Beinn Sgritheall and neighbours. Summit Camp April 2018.

Date: Saturday – Sunday 28th-29th April 2018
Distance: 15 + 11km
Ascent: 1400 + 400m

The forecast had been examined with some interest – light winds and a good chance of sunshine, albeit with a showery theme.

As usual the details swirled and changed in the run up as to where would be best…..we decided on the Friday night and for once didn’t change our minds.

We’ve assembled quite a collection of Western seaboard summit camps, but still have a few on the “to do” list. Amongst these is Beinn Sgritheall which has been on the list for years.

We’ve been up this one a few different routes in the past, our least favourite being the steep standard SMC version. For a camping trip we decided on the approach from Gleann Beag to the north, allowing visits to neighbouring Corbett and Graham.

Parked near Balvraid, put the car on solid ground off road about 400m west of the public road end.

Off walking at about 0930 – a lot of hours of daylight for not too long a walk.

Walked past the farm and out the track along Gleann Beag. The broch Dun Gugaig is 500m past the farm.

Passing through the birch wood there were flowering primroses, dog violets and wood anenomes.

The air temp was cool but the sunshine was warm giving a pleasant walk. Heard and saw our first cuckoos of the year.

We carried on past the bridge at NG 866 158 and round Strath a Chomair to walk up Gleann Aoidhailean. From Strath a Chomair there’s a good view of Beinn Sgritheall and the long east ridge of Beinn a Chapuill.

There is a track along Gleann Aoidhailean which makes for reasonable progess to Bealach Aoidhailean. Not necessarily the most attractive of glens, but a good route in.

Once at Bealach Aoidhailean we had a view SE along the pylon line towards Buidhe Bheinn and Sgurr a Mhaoraich.

We turned and headed up the east ridge of Beinn nan Caorach. A gentle upslope with views developing across to Knoydart and beyond.
Ladhar Bheinn:

Beinn nan Caorach:

Last time we were here we’d ascended from Arnisdale via the Eas nan Cuingid track into Coire Chorsalain, we had a view down to the top of the falls and over Corran/Arnisdale to Knoydart:

To the east the complex ground around the Saddle was becoming more obvious. This is another hill where much of the complexity is rarely visited on the Red Route. We have a couple of possible routes for this one sometime.

Once at the top of Beinn nan Caorach we had some lunch. The clouds were very slow moving. On Harris at Easter you could see the clouds approaching for miles, and when they passed over they were gone in minutes. Here the clouds were creeping around and once you were under one it was half an hour or so before it moved away. Quite a contrast.

Finally a cloud shifted enough to throw some light on Beinn Sgritheall – the view of Beinn na h-Eaglaise, the 906m top and summit of Beinn Sgritheall is quite striking.

Set off downhill from Beinn nan Caorach northwards to the broad bealach joining it to Beinn na h-Eaglaise. A little more sun appeared.

In terms of route planning we had dismissed descending from Beinn na-h-Eaglaise to Bealach Arnisdale. Neither side of Bealach Arnisdale is fun, being very steep. We’d provisionally planned to dog-leg Beinn na h-Eaglaise before dropping northwards to ascend into Coire Min.

In the event we dispensed with Beinn na h-Eaglaise which would add little to the day and took a falling traverse from the low point between Beinn na h-Eaglaise and Druim nan Bo (NG 860 125) to ascend the Allt Mhic a Phearsain into Coire Min. The ascent route here is reasonably easy ground.

Looking back across traverse from ascent to Coire Min:

At the outflow of Coire Min there’s a nice waterfall with a complex gorge that has obviously shifted around a little over geological time.

A large deer herd seemed nonplussed to see us…I suspect footfall is low in this lovely coire. The Loch is beautiful and if you don’t mind camping low it’s a fabulous pitch site.

Past the loch and we followed the running water up Coire Min to its highest point – the views NE opened up as we went.

Filtered our 3L of water for the night from the highest spring and then carried on with the remaining 200m of ascent to the summit. The Coire headwall is steep at one point but manageable.

Once on the ridge between the 906m point and the summit the views really expand.
Barra beyond Canna (with 3 naval vessels on Joint Warrior):

The showers which had been forecast were building up, primarily to our east further inland. As we got to the summit our favoured pool of sunshine was getting smaller.

Beinn Sgritheall has the kind of views we like best – a mix of hills in one direction, and sea views in the other. A fantastic viewpoint.


Showers over Loch Hourn:

Got the tent pitched with showers approaching. There was nothing quite big enough or flat enough at the summit so we pitched at the lip of Coire Min at about 950m, 150m E of the summit.

We had about an hour on the summit as the clouds built around us.


Coire Min:

Sgurr Coire Choinnicheann:

We could see clear up to Pairc on Lewis. Clisham on Harris was peeping up over the north of Skye:

Grabbed the views while we could:

Turn your back on the showers and all is well…..”it’s behind you!”

….and then it wasn’t behind us. A brisk snow showers and our sunshine was done.

Unfortunately we were deprived of the sun setting behind Glamaig – a red glow merely hinted at it.

Snug in the tent we got some sleep. A very quiet night with almost no wind. I set an alarm clock for 0100 to look out….moonlight greeted me and I went out for a wander.

A near full moon meant no need for a headtorch – identified the lighthouses on view and the distant lights on Coll, Tiree and out to the Hebrides.

Night shot:

With a longer exposure and full moon the shots look like daytime (other than the stars and artificial lights).

Back to bed then another alarm to get me up at 0530 for dawn – relieved to be greeted by a clear sky. Met Office had suggested overcast conditions.

The Moon was setting towards Rum:

Ladhar Bheinn alpenglow:

Skye Cuillin dawn:

Wandered round looking at the view for an hour or so – too good to sleep when this lot is on offer.

There was a lot more cloud inland. To the south Mull, Rois Bheinn and Ardnamurchan were overcast. To the east lower cloud shrouded a lot of the hills.
Sgurr nan Eugallt backed by Sgurr Mor and Gairich:

To the north and west – near perfection:

Knoydart was doing well too:

The shadow of Sgritheall had cast at dawn as far as Rum. After an hour or so it was focussed much closer:

North to Applecross over the last patches of winter snow:

Lounged around in the tent – the air temp was still pretty chilly, whereas in the sun the inside of the tent was roasting. Sat with the door open and the sun pouring in and napped for an hour and a bit. High camp heaven.

Eventually decided to have a leisurely breakfast before packing up. A decent cocoa and a bit of food had us ready for the day.

NE ridge of Sgritheall:

Coire Min:

Coire Min 2 months ago:

Lochaber was clearing – we could see the Ben now:

Sgurr na Ciche over Loch Hourn:

Packed up and got ready to go. A little cloud was bubbling up near the summit so we took one last look around before heading off at a little after 1000hrs.

Nipped round to the 928m summit to the north. Must say that this has a great view, potentially a better sea view pitch than the one we’d picked, albeit with the summit blocking a bit of the view south.

To descend we used the lovely arcing arm encircling the coire north of the hill – this is a great route for Sgritheall, a pleasure really. A nice view into Coire Min again:

The whole summit area had a good population of Ring Ouzels – no chance of a picture but their songs and calls had punctuated the visit.

Dropped height easily and were soon looking up at the 928m summit:

The views to Skye were often distracting:

The best route back was up Beinn a Chapuill and then down its long east ridge back to Srath a Chomair. The ascent of Beinn a Chapuill from Bealach na h-Oidhche is steep, but easy….and distracting lizards took our minds off it, turbocharged in the heat.

Beinn Sgritheall is soon background:

Once on Beinn a Chapuill we sat and had lunch for a while. Not very keen to rush given the conditions. These sort of days are best savoured.

Creag Bealach na h-Oidhche has a belter of a view:

Eventually we started off – heading across the highest point of Beinn a Chapuill and then on to the long east ridge.

The ridge gives nice views most of the way down:

The ridge below:

The ridge above:

…..and across the wee bridge at Srath a Chomair and back to the car.

Potentially a day walk, but a great one to make a full weekend out of. Back to route planning for the next camping weekend.

6 thoughts on “Beinn Sgritheall and neighbours. Summit Camp April 2018.

  1. Must say that when we climbed Beinn a Chapuill we wondered why we had never thought of doing Sgritheal this way, as the standard route is brutal. What a great camp and lovely photos as per usual. Have been getting up early to take Weather Watcher sunrises, and am now beginning to be able to fall asleep again AFTER the sunrise. …and need to.


    1. Aye, wouldn’t do the Red Route again….not the best.

      Still, not complaining that the best bits of the hill are off the radar of those follow the guides. 😉


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