Saturday 11 October 2014

Beinn a'Chaorainn and Beinn Teallach.

Allt a'Chaorainn beside the A86 at the start of the walk (NN374814)

We set off from the layby opposite Roughburn Farm in hazy sunshine, the early morning mist slowly rising. It looked promising for cloud free summits and some excellent views.

The muddy track in the forest south of Meall Clachaig (NN370822)

Initially the route took us through forestry plantation, along good tracks - as per the guidebook, we looked out for a small cairn (it was very small, about half a dozen pebbles in a pile about 6 inches tall!) before heading north along a muddy ride through the wood. It was pretty gunky, but nothing that couldn't be avoided.

Rafe didn't really want to avoid it - brown legs and belly were the inevitable result.

Stob Coire Sgriodain and Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin from the ascent of Meall Clachaig

The forest ended suddenly, and we were out on the open hillside, pathless, in the warm autumn sunshine. We headed off, north, towards the shoulder of Meall Clachaig ahead, through golden grass and heather.

Geal Charn from the ascent of Meall Clachaig

Once on the shoulder we continued up, the views to the south improving with every step, the mist was dissipating, but cloud was swirling and remaking the panorama minute by minute.

North to Beinn a'Chaorainn from Meall Clachaig

We stopped for a drink and some flapjack at the summit of Meall Clachaig, fortification for the long pull we could now see ahead of us.

Meall Clachaig - views south to Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin

It wasn't particularly steep, but it was long and pretty pathless, We wound our way through heather, boulders and a bit of scree, but mostly it was straight up the grassy slopes - excellent workout for the gluteus maximus!

Beinn Teallach from ascent of  Beinn a'Chaorainn

The views continued to widen, with Beinn Teallach, our second planned Munro of the day, off to the west. The Munro's above Loch Trieg, were to the south - hills we've walked recently,

 Beinn a'Chaorainn South Top (Munri Top 40, 1049m) - views east

As we neared the summit plateau, the clouds rolled in and we found ourselves enveloped in mist and a cool breeze got up. Time to don another layer!

From Beinn a'Chaorainn ridge into Coire na h-Uamha

The views were intermittent and moody - down into Coire na h-Uamha and it's tiny lochan (looked a great place to wild camp!) and beyond to the Creag Meagaidh massif.

Views east to An Cearcallach from Beinn a'Chaorainn

The wide ridge (is that a contradiction in terms?) led us over the South Top, the first Munro Top of the day, along the top of the cliffs and crags to Beinn a'Chaorainn's main top, Munro 80 at 1052m and further north to the North Top, another Munro Top. There wasn't much drop between them and it was an airy stroll. 

 Jim and Rafe - Beinn a'Chaorainn (Munro 80, 1052m)

The mist continued to blow in and out, never completely clearing, but the views down into the coires via gullies and rock strewn cliffs, draped with streams of luminous cloud kept us quite happy.

Coire na h-Uamha from Beinn a'Chaorainn

It was pretty chilly, the wind and cloud kept us moving. No messing about...

Looking back (south) along Beinn a'Chaorainn ridge
from North Top (Munro Top 53, 1043m)

Once we had taken the obligatory photograph on Beinn a'Chaorainn North Top, we continued north for 300m. The mist was thick enough at this point to get the compass out and take a bearing to get us down to Tom Mor. Within about 20m of descent though, the cloud parted and the bealach was before us.

Lunch and views... mmmm.

Beinn Teallach from descent from Beinn a'Chaorainn

The cairn at Tom Mor was a few rocks on top of a boulder possibly an erratic - another rather disappointing "landmark".

Beinn Teallach and Carn Dearg from descent to Tom Mor

I preferred the lonely metal gate, slowly rusting back into the landscape. What a view it has though.

South from Tom Mor

Those views were enormous...

The Monadhlaith - north from ascent of Beinn Teallach

The Monadhlaith  (I always think of these hills with a The at the beginning, with a capital T) stretching north and east, miles and miles of uninterrupted wildness - no roads, no buildings, no pylons, no turbines - just nature taking care of itself.

The Monadhlaith - north from ascent of Beinn Teallach


If you are reading this in years to come - I'm SO SORRY - the above won't mean anything - The Monadhlaith won't exist as a wild place anymore.

A massive wind factory (I refuse to use the word farm - its a factory, its an industrial estate!) Stonelairg, is to be built, with the blessing of our urban based Government in Holyrood (seems just as far away as Westminster sometimes!!).

67 turbines, 133m tall, over an area the size of Inverness, roads, deep, deep foundations, borrow pits, associated buildings, grid connections (massive transformers etc), 

This will not just intrude visually, but cause massive ecological damage, to say nothing of the releasing of carbon caused by the deep disturbance of the peat. Destroying what we're supposed to be trying to save!

And there are several other industrial scale wind factory planning applications ongoing in The Monadhlaith - talk about the thin end of the wedge...

For further info check out the two links below.

John Muir Trust

Scottish Wild Land Group


Creag Meagaidh behind andBeinn a'Chaorainn from the ascent of Beinn Teallach

We headed straight up the side of Beinn Teallach from Tom Mor, briefly steep, but this gave an excuse to stop and breathe in the wild beauty.

Beinn Teallach

Once on the north ridge, we found a small path through the rocks. The ascent was gentle and very lovely...

The Monadhlaith from the ascent of Beinn Teallach

We were soon on the summit of Beinn Teallach (Munro 282, 915m), one of the smallest Munro's. The mist had rolled in again - so we had to drop a few metres down off the summit to enjoy the views east to Beinn a'Chaorainn, whilst we indulged in a second lunch.

Beinn Teallach summit (Munro 282 915m)

We had been sensible enough to take a bearing at the top of Beinn a'Chaorainn. We didn't do the same on Beinn Teallach! 

 Beinn a'Chaorainn from Beinn Teallach

We fixed our eyes on a suitably square bit of forestry plantation down in the Glen, pointed ourselves in that direction and off we went! The going was good - grassy slopes, just steep enough to let gravity do most of the work

Stob Coire Sgriodain and Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin from descent from Beinn Teallach

It was only when we noticed (at least a couple of hundred metre's of descent later) that the burn in the gorge to the east wasn't big enough to be Allt a'Chaorainn, that we reassessed our position and took a sharp left and made for the correct square of forest!

Note to self - Just 'cause visibility is good, doesn't mean you can stop concentrating!

 Beinn a'Chaorainn from descent from Beinn Teallach

What wonderful views we were treated to...

Stob Coire Sgriodain and Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin
from the descent from Beinn Teallach 

Everything looked as if it had been bathed in an autumn hue of Ir'n Bru.

Stob Coire Sgriodain and Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin from walk out beside the Allt a'Chaorainn

An easy crossing of Allt a'Chaorainn, followed by a trot back through the forest and we found ourselves back at the car.

Another lovely day...

Finished off by a coffee (Jim had cake as well!) at The Bridge Cafe in Spean Bridge.

Oh, Sorry about the Rant... but I mean't every word!

 Allt a'Chaorainn and Beinn a'Chaorainn (NN365831)

Route:  Layby on N side of A86 opposite Roughburn Farm (NN377814), forestry track NE, follow twists and turns to junction at NN372822, turn W, continue for 100m and at a very small cairn turn N through forest on muddy path, continue out onto open hillside to Meall Clachaig SW ridge, Meall Clachaig (675m), continue up open hillside (intermittent path) to Beinn a Chaorainn South Top (Munro Top 48, 1049m), Beinn a'Chaorainn (Munro 80, 1050m), Beinn a'Chaorainn North Top (Munro Top 53, 1043m), continue N for 250m, descend NW on open hillside to beallach at Tom Mor (smaill ciarn on top of a boulder), ascend W onto Bean Teallach N ridge, path to Beinn Teallach (Munro 282, 915m), descend S then SW across open hillside to path at approx NN365835, follow path along N side of Allt a'Chaorainn, cross where able, continue along side of burn until NN363823, cross field SE to forest track (NN365822), follow track east to meet outward route and retrace to start.

Statistics:  Distance: 16km  Ascent: 1170m  Time: 8 hours

Saturday 4 October 2014

The Easains - Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin & Stob Coire Easain

In June, we'd walked over the Munro's Stob Coire Sgriodian and Chno Dearg, just across Loch Treig, knowing that Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin & Stob Coire Easain were still on our list of to-do's - The Easains had remained mysterious that day, their heads in the clouds - but the undulating ridge had looked good from Fersit, the start of both walks.

An Dubh Lochan looking south to Stob Coire Sgriodian

So, on a day of fast moving clouds and shining lochs, we set off from beside the pretty An Dubh Lochan on the Fersit road, and around the lochan's northen end. The paths were boggy, but clear across the grasses, yellowing towards autumn, towards Creag Fhinaclach ahead.

An Dubh Lochan from the ascent of Creag Fhinaclach

But the clear paths's didn't last long unfortunately...

They disappeared quickly into heather and tussock - so across the hillside we went, making towards a five bar gate, a vague track, appearing and disappearing amongst the vegetation. Once through the gate (NN346788) a track headed off east and west (the old tramway from Loch Treig to Fort William) but nothing straight ahead - the heather was deep and woody, so we headed east along the track for a short way until the heather eased off to tussocky grasses and we struck off, south west across the open hillside towards Creag Fhinaclach.

Jim and Rafe - Loch Treig from the ascent of  Creag Fhinaclach

The sun was out, the views were opening up...

Rafe and Jim - On Creag Fhinaclach with views south to
Meall Cian Dearg and The Grey Corries

As we ascended a vague path appeared, getting better as we made our way towards the first minor summit of the day - Creag Fhinaclach 456m.

North east down Glean Spean from Creag Fhinaclach

The ridge was wide, the route obvious, the views spectacular all around...

Rafe and Jim approach Meall Cian Dearg

Meall Cian Dearg was looking bigger than its advertised height, steep and rocky ahead, but it was the boggy approach that was harder work than the short steep scrabble (it wasn't quite a scramble) through rocks to it's summit plateau.

Creag Fhinaclach, Loch Treig and Glen Spean from ascent of Meall Cian Dearg

Better walking now, across rockier, gravelly stuff. As we crossed the plateau in bright sunshine, a golden eagle soared above us, rising and flying off to the south.

Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin from Meall Cian Dearg

We were ready for our first lunch on Meall Cian Dearg's summit at 808m.

Rafe - Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin from
Meall Cian Dearg

Meall Cian Dearg summit (808m) - views to Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin and The Grey Corries

We had views east acorss Loch Treig to Stob Coire Sgriodian and Chno Dearg, north over Leann Spean to Beinn a'Chaorainn and Beinn Teallach and west over the wonderful Grey Corries.

The Grey Corres from ascent to Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin

There were a few more people around now, coming together as paths and routes converged. The path was good and the ascent easy, Rafe bounding on ahead.

Meall Cian Dearg and our route from ascent of Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin

We were soon on the summit of Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin, our first Munro of the day, we could see Stob Coire Easain ahead, across a wide symmetrical bealach - Hamish Brown called the Easains "This Yin and that Yin" - I could understand why...

Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin summit (Munro 46, 1105m)

After the usual summit photo fest, we headed on down into the bealach on smooth grassy slopes with the odd rocky patch.

There were a few clouds coming in, was it going to rain?

Rafe - Stob Coire Easain from descent from Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin

The views over to The Grey Corries and south towards Ben Nevis continued to be wonderful - proper hill country, wild and unspoiled.

The Grey Corries from descent from Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin

We made good time and were soon standing at the bottom of the ascent to Stob Coire Easain, a perfect cone.

Rafe and Jim - Stob Coire Easain from Bealach Coire Easain Beag

It was grassy and easygoing...

Rafe - ascent of Stob Coire Easain

Until we neared the summit, rocky again, with a bit of scree.

Stob Coire Easain summit plateau - views south to Nevis range

Our second Munro, Stob Coire Easain, was the higher by just ten metres. The views of it's twin were glorious.

Stob Coire Easain summit (Munro 39, 1115m)

Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin, north from Stob Coire Easain

We now needed to retrace our steps, back along the ridge, to get back to the start, so we headed back north, descending again into the bealach. The sky suddenly darkened, we expected rain, but no.... snow. First of the season. It was brief, cold and swirling. A portent of the long hard winter ahead...?

Good place for lunch - south of summit of Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin - views south over Loch Treig

Once beyond the bealach, ascending towards Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin, we veered off to the east of the summit plateau, looking for a place to get out of the wind for a second lunch. We weren't totally successful, we found a little dell amongst the rocks for a quick sarnie, but the temperature had taken a dive and the wind was definitely up...

After the snack we made our way up the steep eastern slope, above crags, back to the summit.

Jim - Descent from Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin to Meall Cian Dearg

And beyond over Meall Cian Dearg and down the scrabble to the slopes below.

Meall Cian Dearg crags

It looked a long way over Creag Fhinaclach...

For variety, we decided to head east down towards Loch Treig, rather than just follow our outward route.

We took a vague path through the tussocky grass towards the stone pillar, marked on the map and just visible in the distance. It was rather wet underfoot and somewhat slippery, there were one or two near misses...

North over Creag Fhinaclach and Glen Spean from Meall Cian Dearg slopes

There were great views from the stone pillar, but we were on a roll now, and we continued to descend down steepening slopes towards the limestone tracks by Loch Treig.

Stone pillar (NN337767) - views north east along Glen Spean to Creag Meagaidh 

The ground was still wet and as it got steeper, it meant more chance of a slip - it was bound to happen - slip, slide, squelch. brown elbow and leg...

Descent from Meall Cian Dearg - landrover track (NN344768 approx)

Never mind, we still had enough of a walk to get dried off...

We passed a sheepfold and were soon on a good limestone road (approx NN345768) and we strode north, briefly beside Loch Treig (we had to have a quick look at the dam).

Loch Treig dam and Stob Coire Sgriodian

Before a gentle stroll along the river and through woodland back to the car - An Dubh Lochan was a lovely spot to take in the views and take off the boots!

Early evening light on An Dubh Lochan

Route:  Car parking area beside unclassified road to Fersit at N of An Dubh Lochan (NN349789), vague track toward gate at NN346788, head up open hillside to Creag Fhinaclach (456m), vague boggy path to Meall Cian Dearg (808m), Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin (Munro 46, 1105m), Stob Coire Easain (Munro 39, 1115m), return to Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin, Meall Cian Dearg, descend to stone pillar (NN337767), descend E on boggy path, past sheepfold (NN342767), to track above Loch Treig at NN345768, follow track N past dam, through the Fersit car park, along unclassified road to start point.

Statistics:  Distance: 16km  Ascent: 1250m  Time: 7 hours

Map:  OS Explorer 392 (Ben Nevis & Fort William)

Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin

Stob Coire Easain

Beinn Bhrotain and Monadh Mor

Setting off from Glen Feshie - it was chilly - before the sun had a chance to peep over the hills...  Off we go! Jim - Setting off near Auch...