Travelling from Comrie to Tobermory
Monday 15 October 2012
No walking today, just driving – but the weather was so gorgeous I just had to add some photos of the day!
Although it had been a cold night in Comrie (in the morning my car windows were frozen for the first time), it quickly turned into a warm and sunny day and the journey to the Isle of Mull was an absolute pleasure.
A rather majestic looking Beinn Dorain.
After using the Corran ferry (£ 7 single) I was surprised to see a very long queue on the other side – I estimated something between 80 and 100 cars and was wondering if I should probably make the detour along the A861 on the way back?
But later that day I found out that the Mull Rally had taken place at the weekend and the queues were caused by all the participants and visitors returning to the mainland. I was very lucky with the timing of my trip as I had been unaware of this event and probably would have struggled to find accommodation on Mull one or two days earlier.
After a scenic drive across the Morvern peninsula I arrived at the pier in Lochaline and took the next ferry to Fishnish (£ 28.55 return). The Oban-Craignure crossing would have cost over £ 70 and takes 25 minutes longer.
It was only 14:00 when I arrived on the Isle of Mull and the YH in Tobermory would not open until 17:00, so I drove along the B8035 to suss out the start point of tomorrow’s walk and to get a first glimpse of Ben More.
It’s been many years since I last visited Mull and I had completely forgotten how stunning the scenery was. I also noticed that there were large flat areas of grass beside the road and I could have easily camped somewhere, if I hadn’t already booked the hostel.
After some food shopping and wandering up and down Tobermory Main Street a couple of times it was still too early to check into the YH, so I spent the time until then in the Mishnish Bar, a cosy pub just a few metres up the road from the hostel.
Using the SYHA October offer (30 % discount) I paid only £ 12.25 per night and had a six bed dorm to myself for the two nights.
Beinn Fhada and Ben More
Tuesday 16 October 2012
14.5 km/1198 m/07:15 hrs
Munro: Ben More/Mull (No. 280)
Graham: Beinn Fhada (No. 13)
It was still dark when I left the hostel at 07:30 and I arrived at the start of my walk just after 08:00. Shortly before the bridge across the Scarisdale River I found a faint, boggy path that leads to the foot of the Beinn Fhada ridge.
Higher up the terrain becomes very steep, and I tried to follow deer tracks through grass, heather and crags.
Coire nan Gabhar.
But the effort was rewarded with this view across Loch na Keal and the islands Ulva and Eorsa.
Walking along the ridge, the going becomes a lot easier.
Looking down on the ridge.
Sheep posing in front of Ben More.
The last section of the ascent to Beinn Fhada’s summit is steep and rocky, but I found an easier way up above the lochan on its SW side.
Beinn Fhada summit cairn, with A’ Chìoch and Ben More ahead.
View to the N with Eigg and the Skye Cuillin on the horizon, and Ben Hiant in front (right of centre).
Dùnan nan Nighean on the left.
Gleann na Beinne Fada, an alternative route to the bealach between Beinn Fhada and A’ Chìoch.
Cruachan Dearg towering above Glen Clachaig, with the cliffs of Creag MhicFhionnlaidh on the right.
On the lower slopes of A’ Chìoch I stopped for a lunch break before I continued up the ridge.
The upper part of the ridge is a bit scrambly, but never difficult.
A’ Chìoch summit.
The way ahead – the connecting ridge to Ben More soon becomes nice and narrow.
Looking back to A’ Chìoch.
I had read in various trip reports that the best way up to the summit is on the left (SE) side of the ridge, and that it is easy to get tempted into following some of the tracks that lead further S, but peter out on the steep hillside. Now I knew what they meant – anything seemed better than climbing straight up!
There was nothing for it but to head upwards, but eventually I came across a steep gully that showed signs of others passing before, so I used that route too.
When I reached the summit I could see three hillwalkers arriving on the top of A’ Chìoch (zoomed).
Ben More summit shelter.
A’ Chìoch and Cruachan Dearg.
Frozen grass on the N side of the coire.
The descent (= the standard route) is an ugly eroded path marked with cairns at regular intervals. I was glad I didn’t walk up this way, it’s bad enough to use this path once.
View back to the summit.
Sign at the start of the path.
All that was left to do now was the walk back to my car, but I didn’t mind the road walk in such wonderful weather.
I got back to my car at 16:15, drove to Tobermory and went to the pub for a well-earned pint of cider before I returned to the hostel.
This was definitely one of the highlights of this year, the weather was perfect, the views brilliant and the route itself interesting but not too demanding.
I would recommend this round to anyone who is comfortable with easy scrambling, it is miles better than going up and down via the standard route 😀