Fionn Bheinn - 933m
Friday 29th April 2011

Weather/Conditions: Clear blue skies, sunny weather. Dry as usual.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 8.9km / 800m / 3h 10m
Accompanying: Colin

To finish off the fantastic weekend, Colin and I went up Fionn Bheinn at Achnasheen. We had stayed at Jim Sutherland's house in Sheildaig. Outside the weather was fantastic, again. The prospect of great weather for the foreseeable future was great but for the wild fires raging across the Highlands. And Liathach was still burning. Colin, Faye and I said goodbye to Jim and his family, drove through Torridon for the last time and headed for Achnasheen.

Photos: Shieldaig to Achnasheen

Fionn Bheinn

Once there, we parked at the lay-by, got the sun cream on and packed a single rucksack to be swapped between us. We followed the path threading it's way alongside Allt Achadh na Sine. Faye turned back fairly soon though, and spent the next few hours in the valley.

This was an interesting hill to climb because in the Munro-bagging circles, it gets rather bad press. The summit dome can't be seen from Achnasheen but it opens up beautifully and paints a picture of simplicity quite like hills of the Southern Uplands. The rolling gradients demand to be walked across, but I wonder what I would say about this hill if we'd instead climbed it in a storm.

Peat hags fizzled out to thin grass and heather as Colin and I continued to swap the rucksack. We walked up to Creagan nan Laogh, a single southern spur and took a break on the moss, in the sun with a breeze whipping along. For a hot day, I became surprisingly cold.

The summit ridge became tantalisingly close and we marched upwards. I thought of the Fannaichs ahead, eager to see the 360 degree panorama. The views from this hill are stunning, and few hills I think offer such a balanced view of so many mountains. It stands so alone among so many incredible ranges - everything from Mullardoch to An Teallach and the Fannaichs. Whatever mountains were visible, the smoke billowing from Glen Torridon was surely unique. Liathach is a giant from the east - only the smoke suggested that the western end was smothering under wild fire.

We got onto the ridge and followed it to the summit - Toll Mor is a nice piece of nature's work on an otherwise unassuming hill. And the summit was rounded off with a neatly set trig point.

We didn't stay long - Colin was straight off essentially without stopping, although we didn't want to keep Faye waiting longer than necessary. I took a 360 degree panorama and set off on my way. (And subsequently spent several fun hours annotating the incredible number of mountains! I counted 50 visible Munros from the summit of Fionn Bheinn, not forgetting Corbetts on Rum, in the Monadhliath and Munros as far as Ben More Assynt!)

And then a quick descent followed down the huge grassy slopes, back down to Achnasheen. We were deep in chat about topics most of which I forget, but one of the most interesting topics is always the Gaelic origin of hill names, a subject in which Colin's knowledge is deep. For me, it's much valued and appreciated. It's amazing for me to see as a monolingual English speaker, that Gaelic is alive and well among some. Our bilingual road signs don't seem so contrived after all.

A final descent brought us into Achnasheen, where it really hit that the weekend was over. A lifestyle roaming the hills gets into you. Colin and I went for a dip in the river (upstream from the rotting sheep) although it wasn't deep enough for a swim.

And then we were homebound. What a superb few days - the hills were fantastic, the weather second-to-none, the people met inspiring. We watched Liathach go on fire and burn on. Colin saw Munro #200 and my passion for the north-west cuts deeper than it did before. I could live here. I live for stuff like this.

360° Panorama

Fionn Bheinn
Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(-0.50) 4.35pm Coulags Bridge layby
(0.00) 5.25pm Coulags bothy (arrived)

(0.00) 5.45pm Coulags bothy (left)
(1.30) 7.15pm Maol Chean-dearg
(1.55) 7.40pm Maol Chean-dearg (left)
(2.55) 8.40pm Coulags bothy

Written: 2011-07-19