Glas Bheinn - 776m
Sunday 1st November 2009

Weather/Conditions: Started in darkness, but walked through to late morning. Windy up high and a bit cold to stop with high overcast cloud blocking out any sun.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 13km / 800m / 5h 15m
Accompanying: Dougie

Dougie and I had decided to do this walk the night before and set the alarms for 4.30am. We were asleep too late, and although it was an inconvenience the next morning it didn't exactly stop us. We were out the door at 5am with Glas Bheinn in sight.

The main reason I was so keen to get up early wasn't only through a love of night walks but instead the desire to do one more hill before my to return to Glasgow. The other guys were returning on the Monday, although I'd need to be in university and couldn't stay. My one way back was to get a lift with Diane on Sunday morning, who kindly offered a lift. An early start was just the one way to fit things together.


Dougie and I followed the rough track out of Inchnadamph for five minutes before turning off up a stalkers track. This track wound it's way to 630m, where we would be within striking distance of Glas Bheinn's summit. The actual walk wasn't quite as simple as the map would suggest, and it threw up a couple of unexpected delights.

Dougie used a headtorch and I followed behind without, using the glow from his and the dim atmospheric light. The ascent was great fun and we held an easy pace, talking about all sorts and not worrying about anything too much. My head was throbbing from lack of sleep although I ignored it and worked through it. I was sure that it would lift with the arrival of morning light. I gave thought to my night on the Fisherfield Mountains, where I walked through the night with a similar headache. I'd often wondered since, whether that night had been as bad as to give up walking at 2am and bivouac in the open. The answer? Yes, it was, because walking when everything else is telling you to lie down and sleep is tough. Though as I say, this throbbing lifted with time and the walking became easier.

The walk as unproblematic until we reached Loch Fleodach Coire, where the first problem presented itself - an unbridged river crossing. The reality was a little more complex, for a bridge crossed Allt a' Chalda Mor but lay half submerged, collapsed for whatever reason. Two parallel wooden beams would have once spanned the river, held in place by wooden beams that could be crossed. The bridge was slippery and the water was deep, so we cautiously edged across then jumped the last metre across to the other bank. Dougie went for the plunge and got his feet wet, but I managed to keep the water out. I despise wet feet with a passion. I would also have taken a picture was it not for the dim light.

Beyond the river, the stalkers track essentially disappeared, so we opted to take a direct route to the summit instead of trying to follow a path. Peat bogs gave way to drier ground high up, and we climbed the side of Glas Bheinn on boulder fields, arriving at the summit area which was crowned by several cairns spread along it's length. We'd climbed high by now, but the summit was still some way off.

It was light by now, and five or ten minutes walking across the northern corrie's rim brought us to the summit. The views were wonderful, but the light flat and not good for photography. We stayed at the top for a while, but cold wind dictated we leave sooner rather than later.


The original plan had been to return down the stalkers track, but an alternative presented itself: to descend the steep ground to the road by Loch Assynt and follow the road a short distance to Inchnadamph. We hoped it wouldn't take too long, and although we were running a little late already, it should be a quicker option than returning the way we came.

So we descended, eventually coming out onto easier terrain below, then onto a track. It had now become a race against the clock for me, but we followed the road back making it back to Inchnadamph at 10.10am. I'd just missed Diane, who had had to leave. It was my responsibility to be there on time and I wasn't.

While I felt bad, I was also quietly relieved for I'd always quietly longed to stay another night. And since it would be a long way back to Glasgow on public transport, I opted to stay one more day and miss university instead. On one hand, it meant I'd be around for more hillwalking, but I felt terrible the next day, not just for missing a lift but also for having more than enough commitments to be attending to at home. When you tell people that rely on you that you'll be home on Sunday, you need to be home on Sunday. While the reality of the situation wasn't as bad as I'd thought, it wasn't in the slightest pleasant to be unable to get home.

So while this walk ended on a sour note (for which I take full responsibility - it was my problem that I wasn't in Inchnadamph when I needed to be), I should stress that the walk itself was very enjoyable, especially walking in the dark. Glas Bheinn itself isn't a spectacular hill although the views are, understandably, magnificent. Though ringed by the likes of Quinag, Canisp, Ben More Assynt and Breabag, it's a hill well worth climbing.

360° Panorama

Glas Bheinn
Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 5.00am Inchnadamph
(3.00) 8.00am Glas Bheinn
(5.10) 10.10am Inchnadamph

Written: 2009-11-17