Friday, 25 October 2013

A'Ghlas Bheinn and Beinn Fhada, Oct'13

This was the second day of our Munro bagging trip up in the Kintail area. Forcast for the weekend was pretty poor - wet and windy, however the north-west seemed to be in its own little micro climate bubble. Camping over-night, I (unlike some members of the group who were tucked up in their warm beds in the Kintail Lodge and Cluanie Inn) could hear the rain pelting down. However I awoke to some sunshine - I had a good feeling about today !
Lorna, Chris, Duncan, Stevie and myself all met at the NTS car-park by Morvich campsite. Duncan pointed out that we could drive around the other side of the Strath Croe to the Falls of Glomach car-park, thus saving a couple of miles of walking. "Excellent idea, but can I get a lift as my van is too high for the barrier ?". Well it turned out the barrier was open, in fact there was a campervan in the car-park which belonged to folk we met on the hills yesterday. Still, I got a lift in Stevie's very smart Range Rover Vogue !

Gear together and off we set. I've headed in from this direction many times before, and often there are bulls or rams in the field through the first gate - none today. Down to the Abhainn Chonaig and over the bridge constructed by the army in the early 90's, it was onto the fine path heading eastwards. The overnight rain had raised the level of the burn we needed to cross to reach the Bealach an Sgairne. Almost in spate, we found some boulders and with the help of poles got ourselves over. Up to a junction in the path, marked by a small cairn, then onto the bealach where sheltering behind the large cairn there, we got out of the wind and tucked into our elevensies.

Northwards next and onto A'Ghlas Bheinn, which was just over a mile away. Views were lovely as we strode out. Well not quite all of us - Chris was struggling a tad and admitted to me that in fact this was his third day on the hills - he'd bagged Gulvain on the Friday ! Up to the summit, what lovely day and the wind up here wasn't nearly as strong as down below in the bealach. Time for a well deserved break to take in the landscape, have a blether and scoff some food.

About turn, we retraced our steps back to the bealach, meeting and chatting with several groups of people coming the opposite way. Back at the col, and with the sun out, we bumped into Isobel (one of our regulars) with her friend Dorothy and wee dog - which has done all the Munros, yes even the Cuillin ! Back down to the junction in the path, it was up to Beinn Fhada next. The OS Landranger maps suggests this path drops over 50m before turning and beginning to climb again - it doesn't, it's wrong, from the cairn it rises gently, with one small drop (of around 10m) as it turns into Coire an Sgairne. Up onto the crest between Meall a'Bhealaich and Beinn Fhada, all that remained was a slog up a gentle incline to the summit. This can be particularly difficult to navigate in mist, but the weather gods seemed to be on our side, so although Kintail was engulfed by dark clouds, we were in sunshine and a straighforward walk got us to the trig point on Beinn Fhada's summit.

One of the options for today was the fine ridge on Sgurr a'Choire Ghairbh - one of the minor tops on this vast mountain that required a sporting scramble. However, time was getting on and the general opinion of the group was that they were all happy with what we'd done and best to aim down. So we did. Back to the river we'd crossed earlier, the level had dropped dramatically, requiring only a few strides to cross - yupp river levels can rise quickly after rain, but they can also drop just as quick. We got overtaken by a couple of mountain-bikers, but lower down, Lorna had her competitive streak tested, determined not to be passed by a couple of walkers we'd met on A'Ghlas Bheinn, put the foot down. Stevie, with his wicked sense of humour, of course egged her on ! All good fun !

Back at the car-park, we'd lost Duncan. He turned up a few minutes behind the rest of the group after being engrossed in the flora on the route down and missed the marker pointing to the bridge in Strath Croe. Everyone safe, it was time to go our separate ways and aim home. A fine day, ending a great weekend of hiking and Munro bagging.