Lindsay Boyd's Trip Reports


Section 15 - Loch Broom to Easter Ross

Beinn Dearg
Beinn Dearg
Loch Vaig
Loch Vaig
Abhainn a'Gharbrain
Abhainn a'Gharbrain
Carn Loch nan Amhaichean
Carn Loch nan Amhaichean

This section refers to the hills and mountains from Loch Broom to Easter Ross including Ben Wyvis and The Deargs. They cover the Corbetts, Grahams and Munros that I have climbed in this area since 2003. The Sub 2000 Marilyns climbed in Section 15 can be viewed here while the Humps can be checked here.

Section 15 - Index

Corbetts Grahams Munros
Beinn a'Chaisteil Beinn nan Eun Am Faochagach
Beinn Enaiglair Beinn Tharsuinn - Glen Calvie Beinn Dearg
Carn Ban Beinn Tharsuinn- Strath Rory Ben Wyvis
Carn Chuinneag Carn a'Choin Deirg Cona Mheall
Little Wyvis Carn Loch nan Amhaichean Eididh nan Clach Geala
  Carn Salachaidh Meall nan Ceapraichean
  Meall a'Chaorainn Seana Bhraigh
  Meall Doire Faid  
  Meall Dubh  
  Meall Mor  

Section 15 - Trip Reports

Beinn Tharsuinn

18 September 2015

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Map - OS Landranger 21. Time taken - 4.25 hours. Distance - 13.25 kilometres. Ascent - 580 metres.

The start of this walk was a large area of waste ground on the west side of the B9176 Struie Road which runs from Evanton across towards Bonar Bridge in Easter Ross. A vehicle track was followed west but soon we came to a no access sign but with no obvious reason for restricting entry we decided to ignore it. A good quality path continued north-west above the Strathrory River under a set of pylons and along the edge of a forest.

After nearly four kilometres the track crossed the bridge over the river and headed towards what used to be an old quarry now back in operation. This time we obeyed the no access sign and walked round the south side of the quarry as a JCB was in operation on the opposite side.

The vegetation was rather rough as we made our way towards Torr Leathann then into the gully with Beinn Tharsuinn. Here the walking was more awkward as the vegetation was longer and tussocky but once across the stream and up the opposite bank it was shorter but being soft still made it hard work. Later there were traces of a path which led to the trig point on Beinn Tharsuinn. This wasn’t the top as it was in a small dip so we visited the higher points nearby.

We remained at the summit for around half an hour before descending directly towards the quarry crossing some long and awkward vegetation. Just below the quarry we rejoined the track and followed it back to the car. There had been no traffic on the outward route but three lorries passed us on the walk out.

previous ascent

Beinn Tharsuinn Graham second ascent 692 metres

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Beinn nan Eun

17 September 2015

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Map - OS Landranger 20/21. Time taken - 5.5 hours.
(cycle 2.25 hours)
Distance - 29.75 kilometres.
(cycle - 24.5 kilometres)
Ascent - 745 metres.
(cycle 285 metres)

My first choice was an ascent of the Graham, Carn Loch nan Amhaichean from the A835 at Inchbae Lodge. On phoning the estate owner to check out if stalking was taking place he thought it would be okay but asked me to phone the keeper who wasn’t so amenable and suggested Sunday when they weren’t stalking. I then phoned the keeper for Wyvis Estate who was happy for me to access the Graham, Beinn nan Eun.

I drove from Evanton, located just off the A9 on the north side of the Cromarty Firth, up the single track road in Glen Glass to the end of the public road at Eileanach Lodge where there was space to leave my car without blocking the turning area.

We set off on our bikes, crossed the bridge over the River Glass, then the Lodge before taking a right turn followed by an easy cycle north-west through the woods towards then above Loch Glass on a good estate track. At the west end of the Loch was Wyvis Lodge which I was advised to avoid as folks were in residence so took the vehicle track to Corravachie, where a workforce was staying, before joining the upgraded track along the south then south west side of the Abhainn Beinn nan Eun.

It was now obvious why there was no stalking taking place as work was on-going building a small hydro dam on the above stream and on the north-west slopes of Ben Wyvis. We spoke to a couple of chaps who had to stop working on the path to allow us to pass. As the track steepened we left our bikes beside some trees and continued on foot soon reaching another junction of tracks just below the waterfall. Here a new track had been constructed which crossed the stream via a bridge and headed up the north-east side of the burn.

Men were working at this bridge so we continued up the rough track on the south-west side of the Abhainn Beinn nan Eun, briefly diverting to visit the waterfall and an unusual shelter nearby. Once above the falls we crossed the stream and walked up the east side of the Allt Beinn nan Eun across some rough vegetation, including tussocky ground, towards the col. Higher up we crossed this burn and climbed initially fairly steeply through some long heather before the gradient eased. The vegetation was now much shorter and mixed with some rocky ground where we spotted a ptarmigan family. The summit cairn was reached and here we took a break looking out across the moorland towards Beinn Dearg.

The return was a direct route to the new dam on the Abhainn Beinn nan Eun then along the access road to the junction with the old track. A short distance further on we collected our bikes and made the fairly easy cycle back to the car at Eileanach Lodge.

previous ascent

Beinn nan Eun Graham second ascent 743 metres

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Seana Bhraigh

6 June 2014

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Map - OS Landranger 20. Time taken - 9.75 hours. Distance - 29.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1545 metres.

The weather forecast appeared reasonable for the long walk in to ascend the remote Munro, Seana Bhraigh with a diversion to climb a few tops. Unfortunately they had miscalculated the cloud base.

I parked up in the car park at Inverlael, on the A835 south of Ullapool, and was off by 7.40am. I passed through a couple of gates then walked along the vehicle track on the south side of the River Lael. After a couple of kilometres the track crossed the river via a bridge to reach the ruin at Glensguaib where I followed the track along its east side. At the next junction a small cairn marked the start of a rougher and steeper vehicle track that eventually took me out of the forest at a deer gate.

As I discovered last year this next section of the track was a mess as the estate had made it into churned up bog. Here I entered the low cloud which plagued me for most of the day. The vehicle track came to an end and was replaced by a reasonable path that descended to the crossing of the Allt Gleann a’Mhadaidh. I was expecting possible problems here after the previous day’s rain but there were enough stones above the water level to make for an easy crossing.

The cloud was now fairly thick so I set myself a time when I would leave the path and ascend the first top of the day. At the set time I quit the path then descended to some wet, boggy and peaty ground which in the poor visibility was a bit troublesome to cross. Beyond were some grassy slopes then mixed terrain including stony ground. The summit of Carn Mor, marked by a boulder on top of a rock, was reached and here I stopped for a break and to study the next section of my route.

I left this Graham Top and descended east to encounter more peat hags and bog before reaching the ravine of the Allt na Creige Duibhe. Once across this stream and its tributary Allt Lochan Dubh na Beiste it was fairly rough going to Lochan Dubh na Beiste. From there I ascended through some cliffs to gain the south-west ridge of Meall Glac an Ruighe then walked to the summit of this Corbett Top, which was unmarked.

On descending south-east the cloud lifted briefly then again as I made my way towards the summit of the Corbett Top, Meall a’Choire Ghlais, watched by a hind. On leaving this top, the highest point marked by a large boulder, and descending east I was only a step away from standing on a ptarmigan as it flew from its nest containing five eggs which I stopped to photograph. The descent continued east to the head of Cadha Dearg as the cloud threatened to lift but again soon lowered.

A muddy path was followed north but it either disappeared or I lost its line as I ascended the final Corbett Top of the day, the South Top of Seana Bhraigh, which was marked by a cairn. The cloud again lifted and I saw the route to Seana Bhraigh as well as a nearby herd of deer. A faint path led to the col then a more obvious path to the summit shelter which I reached just over six hours after setting out from Inverlael. I had lunch here and was soon joined by a couple who had come up from Corriemulzie then four chaps who had also walked in from Inverlael. Prior to leaving another chap arrived from the north.

The cloud engulfed the hill again and there was some light rain as I set off on my return route by-passing the South Top. Again I lost the line of the path and in the cloud followed the cliff edge back to the head of Cadha Dearg then the route I had taken from Meall a’Choire Ghlais avoiding its re-ascent. The lochan to its south-west was located as the cloud again began to lift but I was well down Coire an Lochain Sgeirich before it completed cleared and the sun came out. This path was followed to the point where I had left it earlier that day then I returned to the start by the outward route.

previous ascent

Seana Bhraigh Munro sixth ascent 927 metres

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Beinn a'Chaisteil

3 June 2014

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Map - OS Landranger 20. Time taken - 6.75 hours. Distance - 25.25 kilometres. Ascent 930 metres.

Several members of the group I was staying with in Ullapool were planning to climb the Corbett, Beinn a’Chaisteil, so I decided join them but only initially as I wanted to include the Graham Top, Carn nan Aighean.

On arrival at the parking area at Black Bridge on the A835 just west of Inchbae, a chap was setting off on his mountain bike along the tarred private road in Strath Vaich. Another car arrived just as we were setting off on foot up the same road in the drizzle, which fortunately didn’t last long. After just over three kilometres we came to the path above the house at Lubriach which we followed to join the vehicle track south of Meallan Donn.

We only remained on this track until reaching its highest point, which only took a few moments, before setting off across rough vegetation to commence the ascent of the Corbett Top, Meall a’Ghrianain. Fence posts would assist navigation in poor weather but they do not go all the way to the summit. The underfoot conditions did improve somewhat and I decided it was time to leave the group and set my own pace as I had a longer distance to cover. The final approach to Meall a’Ghrianain was steep but a zigzag path helped to ease the climb to the summit cairn.

As I was giving the others a lift back to Ullapool at the end of the day there was no time to hang around at this summit so I descended to the col with Beinn a’Chaisteil before making the easy ascent to its summit trig point. I stopped here briefly to speak to a chap who was taking a meal break within the shelter. On continuing north then gradually turning east I crossed some dry peat hags which made for easy walking. This took me round the top of the corrie before I descended south-east then climbed Beinn a’Chaisteil’s East Top, a Sub Graham Top.

I was in the need of some food and as dark clouds were looming I stopped here for a quick break. Afterwards I made the short descent to the col with Carn nan Aighean before climbing to the summit of this Graham Top, which was marked by a few stones. From here I descended south-west through some heather as a heavy shower passed through the area. Lower down I came to a recently erected deer fence and was surprised to find vehicle and kissing gates despite the fact the area was pathless and trackless.

Within the fenced off area saplings made for some awkward walking so at times it was easier to use the marshy ground. Lower down in the glen I crossed the Allt Coire a’Chundrain before exiting this new woodland area by another kissing gate. Gaining some height the fence was followed to reach an old copse where I joined a vehicle track then with a bit more ascent arrived at the point I left it earlier that morning to climb Meall a’Ghrianain. The outward route was followed back to the start.

On my return to Black Bridge there was no sign of the four walkers I set off with. On the return of the chap on his mountain bike he advised me that they were north of Lubriach, probably an hour away. An estate staff member who was putting out the buckets gave me permission to drive up the glen road to uplift them.

previous ascent

Beinn a'Chaisteil Corbett third ascent 787 metres

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Meall Dubh

26 August 2013

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Map OS Landranger 20. Time taken - 6.5 hours. Distance - 15.5 kilometres. Ascent - 715 metres.

The start of this walk was the same as for my ascent of the Munro, Eididh nan Clach Geala six days earlier, Inverlael, on the A835 Braemore Junction to Ullapool Road. On this occasion there were already a few vehicles in the car park with a motor home near the entrance as the height barrier prevented its access.

I set off, passing through a couple of gates to reach Lael Forest, and then followed the vehicle track on the south side of the River Lael. Just before reaching the now derelict property at Glensguaib, I crossed a footbridge constructed a few years ago when they were building the local hydro scheme. Once on the opposite side of the river I immediately forked right then located the forest track which would take me towards the top end of the wood. However I missed the concealed and overgrown path that I used on my previous ascent of Meall Dubh.

The track I was on had been used for timber extraction and its condition deteriorated with sections covered in brash. Fortunately I soon came to a better constructed track and relocated myself to the top end of the path I had planned to use. At this junction I turned left and followed a track, which had recently been improved, fairly steeply to a set of gates and the open hillside.

It was warm work as I continued to follow the fairly steep vehicle track and as height was gained the tops of An Teallach to the west were visible. Later Meall Dubh came into sight and the track gradient eased although it did become a bit wet and boggy. I left this track and made the relatively easy ascent of Meall Dubh crossing some wet ground to reach the small summit lochan then its cairn. Here there were some great views including the mountains of Assynt and Seana Bhraigh.

I spent an hour lounging around in the sun before descending west then south-west over a mixture of terrain including bog and peat hags, disturbing a herd of deer. I then climbed Creag Deabharan where there were views down to Loch Broom and Ullapool. It appeared to me that the highest point of this Highland Five was to the south-east although there was no man made marking.

From Creag Deabharan I crossed over to the 505 metre knoll then to the vehicle track used for the ascent of Meall Dubh. This track was followed into the forest where I used the earlier missed path to reach the River Lael. I followed the forest track on its north side until lower down when I used a bridge to reach the opposite side. It was then only a short walk on the outward track back to the car park.

previous ascent

Meall Dubh Graham second ascent 667 metres

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Eididh nan Clach Geala

20 August 2013

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Map - OS Landranger 20. Time taken - 6.5 hours. Distance - 21.25 kilometres Ascent - 1045 metres.

I parked in the car park on the east side of the A835 Braemore Junction to Ullapool Road at Inverlael just after 8am. There was a car already parked there and the occupant at the nearby house was taking a photograph of her children prior to them leaving to catch the school bus at the start of a new term after the long summer break.

The start of this walk firstly involved following a vehicle track through a field of sheep that must be used to folks as they hardly bothered to move. A second gate led into Lael Forest where there was a good quality track which could easily be cycled. New trees had been planted to replace those that were cut down a few years back. The Forest Commission had also erected directional signs for Beinn Dearg as well as for a couple of routes through the forest.

At a third gate there was an information board indicating the nearby weir part of a state of the art hydro electric scheme, well that’s what it said. Beyond this gate was the open hillside with the path, a bit worn and eroded in places, taking me through Gleann na Sguaib. Just beyond the waterfall Eas Fionn I came to a junction of paths and took the left fork. Not long after joining this path I spotted a herd of deer above me. Initially they didn’t seem that concerned but later their pace hastened and they were soon almost out of sight.

This path took me into Coire Lochan a’Chnapaich. A small section of the path, which was rather wet and muddy, appeared to have been recently widened, presumably for access by All Terrain Vehicles avoiding the nearby rocks. There was no previous evidence of ATV’s use in this area. Prior to reaching Lochan a’Chnapaich I left the path and climbed through rocks and heather, occasionally using deer paths, to reach the south-west ridge of Eididh nan Clach Geala. I then climbed initially to the cairn on its South Top before heading for the summit.

It was quite windy here so after taking a few photographs I descended its north ridge initially on grass but lower down across some boulders. Prior to reaching the col with A’Chaoirnichain I cut across to the west ridge of the Corbett Top, Toman Coinich, and walked out to the far end where the summit was located. There were a few stones on top of one of the rocks but I couldn’t tell if this was the highest point so visited a few spots before heading back along the ridge to the col with A’Chaoirnichain which I then climbed. The highest point of this Corbett Top was unmarked

I then descended north-west over a mixture of boulders and heather to the path for the Munro, Seana Bhraigh. I followed this path down Gleann a’Mhadaidh and lower down it crossed the Allt Gleann a’Mhadaidh, where the water was quite low. I continued on this track and made the short climb onto Druim na Saobhaidhe. Unfortunately this track had been bulldozed presumably for ATV use and was in quite a mess, covered with large clumps of heather, rocks and mud. I was glad when I re-entered the forest to join the morning’s outward route near the old walled garden at Glensguaib. I then followed the vehicle track back to the car park. There were several other vehicles parked there but the only folks I saw all day were a few people strolling in the forest on my return.

previous ascent

Eididh nan Clach Geala Munro sixth ascent 928 metres

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Ben Wyvis

25 July 2013

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Map - OS Landranger 20. Time taken - 8.25 hours. Distance - 26.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1280 metres.

The easiest approach for Glas Leathad Mor, the highest point on Ben Wyvis, was from near Garbat on the A835 Inverness to Ullapool Road. Having used this route several times I was looking for an easterly approach although this would involve a much longer day over pathless terrain. The obvious starting point was the end of the public road in Glen Glass, reached from the village of Evanton. The decision now was whether to make the walk along the west shore of Loch Glass to Wyvis Lodge where tracks led onto Ben Wyvis or approach from Eileanach. I decided on the latter approach as the Wyvis Lodge route would probably be best done with a bike, which I had left at home.

There appeared to be no objection to parking beside the turning circle at the end of the public road in Glen Glass. Once ready I crossed the road bridge over the River Glass and soon came to a junction of tracks. I took the left one which led to Eileanach where some construction work had taken place and a deer fence erected. I located the gate in this fence and this gave access to the track that ran along the edge of the forest then crossed the open hillside. Further along this track I passed through a gap in the deer fence as the gate was missing.

Beyond, the vehicle track was a peat road which continued away into the distance with various minor diversions where the surface had been churned up. At grid reference NH5236167774 I decided to leave the track and commenced the ascent of Meall a’Chrimig. Initially it was through mosses and heather but higher up it was a maze of peat hags. Fortunately they were mostly dry so I used them to reach the summit of this hill although it did involve a bit of meandering around. The bog maze continued as I made a slight descent then climbed to the summit of Meall na Drochaide, a Graham Top.

I descended to the col with Meall nan Bradan Leathan as the cloud began to lift and I could now see across Loch Glass to the mass of wind turbines on its east side. I was probably better off in the cloud! There were more peat hags to contend with as I ascended this hill and higher up the ground became mossy with the best walking close to the cliff edge. Here the deer in the corrie spotted me and ran off. I reached the summit of Meall nan Bradan Leathan, a deleted Munro Top, before making the short walk to a current Munro Top, Glas Leathad Beag. From here I had views to the north as the cloud continued to break up.

My next hill was Glas Leathad Beag’s West Top, a Sub Corbett Top and then I climbed to the second Munro Top of the day, Tom a’Choinnich. From there I descended to the Bealach Tom a’Choinnich then made the steady climb to the summit trig point of Glas Leathad Mor where I met the first folks of the day, a family from Ayrshire.

After a break for lunch I descended the South-West Ridge for around a kilometre before turning south-east as the cloud lowered and the rain started. I located the cliffs above Coire na Feola and followed the corrie rim later coming across old wooden deer fence posts. I followed them for a while but unfortunately they were leading me slightly off course so I navigated to the col with Meall na Speireig which was a mass of peat hags. The ascent of this Graham Top wasn’t much fun as the underfoot and overhead conditions didn’t change. Eventually I arrived at the top, a mass of bog cotton, where identifying the highest piece of bog wasn’t possible.

I descended north-east towards the Allt nan Caorach using more peat hags as the rain stopped and the cloud broke up. On approaching this stream I was surprised to come across a vehicle track on its south side which had taken a bit of work to construct as it consisted of lots of rock. I followed this track east but it came to an end just before reaching the gorge where the burn merged with the Allt Coire Misirich. I’ve no idea where it started but I presumed in one of the corries below Glas Leathad Mor. After crossing these streams I climbed an embankment, walked over some heather and boggy ground to reach the peat track near where I had left it earlier that day. I then retraced my outward route back to the start.

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Ben Wyvis Munro seventh ascent 1046 metres

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Meall Doire Faid and Beinn Enaiglair

23 July 2013

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Map - OS Landranger 20. Time taken - 6.25 hours. Distance - 13.5 kilometres. Ascent - 965 metres.

The starting point for this walk was the large car park at Braemore Junction on the A835 Inverness to Ullapool Road where a sign indicated the route round the edge of the forest and to a gate leading to the open hillside. Beyond this gate I followed a path, which in normal circumstances would be rather wet and boggy but after the recent fine weather it was relatively dry. However I soon left this path and made my way north-east across some rough moorland consisting of grasses, heather and some dried up bog. After a bit of height gain the ground also contained some rocks especially as I approached the summit of Meall nan Doireachan, where a Golden Plover called out its alarm calls. From the summit cairn of this Graham Top, I had hazy views of Lochs Glascarnoch and a’Bhraoin, the Fannaichs and An Teallach.

The undulating rocky north-west ridge was followed as the alarm calls continued then it was an easy short climb to the Graham, Meall Doire Faid. From here it was a steep descent over grass, heather and rocks to the stalkers path at the Bealach nam Buthan. I had already decided to use this path to gradually gain a bit of height rather than making the direct steep ascent to the Corbett, Beinn Enaiglair. I followed this path as it passed above Lochs nam Buthan and Feith nan Cleireach until just before it lost some height. Here I left the path and climbed through heather onto the south east ridge of Beinn Enaiglair where I spotted a chap away to the east walking south.

As I climbed this ridge I noted a path in the glen between Beinn Enaiglair and the Corbett Top, Creag Bac na Faire which was not shown on my map or any that I’ve since checked. It appeared to be an old stalkers path as I later noticed that it left the glen to gain the ridge I was ascending. I continued to the summit cairn where I took a break for lunch.

I knew the next part of the walk was going to be a bit difficult as the map showed several missing contours. It was a steep descent through heather, loose stones and rocks and it took me a while to reach the Bealach Bac na Faire. From there it was an easy ascent to the cairn marking the summit of Creag Bac na Faire.

It was now time to head back to my car so I descended west below the North-West Top of Beinn Enaiglair until I came across a deer path which I used to climb over the shoulder of this hill before aiming for the junction of paths north-east of Home Loch. On this descent I came across a number of Jacob sheep, a breed that I’m not familiar with and possibly never seen before.

On reaching the junction of paths I followed the one passed Home Loch and to a gate at a deer fence where a notice requested walkers not to use the track through the forest. The sign indicated the route south but after following a short section of track it soon came to an end. Beyond, a stream flowing through a rocky gully was crossed but not before a slight drop and re-ascent. Fortunately the water was low as it would be a bit dangerous if the stream was in spate. As spots of rain fell I proceeded over some rough and boggy ground, most of which was dry, to reach the path not far from the start of this walk. Thereafter it was a short easy stroll to my car.

previous ascent

Beinn Enaiglair Corbett third ascent 890 metres
Meall Doire Faid Graham third ascent 729 metres

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Little Wyvis

22 October 2012

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Map - OS Landranger 20. Time taken - 3.5 hours. Distance - 12.5 kilometres. Ascent - 700 metres.

After a longish walk the previous day a shorter outing was on the agenda so I decided on an ascent of Little Wyvis. On my previous two trips to this Corbett I used the path through Garbat Forest towards Bealach Mor, the route normally taken to climb Ben Wyvis. On this occasion I wanted a different approach and planned to use the tracks on the west side of Little Wyvis, although most of them weren’t shown on my map.

I parked in the Blackwater Car Park, crossed the A835 Garve to Ullapool Road, and walked a short distance up a tarred road. A large locked metal gate, adjacent to a works depot, blocked access to the track for Little Wyvis. Fortunately being Monday morning the yard was open so I just walked through it, followed the edge of a high fence, and this led to an unlocked gate. With only a pile of rubble at the side it wasn’t necessary to use the gate so I just stepped round it and accessed the estate track. When the yard is closed it appears that the only option would be to climb over the large metal gate.

The track wound its way passed a mobile home and some derelict buildings before reaching a large steading. Beyond, I passed through an unlocked gate and some corrugated open roofed constructions. It was a sunny and bright day and the track heading for Little Wyvis was obvious. I doubt this would be the case in misty or cloudy conditions as there were a few tracks going in other directions. Higher up there was another unlocked gate which led through a forest plantation, not on my map. Here I was passed by three men in a Range Rover, we waved and they continued downhill.

Beyond the plantation the gradient increased as the path zigzagged towards the summit where a number of feral goats watched my progress before disappearing. The condition of the track deteriorated as it passed very close to the summit cairn. I took a break here looking across Strathgarve to the Fannaich Munros. I was disappointed to observe tracks running across the hillside in front of the Fannaichs in preparation for the construction of the wind turbines for the Lochluichart Wind Farm. It was sad to think that this view of the Fannaichs was being ruined forever.

y plan included the Graham Top, Tom na Caillich, so I descended north-east over mossy ground which had been churned up by vehicles, making the descent rather boggy in places. At the col between Little Wyvis and Tom na Caillich I followed fence posts over some marshy ground to Tom na Caillich’s summit cairn where there was a good view of the Munro Top, An Caber.

I descended to the col and continued to the lower of two tracks which I followed until it rejoined the track used on my ascent. I then returned to the start by the upward route. On approaching the steading I heard three shots but had no idea where they came from nor did I see any shooters.

previous ascent

Little Wyvis Corbett third ascent 764 metres

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Cona' Mheall, Meall nan Ceapraichean and Beinn Dearg

21 October 2012

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Map - OS Landranger 20. Time taken - 9.75 hours. Distance - 21 kilometres. Ascent - 1370 metres.

I have been up Beinn Dearg and its adjoining Munros several times and on the occasions when visibility was good I thought Coire Granda would make an ideal change from the trade route from Inverlael using Gleann na Sguaib.

With a fine day forecasted I decided to explore the Coire Granda route. The starting point was Torrandhu Bridge, on the A835 Garve to Ullapool Road, west of Loch Glascarnoch where there was space for a few vehicles. The sun was already up when I set off across the moorland following the boggy path to the Abhainn a’Gharbhrain, the route usually taken to climb the Munro, Am Faochagach. On reaching this stream I headed directly to Loch a’Gharbhrain over some more wet and boggy ground with a few peat hags to add to the experience. Staying close to the west bank of the stream may have been easier.

The surrounding hills were reflected in the still waters of the loch and after taking a few photographs I headed over to a couple of ruins beside the Allt a’Gharbhrain. They were obviously houses at one time and I suspect there may have been several more in this flattish part of the glen. The stream was crossed at a point where it briefly split into three making for an easy crossing. I then walked over to the south-east ridge of Leac an Tuadh and commenced its ascent. The gradient steepened before I reached the summit plateau followed by a wander to the cairn marking the high point of this Graham Top.

I sat at the top listening to the roar of the stags and looking for a route onto the south-east ridge of Cona’ Mheall. There appeared to be a grassy rake above Coire Granda but it looked rather steep near the top. The alternative was to lose a lot more height and check out the other side of the ridge. I opted for the grassy rake and descended to the Allt Beith, disturbing some deer en-route. I worked my way round bands of rock and commenced this chosen ascent route which was obviously used by deer. It wasn’t as problematic as it appeared from the distance but higher up it was steeper with several minor landslips which made the upper section a bit more testing.

I was glad to reach the south-east ridge with its views of Coire Granda, Coire Lair and my approach route. There were still a few obstacles to overcome including a couple of areas of wet and slippery slab rock but they were easily bypassed. Lower down I had already encountered verglas on a couple of rocks but these were in areas sheltered from the morning sun. The rock pillars blocking the ridge couldn’t be avoided but with plenty of hand and foot holds the scrambling was easy. As I headed towards the summit of Cona’ Mheall a Billie Goat was resting on the edge of a rock pillar but got fed up posing for photographs and disappeared downhill. The final stretch to the summit cairn was boulder strewn.

My initial plan didn’t include the Munro, Meall nan Ceapraichean, but with fine weather conditions, I decided that I had sufficient time to make a slight detour. I therefore didn’t linger on Cona’ Mheall and descended its bouldery west face to the Bealach an Lochan Uaine. From here I made the easy ascent of Meall nan Ceapraichean where I stopped for a late lunch sheltering from a cool breeze.

After lunch I returned to the Bealach an Lochan Uaine and in a space of a few minutes met the first walker of the day and spotted a few others. I crossed to Beinn Dearg and ascended its rocky north-east ridge. Higher up there was a small amount of snow lying some of it compacted by fellow walkers making the snow slippery. The summit cairn was reached at the same time as a couple but I had no time to linger. I descended the south-west face with its many boulder fields before the gradient eased briefly. I then continued through long heather, avoiding slab rock, and eventually reached the waterfalls of the Allt Beinn Dearg. Here there was more slab rock to contend with before arriving in the glen, shown on a map as Mucarnaich. In hindsight I should have probably tackled the descent by an alternative south facing ridge.

I decided not to follow the Allt Mhucarnaich and return by the morning’s outward route. Instead I crossed the shoulder of Meall Feith Dhiongaig and made a direct beeline for Torrandhu Bridge avoiding some steeper and rocky sections on the descent as the sun set. I had been tempted to add in the nearby Graham Top, Meall Leacachain, but decided to leave it for another excursion.

previous ascent Cona'Mheall and Beinn Dearg

previous ascent Meall nan Ceapraichean

Cona' Mheall Munro sixth ascent 980 metres
Beinn Dearg Munro sixth ascent 1084 metres
Meall nan Ceapraichean Munro sixth ascent 977 metres

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Meall Mor

22 August 2012

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 20/21. Time taken - 7 hours. Distance - 21.5 kilometres. Ascent - 840 metres.

I climbed this hill in 2008 from Glen Glass so on searching for an alternative route decided to use the access road for Novar Wind Farm. This involved driving along the Boath Road which was reached from the B9176 Struie Road. There wasn’t any suitable parking at the start of the access road but I located an off road space around 300 metres to the east.

We walked back along the road then followed the vehicle track passed Easter Ballone and to an electrical sub-station. Here there were various signs but none indicated that access was restricted so we took the uphill track which swung round below Cnoc a’Leacachan and Cnoc Gille Mo Bhrianaig. During the ascent a couple of vehicles passed us.

The track then passed a number of wind turbines before we came to a sign restricting access to authorised personnel only as the area was construed to be a construction site. We could see that several new wind turbines had been built and that the ground was being tidied up. The decision was made to continue along the track where the driver of a loaded tipper truck just gave us a wave. After around half a kilometre we cleared this restricted area and gained a bit more height before leaving the vehicle track to make the short climb to the summit cairn of Meall an Tuirc, a Graham Top.

On returning to the track we descended towards a col passing the final wind turbine. At this point we encountered the first rain of the day. It was good to get away from the turbines and their constant noise but we immediately encountered an area of bog and peat hags which involved a bit of meandering to avoid them.

Beyond these obstacles it was a relatively easy climb with one short dip to reach old fence posts on Meall Mor’s north-east ridge. After another short dip and a couple of peat hags we reached Meall Mor’s trig point where we had lunch sheltering behind a rock from the wind. At this time of year I’m happy with a breeze as it keeps the midges at bay.

After lunch a fairly steep descent north-west took us to another area of bog which we walked round before making the short and easy climb to the summit cairn of Meall Beag, another Graham Top.

Rather than return by the outward route I decided to descend north-east to the track on the south side of Loch Morie. Initially the descent was relatively easy but after some height loss the ground became a bit wet and tussocky. Lower down it became quite steep with rocks, long heather and bracken to contend with. A hind and its youngster were spotted and we watched each other for a few minutes before they decided to run off. The slow pace gave the midges the opportunity to attack us and make the descent rather uncomfortable. It’s not a route I would recommend although the map showed a path further west but I don’t know if it exists.

The track on the south side of Loch Morie was in sections wet and muddy and hadn’t been used by a vehicle for some time. However it did allow for the pace to increase and to get away from the midges. Further east the track began to improve as vehicles accessed the higher forest tracks. At the east end of the loch it passed through an area of trees then above the south side of the River Averon, also known as the Alness River. It eventually led to the farms at Boath and a walk of around a kilometre, on a tarred road, back to my car.

previous ascent

Meall Mor Graham second ascent 738 metres

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Carn Ban

14 April 2012

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 20. Time taken - 9.25 hours. Distance - 25.5 kilometres. Ascent - 920 metres.

I was invited by Frances to join her and her friends on an ascent of Carn Ban which was to be her final Corbett. I was happy to go along especially as it was announced that a northerly approach was planned. I had already climbed Carn Ban twice, once from Black Bridge to the south and on the second occasion from Alladale in the east.

We were staying at Inchnadamph Lodge and the drive to Oykel Bridge didn’t appear to take very long. Here we left the A837 and travelled south along a vehicle track for six miles to Corriemulzie Lodge. The track was a bit rough in places so care was required as not to damage the cars. The route wasn’t signposted other than a notice saying no through road. There was no indication that walkers and their vehicles were welcome but from previous visits I was aware that the estate kindly offered parking between the cottage and the lodge at Corriemulzie. On arrival there I was pleased to note this was still the case.

Once geared up we commenced the walk following a vehicle track passed the Lodge and up Strath Mulzie with the river to our left. It was a lovely morning with ever improving views of the snow covered tops of Seana Bhraigh and its easterly peak An Sgurr. Further along the glen the summit of Carn Ban appeared in the distance but it was still several miles away. Around this point a couple of mountain bikers passed us.

About ninety minutes after setting out we arrived at the crossing point of the Corriemulzie River. This had been a concern for a few of the party but the river wasn’t very high and there were a few stepping stones, albeit some under the water, to assist in the crossing which was uneventful. I slight climb was followed by a descent to Loch a’Choire Mhoir which was sparkling in the sunlight and with the backdrop of Coire Mor made an ideal setting.

A walk along the track on the east shore of the loch led us to Magoo’s Bothy, arriving there around two hours after our departure from Corriemulzie Lodge. A couple were about to leave the bothy on their bikes after an overnight stay there. We took a break here and on leaving the bothy around half an hour later we spotted two folks, probably the mountain bikers who passed us in Strath Mulzie, high up on the north ridge of An Sgurr.

We walked up the south side of the Allt na h-Imriche but the terrain soon deteriorated with lots of peat bogs to cope with. The group soon split as everyone looked for the easiest route through this maze. On gaining a bit of height we left the peat bogs and climbed onto the north-west ridge of Craggan a’Chait where we encountered a snow shower. This summit, a Corbett Top, was marked by a stone and with falling snow blowing in the wind it wasn’t a location to hang around.

A short descent was followed by an easy climb towards the summit of Carn Ban as the weather cleared and the views improved. The large summit cairn was reached where there was a small celebration to mark Frances’s completion of the Corbetts. With a cold wind blowing we opted to return to the bothy, roughly by the ascent route, for a very late lunch. The bothy was already occupied by a chap who planned to stay overnight and he was later joined by a couple of cyclists. After lunch we headed for and down Strath Mulzie shaving five minutes off our outward time, the end of a successful day. Congratulations to Frances.

previous ascent

Carn Ban Corbett third ascent 845 metres.

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Carn a’Choin Deirg

2 July 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 20. Time taken - 5 hours. Distance - 16 kilometres. Ascent - 800 metres.

I had looked at the map and read a route plan climbing this Graham from near Glencalvie Lodge but it appeared to me that without a mountain bike Croick was a shorter approach. However one concern I had was the exact location of the electric fences that have been installed on Alladale Estate and if their were any crossing points. I had been on the Estate earlier this year but went along Gleann Mor to climb Carn Ban.

The weather forecast was for heavy thundery showers later in the day so I planned an early start. The downside was the drive up Strathcarron, which was reached from Arday on the A836 Tain to Bonar Bridge Road, was in fairly misty conditions. I went to the end of the public road at Croick where a locked gate barred any further progress by vehicle. The house at Croick appeared to be a holiday home or let and there was no suitable parking space although it might have been possible to park on a track on the north side of the road but it was being used as a building storage area. I returned to opposite Croick Church and parked there while a couple were taking pictures of the Church in the mist.

Just after 7am I walked the short distance back along the road to Croick and went through a small wicket gate at the west side of the property which took me to a fairly sturdy bridge over the Black Water. The map showed a path through the forest but the misty conditions weren’t helping. However I initially managed to keep to the path which went through long damp heather with the occasional copse of trees. There was no wind and the flies and clegs were horrendous. I was wearing two tops as the clegs had bitten through my single top the previous day and I was left with lots of bite marks. Now they were going for my face and hands.

I eventually lost the line of the path and made my way through the heather as the mist lifted. A roe deer was startled by my sudden appearance and shot off. On approaching the breast of the hill I saw a deer fence and made a bee-line for it to discover on closer examination an electric wire protruded out form the fence on the opposite side which would have made climbing the fence rather tricky. There were no warning signs that the fence was electrified but it doesn't appear that this is required. I later saw a stile further downhill so headed there and crossed the fence. I wouldn’t rate the stile very highly as it was quite low and anyone with short legs might have difficulty crossing.

I could now see that the fence, which followed the ridge line, disappeared into the distance. Underfoot conditions weren’t too bad but it was hot, humid and the clegs were still annoying me and did so for many more miles. As I followed the ridge line I could see down to Alladale Lodge but it may have been too early for them to spot me. The fence of course would be a good navigational aid in poor weather but it wasn't needed today.

Higher up there were some peat hags and a joining of fences. I found a gate which required lifting off its wooden supports to get through. Another fence continued uphill across some peat hags. This fence also had an electric wire but this time low to the ground so I suppose it would be easier to cross if that was necessary. The fence came round the south then west side of the 557 knoll before descending to a col below Carn a’Ghorm Loch. At long last I was able to leave this intrusive fence and head towards the south end of Loch an Tuill Riabhaich and the foot of the east ridge of Carn a’Choin Deirg.

I climbed this ridge to the summit trig point of Carn a’Choin Deirg reaching the summit in 2.75 hours from Croick, which was a lot shorter than the time given for the cycle in from Glencalvie Lodge. I had views of Ben More Assynt, Conival, Canisp, Suilven, Cul Mor, Cul Beag, Ben More Coigach and Beinn Ghobhlach. There was a fine breeze and it was great to get away from the clegs and flies. I had a second breakfast enjoying the above views.

While relaxing at the summit I studied the map as I didn’t fancy the walk back along the fence so I decided to head for Strath Cuileannach. I crossed over to Carn a’Ghorm Loch, where I had to cross the deer fence, which wasn’t that stable, with an electric wire near the ground. There were a few Golden Plovers in this area. I dropped steeply to the east side of Gorm Loch disturbing a hind which shot off and later decided to bark a warning to its young, which was obviously concealed in the long undergrowth. I saw no sign of the calf but the hind continued to bark.

A couple of enclosures, constructed using deer fencing, had been built at either end of the loch but I have no idea why. The one nearest to me didn’t even have a gate. I followed the outflow of the Gorm Loch to a forest where there was a break in the trees which allowed me to continue to follow the stream. While going through the forest I heard several screeching noises which I am presumed were roe or sitka deer.

I alighted from the forest into Strath Cuileannach near to old sheep pens. There were a few deer in the Strath which surprised me as I though they would be higher up to get away from the flies and heat. I headed to the Black Water and realised why it had been given this name. It was dark, slow moving and there was no way of knowing how deep it was. Sheep were trying to shelter in the sand under the embankments but soon moved when they spotted me.

I followed sheep tracks along the south side of the river disturbing some more deer and they joined the sheep trying to flee my presence. A pair of herons rose from the riverbank. Eventually I came to a bridge, crossed to the north side and onto the vehicle track. This track was followed back to Croick.

Shortly after my departure down Strathcarron there were spots of rain. Later in the afternoon there were thundery showers and lightning so I was pleased to have made an early start despite the mist.

Carn a'Choin Deirg Graham first ascent 701 metres

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Carn Ban

12 April 2009

photos taken on walk

Map – OS Landranger 20. Time taken – 10 hours. Distance 34 kilometres. Ascent - 1250 metres.

On my previous visit to the remote Corbett, Carn Ban I climbed it from Black Bridge on the A835 Inverness to Ullapool Road. This time I wanted to approach it from a different direction and my choices were Strathcarron to the east or Strath Mulzie in the north. I opted for the eastern approach as I wished to see what Alladale Estate had done in their quest to build a safari park. Strathcarron is accessed from Ardgay on the A836 Tain to Bonar Bridge Road. At ‘The Craigs’ take a left to the end of the public road where there was limited parking. However there were no signs at this point so I continued along a reasonably good hardcore road for just over a mile where I parked my car in a quarry.

We set off along the track and within a few metres came to a sign indicating no unauthorised vehicles beyond this point. I thought the estate owners were being rather kind allowing walkers to drive this far, so no complaints so far. A couple of stone pillars indicated that we were approaching Alladale Lodge which could be seen up on the hillside. However my route didn’t go near the Lodge but crossed a couple of bridges, one over the Alladale River, before heading up through some trees. It was here that we came across the infamous fence and gates. The fence was the standard deer height but with electric wires near the top, externally and internally, so it would be impossible to climb over. Locked gates had ‘Keep Out’ signs but a few stiles had been provided. I wasn’t intending entering this massive enclosure where boar and elk were kept.

The vehicle track, which was in reasonable condition, was followed up Gleann Mor with the fence on our right. There was no sign of the boar or elk. A smaller enclosure appeared to have been added at the west end of the original fence, not sure what for, but at NH423876 the fence headed up and over the hill. We were now in a wild and very scenic glen on a rather pleasant sunny day with still many miles to go before commencing the climb of Carn Ban. We came to another enclosure but this time for tree regeneration where several new trees had been planted. A wildlife viewing hut had been constructed, which we used for a coffee break. The only thing we saw from the windows of the hut was a wagtail.

Beyond this fenced area there were a few Highland cattle and some distance further on the glen narrowed as it passed a weir. The track crossed the Abhainn a’Ghlinne Bhig and headed to Deanich Lodge but we kept to the north side of the river following an intermittent path. A couple of mountain bikers were seen heading passed Deanich Lodge and into Gleann Beag. There were also a couple of herds of deer in the area and an eagle being harassed by a crow.

Prior to rejoining the track which went up Gleann Beag we left the path and commenced a climb of the heathery hillside towards Carn Ban, which was still around 4 kilometres away with 550 metres of height to climb. Some of the heather had been burnt so progress was better than expected until we reached the crossing of the Allt Bheargais where we were confronted by a gorge with lots of rocks, which needed a bit of care. We were fortunate that once we were beyond the gorge we came across an old stalker’s path, not shown on the map. In places the path wasn’t in great condition as a few long sections were just green slime bog but as height was gained it improved and we now had views to the south of the Graham, Meall a’Chaorainn, the Corbett, Beinn a’Chaisteil and the Munro, Am Faochagach. Later Loch Vaich came into view. More deer were disturbed in this area.

I was surprised how far the stalker’s path continued but eventually it disappeared in an area of peat and it was here we had the first short shower of the day, on this occasion it was of hail. Underfoot conditions were relatively easy despite having to cross a few peat hags and we climbed to the knoll south of Carn Ban. Here there were magnificent views of the Beinn Dearg Group of Munros, Seana Braigh, Ben More Coigach, Stac Pollaidh, Cul Beag, Cul Mor, Suilven, and Canisp. A short descent and the final climb took us to the summit cairn of Carn Ban after over five hours of walking. It was sunny and now time for a late lunch which we had looking north and west at the mountains already mentioned but they now included the Quinag, Breadbag, Conival and Ben More Assynt. Beyond were Arkle, Foinaven, Ben Hope, Ben Loyal and Ben Klibreck. A great location to view and name the various mountains of the North-West Highlands.

Not having cycled in, which is possible on some good tracks, we had the option of returning by a different route. We set off down the east ridge of Carn Ban spotting a couple of figures, possibly the mountain bikers we had seen earlier, heading across the knoll towards Carn Ban. More deer were disturbed as were a couple of ptarmigan. At the col with Bodach Beag there were impressive views of the north-east corrie of Carn Ban which is hidden from those approaching from the south and west. We then climbed to the summit of the Corbett Top, Bodach Beag before dropping down to the peat hags between Loch na Gabhalach Nodha and Locahn nan Leac, disturbing more deer en-route and spotting a lizard.

The peat hags were quite awkward to cross and a bit time consuming and there were still a few to avoid on the climb of An Socach. A Golden Plover, with its high pitched call, was alarmed by our presence. On reaching the summit we took a break above the cliffs of the north face looking down into Glen Alladale and across to the Graham, Carn a’Choin Deirg. Most of the climbing was now over as we headed to the cairn on An Socach, which doesn’t appear to be the highest point, and along its east ridge with views of the Corbett Carn Chuinneag and the Graham, Carn Salachaidh. Latterly some All Terrain Vehicle Tracks were followed but I presumed they would later lead to the electrified enclosure and I didn’t fancy confronting the elk or boar. There were lots of Golden Plover on this side of An Socach.

At a suitable point we descended the steep heathery south side of An Socach coming out on the vehicle track in Gleann Mor beside the electric fence. A chap was setting up his tent on the other side of the track. We then followed the track back to the start following the outward route.

It was a long day, ten hours, to bag this Corbett from the east. I had expected more obvious signs of damage to the hillsides but once beyond the electric fence they were no obvious signs of change other than to Deanich Lodge which had been upgraded. I also expected some anti-hill walking signs but was pleasantly surprised that we appeared to be welcome, well until you have to pay for access to a safari park.

previous ascent

Carn Ban Corbett second ascent 845 metres

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Meall Dubh

11 April 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger – 20. Time taken – 4.75 hours. Distance - 14 kilometres. Ascent - 675 metres.

The ascent of the Graham, Meall Dubh, started at Inverlael on the A835 Inverness to Ullapool Road, about 9 kilometres north of Braemore Junction. A new car park replaces the previous verge parking on the old road.

We set off up Gleann na Sguaib but a vast amount of the forest has been felled and pipes have been buried between the vehicle track and the River Lael. The area is a mess but it should recover in a few years.

Further up the Glen we came to concrete constructions, one on either side of the river. The bridge over the River Lael, which I hoped to use to access the north side of the forest, led to a construction area so the route had to be changed. Further west we found a footbridge connected with the construction work and used it to cross the river and work our way round the site and up the track on the west side of the Allt Gleann a’Mhadaidh. Here there were some wild cherry and larch trees. More work had been carried out further up this stream which I later learned was in connection with the Inverlael Hydro Electric Project.

According to the map there was no link between the track we were on and the path exiting the north side of the forest so I was pleased to observe what appeared to be an old stalker’s path zig zag uphill. Although the path was overgrown, including with some larch trees in the middle, it was a relatively easy climb. In fact we reached another vehicle track before heading to the large gate at the edge of the forest. A small wicket gate permitted access to the open hillside.

The map showed that the route above the forest was a path but it is in fact a vehicle track. As we gained height we had views across to the Fannaichs, Fisherfield Munros and An Teallach in addition to the Beinn Dearg Group of Munros which we had viewed earlier on the ascent. There was a fairly strong cool wind blowing with the occasional spots of rain, just as forecasted. We came to a stream, which I thought might be a problem to cross bit it was very shallow. The track on either side of the stream was boggy but as we continued uphill the track became less obvious so we left it and followed some grassy rakes which made for easy walking. We aimed for the small lochan to the south-west of the high point as the summit cairn was only a short distance further on so it wouldn’t be a problem to locate if the cloud lowered.

However we were very fortunate to have cloud free views. In addition to the mountains already mentioned we could see Beinn Ghobhlach, Sail Mhor, Ben Mor Coigach, Stac Pollaidh, Cul Beag, Cul Mor, Suilven, Canisp, Conival, Ben More Assynt and the Far North-West Mountains.

It was rather cold and windy on the summit so after taking a few photographs we headed off returning to Inverlael by the ascent route.

Meall Dubh Graham first ascent 665 metres

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Carn Loch nan Amhaichean and Beinn nan Eun

1 November 2008

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 20. Time taken - 8.5 hours. Distance - 26 kilometres. Ascent - 910 metres.

Today I decided to climb the Graham, Carn Loch nan Amhaichean, located North-West of the Munro, Ben Wyvis. The starting point was the A836 Inverness to Ullapool Road at Inchbae Lodge Hotel, 8 kilometres north of Grave. I found a parking space on the west side of the bridge over the river that runs down Strath Rannoch. It doesn’t appear to be named, well at least not on my map.

I crossed the bridge and walked up the track through the forest in Strath Rannoch. It was very still with just the noise of the water rushing south and a few birds. Suddenly I heard a short sharp bark and I was just in time to spot the roe deer disappearing into the forest. Once out of the trees I had good views up the Strath to Meall a’Ghrianain, the south top of the Corbett, Beinn a’Chaisteil. Smoke was coming out of the chimney at Starthrannoch Farm, so I realised the property was occupied.

After over an hour I reached the farm. It would be quite possible to cycle to this point. There were several red deer in the area. The track passed to the east of the farm and just beyond that, on the other side of a double deer gate, a vehicle track headed west and another led in a few metres to a small dam, which appeared to have been constructed in the last few years. A path continued up the side of the Allt a’Choire-rainich although it wasn’t that distinct and at times was hidden by drifting snow.

I continued up this path, crossing the stream, as indicated on the map, disturbing a couple of deer. Stags in the area were roaring as the rut continued. What I could see of the path, it was in relatively poor condition with sections wet and boggy. I eventually gave up on my plan to go to the head of the glen and cut across rough, snow covered vegetation as I climbed the west side of Carn Loch nan Amhaichean. I found a grassy rake, which made the climb a bit easier and it took me to the rock strewn snow covered summit.

I took a break here sheltering behind the cairn from a cool breeze and some snow flakes and contemplated whether to descend down the south-west ridge and back to Strath Rannoch or to continue to the more remote Graham, Beinn an Eun. In the end I decided that I could reach Beinn an Eun in around two hours, which would save a long approach up Loch Glass on another day.

The descent from Carn Loch nan Amhaichean was steeply down the north ridge with the snow making for a quick and easy drop in height. I thereafter headed round the west side of Loch nan Amhaichean where the going was rather tough with snow filled peat hags and rough terrain. These conditions continued as I followed the outflow of the loch and crossed the Abhainn Beinn nan Eun where more peat hags to worked round. Eventually I reached snow covered heathery ground as I headed up Beinn an Eun and onto its west shoulder where there were more snow filled peat hags to cross. From the summit cairn I could see the snow covered Caithness hills, the Corbett, Carn Chuinneag, the Beinn Dearg Group of mountains and the cloud covered Ben Wyvis.

I had reached the summit within the two hours but now it was time to make the long return journey. I followed my boot prints back to Loch nan Amhaichean and climbed to the col between Clach Sgoilte and Carn Loch nan Amhaichean where again there were lots of snow filled peat hags. Once these were negotiated it was an easy descent through the long snow covered heather to the path used on the upward route. The stags were still roaring.

I then used the path and the track down Strath Rannoch to return to my car as darkness was falling but at least it was a successful day, two new Grahams.

Carn Loch nan Amhaichean Graham first ascent 697 metres
Beinn nan Eun Graham first ascent 743 metres

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Beinn Tharsuinn

27 September 2008

Map- OS Landranger 21. Time Taken - 3.5 hours. Distance - 14 kilometres. Ascent - 660 metres.

I left Inverness and headed north on the A9 as the rain started. Beyond Evanton I took the B9176 Struie Road as far as Strath Rory. Here there was a large car parking area but I continued west along the rough track to the Gravel Pit where there was a locked gate.

I set off in the wind and rain along the vehicle track than headed north-west above the Strathrory River to the edge of a forest. Once beyond the forest, the track descended towards a concrete bridge. Here there was a mess of bog as an electrical cable had been taken across the hillside and buried. At the bridge several bags of rubbish had been deposited, possibly by the contractors, so they will be there for years to come unless someone with a vehicle removes them.

Once across the bridge I continued up the track to an old quarry, not marked on the map, where some old metal, including part of a tipper truck, was lying there rusting. I walked round the top of the quarry and over some rough and wet ground. I could hear the roar of the stags so the rut had started, well at least in Easter Ross, however at this time I couldn’t see the deer.

I climbed up the side of the hill Torr Leathann and at this point saw the deer on the side of Beinn Tharsuinn. The dominant stag was chasing off the young pretender. As the deer disappeared I climbed onto the east ridge of Beinn Tharsuinn and out of the cloud appeared a wind turbine. As I gained more height I counted 15 turbines, although a later Google search stated that there were 20 in total. They were not shown on my map but access to these turbines was from the north which would be another ascent route, but it is longer. Onward and upward over heathery and mossy vegetation took me to the trig point where I had a coffee break in the rain, as the cloud was trying to break up a bit.

After the break I headed over to the col between Beinn Tharsuinn and Torr Leathann, where there was plenty of peat hags to cross, before climbing to the summit of Torr Leathann, where there was a large cairn. Here I could see the Dornoch Firth to the north and Cromarty Firth and the village of Evanton to the south. The descent down the north-east ridge of Torr Leathann was relatively easy over wind blown heather. A lone ptarmigan flew off. I reached the rough and wet ground above the quarry and then followed the outward route back to the start. The rain never ceased until my return to Inverness.

Beinn Tharsuinn Graham first ascent 692 metres

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Meall Mor

9 May 2008

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 20 & 21 Time taken - 5.5 hours. Distance - 16.5 kilometres. Ascent - 620 metres.

I was joined by my brother for the ascent of this Graham located north of Loch Glass. The starting point was the end of the public road in Glen Glass at Eileanach Lodge. The glen was reached from Evanton which is just off the A9 between Inverness and Alness.

We followed an estate road on the south side of the River Glass to the weir at the start of Loch Glass. From there we had fine views up the loch as it was a sunny morning. Once across the weir we followed a forestry track on the east side of Loch Glass but soon left this track for another one that climbed up through the forest. At least here we were sheltered from the morning sun.

It was a steady climb and eventually we alighted from the forest with views of a few of the Novar wind turbines. We continued up the track to the wind farm passing close to a couple of the turbines. After the westmost turbine we crossed some peat hags and commenced the climb of the south-east ridge of Meall Mor. The ground was a bit spongy but with the dry conditions the walking was okay although later we encountered some more peat hags.

A pile of stones was reached and just beyond that the summit trig point. Although it was windy we sat and had a snack looking over to Ben Wyvis, the Glen Diebidale Corbett and Grahams, and the Grahams Carn Loch nan Amhaichean and Beinn nan Eun. Although it was a bit hazy we could still recognise Seana Bhraigh, The Deargs and Fannaichs.

The return was back to the edge of the forest where we descended the path on its north side towards Loch Glass before following another track through the forest which took us to the track we used on the outward route which was followed back to the start.

Meall Mor Graham first ascent 738 metres

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Beinn Tharsuinn

3 November 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 6.75 hours. Distance -22 kilometres. Ascent - 990 metres.

Beinn Tharsuinn is a fairly remote hill situated between Strathcarron in the north-east and Strath Vaich in the south-west. The Strath Vaich approach in particular would benefit from the use of a mountain bike but whatever approach is selected there is still a lot of cross country walking.

I opted for an approach from the north-west, without the use of a cycle, as I had planned to use a stalker’s path after around 1.5 kilometres, but as you will read this didn’t materialise.

Strathcarron is reached along a single track road from Ardgay near Bonar Bridge. At the telephone kiosk at The Craigs another single track road goes to Glencalvie Lodge. Just before the Lodge there is some limited parking.

I set off from this parking area and followed the track through the Lodge grounds with its tree houses and well laid out garden including a pond and small island. Beyond the Lodge I walked south up Glen Calvie at the west side of the Water of Glencalvie. At the bridge over this river I had planned to leave the vehicle track and follow a path, marked on the map, across the hillside to Glen Malagain. However the area was fenced off for natural regeneration of a Caledonian Pine forest and there was no sign of the path.

I continued up the Glen, passing several hay stooks until I came to a bridge over the Water of Glencalvie. It was partially collapsed so I decided against a crossing at this point and continued to another bridge just south of the joining of the stream Abhainn Coire a’Mhalagain. I was carefully crossing this bridge when I my concentration was disturbed by a salmon unsuccessfully leaping to the next pool.

It was then rough going as I followed the Abhainn Coire a’Mhalagain west until I came across a new bridge and then followed a wet and boggy All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) track along the north side of the burn. I had already seen and disturbed lots of deer and more were spotted as I walked westwards. The ATV track wasn’t in great condition and the further west I went the worse it became. I decided to leave the Glen once I was beyond a fenced off part of the north side of the Diebidale Ridge. As I crossed the Abhainn Coire a’Mhalagain I saw a few trout in the stream.

The climb of the steep hillside onto the ridge was really testing through knee deep heather trying to follow deer tracks. Once the gradient eased the walking was a bit easier and I climbed to the 691 summit. Here I had views east to Carn Salachaidh and Carn Chuinneag. There was a cold strong wind blowing at the summit but it was dry although I had already encountered a few short showers.

I still had another couple of kilometres west to go till I reached the summit of Beinn Tharsuinn so I headed off down the rather wet west ridge to a large area of peat hags which took a while to negotiate before reaching the bealach. The ascent of Beinn Tharsuinn’s east ridge was rather different, it was steeper and quite rocky in places. Around five ptarmigan took off into the wind. From the summit cairn I had views of Carn Ban, Meall a’Chaorainn and Beinn a’Chaisteil although the mountains to the west were cloud covered as another rain shower approached.

Now the long walk back was in front of me. I had the option of descending into Glen Mhalagain or to return along the Diebidale Ridge. I opted for the later which involved returning to the 691 point, re-crossing the peat hags and climbing its west ridge. However once over this point the underfoot conditions improved until nearer the east end where there were some more peat hags. Once beyond Mullach Creag Riaraidh I followed a wet and boggy ATV track to Diebidale Lodge, which appeared to be a holiday establishment. On the east side of Glen Calvie there were dozens of stags feeding on the hillside.

A footbridge north of Diebidale Lodge allowed me to cross the Water of Glencalvie and follow the vehicle track back down Glen Calvie to the start.

Beinn Tharsuinn Graham first ascent 714 metres

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Carn Salachaidh

20 October 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 4.5 hours. Distance - 12 kilometres. Ascent - 770 metres.

Strathcarron was the location for the ascent of this Graham. The Glen was reached along a single track road from Ardgay on the A836 just south of Bonar Bridge. Directly opposite the impressive Gruinards Lodge a metal gate permitted access to the hills on the south side of the road.

A vehicle track was followed through a small area of forest onto the open hillside. The map actually showed it as a path but as far as its highest point it had been used by vehicles.

It was a very pleasant morning, calm with the occasional roar from cows in the glen and from stags. However the rut must now be over as the stags were very quiet, either that or they have all been shot. This was the final day of the stag stalking season for this year. The autumnal colours were wonderful especially where the sun was shinning on the hills.

The track continued uphill to the east of Carn Mor and was a bit boggy at times. I 'put up' a few grouse and some deer on Carn Mor watched me for a while before running off. The track levelled out, reverted to a path, before it gradually descended for around forty metres to the Allt a'Ghinne. It was very tranquil and calm here with only the noise of the stream disturbing the peace.

I crossed the stream and a followed a stalker's path on the opposite side. This was not shown on my map but it soon disappeared into long heather and bracken. I kept to the west side of a small stream trying to find the easiest route through the vegetation watched by a stag and a few hinds.

Higher up the gradient eased and here it was a bit windy. I worked my way to the west of Carn a'Bhealaich and towards the surprisingly rocky summit of Carn Salachaidh. I had to work my way round some of the rocks before reaching the summit trig point. However this was not the highest point as a large boulder just to the east was obviously slightly higher.

From the summit I had views of Carn Chuinneag, Ben Wyvis and the wind farms east of Loch Glass and on the east side of Ben Wyvis. It was windy here but I found some shelter to have an early lunch looking at the distant mountains of the North-West.

The return was by the ascent route although I kept to the east of the stream flowing into the Allt a'Ghinne where there was a bit more grass, although underfoot it was wet in places. Lower down I still had the bracken and long heather to contend with before reaching the path back to the start.

This was a fairly isolated hill and I never saw any sign of human activity even in Strathcarron.

Carn Salachaidh Graham first ascent 645 metres

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Seana Bhraigh

17 May 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 9.25 hours. Distance - 26 kilometres. Ascent - 1090 metres.

This was to be another challenging walk for my client as Seana Bhraigh is a very remote Munro and recently she has been struggling as she tries to complete the final dozen Munros, most of which are long and tough days.

We set off from Inverlael, on the A835 Braemore Junction to Ullapool Road, and walked along the track through the forest and onto the open hillside. The path here was rather wet and boggy in places as we climbed over the Druim na Saobhaidhe ridge. The stalker's path, which was now much improved crossed the heathery hillside to Coire an Lochain Sgeirich where there is a series of small lochans, each one higher than the previous one. A very idyllic setting which had obviously been noted by a solo camper.

The weather forecast was for rain and wind to spread into the west coast during the day but we could see out over Loch Broom and there was no evidence of the weather breaking at this time.

After several hours we came to the end of the path in a very wild area but fortunately with good visibility we could see the route ahead. A slight descent was required to a point above the rocky face of Cadha Dearg. However even in clear conditions care was required as there were several rocky areas to avoid.

Once above Cadha Dearg it was a steady climb to the 906 Point south-east of Seana Bhraigh where we were affected by low cloud which broke at times as we climbed to the summit of Seana Bhraigh.

Here we sought some shelter for lunch with the occasional break in the cloud which allowed us views down to Loch Luchd Choire and over to Strath Mulzie, which is another approach route to this Munro.

The return was by the ascent route but once away from the high tops there was no problem with low cloud and the walk back was long but uneventful and my client coped reasonably well with the long walk in and out.

previous ascent

Seana Bhraigh Munro fifth ascent 927 metres

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Beinn Dearg and Cona‘ Mheal

9 May 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 9.5 hours. Distance - 23 kilometres. Ascent - 1180 metres.

The start of this walk was the A835 Inverness to Ullapool road at Inverlael, where there is some off-road parking at the edge of an old section of road. From here we walked up to and through the forest emerging in Gleann na Sguaib. It was fairly warm lower down in the Glen but higher up a bit cooler with some short spells of rain. The path was in reasonable condition although some sections were eroded.

High up in the Glen we passed some idyllic wee lochans before reaching the bealach to the north of Beinn Dearg. Here we crossed over to the stone dyke that headed towards the summit and followed a rough and stony path on its west side. We left the stone dyke when it changed direction and continued the short ascent to the summit cairn. We had some views of the surrounding mountains but low cloud was approaching so we headed back to the dyke as a heavy hail shower made the descent slightly tricky.

On returning to the bealach we traversed to a second and slightly lower bealach to the west of Cona' Mheal. From this point it was a relatively easy ascent, over some stony ground, to the summit cairn of Cona‘ Mheal.

After taking in some of the surrounding views we returned to the first bealach and commenced the long walk back down the track to Inverlael passing some deer en-route.

This was Laila’s 271st and 272nd Munros, meaning that she had only 12 Munros left to bag.

previous ascent

Beinn Dearg Munro fifth ascent 1084 metres
Cona' Mheall Munro fifth ascent 989 metres

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Am Faochagach

21 August 2006

Time taken: 5 hours Distance: 13 kilometres. Ascent: 690 metres.

The evening before this walk I checked with the head stalker and was advised that they were starting stalking in the morning, but fortunately the route I had planned wouldn't interfere with either of our plans.

I parked at the side of the A835 Inverness to Ullapool road at the bridge over the Abhainn an Torrain Duibh where another car was already parked. We crossed the road, fence and some wet and boggy ground to the Abhainn a'Gharbhrain.I managed to use some stones, one or two were submerged, to cross dry footed but my client removed her socks and boots and put on a spare pair of socks to cross the river. This was the first time I had seen spare socks worn to cross a river.

We then climbed up the side of a stream where there was a walker's path and higher up we met a chap, who had obviously been out very early, en-route back to the start. Once on the south ridge of Am Faochagach the cloud lowered and we were soon engulfed by it as we headed to the summit cairns keeping to the east of the knolls.

On reaching the summit there was a break in the cloud and we saw a large herd of deer, who were oblivious to our presence, feeding below us. It was a bit windy on the summit so we descended a bit to take a break before heading back to the start by the way of ascent.

Just after re-crossing the Abhainn a'Gharbhrain we met a couple of hill runners who were en-route to the summit of Am Faochagach but we were happy to head back to the start and the end of another Munro bagging day for my client.

previous ascent

Am Faochagach Munro sixth ascent 954 metres

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Eididh nan Clach Geala & Meall nan Ceapraichean

20 July 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 10 hours. Distance - 21 kilometres. Ascent - 1171 metres.

The start of this walk was Inverlael on the A835 road between Braemore Junction and Ullapool.

Although it was just after nine o'clock when we set off through the Lael forest the sun was out and it was already 21C. There was no shelter from the trees due to a lot of them having been felled so we had to put up with the heat. There wasn't even a trace of a breeze. To add to our problems the flies and clegs were out and attacking us. The only consolation was that it was too hot and sunny for the midges.

Once clear of the forest we followed the path up Gleann na Sguaib to just beyond the Eas Fionn. At this point we took the path towards Lochan a'Chnapaich and once above 600 metres there was a slight breeze which was very welcome as we were over heating in the direct sunlight. Prior to reaching Lochan a'Chnapaich we left the path and climbed onto the west ridge of Eididh nan Clach Geala and onto the summit cairn.

My client's wish had been to continue onto the remote Munro, Seana Bhraigh, but due to the heat she sensibly abandoned this plan and we decided to climb Meall nan Ceapraichean instead.

We descended the south-east ridge of Eididh nan Clach Geala to the small lochans, where it was very warm, before we climbed onto the east ridge of Ceann Garbh. Here there was a pleasant breeze and it was now rather hazy as we walked round Ceann Garbh and climbed to the summit cairn of Meall nan Ceapraichean with its steep drop into Gleann na Sguaib.

Lunch was taken on the summit before the descent to the foot of Beinn Dearg and into Gleann na Squaib. It tried to rain but rather than put waterproofs on it was rather cool and refreshing but it didn't last for long before it became rather humid again.

It was slow going down the Glen as my client was suffering from a pain in one of her knees. Lower down the midges were out so we needed the 'Skin so Soft'. On re-entering the forest the flies and clegs were worse than on the upward route and a few met a sudden death. We were grateful when we reached the shelter of the car to get away from their attention.

previous ascent

Eididh nan Clach Geala Munro fifth ascent 928 metres
Meall nan Ceapraichean Munro fifth ascent 977 metres

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Beinn a'Chaisteil

30 April 2006

photos taken on walk

The starting point for this walk was the A835 Inverness to Ullapool Road at the Black Bridge just south of the Aultguish Inn. The first three kilometres of the walk was on a tarred road to the farm at Lubriach, which could have been cycled if we had bikes with us.

Just beyond Lubriach we followed a path that crossed the hillside to join a vehicle track below a small hillock called Meallan Donn before traversing round the side of this hillock and heading for the Corbett Top, Meall a'Ghrianain. The ascent of this hill was over rough and boggy ground and in bad weather very old fence posts would assist in route finding as they mark the ridge line as far as the steep climb to the summit.

The earlier high cloud broke and it was now sunny with a cold breeze as we made the final ascent to Meall a'Ghrianain, on traces of an old path. From the summit we had good views and noted a fellow walker at the summit of our next hill Beinn a'Chaisteil. A drop of around 125 metres took us to the bealach followed by the ascent of the south ridge of Beinn a'Chaisteil which was fairly gentle after an initial steeper section.

We eventually reached the summit trig point where the fellow walker was still located taking in the views of the surrounding mountains including those of Ben Hope and Ben Klibreck to the north, to the near-by remote Corbet Carn Ban. The snow clad Fannaichs and Beinn Dearg group of mountains also stood out well. We spoke to this chap for a few minutes and realised he didn't have a rucksack. He explained that he travelled as light as possible storing everything he needed in his pockets. Well this was definitely taking 'Ultralite' seriously.

He headed off in the direction we had come and we headed off down the south-west ridge of Beinn a'Chaisteil which later became steep and heathery but we eventually reached the old houses at Lubachlaggan. It was then a long walk on a vehicle track along the east shore of Loch Vaich back to the farm at Lubriach and then the remaining three kilometres to the start.

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Beinn a'Chaisteil Corbett second ascent 787 metres

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Am Faochagach

22 April 2006

photos taken on walk

The weather forecast was for heavy rain and strong winds spreading across the North-West of Scotland early in the morning with cloud bases around 400 metres. Despite this forecast it was a bright morning with cloud levels well above the summits. The only thing that was accurate about the forecast was the strong wind as we set off from the parking area just west of Loch Glascarnoch at the Abhainn an Torrain Duibh.

We crossed the fence on the north side of the road and followed a boggy path to the Abhainn a'Gharbhrain. This river was flowing fairly fast due to additional water from snow melt. My client and I headed upstream looking for a suitable crossing point and found a spot near the outflow from Loch a'Gharbhrain, where the bed of the river had smaller rocks, rather than the larger boulders downstream. The water was half way to our knees but at least we were across and could now concentrate on climbing this mountain as this river crossing is a problem to Munro Baggers.

We climbed to the bealach north of Sron Liath, en-route spotting a lizard its light colour blending in well with the dead grass. On the bealach the wind was very strong so we tried to find some shelter on the lee side of the hill as we headed towards the summit of Am Faochagach. However the downside was that the snow was deep and soft and at one point collapsed around me and I landed in a bog. My feet were already wet so that didn't make a lot of difference other than they were now rather cold. I extricated myself from the hole, retraced our steps slightly before heading higher onto the ridge as it was better fighting the wind than going into another bog.

On approaching the summit several snow buntings were feeding on the bare sections of the hillside and took off and were blown away in the wind. There was now some hail in the wind as the weather was starting to deteriorate.

At the summit we had a quick look round at the surrounding mountains including the remote Munro Seana Bhraigh which stood out well in the darkening sky. We set off on the return journey, initially back along the ridge, but to avoid the wind and the soft snow we came off the ridge, descended west before traversing across to the Allt na h-Uidhe. There were a few pools containing frogs but they soon dived into the bog on our approach.

We followed the Allt na h-Uidhe to Loch a'Gharbhrain and the Abhainn a'Gharbhrain, which looked a bit higher, but there was only one option so we waded across the river, crossed the boggy ground and returned to the start as it started to rain again.

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Am Faochagach Munro fifth ascent 954 metres

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Carn Chuinneag

16 April 2006

photos taken on walk

The starting point for this walk was the end of the public road on the north side of the Alladale River. Access to this area was gained from Ardgay, near Bonar Bridge and the single track road up Strathcarron.

We crossed the Alladale River by the road bridge and headed towards the entrance to Glencalvie Lodge, which gives the impression that if you continue on this route you are intruding. However from past experience I knew the route and once through the main gates there is a small sign indicating the way through the grounds avoiding the main lodge, but only just. The buildings and grounds are very well laid out and maintained and for those who have a few thousand pounds to spare try this web site for your next holiday.

Once beyond the Lodge it was a pleasant walk up Glen Calvie in the sun, albeit there was also a cold wind. On approaching Diebidale Lodge, another expensive holiday retreat we saw lots of deer, as we later learned from a member of the Estate staff, that this was one of their feeding grounds.

Just beyond the vehicle track to Diebidale Lodge we headed up the stalker's path that zig zagged its way up the north ridge of Carn Chuinneag. The path was in fairly good condition but higher up it was very exposed to the strong wind.

At the junction of paths we avoided the one going round the north face of the hills as there was lots of snow fields and the path would have been concealed and impossible to follow. We elected to continue in the same direction until the path started to descend. Here we left it and commenced the climb to the west top of Carn Chuinneag. This route was awkward as it was through soft snow and large boulders but any better route was concealed by the snow.

The weather was deteriorating and we could see that a storm was on its way and it soon struck us with heavy snow blowing in the wind and reducing visibility. We were walking below the west top and headed for the bealach between the two tops, which we had seen earlier.

The blizzard probably lasted for around ten minutes and began to clear just as we reached the summit trig point of Carn Chuinneag. We were therefore fortunate to get some views and photos from the summit but didn't stay there for long due to the biting cold wind.

We returned to the bealach and rather than face the wind, the soft snow and the boulders we opted to drop down and descend through the snowfields on the north side of the hill and across a few boulder fields to the path we used on the upward route. We encountered a few snow and sleet showers but nothing as bad as on the summit.

The stalker's path returned us to the vehicle track near Diebidale Lodge and the walk back down the Glen to the start. En-route we watched several newts in the drainage ditch at the side of the road.

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Carn Chuinneag Corbett second ascent 838 metres

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Beinn Dearg Corbett

23 May 2005

The start of this walk was Braemore Junction , the turn off to Gairloch, on the Inverness to Ullapool Road.

A signpost directs hill walkers to the end of the car park to round the south edge of the forest where a couple of 'fancy' stiles, using logs have been constructed. Thereafter a marked path leads you across the open hillside to the Home Loch. This path is wet and boggy in places as it gains some height although becomes a bit indistinct near the Loch. It was a sunny start to the day but it soon clouded over and it looked rather black and wild in the west.

Once beyond the Loch the marked path, now a bulldozed track, is reached by fording the stream feeding the Home Loch. The track later swings north and has left an ugly scar on the hillside.

I am unsure how far this track goes as we took the path up the side of the stream and higher up left this path and climbed directly towards the summit of the Corbett Beinn Enaiglair. It was a gradual climb and we came across some feral goats which weren't too perturbed by our presence.

We continued to the summit cairn, with a slight deviation to the north to take in the views of Ullapool and Loch Broom, but the views weren't any different from those on the actual summit. On the final climb to the cairn we disturbed a couple of ptarmigan which tried to draw us away from their nest, although we couldn't see it. From the summit we had views of the Beinn Dearg Munros, An Teallach and the Fannaichs, but most of them were topped by cloud.

From this summit we took a route to the south heading for the Beinn Enaiglair/Meall Doire Faid bealach. The descent was reasonably easy until just before the path where it became a bit steeper with some rocky outcrops for us to traverse. Once across the path we took a direct line up a gully, through some rocks to the summit of Meall Doire Faid, a Graham. Here we sat and ate lunch while taking in the surrounding views but the weather was definitely on the change as the cloud was building.

Once lunch was over we made a direct descent to the south edge of the forest at Braemore Junction but about halfway down it started to rain and became very heavy so we were fairly wet by the time we reached our cars.

Beinn Enaiglair Corbett second ascent 889 metres
Meall Doire Faid Graham second ascent 730 metres

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Ben Wyvis

13 April 2005

Laila, a regular client had travelled north to climb Ben Wyvis. It was a cloudy morning when we set off from the new car park located on the A835 Garve to Ullapool Road just south of Garbat. We walked along a short section of new pathway to reach the usual starting point, the path up the north side of the Allt a'Bhealaich Mhoir, through the forest.

Once beyond the forest we followed another newly constructed path which took us up through the heather clad hillside to around 600 metres. This path avoided the old boggy path which was getting worse with erosion and over use.

When we joined up with the original path on a steeper section of the hillside it was windy as we climbed into the cloud base and onto lying snow. The path was followed to An Caber, a Munro Top, before heading along the ridge in poor visibility and snow showers.

There were cornices on our right as we made our way to Glas Leathad Mor, the highest point on Ben Wyvis.

After reaching the trig point the return was by the upward route with the snow showers continuing but once out of the cloud the wind dropped and the snow showers turned to rain and it was a wet walk back to the car park.

Ben Wyvis Munro sixth ascent 1046 metres

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Little Wyvis

12 March 2005

This walk was to be short day in preparation for a few day's of winter climbing and an opportunity for my client to bag another Corbett.

The starting point for this walk was a short distance south of Garbat on the A835 Garve to Ullapool road. On arrival we found a new car park had been constructed with a walk-way and footbridge leading to the path up the side of the Allt a'Bhealaich Mhoir.

We followed this path, which had a covering of snow, to the end of the forest, where we had to ford the burn. Fortunately it wasn't too deep so crossing it was reasonably easy.

Once on the other side we headed up the side of the forest and onto the open hillside. The terrain wasn't as bad as I remembered from my previous visit. However as we were discussing a forthcoming big event in my client's life I was able to 'wind' her up so the climb to the bealach between Tom na Caillich and Little Wyvis past pretty quickly despite the snow cover.

This changed once on the ridge. It was windy and we could see a storm approaching, which didn't take long to reach us. The mountain was engulfed in cloud and snow started to fall. Fortunately the wind was on our backs as we climbed to the summit of Little Wyvis where visibility was poor.

Rather than walk back into the wind we walked down the other side of the hill and picked up a vehicle track which ran below the north face of the hill and along to the ascent route. Due to the light and the fact we were wearing goggles it was difficult to make out the snow drifts on the track so we frequently came to a halt.

On reaching the ascent route we returned to the start by the way we had climbed the hill.

The client, who probably wishes to remain anonymous at this time, should be aware that enquiries have commenced to ascertain the exact date of this 'big event'. However a few of you may know who she is and I would welcome information on the exact date. No reward, but you may be permitted to join one of her walks.

Little Wyvis Corbett second ascent 764 metres

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Freevater Forest

12 June 2004

I had looked at this very remote Corbett in the middle of the Freevater Forest for some time trying to decide on the best approach. I settled on the southern approach from the A835 Inverness to Ullapool Road at Black Bridge, mainly as it appeared the easiest.

This approach involved 16 kilometres of cycling up the side of Loch Vaich, across the shoulder of Meall a'Chaorainn and into Gleann Beag. I am not a cyclist so it was with a bit of trepidation that early on this Saturday morning I commenced the cycle part of this trip.

The first stretch up Strath Vaich to Lubriach was on a tarred road but on a slight incline so it wasn't that easy. From Lubriach the track up the east side of Loch Vaich is rough and undulating so I was frequently forced to push my cycle up the Glen.

Once beyond the north end of Loch Vaich the track rose over the east shoulder of Meall a'Chaorainn and round its north side before crossing the Abhainn a' Ghlinne Bhig. As this section was slightly downhill I was able to remain on my cycle.

Once across the river the track climbed up Gleann Beag and I followed it to its conclusion beside a small dam.

I took on some food here before walking up the stalker's path to Loch Sruban Mora and onto the south ridge of Carn Ban. Ahead I saw a lone walker and on catching up with him learned that he had also started off from Black Bridge where he had been deposited by his wife.

We discussed the difficulty of the cycle and he advised me that he only had eight Corbetts left to climb, including today's mountain Carn Ban. We walked to the summit together and then back to Gleann Beag where we parted company for a while.

I took on more food and set off back down the track to the highest point on the shoulder of Meall a'Chaorainn. I left my cycle there and climbed steeply up to the summit of this Graham. I took some photographs from the summit as the cloud cover on the higher mountains had dispersed, before I returned to the track for my cycle.

I headed back down Strath Vaich, caught up with my fellow Corbett Bagger and we finished together. The return cycle was easier than the outward route but 32 kilometres is a bit too far for me on a cycle.

Carn Ban Corbett first ascent 845 metres
Meall a'Chaorainn Graham first ascent 632 metres

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Strath Vaich

29 February 2004

After the very hard day on Slioch I expected some call offs but to my surprise all three were raring to go, if not in body at least in spirit. This may partly have been due to the lovely crisp sunny morning. I did disappoint them when I advised them that the weather would deteriorate during the day.

We drove to north of Loch Glascarnoch on the Inverness to Ullapool road with the intention of climbing the Munro, Am Faochagach. This route requires the crossing of a fairly level strath and a river before access to the west side of the mountain can be gained.

Despite the snow and hard frost the ground was still a bit boggy. Ask Frances as she decided to test it out by going up to one of her knees in the bog. Well at least she wouldn’t have to worry about getting wet crossing the river.

The river crossing wasn’t too difficult despite sections of ice although Janice did manage to get a foot wet. The climb up onto An Faochagach was tough as we were tired and the deep soft snow made progress slow. However the struggle was worth it as we reached the ridge. The sun had by this time disappeared but we had a full 360 degree panorama of snow clad mountains including those we viewed yesterday but now from the other side. The distant Cairngorms were particularly attractive as the sun was still shining in the south.

We reached the summit of Am Faochagach as it started to snow, but before the cloud engulfed the summit. It had taken us an hour longer than normal but this was due to the conditions. This was Janice’s 277th Munro and she now has seven left to summit.

On the descent it was a competition between Frances and Eric to see who fell into the deep snow most often. Eric won hands down. He also managed to get his feet wet on the return across the river.

The weekend was extremely tough but exhilarating. I can only congratulate my hillwalking colleagues on their determination to keep going in extremely adverse conditions and I hope it hasn’t put them off walking with me in the future. However I am sure that once the aches and pains of the next few days subside they will quickly be forgotten but the views will last a life time. Congratulations again, Janice, Frances and Eric you were terrific in adversity.

Am Faochagach Munro fourth ascent 953 metres

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14 February 2004

The first weekend in February much of Scotland was covered in several inches of snow and a number of roads were closed. The next weekend gale force winds struck the north-east of Scotland so it was ill advised to venture outdoors.

So, on this Saturday morning in mid-February, it was a pleasure to be heading from Bonar Bridge along Strathcarron to Glen Calvie Lodge, the starting point for the day’s walk. Although the Strathcarron Road was frosty the forecast was for mild temperatures.

In an attempt to avoid disturbing the local laird a diversion round the perimeter of Calvie Lodge took us to a track above Glen Calvie where we disturbed a large herd of deer waiting to be fed. A route along the side of a deer fence led us to the track up the Glen and a pleasant walk to Diebidal Lodge. This lodge has been extensively renovated and appears to be a holiday home. So if you want a remote house with peace and quiet, miles from your neighbours this may be the property for you, but no doubt at a price.

Once past Diebidal Lodge a stalker’s path led up the hillside before climbing onto the West Top of Carn Chuinneag. On approaching this Top a ptarmigan in its white plumage was trying to conceal itself on one of the few patches of snow. More ptarmigan were easily spotted near the summit. As global warming reduces the amount of snow fall in the Scottish mountains these birds and the white hare are going to find concealment difficult and will no doubt be more open to predators.

From the West Top it was an easy walk in cloud across to the summit trig point of Carn Chuinneag. Here we had lunch while nearby a lone ptarmigan was pecking away at the soil. I suppose at least the ptarmigan was finding food easier to obtain as the ground wasn’t covered in snow and ice.

Once lunch was over we returned to the stalker’s path and Diebidal Lodge. The yellow grit bins positioned all the way down Glen Calvie made an eyesore of a beautiful glen. The Estate appears to have carried out a lot of restoration work but it is a pity that they didn’t get more aesthetically pleasing grit bins. These bins spoilt a pleasant walk in Glen Calvie.

Carn Chuinneag Corbett first ascent 838 metres

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Strath Vaich

14 December 2003

I had some time to myself before I returned home so I planned to take in a Corbett (mountain between 2,500 and 3,000 feet). The forecast was similar to the previous day’s weather except that it was to be colder and that snow would fall at low level.

It was dark as I drove north from Inverness towards Ullapool but as I approached the Black Bridge, south of the Aultguish Inn, which is situated below the dam at Loch Glascarnoch, it was clearing sufficiently so that I could see the hills were white.

I set off along the private tarred road for Lubriach where I crossed over to the south ridge of Meall a’Ghrianain, a Corbett Top. It was raining as I climbed this unpathed ridge and the rain turned to sleet and then snow. The last section of this hill was a steep climb and the snow was blowing off the summit into my face. Once at the small cairn marking the summit I headed down to the col. The spindrift and snow showers were making it impossible to see so I had to don goggles to stop my eyes stinging with the snow particles.

An easy climb back into the cloud saw me heading for the summit of Beinn a’Chaisteil. It was still snowing now and again with the strong winds blowing the snow about. I soon found the summit trig point but there were no views so I headed back to the col. From there I descended steeply to a small burn where there was shelter from the snow and wind. I wasn’t on my own down here as I disturbed a large herd of deer who obviously had the same idea.

I continued down to Loch Vaich where I had a quick lunch sheltering behind one of the derelict houses. It was then just a sake of walking down the glen for 5.5 miles on estate roads. The sun even came out on a couple of occasions but this was followed by snow showers.

Once back to the warmth and shelter of the car I had a 3.5 hour drive back to Aberdeen.

Beinn a'Chaisteil Corbett first ascent 787 metres

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Seana Bhraigh

8 September 2003

I was asked to go to Seana Bhraigh by Janice. Once again she arrived at exactly the arranged meeting time at out starting point at Inverlael on the A835.

This was the first time I had approached Seana Bhraigh from the west as I normally come in from Strath Mulzie using a mountain bike. It was also a weekday and the middle of the stag stalking season so beforehand I contacted the stalker at Inverlael. I found him to be very amenable and in fact he phoned me back as he was out when I phoned originally. If you are entering the Inverlael Estate during the stalking season I would recommend that you give the stalker a phone beforehand to discuss your plans.

A walk through the forest and a climb up onto the Druim na Saobhaidhe ridge took us to the stalkers’ path which crosses open hillside. Seana Bhraigh is a rather remote Munro so this is a long walk in. In bad weather there is no shelter but we were fortunate that it was a warm early autumn day. Higher up the path passes an interesting feature, a succession of about six lochans all at different levels which feed each other.

After about three hours of walking on this path it disappeared and required a bit of searching for the best route of descent to the cliffs beside Cadha Dearg. It was then a short climb up to the summit of Seana Bhraigh and magnificent views of its northern corrie and the vista of the north. It was only spoilt by some rain clouds away out to the west.

After a long lunch break at the summit cairn we headed back to the start by our outward route. Unfortunately not long after leaving the summit it rained heavily for a short time with some hail mixed in but it didn’t spoil our day on one of Scotland’s remote Munros.

Seana Bhraigh Munro fourth ascent 926 metres

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The Deargs

20 July 2003

Jean, Janice, Frances and Alison joined me for this walk.

The walk started at Inverlael up through the forest and a good stalker’s path in Gleann na Sguaib to the bealach. Jean and Janice didn’t stop talking all the way up catching up on gossip as they hadn’t seen each other for a few weeks.

Once at the bealach Jean and Alison sheltered there as they had previously climbed Beinn Dearg. The rest of us climbed Beinn Dearg during a shower of rain.

After returning to the bealach the next summit was Cona Meall before once again going down to the bealach. We were now headed back towards the cars but still had some climbing to do. The next Munro was Meall nan Ceapraichean and its Top Ceann Garbh before a descent down to a bealach situated beside some lovely lochans where we had our afternoon break. The sun even came out for us.

Once refreshed we tackled the final climb of the day to the lowest Munro of the day, Eididh nan Clach Geala. This was Jean and Janice’s 261st Munro although they have different Munros to climb to complete all 284.

On the descent down Eididh nan Clach Geala’s west ridge the cloud came down and later broke up to make the area very atmospheric with views of the surrounding cliffs.

Unfortunately on the descent down the stalker’s path the heavens opened and we all got rather wet.

The walk took over 10 hours, a fairly long day for some. Jean and Janice didn’t realise the time nor did they remember the route up through the forest and stalkers path as they were otherwise engaged in conversation. So no doubt I will get (BT) Jean’s response as “It’s good to talk”.

Beinn Dearg Munro fourth ascent 1084 metres
Cona Mheall Munro fourth ascent 978 metres
Meall nan Ceapraichean Munro fourth ascent 977 metres
Eididh nan Clach Geala Munro fourth ascent 927 metres

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