lunch and looked over to the summit of Loinne - not too far to go. Energy restored, we braced ourselves for the final push to the summit. The wind was so strong it tore the foam protectors from the sides of my goggles, letting spin-drift enter. Once we got to the cairn we retreated and headed down into Coire na Creadha, relieved to be out of the grip of the wind. A lengthy, soggy meander down towards the track followed, a deer fence to cross with the help of a rusty barrel. We followed a stream back to the track, its happy gurgles being pleasant company until we reached terra firma. Across the A87, Meall Dubh, tomorrow's hill, was shining white.

Looking west, south Shiel ridge
ImageP3150500 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Cluanie
ImageP3150503 by Al, on Flickr

Struggling to the "summit"
ImageP3150504 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP3150505 by Al, on Flickr

Meall Dubh
ImageP3150508 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP3150509 by Al, on Flickr

So what was the problem with our day out? I had thought this a pleasant way of climbing Beinn Loinne compared with the western approach. However looking at the map, although Beinn Lionne appears quite clearly under the 775m top we went to, the actual summit is a further 2km east and has a Vanessa trig point upon it, as a cursory look at the hill page on WH, or indeed a review of our last ascent, would make clear. The summit doesn't even have a name appended to it on the map. What a nuisance. So instead of getting another Corbett, we got a couple of Simms from our day's efforts - not insignificant but not a Corbett. I wonder if we could actually have made it along the ridge for another 2km in the face of the wind that we encountered...that's my only bit of comfort.

But at the time, we didn't know this and happily drove round to the Cluanie, where we pitched for the night. The mountains to the north of the glen were fearsome and white, when we could see them through the rain and low cloud. The precipitation continued through the night, rain mostly but turning to snow by the time morning came. The roads were clear, thanks to the ploughs/gritter having been out and about, but the countryside was increasingly snow covered. My plan for today was to climb Meall Dubh from the west, using another forestry track, taking in a horseshoe that included the two Simms of Carn Dearg and Beinn an Eoin. This produced a route that was shorter than the standard WH route which we'd taken last time round. No parking at the start of the track, just an enormous puddle. Well, you could have parked in it, I suppose, but getting out again may have been difficult. So we ended up going back to the parking spot we'd used yesterday and adding half a km each way along the road.

mealdubsim.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

ImageP3150510 by Al, on Flickr

Cluanie Inn (still shut for refurb) and Am Bathach behind
ImageP3150511 by Al, on Flickr

The "track" was initially an extraction track from the forestry operations, but joined with a proper track after a little and headed off through the trees to the end of the tree line and some gates. A group of deer, dark against the snow, watched our progress before heading off uphill themselves. Whilst it would be possible to gain Carn Dearg by following the wind-farm road that loops round to the west of the hills, this would add a bit of distance, so we set off up the snowy tussocks, every so often finding a hole or under-the-snow stream to engulf us. There wasn't a great deal to see, so for me it was a matter of counting out batches of 350 double strides and keeping going.

ImageP3160513 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP3160514 by Al, on Flickr

Trackless slog up to Carn Dearg
ImageP3160515 by Al, on Flickr

We finally made the top of the Simm and had the benefit of an old fencepost line to follow for the next while. There are quite a few lochans up here and it was useful to be guided by the edges of them rather than having an unwelcome, and chilly, dip. Past Carn Tarsuinn, visibility poor. The fence took us to the start of the climb up to Meall Dubh, but then abandoned us, continuing to run east when our path lay to the north. We made it to the large cairn (and at least two other, smaller cairns) and stopped for breath.

ImageP3160516 by Al, on Flickr

Meall Dubh summit
ImageP3160520 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP3160521 by Al, on Flickr

Me turning into The Iceman
ImageP3160522 by Al, on Flickr

From here we had a band of crags to negotiate on our way to the final objective of Beinn an Eoin. GPS was useful in cutting a path through these and reaching the top of our Simm, before contouring back round below Meall Dubh in order to cross the many rivers/streams high up. Descending through the snow was quite invigorating although I was pleased not to have a longer walk today than we'd had. Returned to the car with the knowledge that we could go and get a hot shower when we arrived at Loch Linnhe. But only after putting up the soaking wet tent :roll:

ImageP3160523 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP3160524 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP3160525 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP3160526 by Al, on Flickr

More rain overnight but not much wind. The girl at reception had told me the forecast for Sunday was better, but I remained skeptical. It was largely dry when we put the tent down and there were (very small) patches of blue sky in evidence. It also appeared that quite a lot of new snow had fallen overnight. I thought it might be a good idea to pack the snowshoes today, which we could probably have benefited from on Meall Dubh. Originally I'd drawn a route up from Duisky into Coire Riabhach which would allow an efficient climb of both Chearcaill and it's Simm Sgurr an Iubhair. However, the track through the trees wasn't marked on the 1:50k map and we'd have to lug ourselves up untracked hillside, as opposed to following a track up to almost 500m if we used the WH route from Blaich. We eventually settled for the latter, although I maintained to Allison that we'd never been up that track before. In my defence, last time was a very wet day where we saw nothing and my GPS was fatally drowned.

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The start of the track has some unfriendly "Private Property No Parking" signs so we parked across the road on the verge. Rather weirdly it was almost sunny as we set off - I had my raincoat on anyway as I didn't trust the weather to stay nice. Across Loch Eil, the flanks of Druim Fhada were spattered white with new snow, a brilliant Gulvain curved off in the distance beyond. It felt hard going up the rocky track until we reached the cairn marker at the end of the path. Very shortly we decided to try the snowshoes, as we were into thick wet snow and soggy ground underneath. However, as we ascended we found that the snow had been blasted off the back of the hill, making the snowshoes largely redundant. Lunch was taken at the 609m cairn on Braigh Bhlaich. Up ahead we could make out the peak of Chearcaill at the apex of the coire - an impressive sight that improved as we got closer. Further off, the hills of Ardgour loomed, impressive and snow-coated. Sgurr Dhomhuill and Garbh Bheinn standing proud.

ImageP3170527 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP3170529 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Eil
ImageP3170531 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP3170536 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP3170537 by Al, on Flickr

As we neared the summit of Chearcaill we saw a multitude of ravens at play, both around the summit and down in Coire Riabhach. They were pairing off and doing their usual acrobatics in the wind. We made it to the large cairn. I was all for heading back, as it looked like the weather was on the turn, but Allison seemed quite positive about continuing on to Sgurr an Iubhair, even though it was 2km each way. Fortunately most of the snow had been scoured from the crest and walking wasn't that arduous. A fine viewpoint too - looking deep into the Ardgour hills and down to Loch Linnhe.

ImageP3170540 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP3170541 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP3170543 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP3170544 by Al, on Flickr

Towards Iubhair
ImageP3170545 by Al, on Flickr

Ardgour hills
ImageP3170548 by Al, on Flickr

We retraced our steps back to Chearcaill, saw the ravens having a great time in amongst the pillowy cornicing. Descent was far easier than the slow slog up had been, the sun was out and much of the new snow was melting before our eyes. Over to the east, The Ben stood ominous and very white. It had turned out to be a fine day in the hills - what a difference a bit of visibility can make to one's enjoyment.

Ravens playing in the cornice
ImageP3170553 by Al, on Flickr

Chearcaill in Sunshine
ImageP3170555 by Al, on Flickr

The Ben
ImageP3170556 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP3170559 by Al, on Flickr

The Ben & CMD on the way home
ImageP3170561 by Al, on Flickr

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Back to White

Attachment(s) Corbetts: Mam na Gualainn, Stob Dubh
Grahams: Tom Meadhoin
Date walked: 10/03/2019
Distance: 31.5km
Ascent: 2912m
Comments: 4
Views: 307

Glen Roy - parallel roads in the rain.

Attachment(s) Corbetts: Beinn Iaruinn, Carn Dearg (North of Gleann Eachach), Carn Dearg (South of Gleann Eachach), Meall a'Phubuill
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Date walked: 03/03/2019
Distance: 55.7km
Ascent: 3769m
Comments: 3
Views: 241

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Attachment(s) Corbetts: Aonach Shasuinn, Beinn a'Bha'ach Ard, Carn a'Choire Ghairbh, Sgorr na Diollaid
Date walked: 24/02/2019
Distance: 61.1km
Ascent: 3655m
Comments: 1
Views: 316

Ben Venue with Weasel Minor

Grahams: Ben Venue
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Distance: 11.7km
Ascent: 885m
Comments: 3
Views: 315

Glen Douglas Grahams

Attachment(s) Grahams: Beinn Bhreac (Loch Lomond), Tullich Hill
Date walked: 16/02/2019
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Comments: 1
Views: 242

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Date walked: 15/02/2019
Distance: 20.8km
Ascent: 1808m
Views: 174

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Attachment(s) Grahams: Beinn a'Mhanaich, Beinn Chaorach
Date walked: 14/02/2019
Distance: 16.6km
Ascent: 1243m
Views: 155

Rain, Wind, Ice and Snow - just another Weasel Weekend

Attachment(s) Corbetts: Auchnafree Hill, Cnoc Coinnich, Meall na Fearna, The Brack
Date walked: 10/02/2019
Distance: 45.7km
Ascent: 3046m
Comments: 1
Views: 278

Slow in the snow

Corbetts: Beinn Odhar Bheag, Cruach Innse, Sgurr Innse
Grahams: Beinn Dubh
Date walked: 03/02/2019
Distance: 34.9km
Ascent: 2797m
Comments: 3
Views: 436


User avatar
Location: Greenock
Occupation: Bandersnatch?
Interests: Solvitur Ambulando
Activity: Wanderer
Mountain: Foinaven
Place: Assynt and beyond
Gear: Satmap Active 12
Member: MCofS
Camera: Olympus TG5 / Sony RX100
Ideal day out: A long walk that thrills, chills and makes me feel alive
Munro rounds: 2
Corbett rounds: 1
Graham rounds: 1

Munros: 202
Corbetts: 95
Grahams: 52
Donalds: 89
Wainwrights: 15
Hewitts: 31
Sub 2000: 157
Long Distance routes: West Highland Way   

Filter reports



Trips: 15
Distance: 555.1 km
Ascent: 36588m
Munros: 4
Corbetts: 33
Grahams: 16


Trips: 61
Distance: 3090.77 km
Ascent: 206176m
Munros: 271
Corbetts: 16
Grahams: 10
Donalds: 9
Sub2000s: 32


Trips: 76
Distance: 2994.86 km
Ascent: 175243m
Munros: 67
Corbetts: 12
Grahams: 72
Donalds: 81
Sub2000s: 97
Hewitts: 13
Wainwrights 12


Trips: 78
Distance: 2035.42 km
Ascent: 124390m
Munros: 17
Corbetts: 4
Grahams: 142
Donalds: 71
Sub2000s: 24
Hewitts: 15


Trips: 68
Distance: 2453.94 km
Ascent: 164961m
Munros: 77
Corbetts: 126
Grahams: 17
Donalds: 8
Sub2000s: 2


Trips: 64
Distance: 2406.7 km
Ascent: 166291m
Munros: 109
Corbetts: 112
Grahams: 16
Donalds: 10


Trips: 64
Distance: 1894.46 km
Ascent: 127277m
Munros: 219
Corbetts: 17
Grahams: 4
Donalds: 3
Sub2000s: 1


Trips: 24
Distance: 254.33 km
Ascent: 16304m
Munros: 26
Corbetts: 5


Trips: 1
Corbetts: 1
Donalds: 1

Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Last visited: Mar 18, 2019
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