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

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