Letterewe revisited

Day 1 Poolewe – Beinn Làir – Carnmore

Day 2 Carnmore – A’ Mhaighdean – Strathanmore

Day 3 Strathanmore – Poolewe

Day 1

Poolewe – Beinn Làir – Carnmore

20 April 2011

24.9 km/1300 m/09:00 hrs

Corbett: Beinn Làir (No. 27)

While I was spending a week in Germany, I kept looking at the brilliant weather forecast for the Highlands every day and couldn’t wait to get back home. When I arrived in Inverness on Tuesday evening, it was raining – but a quick look at the MWIS website revealed that the dry and warm weather would be returning the next day. So I quickly packed my rucksack, had a few hours of sleep and drove up to Poolewe on Wednesday morning. After my abandoned attempt to climb Beinn Làir in February, when I had to turn back because of the strong wind and the deep snow, I was determined to bag my 26th Corbett this time!

After a short detour to Gairloch, where I bought a freshly made prawn sandwich and an orange juice from the Sandwich Bar at Strath Stores, I arrived in Poolewe and parked in the car park by the bridge over the River Ewe. A single track road on the north bank of the river leads to the farm at Kernsary, this is also a popular cycling route.

About 500 metres past the farm buildings, a gate on the right leads into the forest. Apart from a few very boggy sections…

…this is a good forest track, which soon emerges at a stile into open moorland. Shortly afterwards, the Fisherfield Hills come into view.

Loch an Doire Crionaich.

Fionn Loch and Dubh Loch.

After a late lunch break with the food I had bought in Gairloch, I packed a small rucksack with some essentials, dumped my big pack behind a rock and headed up the path towards the Bealach Mhèinnidh.

A small cairn indicates the start of an indistinct path up Beinn Làir. I stayed as close to the cliffs as possible, to get some good views down to the lochs. Unfortunately, the air was very hazy, and the distant views therefore limited.

The Causeway and Carnmore.

The broad ridge of Beinn Làir, with steep cliffs to the North East.

Looking down into Gleann Tùlacha.

View from the 830 m top towards the summit.

The large summit cairn, with Slioch just visible behind.

It was 17:45 when I arrived at the summit, the ascent had taken a lot longer than I had expected, so I decided to descend as quickly as possible by walking down in a straight line to the bealach instead of following the cliff line again.

The 830 m top on the way back.

Hazy view down to Loch Maree.

Shortly after leaving the summit, I met a walker with a dog, on his way to the top. He had started from Poolewe as well, and was planning to camp down by the loch and climb some more Corbetts the next day.

On the way down from the bealach.

Beach at Fionn Loch.

The walker I had met on Beinn Làir had overtaken me in the meantime and was pitching his tent on the other side of the Causeway.

The setting sun beside Beinn Àirigh Charr.

After crossing the Causeway, I walked past Carnmore and further up the path that traverses the hillside diagonally. On a flat grassy patch on the left side of the path I found a good camp site that I had used before. After I had pitched my tent, it was getting dark quickly, and as I wasn’t very hungry, I just had a coffee, a soup and some biscuits and went to sleep just before 22:00.

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Day 2

Carnmore – A’ Mhaighdean – Strathanmore

21 April 2011

16.5 km/1072 m/08:00 hrs

Just after 07:00 I had a first glimpse out of the door of my tent, and although it was still a bit hazy, it looked as if another nice day was lying ahead.

Early morning clouds over Meall Mhèinnidh and Beinn Àirigh Charr.

An hour later, it looked even better 🙂

View towards Carnmore.

After packing up my tent, I packed my small daypack again and left the big rucksack tucked behind a rock, as usual. Then I walked further up the path I had come up the day before, and although it was still early morning, it was already very hot and the air much clearer than the day before.

The Eastern end of Dubh Loch.

After crossing the Allt Bruthach an Easain, I started climbing up the Northwest Ridge of A’ Mhaighdean.

The views became better with height…

At Fuar Loch Beag I had a short break – this would be a nice camp site as well.

Apart from a few scrambling sections, the first part of the ridge is very easy.

Higher up, the hills to the North East come into view over Fuar Loch Mòr: Beinn Dearg Beag and Beinn Dearg Mòr, and An Teallach in the background.

Carnmore and Fionn Loch.

After a short steep section…

… the ridge suddenly flattens out.

The Beinn Tharsuinn Chaol ridge with Beinn Làir behind.

At the other end of the wide plateau this sandstone tower rises up. I had read in some route descriptions that a rock tower on the ridge can be avoided by a path on the right hand side. Although this didn’t really look like a “rock tower”, I couldn’t see a direct way up it, but there was a reasonably clear path around it on the right, so I followed it.

I suppose I should have climbed it directly, because my “path” ended in some very steep, loose ground just below this buttress – with a very deep drop to the right.

After some hairy moments I scrambled very slowly and carefully up to the ridge again, where I had good views down the other side, to Fuar Loch Mòr.

The steep ground I had climbed up.

The buttress I had “avoided”.

At this point I had arrived at the proper “rock tower” I had read about, and this one actually had a steep, but clear path leading around it to the right.

Looking back at the tower.

The view from higher up, the two obstacles blocking the ridge.

After this, the difficulties are over and it is only a short way to the summit.

The Northwest Ridge, seen from the summit.

The wide plateau just before the summit, Ruadh Stac Mòr on the right and An Teallach to the left.

The “postcard view” to Fionn Loch and Dubh Loch.

The other direction, to Lochan Fada.

For the descent, I used the good path that leads to the bealach between A’ Mhaighdean and Ruadh Stac Mòr.

The descent route.

The “Howff” below Ruadh Stac Mòr.

Fuar Loch Mòr.

The path down, along the West side of Ruadh Stac Mòr.

A’ Mhaighdean’s NW Ridge, seen from Fuar Loch Mòr.

The Allt Bruthach an Easain has to be crossed again, this time on stepping stones.

Lochan Fèith Mhic’-illean.

Back down to Dubh Loch on the excellent stalker’s path.

View back to the NW Ridge.

I picked up my rucksack where I had left it in the morning and walked back down to Dubh Loch.

The Causeway.

Good campsite just before the Causeway.

Beach at Fionn Loch.

Last look at the two lochs.

Instead of walking back to Poolewe the same day (probably having to walk the last part of the way in darkness, followed by a two hour drive home), I decided to camp by the ruins at Strathanmore and have a leisurely walk out the next day.

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Day 3

Strathanmore – Poolewe

22 April 2011

11.8 km/226 m/03:00 hrs

During the night, the wind had picked up, but it was still going to be a nice sunny day.

Rising sun over the Fisherfield Hills.

On my way back through the forest, I came across some horses on the path, thankfully they were not quite as scary as Highland cows – at least they stayed where they were, instead of coming towards me…

Approaching Kernsary.

Looking back to Kernsary.

Looking over to Creag Mhòr Thollaidh on the other side of Loch Maree.

Although it was very windy, it was a very pleasant walk along the River Ewe back to Poolewe. I met several groups of mountain bikers heading in the opposite direction and felt slightly jealous…

On my way home, I stopped in Gairloch again, this time to visit the Mountain Coffee Co. and to try their fantastic (but expensive) cakes.

Now that I have climbed all the Munros and Corbetts in the Letterewe area, I am already thinking of future trips – I haven’t tried the approach from Gruinard Bay yet, and I would like to climb the Beinn Deargs from Shenavall (I have climbed them from the West via the bealach between the two, but I think the ascent to the hanging corrie from the East must be more scenic).

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5 thoughts on “Letterewe revisited

    • You’re welcome – and thanks again for your comments!

      This area is one of the very special places in the Highlands for me as well, even on the walk out I was already longing to go back! I felt really privileged to be able to enjoy the scenery in such perfect conditions 🙂

  1. Yes, the best inspiration if you’re sitting here in Germany…

    But I’m counting the days, only to rise with the sun 4 times and I’m in the holy country. 😉

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