Fisherfield Deargs and Chaisgeins wild camp. April 2010

Date: Saturday/Sunday 10th-11th April 2010
Distance: 22.7km +17.9km
Ascent: 2100m +600m

Spring and a high pressure building for the weekend – there’s a special group of camping routes labelled “Open only in the presence of perfect weather” – time to pick a route.

Plumped for Fisherfield again – we had been looking at the Fisherfield Deargs for a while were keen to get in there. Been working on a circular route for a while.

Drove up to the Aultguish Inn on Friday night – saw our first osprey of the year flying over the A9 south of Pitlochry. 😀 Followed by multiple sets of roadworks all the way N 😦 .

Disobeyed the alarm clock at 0500 and got up at 0550 – parked up at Inchina NG 961 911 at 0715. Space for around 5 cars on the verge.

There’s a view down the glen to the Deargs – Beinn Dearg Beag looks quite intimidating from a distance.

Started off at about 0730 – packs feeling lighter for the loss of the winter kit. Little brown birds skimming the river started chattering a familiar sound – Sand Martins! Quite early for these brilliant birds I thought – but a welcome sight (and sound) of spring/summer.

The track is well constructed and easy-going. Perfect for cycling access in here.

The high cloud was clearing all the way and the sun was getting warmer. Quite a nice varied glen to walk up, although the greens of the next few months would make it even better.

There’s a bridge at NG 993 855 so no need to worry about spate. We carried on the track til 400m before the boathouse and made our way upslope on the ridge, taking lines skirting the 348m and 392m tops to avoid unnecessary height gain/loss.

There are views developing of Loch na Sealga and An Teallach:

And back along the approach (the car is visible through the binoculars!) :

The lochan just off the 392m spot is beautiful. New vegetation growing and lots of newts. Slightly tempted just to pitch the tent and relax here for 24 hours.

Filtered some water for the ridge to come from here.

The face of Beinn Dearg Beag continued to look a bit troubling – there is a nice Coire on the west side running up from Loch Ghuibhsachain that looks reasonable but as we hit the foot of the facing slope it looked doable.

Picked our way up through the crags with no real difficulties to the easy terrained steep ramp running up to about 570m. The newt lochan is top left.

Developing views of An Teallach

A few more crag lines to get through before the summit ridge. It looks easy from here.

It isn’t! Quite a number of false tops with scrambly down-climbs. This hill was poorly constructed in red sandstone and after only a few million years is showing serious wear and tear.

Another down-climb

Nice views though

Arrived at the summit a bit tired – quite a lot of work to get here in the heat. A prolonged lunch ensued.

Summit views:

From this summit there’s a slightly loose descent for about 100m then reasonable to the bealach.

Odd rock

Decision time at the bealach. We’d considered heading up Dearg Mor and finding a pitch and then stopping, but the day was yet young. The alternative was to make for Beinn a Chaisgein Mor and camp (which we really wanted to do). Unusually for us we picked the harder option. 😕

Dropped the camping gear and Hazel’s rucksack at the bealach and headed up Beinn Dearg Mor.

There’s a wee tarn about 100m up from the bealach. The frogs were busy making this year’s tadpoles.

A bit of a snow patch near the top – mushy stuff now.

This is a summit of both stunning views and great character.

And an obligitary posing point:

This little pinnacle had 5 or 6 eagle pellets on it – the hair and inedible bits of prey that raptors bring up. Not surprised the eagle likes the spot – with those eyes this spire must be the best view in town.

Other Posing point:

The ascent/descent of the summit to the bealach is a bit loose for 150m but there is a faint path. The wee frogs have a fine tarn.

When musing over the Chaisgeins/Deargs loop I’d initially thought to link the Gleann na Muice Beag track and the summit of Dearg Mor but the slopes seemed very steep. Loch na Bearta had caught my eye looking at the map as an alternative (and more direct) link.

Descended from the bealach into Strath Beinn Dearg aiming for the Allt flowing out of Loch na Bearta. No dificulties on normal heathery ground, the river was easily crossed.

Noticed this Common Lizard staying very still pretending to be nothing at all. 8)

Looking to Loch Ghuibhsachain – half the glen in shade.

Ascended easy grassy slopes (slowly now – 200m was feeling a lot more). Loch na Bearta is a lovely spot – and really hard to see from anywhere else.

We walked around the loch on its N shore to pick up the broad N ridge of Beinn a Chaisgein Mor. Views from here to Loch Toll a Mhadaidh

The ridgy red looking Beinn Dearg Beag

Sail Mhor

Having filtered more water from the springs at 750m we finally got to the summit at 1930. A not very pacy 12hrs from start.

However I would say that Beinn a Chaisgein Mor is one of those stunning viewpoints and felt well worth the slog.

Summit views

Sun quickly dropped to set behind the Hebrides – just off Clisham I think.

Sun having dropped we stuck the Meths stoves on and had some food. This was made a bit trickier by ”our” having forgotten the spork – I won’t point any fingers at the guilty party…..it was me….but it did make eating a bit messy.

Stayed up as it got dark – the road from Poolewe to Gairloch was highlighted by cars and the street lights of Stornoway and Flodigarry stood out. The Point of Stoer lighthouse was flashing brightly 🙂

And so to bed – serenaded overnight by Ptarmigan males is akin to listening to a Welsh Male Choir gargling Listerine.

Did pop my head out briefly to see light pollution over Inverness – or perhaps huge celebratory Bonfires in Dingwall after Ross County’s cup defeat of Celtic.

The sun rose just off An Teallach – it climbs fast now.

The tent was dry and frost-free surprisingly.

We had a very leisurely 3 hours on the summit having breakfast, enjoying the views and generally slobbing. This is what makes summit camping really worthwhile – getting up at dawn and actually being up there. 😀

The sun got really warm by 0800.

Meall Meinnidh

We took a brief jaunt down to NG 981 780 – the top of Carn Mor. This stand out over Fionn Loch and gets better views of this side than the summit – I recommend a detour to here if it’s clear.

Pano:

Link to larger

Returned to our packs and rather regretfully picked up the rucksacks to leave. Could’ve stayed all day. 😦

A skein of geese passed below us in front of Beinn Airrigh Charr:

The return to the car was over Beinn a Chaisgein Beag and via Loch a Mhadaidh Mor and the Inveranvie River.

Headed north down great terrain and over Frith-Meallan – nice views of Loch Toll a Mhadaidh

The ascent up Beinn a Chaisgein Beag is easy from the bealach – just 180m. One juvenile Golden Eagle soared over on our way up. Nice reflections on Beinn Airrigh Charr in Fionn Loch

Sat for a bite to eat and then saw our first walker of the trip – which just happened to be an acquaintance!

Chatted for a while and then parted ways. We took the north ridge of Chaisgein Beag to head for Loch a Mhadaidh Mor.

The wet terrain of the N end of Fionn Loch and Bad Bog was apparent

The terrain is good to start but becomes boggier as you head for Beinn Caol a Beinn a Chaisgein. We were alerted by crows alarming to 2 more eagles – one perched on a rock at the summit we had left.

Loch Mhadaidh Mor is an attractive spot out of Midge season

3 Eagles flew over in convoy as I sat on the beach here – presumably some territorial issues being sorted out!

Rounded this Loch – some beach, some rough ground to reach the outflow with some waterfalls

Joined the Inveranvie track with a view north along this gorgy glen

The track is pretty patchy quality and hugs some fairly rough crags too but it was good enough. Took a dip in the river to wash at a slow bit which was refreshing.

Track

The track emerges at Little Gruinard Bay – and suddenly there’s people again 😕

Just over 1.5km on the road to the car. And a view back to the Deargs

Quite a trip! A bit more work than we normally chose but another interesting Fisherfield approach and wild-camp.

If only all weekends were like this.

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