Date: Saturday-Monday 27th-29th June 2009
Distance: 23.4 + 14.1 + 17.5km
Ascent: 1600 + 1300 + 500m
Summer 2009 was upon us and we decided to open the potential wild-camp options folder and see what fell out. Having had a Knoydart wild-camp in April it seemed only polite to visit Letterewe/Fisherfield this year. A trip including Beinn Lair, A’Mhaighdean and Meall Meinnidh has been in evolution for more than a year. Time to give it a go.
On the way to Poolewe we were running through our kit in our heads. Packing had been disrupted by the Scottish Real Ale festival on the Thursday night so we were keeping fingers and toes crossed that all was where it should be.
Arrived in Poolewe at 1000hrs – I’m always worried the wee car park will be full but, as usual, just 2 cars.
It was overcast and a bit gloomy – struck off in hope and expectation – “In MWIS we trust” 😆
There’s a lovely walk out from Poolewe – sand martins and swallows working the river, a slow worm on the track. The whole area is vibrant green and lush.
The track is good and progress fast. 50mins takes you to Kernsary, a farm with a resident stag herd in the field.
Past Kernsary you hit the forest (DO NOT follow the track to Bad Bog – look for a gate right side 500m past Kernsary).
Beinn Airigh Charr from forest:
Some brilliant Heath Spotted orchids:
20 mins through the forest and you reach the open moorland leading down along between Fionn Loch and the hills. Beinn Airigh Charr clearing:
A couple of kilometres of slight uphill leads to a view down to the head of Fionn Loch. Probably my favourite approach walk in Scotland.
The skies were clearing rapidly as we approached and passed Loch an Doire Crionaich. At this point you’re passing under the towering cliffs of Beinn Airigh Charr and the debris of a huge slope failure rockfall.
We took our lunch at the little ruin at NG 946 763.
The track remains easy progress to Polt Fraochain. About 4hrs walk to here from the car.
We then took the well-built stalkers path up from Polt Fraochain to Bealach Meinnidh. Views evolve with height gained.
We dropped our camping gear just below the bealach to push on up Beinn Lair.
It’s a simple walk up easy terrain to Beinn Lair’s summit. Keeping to the cliff edge maximises the views.
The original plan had been to summit camp on Beinn Lair but we’d tweaked this to allow day 2 to be free of camp gear. There’s certainly easy ground up there if you wanted.
Food break at the huge cairn then a wander around. The views are hampered by the large flatness of the summit but Slioch looked great.
The layering of the A’Mhaighdean NW ridge is interesting:
Across to Chaisgein Mor and the Deargs:
Back down the cliff line happily snapping shots on the way.
You get a wee peak into Coire Mhic Fearchair:
Pano with Loch Maree and Fionn Loch:
Picked up the kit and took the stalkers path to Bealach a Chuirn.
This bit is a great wee path under the cliffs – spectacular.
Gleann Tulacha to Lochan Fada:
Scolded by a Ring Ouzel fledgling – more white speckled than their lowland cousins.
Small descent from Bealach a Chuirn into the top of Gleann Tulacha, then climb a grassy ramp up to the NW end of Beinn Tarsuinn Chaol – the ridge between A’Mhaighdean and Beinn Lair The ramp arrives at a bealach at NG 982 750. Much to the irritation of the locals:
We wandered round the nose of the ridge – the wind was brisk from the SE. An ideal pitch was found on the nose of the ridge, tucked under the crest at NG 9800 7514.
A great little eyrie – stunner of a view NW out over Fionn Loch and on to Lewis.
And across to Chaisgein Mor:
Cooked up some food on my new meths stove – worked a treat. Then sat on the rock ledge with some Ti-Mugs of Ozzy Shiraz and watched the sun set out over Stornoway.
Despite the tent being tucked in a sheltered spot the wind had been brisk overnight so sleep had been broken. Tunnel tents seem to be a bit flappy and noisy. Missed dawn – woke at 0510 and popped out to look at conditions.
Went back for another few hour’s kip – no rush today.
Up again at 0730 – loch looks different.
Lovely day, great spot, life is good.
Quick breakfast and then off. Decided the tent could stay up – the UV may be bad for it but the temptation of just leaving everything was too much.
Cut NE off the ridge down a grassy slope, then NW, then W to descend to Fionn Loch down easy slopes. Watched a peregrine mobbing a Hoody from the cliffs.
The Loch dominates the foreground and the sea view disappears:
There were a few tents at the loch shore. Headed across the famous causeway (with the residual access-discouraging sharpened stakes from a previous access era on either side).
Followed the track from Carnmore under Sgurr na Laocainn to the Allt Bruthach an Easian. Great views of Dubh Loch and Fionn Loch.
The Allt cuts a bit of a gorge in bits. We got above this at about the 420m mark and forded the Allt, heading for the NW ridge of A’Mhaighdean. Would be tricky in spate.
Easy to track S to cross the outflow of Fuar Loch Beag. Hot day now – took the opportunity for a wash and laundry.
Carried on up the slope to Fuar Loch Beag (Loch of the Madman).
The NW ridge is great – a steep but easy climb with great views across to Beinn Lair, back to Fionn Loch and over to An Teallach.
Slioch and Beinn Tarsuinn Chaol:
Looking small amongst the cliffs:
It’s a walk, with weaving round and through rock tiers required.
The ridge rises up with A Mhaighdean’s huge cliffs, crossing into red sandstone layer.
Loch Gorm Mor:
At the apex of the ridge is the bit that gives pause for thought when viewed from afar – a set of large rock towers. Thankfully these are bypassable – a little gully to the left (N) leads down to a gap in the first wall, circle left (N) round the little tooth to some nice sandstone steps, then the big tower is circumnavigated by descending a (slightly loose underfoot) path round the right (S), then back up and out of the broken area. Hazel didn’t even break into a sweat – it’s that easy.
A wee climb up over the dome of the 948m top and then on to the summit.
The legendary “Best view in Scotland” – I’d say one of the best views in the Munro round – but still a cracker.
Ruadh Stac Mor – for those with bagging business a short extension to this walk:
Well deserved lunch stop. The clouds were marching up from the south and the sun became intermittent from now on.
Headed down the SE slopes of A’Mhaighdean to make for the Beinn Tarsuinn Chaol ridge. Nice view of Gorm Loch Mor.
Strange high pitched calls in the corrie – remembered these were deer fawns – a binocular search turned up a few hinds with fawns.
Went out to Meallan nan Ghabhar for a look down Lochan Fada.
And up Gleann Tulacha:
Then turned for the tent. The OS doesn’t do justice to the ridge – it is very bobbly – and constant up and down took its toll on the legs.
Beinn Tarsuinn Chaol pano:
Link to larger pano:
The clouding had taken the edge off the spectacle of the views, and, in truth, the views are too big to do justice to with photos. The ridge was, as expected, a great viewpoint for Beinn Lair and A’Mhaighdean.
Gorm Loch Mor and Lochan Fada:
NW ridge of A’Mhaighdean – what a difference 4hrs makes!
It’s apparent that of the relatively few who climb Beinn Lair, most of us (unlike Foggie and Adrian) do not get a feel for the length of the hill – the cliffs go on for 5km!
Glad to get back to the tent and the view of Fionn Loch.
Quickly cooked tea – had to eat it on the ridge summit as the midge were up around the tent. Finished the wine and retired early.
Woke at 2200hrs to the alarm – poked my head into the midge-fest to see the sun back on show so got up and took a few snaps of sunset from a breezy spot.
Great day – the NW ridge ascent of A’Mhaighdean with Beinn Tarsuinn Chaol had been on our to-do list since seeing the possibility last year. Great to have done it on a corker of a day.
Awoke at 0330hrs to the sound of rain. I’d heard from various reports that it can rain in this neck of the woods but I hadn’t believed them 😉
Tried to snooze on but had slept well anyway. Got up at 0430.
Drizzling/raining outside – a small red patch of sky towards Beinn Dearg Mor indicated sunrise but the SLR was in protective custody.
Quick cold breakfast and then struck the tent. Sad to leave our corking little pitch.
Returned down the grassy gully to the head of Gleann Tulacha and then made for the stalkers path at Bealach a Chuirn.
Camera released from protective custody as the rain eased. Atmospheric views of Beinn Lair.
Some deer were not pleased to see us.
Our tent pitch was wreathed in mist.
Easy walk round to Bealach Mheinnidh. We felt it would be rude not to climb Meall Mheinnidh.
From the bealach it’s just a 250m climb to the summit. Remained overcast but there are good views of Torridon (into Coire Mhic Fhearchair) and Fisherfield.
Beinn Lair and A’Mhaighdean:
One of our easiest Graham ascents
The descent is relatively knarly, steep drops mixed with easy slopes. Nothing difficult.
The cliff line holds views:
At the base of the ridge aim for the bridge over the Allt.
Skies were clearing – I’d been gawking at the hills for 2 days and been remiss in my wildlife snaps. The cloudier conditions got me watching the flora and fauna again.
Once into the main glen the vista catches the eye again:
The track passes back out under Beinn Airrigh Charr – the slope failure remains a jaw-dropper – not a good campsite that day.
Carried on – being shooed out of Letterewe by the clegs.
Reflection in Loch an Doire Crionaich.
Once you cross the high point and that fabulous view drops under the horizon you know you’re heading home. This path is like C.S. Lewis’ lamp-post – you’re about to pass back through the wardrobe and into reality. 😦
Until next time. 😀