Beinn Aodainn summit camp. May 2010.

Date: Sunday/Monday 30th-31st May 2010
Distance: 15.8km +16.6km
Ascent: 1500m +1200m

The long weekend forecast had been quite appetising earlier in the week and we’d been on the cusp of a 2 day linear from Attadale to Craig over some interesting hills but the deterioration in forecast for Saturday led to a change in plans.

An improving Sunday and good Monday had us digging in the 1-night camp folder. Beinn Aodainn had been high on the list for a while so we plumped for this Knoydart rough gem.

This is a tough wee hill – in the absence of water transport the walking options are all fairly tough. The walk in around Loch Cuaich is simplest but we preferred a higher route so to this end parked up at the Loch Arkaig road end at 0830.

Quite a grey day on offer but cloud bases were high and there were no midge.

The walk along Glen Dessary is pleasant – superb hills all around and a mix of meadow and marsh plants at the roadside.

Streap from road end:

Louseworts, sundews and Butterworts in abundance. Buzzed by swallows and sand martins along the road.

Marsh Orchid:

Along Glen Dessary to Bidean a Chabhair:

The road ends at Upper Glendessary and a fairly muddy track carries on from here up the glen. Lots of cuckoos in the woods. At NM 911 949 there’s an unmarked estate track that runs up to the Druim nan Uadhag at 650m.

We camped on this ridge a few years back – it has cracking views out Loch Nevis:

From here it’s up the gully between Sgurr na Ciche and Garbh Cioch Mhor. This is a bouldery jumble but pretty easy. A nice mix of plants here – saxifrage and rock rose growing.

Gully:

Purple Saxifrage:

At the top of the gully the view to Loch Cuaich appears, and a cutting NE breeze suddenly became apparent.
Loch Cuaich:

From here there is a path breaching the rocky steepness of Sgurr na Ciche on its S side. This path is steep and loose in places – quite eroded.
The summit ridge achieved it’s 100m to the summit. This is one of the great munro viewpoints – a combination of sea-loch, sea, islands and mountains. Saturday’s views were a bit hazy and grey but still dramatic.

Could see 2 walkers on Beinn Aodainn.

Beinn Aodainn:

Loch Cuaich:

So far all pretty routine in terms of route – the munro trade route. From here to Beinn Aodainn was new for us. I’d had some concerns about the NE ridge but in fact it was very untechnical. We reversed to the E end of the summit ridge and then followed the crazy wall down steeply on grassy patches to the flatter part 200m height loss.

Hazel backed by Garbh Chioch Mhor:

The interconnecting ridge between Sgurr na Ciche and Beinn Aodainn is extremely rough. We’ve done a few across the grain walks in Knoydart and it is always hard work but this seemed tougher than usual. The terrain of grassy ground around rocks, ridges and crags means route planning needs a lot of micro-navigation around unexpected difficulties – distances walked are probably substantially more than those plotted on the map. I wouldn’t fancy doing this in poor weather.

Worked our way down the ridge and then contoured under Meall a Choire Dhuibh to pick up the ridge running W to Beinn Aodainn:

Sgurr na Ciche from ridge:

Stopped at a nice Lochan at NM 912 982. Filtered some water for the night’s camp. A couple appeared out of nowhere with big packs. They’d kayaked in and were planning to overnight at the lochan.

Carried on – best to stick to the ridge line as contouring in Knoydart is usually more work.

There’s a large grassy gully runs up Beinn Aodainn from about NM 905 985. This takes you to the summit ridge line and from there a last pull on tired legs to the summit.

An eagle was soaring not far from the summit – it shifted course as we appeared.

A lot of work to get there! The summit views are spectacular – an airy view down to Camusrory and Loch Nevis, the Knoydart hills, Loch Hourn, Loch Cuaich and Sgurr na Ciche.

Loch Cuaich:

Loch Nevis:

K near summit:

A number of pitch sites were viable, the terrain just W of the summit was most attractive:

Pitched the tent and enjoyed some warm sunshine and cooked our tea. Sat and watched dusk from the tent. Sunset obscured by a western cloudbank.

Loch Cuaich:

Loch Nevis:

Hazel:

Sunset:

Overnight the wind picked up again so it was a bit flappy – regretted not picking the snug pitch just N of the summit with the lesser views.

Alarms went off at 0420 for dawn – worth getting up for:

Back to bed til 0630. A beautiful sunny day – warm and still. Wandered round the summit enjoying the views.

Reversed the route to Sgurr na Ciche – hard work again. Some lovely reflections at the lochans.

Easier to route select the NE ridge in ascent than descent. 3 hours back to the summit of Sgurr na Ciche.

NE ridge:

A much better view on the Monday – the snowy Cairngorms were plainly visible in the east, Torridon in the N and down to Jura in the S.

Sat for 30mins and enjoyed.

Dropped down the loose descent to the bealach. We had planned on returning via the 2 other munros but considered dropping down the gully. Seemed a shame on such a great day to drop to the glen so carried on along the Munro ridge up Garbh Cioch Mhor.

There’s a track runs along this ridge so little to comment on route. Garbh Cioch Mhor and Beag is a Knoydart hill – rough. Sgurr nan Coireachan is more typical of the hills E – much less rough.

Met a few folks on the ridge – all enjoying the day.

Back to Garbh Chioch Mhor and Sgurr na Ciche from Sgurr nan Coireachan:

Good visibility:

The descent from Sgurr nan Coireachan is a real knee-jangler – 700m drop. On par with Sgurr a Mhaim and The Whelk.

Once down in the glen it was 1.5 hours back along the tracks to the car.

Lousewort:

Butterwort:

Stag:

View from Strathan:

Seemed a tough route with the camping packs, but well worth it. Beinn Aodainn certainly is a tough wee hill but it is a great camp spot.

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