A tale of three Beinns

Monday 21 November 2011:

Beinn a’ Chlachair (22 km, 937 m Ascent)

Tuesday 22 November 2011:

Beinn a’ Chaorainn + Beinn Teallach (16.1 km, 1251 m Ascent)

Day 1, Monday 21 November 2011

22 km/937 m/06:30 hrs

Munro: Beinn a’ Chlachair (No. 208)

Once again, a good forecast for the Central Highlands – and another opportunity to top up my Munro count before the first snow would arrive!

On a backpacking trip in June 2010 I had camped by the ruins beside the Allt Coire Pitridh, south of Lochan na h-Earba, and intended to do the three Ardverikie Munros in one day. After climbing Creag Pitridh and Geal Charn in rain, wind, hail and low cloud, I gave Beinn a’ Chlachair a miss and escaped to Culra Bothy instead.

I was going to deal with this unfinished business today, but what I saw at the beginning of my walk didn’t exactly match the good weather forecast.

The Graham Binnein Shuas was clear of cloud…

… but the cloud level on the hills north of the A 86 didn’t look very promising.

The reservoir SW of Lochan na h-Earba.

Beinn a’ Chlachair, my target for the day.

The sandy beach at Lochan na h-Earba.

First I followed the track that leads up beside the Allt Coire Pitridh, but a few hundred metres after the ford I left the path and cut across to Beinn a’ Chlachair’s north ridge.

I sat down on a boulder and had a lunch break, and within 20 minutes the views changed from this…

… to that:

Binnein Shuas and Creag Pitridh were lit up by the sun.

The way up to the ridge was mainly grassy, with a few rocks in between.

The summit was now almost clear, and I was looking forward to some great views from the top.

Geal Charn.

But when I turned round, I saw low cloud approaching – not again!

Now it was a race against time, with the summit still clearly visible, but the clouds approaching fast.

But I was a little bit too slow, this is the view I had when I arrived on the broad ridge.

The summit cairn.

I even had to use the compass to find my way back across some large boulder fields.

Looking back to the summit, the atmosphere was almost eerie with the sun trying to penetrate the dark clouds.

When I was below the cloud level, I could see Creag Pitridh and Geal Charn in the sun again.

Looking east into An Lairig and towards Loch Pattack.

About 500 m in a NNW direction from the 977 m top, I started the descent from the wide ridge.

Descent route.

The slope is quite steep, but not difficult.

After I reached the track by the Allt Coire Pitridh, it was easy going all the way back to the car. It was getting dark at 16:30, and at the footbridge at Lochan na h-Earba I put my headtorch on in case I would need it. But on the good track I could walk the last hour in the dark without switching the light on.

I spent the night at the Station Lodge Bunkhouse at Tulloch, and the MWIS forecast provided by the hostel indicated that tomorrow would be the best day of the week!

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Day 2, Tuesday 22 November 2011

16.1 km/1251 m/07:30 hrs

Munros: Beinn a’ Chaorainn + Beinn Teallach (Nos. 209 + 210)

I left the bunkhouse early, drove along the A 86 in thick fog and parked in the small parking area outside the forestry gate at Roughburn. A clear track leads up into the forest, and about 100 m past a junction where I took the left turn, a small cairn marks the start of a very boggy path through the trees and to a stile. Once on the open hillside, there are several faint paths leading up to Meall Clachaig.

Soon, the sun started to disperse the fog in the glen.

Loch Treig.

Yesterday’s hill, Beinn a’ Chlachair, on the left.

View SW towards The Grey Corries.

The ascent route from Meall Clachaig to Beinn a’ Chaorainn.

Looking across to Beinn Teallach.

On the broad ridge, the summit ahead.

View across Coire na h-Uamha to Loch Laggan and Binnein Shuas.

Creag Meagaidh to the NE.

Beinn a’ Chaorainn summit.

From the summit, I walked to Beinn a’ Chaorainn’s north top, to get a better view of Creag Meagaidh.

After following the north ridge for a short distance, I turned left and descended the grassy slopes to the Allt a’ Chaorainn.

Beinn Teallach’s east face.

After crossing the stream, I sat down on a rock in the sun and had a late lunch break.

Then I made my way through some crags up to Beinn Teallach’s NE ridge.

Loch Sguadaig.

The ridge is not well defined, but there is an intermittent path winding its way between the crags and grassy sections.

Near the summit, I had to cross a small boulder field – very carefully, as the rocks were covered with a thin layer of frost, which made them quite slippery.

Nearly there…

The first of two cairns seems to be the summit – Beinn a’ Chaorainn visible in the background.

But I visited the second, larger cairn as well – just in case…

After following the ridge in a southerly direction for a while, I descended towards the Allt a’ Chaorainn.

Unfortunately, I had started the descent a bit too early, and couldn’t get down to the Allt a’ Chaorainn because of the steep crags below. But after traversing the hillside for a few hundred metres I found a way down and forded the stream.

Another very boggy path (not shown on the map) on the east side of the river took me to a gate which led into the forest, and onto a track which soon joined the one I had used at the start of the walk. The path on the other side of the river looked better, but I had read before that it might be difficult or even impossible to ford the river before it enters the forest.

These were my last Munros in 2011, and I am very pleased to have reached No. 210, exceeding the target of 200 that I had set myself at the beginning of the year 🙂

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4 thoughts on “A tale of three Beinns

  1. Congratulations on exceeding your 2011 Munro target! I fell by the wayside a little with mine; though I was hoping to get to halfway (142) I only got up to 115 by the end. I must try harder this year!

    • Many thanks, Nick!

      Last year’s weather didn’t exactly help with achieving any ambitious goals… I try not to become too obsessed with Munro bagging – there are so many great walks that don’t include any hills at all, but somehow I seem to enjoy the “hilly ones” most 😉

      Good luck with your Munro target this year – do you have a completion date in mind yet?

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