Saturday, 30 June 2012

Murrays on Tour - Beinn na Cille

Wednesday 20th June,
Beinn Resipol from the lounge 06.00 – the promise of another stunning day.
We were up sharp this morning. The wall to wall blue sky was too much of a temptation so the rest day was put on hold again as we got ourselves organised for another day of walking. After the success of yesterday we decided that we would try and get some height under our boots so plumped for a hill by the name of Beinn na Cille that sits on the north bank of Loch Linnhe. The hill itself at 652m is not high but, unlike our home turf in Deeside and the Cairngorms with its rolling profiles and high starting points, this 652m would start from sea level and reach the top in something short of half a mile!

We knew it was going to be steep but this just confirmed it!
The walk starts at Glengalmadale Farm and the run down from the cottage was along one of the best single track roads in the country – best that is as long as you keep your nerve! The route we were to walk is part of a horseshoe route that would normally take in the two Corbetts of Creach Bheinn and Fuar Bheinn as well as the Graham we intended doing. The complete walk, while an outside possibility for us since we had managed an early start, was not the plan for today since we knew that the hardest part of the day would be the initial start and the goal was to get photos of Loch Linnhe and beyond from high ground. We started off with a steep, difficult climb up the side of a small tree plantation just west of the parking area at the farm.
The first of many steep sections today
The climb itself was bad enough but the worst part was the midges. It seemed that we had wandered into possibly the worst location for walking as we trudged up through damp ferns, on the edge of a pine forest, on surely one of the hottest mornings of the summer so far. We were being eaten alive! Despite the discomfort we battled on, complaining all the time and asking what exactly midges add to the eco system and, more importantly, what do they eat when we’re not available! We did eventually reach the top end of the plantation but instead of heading slightly south and west along the top of the trees we struck straight up in search of a breeze and relief from the damned insects. What we got was a nice steady breeze and some stunning views, both of which gave us reason to stop complaining.
Looking down to Glengalmadale farm and the car park
Our first view over Loch Linnhe
Although we were now midge free the price we’d paid for not following the contour of the hill was that we were still climbing steeply.
A hard pull up from the trees but now free from the menace of the midge
Eventually the gradient began to level off but we were continually faced with false summit after false summit and, even though we knew they were coming, we were still a little downhearted as the top seemed way beyond our endurance. The views however continued to improve and we kept reminding ourselves that it was the views we were here for. And they were stunning.
To the southeast over Loch Linnhe
To the southwest over Loch Linnhe
We were taking our time now and stopped a couple of times for sustenance, usually coffee and chocolate with the odd bottle of juice thrown in. At least we had come prepared! The views were now also opening up inland and we were able to see the whole horseshoe of the full ridge walk for the first time.
Looking west
Looking north to Fuar Bheinn (L) and Creach Bheinn (R)
Looking east to the final part of the ridge walk and beyond to the Nevis range
Finally after a great deal of huffing and puffing, of bitching and complaining and of whining and nagging we dragged ourselves up to the summit cairn and a few things became obvious. Firstly it was worth it for the achievement alone, secondly, and more importantly, for the views in all directions and finally that we would forego the challenge of doing the full circuit. We were weary and although the worst of the climbing was probably over we still had a fair way to go, so we used a degree of common sense and decided that we would make our way back down.
First view of the summit cairn – worried in case it’s another false summit!

Of course I’m happy darling, look I’m smiling!

Looking northwest with Loch Sunart (?) in the distance
We found a sheltered spot just below the summit and had some lunch and a chat about what to do next. We quickly agreed that going on to complete the route was out of the question. After all we wanted to be fit to do other walks this week and doing too much today might cause problems in this regard over the next couple of days. So our chat moved onto the best way down, the most obvious, but not very palatable, being to retrace our steps. In the end we decided to carry on north down into the col at around 460m then try for a route down the Allt Coire Mhic Gugain stream that fed into the Glengalmadale river a couple of kilometres from the car.
Looking north from the col towards Fuar Bheinn
Looking down to the Glengalmadale River and reservoir
The descent was steep and treacherous at times but with a little bit of care and attention we navigated our way safely to the bottom. If I was ever to come back to this area specifically to do the two Corbetts then this is probably the route I’d take. It would still be steep of course and you would miss the initial views over Loch Linnhe, but it would also be midge free!
Looking north to Creach Bheinn from our route down
Dragonfly that kept us company on the way down
When we finally reached the access road for the dam / reservoir we had a sit down to finish our food, coffee and juice and to reflect on the day and decided that, all in all, it had been a success. OK we hadn’t completed the full route, but that had never really been our intention, and although we had anticipated a steep climb, it had turned out much more difficult and uncomfortable than we had imagined. But the sense of achievement was good and the views were way beyond what we expected, so how could it be anything other than a great day out?


  1. I'm hugely enjoying the whole holiday story. We're forever looking for places to go in Scotland, and I was beginning to think we'd done most of it, but there's some inspiration here, right enough!


    1. Hi Scott and I appreciate you taking the time to look in. It always surprises us as well about how little we know about our own country. We have never been in this corner of Scotland and it's an amazing wilderness and a week was never going to be long enough to do it justice. I guess we'll just need to come back!................J