Glenfinnan to Lochailort via Corryhully and An Stac Camp. March 2012.

Date: Saturday/Sunday 24th/25th March 2012
Distance: 18.5km + 14km
Ascent: 1800m + 1100m

Out of the entire set of Grahams one pair sticks out as particulary hard to design a satisfactory route – An Stac and Meith Bheinn. An Stac in particular is the Ben Aden of the Grahams.

Wed been waiting for a good weekend to tackle these for a while – all the forecasts seemed to agree that this was one.

Parked at the Lochailort Rail station car park (parking for 5 cars) and caught the 0634 to Glenfinnan, arriving at 0650. Thankfully this train was unaffected by the engineering works further south on the line.

It’s about 1km from the Glenfinnan rail station to the start of the estate road to Glenfinnan Lodge and Corryhully.

Church and Sgurr Ghuibhsachain:

The well-surfaced tarmac road makes for quick progress up past the Corryhully Bothy and the road beyond has been upgraded for hydro work at the foot of Sgurr Thuilm.

Stag:

Hydro debris – needs a bit of blending time:

The bridge at NM 921 856 seems to be in a state of deconstruction at the moment but the Allt was easy to cross.

We carried on up the track about 200m then cut uphill for the ascent of Druim Coire a Bheithe. This is quite steep and reasonably hard work initially but once the 600m contour is reached the slope abates to a comfortable angle.

Back to Glenfinnan:

Up ridge:

Decent views to Sgurr nan Coireachan.

Conditions were pleasant as we reached the top of the ridge – comfortably cool but bright. Decent views from here to Streap and the Ben. Views of Loch Arkaig were spoilt by the haze.

Hazy layers and Bidean:

Streap:

From here it’s 80m climb to Sgurr Thuilm’s summit.

The Corryhully Horseshoe is a slightly bobbly ridge with a few climbs and descents but all easy going underfoot.

Corryhully ridge:

Back to Loch Arkaig:

Various pools along the ridge – most have Mica-armoured Caddis larvae:

An Stac and Loch Morar:

Back along ridge:

The final pull up from Meall an Tarmaichain to Sgurr nan Coireachan weaves through some rocky bands but has no technical issues (much easier than remembered). Passed 2 other walkers doing the horseshoe clockwise.

The Ben and Bidean from summit:

Garbh Bheinn:

Ben Nevis:

Sat and had lunch in the lee of the summit, joined by another walker at the top.

So far, so Munro. Time to step off the red route.

The west ridge of Sgurr nan Coireachan is steep but good underfoot and we followed a fence line down. We went down to the 747m bealach – too far in truth, we should have cut down and NW about 300m earlier.

The local Garbh Bheinn (very nearly a Corbett):

Back up Sgurr nan Coreachan:

Dropped NWN into a nice coire but had to backtrack ENE to hit the stalkers track marked on the OS which fringes the cliffline.

Used the track to drop to about 440m (NM 890 890) and then crossed the stream to make for An Stac:

Terrain here was a bit undulating but good underfoot. Distracted by the occasional frog pool (with occasional frog chorus).

Cut up onto the Cnoc Gorm ridge, enjoying some decent views back along Glen Pean to Loch Arkaig:

Pace by this time was slowing makedly (as it usually does under camping packs) but we crossed the last of the undulations and headed directly up the SE ridge of An Stac, pausing to gather water from a stream at 670m.

Reached the summit with some satisfaction.

The haze unfortunately spoilt the view – the long mass of Loch Morar was grey and Rum out the far end was a scarcely seen shape:

Searched around for a pitch – the wind was stronger than expected so we found a pitch sheltered to the S and W and cooked up tea. Freeze-dried Chicken Tikka Masala and Chicken Dhansak went down a treat.

Nallo and Morar:

The hoped-for sunset ended with the sun a red smear. Had to imagine the glory of the red sun setting along the length of Loch Morar and behind Rum. Rather vexing.

Off to bed – the wind picked up overnight so we caught a few gusts even hunkered down.

Up before dawn which was again smeared by the haze. The view west was almost impenetrable with the sun in the east and Rum and Skye were imaginary places.

Up and running at 0745 (clocks forward).

The descent off An Stac was quite steep in bits. The initial jumbly summit are gives way to the steep and rocky west ridge. Mainly this involved finding grassy strips with only one minor short scramble. It seems longer than 500m.

Meith Bheinn from An Stac:

An Stac descent:

Down to the glen – and a planned route straight up other side:

Eventually arrived at the Glen floor – warm and sunny by this point. Forded the river easily and then had a quick wash and a late breakfast. Lots of small flies and ants were active but there remained a happy lack of midge.

Headed uphill on grassy strips between rock bands. We took a westerly line – heading for the Meith Bheinn E ridge and avoiding the jumbled terrain around Loch a Bhrodainn.

An interesting bang of granite had plates of Quartz on it – ?intrusions.

First butterwort of the year:

Looking back to An Stac:

The ridge leads onwards and upwards to Meith Bheinn. In keeping with the undulating nature of Rough Bounds terrain it also lead sideways and downwards intermittently and occasionally backwards.

Unreasonably gnarly terrain. 😉

The strong breeze kept us cool in the sun as we reached the second of our 2 Grahams. Again teeth were gritted as the haze spoilt what should have been a truly smashing view out Loch Nevis and over to Skye and Rum.

We could make out Inverie and Roinne na Bheinn over the Tarbet notch – good memories:

Summit pool:

The descent of Meith Bheinn is more jumbled – heading SW across a fairly bobbly area of upland, trying to pick a line through with minimal up and down.

From there a fairly steep descent to Lochan Lon a Ghairt – a bit of attention to the map allows the line to stay off the steepest bits.

Reached the floor and the little hydro scheme which feeds on the outflow of Loch Beoraid.

A bridge here crosses the river. Refilled the water using the water coming off the hill – the dreaded ticks were now awake and several were flicked off.

We’d been eyeballing the return route from here. 2 tracks ascend the pass – one starts at NM 800 867 and heads 200m uphill, the other starts where we were and heads up past Prince Charlie’s Cave. We preferred the look of the terrain up higher so took the decision to climb uphill to join it.

Sure enough at 200m of climb the track appeared. Views of Loch Beoraid were cracking – a little seen loch, but a beautiful one.


Our track was a bit intermittent but the terrain up here was easy and no problems were experienced getting over the pass and onto the last leg.

A few cairns mark the way across the bog until the top track rejoins the lower one where it becomes more substantial all the way to the road.

Saw our one and only eagle of the weekend on this return, plus a Peacock butterfly.

Back down to the road for a 2km walk back to Lochailort and the car.

A fairly tough weekend – but enjoyable out of the way terrain Must admit to being a bit disappointed by the haze – really took the shine off.

Also well worth walking this one early in the year – with low vegetation there was little hassle but in particular the lower areas of the walk are likely to be rife with ferns and long grass in 3 months and much harder walking.

Recommend the munro approach – may revisit An Stac sometime and I’d probably go over Coireachan to do it.

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