Beinn Odhar Mhòr - 870m
Beinn Odhar Bheag - 882m
Beinn Mhic Cèdidh - 783m
Dìollaid Mhor - 751m
Druim Fiaclach - 870m
Sgùrr na Bà Glaise - 874m
Rois Bheinn - 882m
An Stac - 814m
Tuesday 26th June 2018
Weather/Conditions: Hot morning, clouding over at lunchtime - just as well as it would have been far too hot otherwise. Couple drops of rain on Druim Fiaclach, then clearing on final descent to bright sun and a flat calm twilight on Loch Eilt.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 40.7km / 3050m / 12h 35m
I've wanted to cross them for a while. I moved to Lochaber two winters ago and despite intentions, never quite got around to it. But on a perfect forecast I figured I'd better make it happen some time - there was no reason not to go, so mid-morning of the 26th June, I drove up to Glen Finnan and got parked in at the train station. Not without some difficulty either, the tourist season is in full swing here and it's busy.
The first part of my way was dominated by the great mountain Beinn Odhar Bheag. This is actually more like a miniature range of hills, with subsidiary tops to both the south and north; all of them trackless, rough and covered in Rough Bounds cliffs, crags and bare rock slabs. Getting around is hard work.
It's worth saying that there are easier ways to access the summit of Beinn Odhar Bheag - start further west from Glen Finnan would help - but I wanted to reach a couple of north tops; An t-Sleubhaich and Meall a' Bhrodainn.
Summer was in full swing with tourists and campervans, great blue skies and hot days. I walked up the road out of Glenfinnan until I was under An t-Sleubhaich, then crossed the Abhainn Shlatach, and cut straight up through the grasses.
At first the body wasn't really into this effort; it was hot, immensely sweaty and things weren't ticking along as I'd like them to! An t-Sleubhaich felt like a solid slog under the sun, but it was nice to get out of the glens and see the further horizons.
Over the top of this (a rare uncairned summit!) I dropped to Lochan na Sleubhaich and went by Meall a' Bhrodainn, which doesn't add too much on. Ahead, looming large and blatantly obvious was Beinn Odhar Mhor, in the hill lists a mere 'top' of Bheag, but in truth a substantially sized peak! These are big hills; broad, hard and impressive.
In truth I was pretty knackered by the time I got to Beinn Odhar Mhor, and was wondering about the whole day to come. I felt a bit rotten really; and trying to do all this? We'd see in time. The greater worry was a lack of water; I was nailing through my supplies and it was becoming a consideration. I continued to Beinn Odhar Bheag, the high point of a massive and impressive areas of mountain. As usual, I shot another panorama. The water went down distressingly quickly. I would not make it to Rois-bheinn on these supplies.
But I had a plan: I went south to Beinn a' Chaorainn. I chose to add this as I wondered when on earth I would come back to this part of the world! Surely eventually, but perhaps not for a while. I might as well take the summits while they are in front of me. After the top of Beinn a' Chaorainn, I would have to traverse a small coire to reach the base of my following hill; Beinn Mhic Cedidh. The coire is named Coire nam Fuaran Seileach; corrie of the willow spring. I saw no willow, but the spring was apt: I filled my bottles full from the burn. I also drank liberally. With this water, I was also sure I'd go all the way to the end.
I had another stroke of luck: the skies clouded over with a high ceiling of grey cloud. It did a huge amount to remove the heat. Feeling marginally better than before, I plodded on up Beinn Mhic Cedidh. From here, Glen Aladale is prominent. Croit Bheinn is blindingly obvious; a pyramid of crag and grass just across the glen. The glen is well known for having been the ground of Clanranald MacDonalds; not that you would know it now. The place is quiet and devoid of people, development or settlement; just the forestry and some deer.
I took a break on top of Beinn Mhic Cedidh, then down the far side and into a flat saddle which connects the first half of my day to he second. This broad, boggy saddle has no name on the map, but I imagine that it would be a pretty important route out of Glen Aladale in previous times. So it's curious to see not a mention on the map.
Ahead, the afternoon hills were drawing near. I dropped my bag for an out-and-back to Diollaid Mhor, then set out reaching Druim Fiaclach. This is a ridge of great form and character, but because it lies well out the way of Corbetts, it is little-known and seldom trod. The lack of path attests to this! But I greatly enjoyed the moments of scrambling and the narrow ridge edge which seemed to lead with great ease to the western summits. Past the summit of Druim Fiaclach, the patter of warm rain fell out the sky; but only for a short while. I crossed An t-Slat-bheinn and in time got to the first of the western Corbetts; Sgurr na Ba Glaise.
It's interesting to note that my feet really woke up through the day. By the time I was here, the hills did not seem of much significance. Sure, they were felt by the burn in the legs. But the morning had been tough and now I just had a couple of peaks left before heading back to sea level.
I have eyed this range of hills up for a long time. I make regular trips out to Arisaig for bouldering, and en route you cannot help but see the outline of the mountains of Moidart. Chief among them is Rois-bheinn and An Stac, both mountains situated right on the west coast, both of very beautiful form. As you drive into Lochailort from the west they look massive. It was of some meaning to finally be here and tread those crests.
An Stac was the final mountain of my day; a pyramidal peak sitting on top of both Lochailort (the hotel) and Loch Ailort itself! The view out west to the islands is stonking. I slogged to it's top, just as a gentle light began to unfold; the setting sun dropping behind the clouds, casting light and shadows over the crenellated landscape. I shot straight off down the north ridge and this west coast light spread across the land like a breath of life. A sight to behold; and savour.
On Seann Chruach the land was bright with the final light of day. I was tired now too, and looking forward to getting down. I went off through the rough ground to the outflow of Coire a' Bhuiridh, where a modern hydro track has cut its way upward. I detest this, but I'll take it's convenience.
Down in the glen, I spotted the Beinn Bheag slab (high standard rock climbs here) and passed a graveyard unmarked on the map. I arrived at the Lochailort Inn as the light fizzled out. At this point I would have happily taken a bed for the night. By the time the clock hit 9, I was asking about food. No food, and no beds either. Oh well... So I took some remaining pudding and multiple Cokes.
I'd felt pretty fried when I arrived, but it was a sign of what fueling can do. As 10.30 rolled around, I figured I better get going. And when I walked out the pub and started eastward for Glenfinnan, the light was failing yet I felt quite fresh. In fact the legs were moving quite well and I broke out into a jog, which I maintained all the way. For 45 minutes I saw no cars going in my direction; not that I cared for I was keen on running the distance back to Glen Finan. If nothing else it would give me a day of 50kms or so.
The Moon rose over the southern hils - my days hills, Loch Eilt was calm in the twilight air. It was hot, and still. As I approached Ranochan, the first car that had come my way (from the west) put its brake lights on and stopped for me. I didn't ask for a lift; I was quite happy to keep running. But the girls in the car seemed so shocked to see someone out this late that they asked if I needed a lift. I was tempted to say no, but it seemed too good to be turn down. So I jumped in.
In very last light I was back to Glen Finnan and home around one in the morning!
Beinn Odhar Mhòr
Beinn Odhar Bheag
Beinn a' Chaorainn
Beinn Mhic Cèdidh
Sgùrr na Bà Glaise
(0.00) 10.40am Glenfinnan train station
(1.10) 11.50am An t-Sleubhaich
(1.35) 12.14pm Meall a' Bhrodainn
(2.20) 1.00pm Beinn Odhar Mhor
(2.48) 1.28pm Beinn Odhar Bheag
(3.10) 1.50pm Beinn a' Chaorainn
(4.07) 2.47pm Beinn Mhic Cedidh
(5.25) 4.05pm Diollaid Mhor
(6.08) 4.48pm Druim Fiaclach
(6.40) 5.20pm An t-Slat-bheinn
(6.58) 5.38pm Sgurr na Ba Glaise
(7.30) 6.10pm Rois-Bheinn
(8.45) 7.25pm An Stac
(10.10) 8.50pm Lochailort Inn
(11.50) 10.30pm Lochailort Inn (left)
(12.35) 11.15pm Hitched lift, near Ranochan