Date: Saturday 19th January 2019
Distance: 17.8 km
The forecasts suggested the best conditions up to the northwest, sounds good.
Headed up in the dark, still swithering as we got to Garve as to whether to head for Torridon or further north, kept right and headed on.
There were still clouds above as for as Loch Glascarnoch, then clear beyond.
Parked up a few hundred metres north of the Loch a Bhraoin walkers car park and got booted in the very frosty air.
We’d plumped for Creag Rainich, a Corbett just NW of Loch a Bhraoin and occupying a central position surrounded by the Fannichs, Fisherfield, An Teallach and Beinn Dearg.
We’d visited this one before in 2011. We followed the same route – an out and back up Meall an t-Sidhe and then along the high ground to the Corbett. This keeps you high, in any sun and with the views all the way.
We set off about 20 minutes before dawn, although there were clouds to the SE that looked like they’d impact on any alpenglow.
Lovely predawn skies though. We headed about 1km north up the road and then crossed the high point of the moor to ascend Meall an t-Sidhe via its N spur.
We’d been hoping for dawn to light up An Teallach, the clouds scuppered that, although Beinn Dearg briefly got some Alpenglow.
An Teallach didn’t light up, it did look rather tasty though.
It was a beautiful setting, lovely conditions.
Although our local hills were not yet lit, we could see hills to the north that were.
The north side of Meall an t-Sidhe is a benign ascent, with unobstructed views of An Teallach. As we reached the top the sun was just breaching the clouds to the SE (and the Fannichs).
An Teallach and the intervening terrain were fully lit.
The air was crispy clear – to the north the hills of Coigach and Assynt were familiar profiles.
From Meall an t-Sidhe the ridge bobble along at above 500m to Meall Dubh and Creag Rainich.
Ben Klibreck was visible 70km NE – it looked as though there was an inversion up there too.
Hung around and enjoyed the views from Meall an t-Sidhe. Although it had been a properly frosty start the day felt quite warm already without a breath of wind and in the sun.
An Teallach kept drawing the gaze though – what a hill.Beinn a Chlaidheimh, Beinn Dearg Beag and An Teallach provide the northwesterly vista.
Set out along the ridge – we had quite a lot of time, the aim was to be back on Meall an t-Sidhe at sunset, even on unfit legs that wasn’t too big an ask.
At one point the N end of Loch na Sealga appeared – with Lewis visible out across the Minch.
As the sun moved round there was an easier view of the Fannichs and Loch a Bhraoin. Quite a lot of cars in the Loch a Bhraoin car park suggested that there were a few folk up there.
Although there wasn’t much snow, it certainly was photogenic. The Dearg Group loom to the east, we were picking out a few routes we’d taken in the last few years.
As we reached Meall Dubh we suddenly developed better views to Torridon, Slioch and the Fisherfield munros.
Crossed over to Creag Rainich summit and headed a little downhill west to get better views to the hills west. The Sgurr Ban slabs should be visible from here, not today with the snow cover. The little nubbin of Meall an Laogh caught my eye as always….still on the to do list.
The top of the Carnmore Buttress and Beinn a Chaisgein Mor were nice to see again.
An Teallach is attractive from almost any angle.
The view across the snow to Assynt was dotted by the odd eggshell blue lochan reflecting the sky.
We spent a good 40 minutes having lunch and enjoying the views. It was surprising warm, most of the winter gear we’d carried was not needed at all.
Finally got up and took a few last photos before heading back.
Returned along the outward route – all the alternatives would mean dropping into early shadow and less views. A few drifts on south facing slopes were too soft to glissade.
The lochan on Meall Dubh had nice circular patterns.
An Teallach is a winter sunrise mountain – the big coires face SE. As the day progresses the coires are shadowed by their own arms.
It’s a shame Loch a Bhraoin isn’t wider – it would have made for some great reflections.
It hadn’t been a major wildlife day – a few grouse and deer. It was nice to come across a couple of snow buntings in the evening sun.
We headed back to Meall an t-Sidhe – a little ahead of schedule, still it allowed time to stop and look at some iconic hills.
Back at the Meall an t-Sidhe cairn about 25 minutes before the sun was due to drop behind Ruadh Stac Mor. Hung about, had a bite to eat and watched the world go by.
The sun dropped into a cloud band briefly (the first shade since we’d arrived on Meall an t-Sidhe). The tops of Beinn Eighe and Liathach were beneath this.
The moon had risen, near full, from the direction of Ben Klibreck. It was quite high now (and meant it wasn’t really going to get meaningfully dark).
The sunlight was dimming, and the airchill was rising as the sun neared sunset.
The sun re-emerged from the cloud band.
A little more like alpenglow on Cul Mor and Cul Beag.
The sun ran down the nose of Ruadh Stac Mor, at one point giving twin edges of light.
Time to head to the car, although we wished we’d had the tent to stay.
The descent was marvellous, the light amazing. Oranges, pinks and blues supplanted each other over a 30 minute spell.
It was hard to concentrate, but we kept moving downhill.
Lovely moon and pink sky backlit the Beinn Dearg group.
…and eventually it headed into gloaming.
Brilliant day – Creag Rainich is a superb viewpoint and the out and back on the ridge provided a great platform to squeeze every last drop out of an excellent winter’s day.