A' Ghlas-bheinn & Beinn Fhada
Saturday 13th July 2013

Weather/Conditions: Calm, gently sunny summer weather.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 18.8km / 1550m / 6h 20m
Accompanying: Alone

It might have been expected that arriving back on mainland hills from Skye would be a bump back to reality, but it wasn't really the case.

Dad was up for a couple of nights, and so I did the beginning of this walk with him. A' Ghlas-bheinn and Beinn Fhada are two Munros I don't know very well, lying in the back of a glen between Kintail and Affric. They're on the edge of a huge tract of empty land between Glen's Shiel and Carron, an interior full of little-visited mountains, empty glens and bothies.

I got good weather for my day's hills and headed up A' Ghlas-bheinn first. Between the two mountains is a high bealach; the Gaelic name is Bealach an Sgairne. In English, it's gained the name, 'The Gates of Affric'. It's a kind of romantic, Tolkein-esque name for a steep pass leading from west coast Kintail into the upper reaches of Glen Affric.

A' Ghlas-bheinn had many false summits; a bit of a frustration. I got to the top in time, and met a guy there who had spend the last few days in upper Affric at the Youth Hostel. I headed back down A' Ghlas-bheinn the way I came, then around the stalkers track into the coire of Beinn Fhada.

Fhada was a longer hill than appears on the map. I think my legs were just a bit drained, but I just plodded and plodded and sure enough, the top would have to come at some point.

The best part of this day was to see the big mountain ranges open up to the north. Progress is so slow that ranges seem to exist only in the distant future in my mind. Then suddenly, they are only a glen or two away and soon after I'm on them, looking northward again to even more ranges. The Affric mountains dominated my views today, particularly Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan. Torridon and Slioch were the northern limit to my view, all mountains for the end of the Round. I remember reading Hamish Brown and Chris Townsend talking about this feeling; it's great to experience it for myself.

I spent a good long time on Fhada's summit, and I knew that Michael Kerrigan and Sam Munro had come up to Kintail to see me. So how to get down fast? Curiously, I started running from the top to see how far I got, and then never really stopped. I ran down the summit plateau, onto the stalkers track into the upper coire, down into the glen and all the way back to dad and the car.

I was back down in 49 minutes. A real buzz. I could get into this hill running stuff.

Anyway, it was off to Kintail Lodge Hotel for food: I ate well and had a great time. Sam, David and Michael; great to see you guys, thanks for coming up! I also met Rod (WalkHighlands) in the bar; good to have a chat.

So now I've began my mountains north of Glen Shiel, I still have mopping up to do elsewhere: the Saddle and Sgurr na Sgine, Beinn Sgritheall, and Sgurr nan Gillean. This puts me a couple days behind schedule although I'm hopeful to make it up.

For now, I'm heading back to Skye for Gillean, then the mainland hill-ticking exercise continues...

360° Panoramas

A' Ghlas-bheinn

Beinn Fhada
Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 11.20am Dorusduain parking
(2.25) 2.05pm A' Ghlas-bheinn
(5.00) 4.20pm Beinn Fhada
(5.31) 4.51pm Beinn Fhada (left)
(6.20) 5.40pm Dorusduain parking
Uploaded: 2019-02-14