The best view in Scotland?

Beinn Lair – 859m
Beinn a’ Chasgein Mor – 856m
Date: 28th May 2012
Distance: 23 miles
Ascent: 2,150m
Weather: Hot, hot and even hotter
Two Feet Four Paws: Anne, Stewart and Molly

A’Mhaighdean – 967m
Ruadh-stac Mor – 918m
Date: 29th May 2012
Distance: 22 miles
Ascent: 2, 050m
Weather: Hot in the glens and cloudy summits
Two Feet Four Paws: Anne, Stewart and Molly

On all my previous visits to Fisherfield I had been based at Shenevall and climbed the Munros as a circuit from the bothy, then on my Corbett round I had visited Beinn Lair and Beinn a’ Chaisgein Mor from Poolewe. Stewart was in the final stages of his Corbett round so the opportunity to tackle A’ Mhaighdean and Ruadh-stac Mor via an alternative route seemed too good to miss. The promise of high pressure across the north west miraculously coincided with us both having a commitment free week so the trip was on.

We left Poolewe at 8 a.m and boy was it hot already. Our plan was to walk via Kernsary to the Fionn Loch causeway. Leave our packs, climb Beinn Lair and overnight at Carnmore Barn. The next day we would climb A’ Mhaighdean and Ruadh-stac Mor, overnight at the bothy again and then climb Beinn a’ Chaisgein Mor on the third day before walking out to Poolewe.

Felling Hot, Hot Hot.

The walk from Poolewe must be one that every hill walker should complete at least once in their lifetime. It is superlative. From the coast, along the riverbanks, through farms, crofts and forest to the open moor where the views take your breath away. The mighty wall of Beinn Airigh Charr, Meall Mheinnidh and Beinn Lair, the crags above Carnmore, the Fionn Loch, the Dubh Loch and finally A’ Mhaighdean.

It was hot and getting hotter. Luckily there was water in all the burns and each one doubled as a drinking fountain and a doggie sluice (very hygienic)!

The heat had dulled our appetites and we finally stopped for lunch at the foot of the path to the Bealach Mheinnidh and disaster……………………….the chocolate had melted. We dumped the majority of our gear behind a large boulder and traveled as lightly laden as possible up the oven like path to the bealach.

Into the furnace.

We climbed to the summit of Beinn Lair and lingered in the shade of the massive cairn before we were overcome by heatstroke (not sure if I have mentioned how hot it was)? We lapped up views across the trench of the Dubh Loch to the north west ridge of A’ Mhaighdean, our proposed route of ascent for tomorrow. We wearily retraced our steps back to the boulder to retrieve our gear and had a leisurely walk across the causeway to Carnmore Barn where it appeared we were the sole occupants. Time appears to stand still in Fisherfield, every time l have been there, I feel relaxed with no awareness of the time of day and never feel in any rush to get anywhere. A check of our watches revealed it was early, nearly 5 p.m so in moment of madness we reviewed our plans and decided that if we climbed Beinn a’ Chaisgein Mor in the cool of the evening we could climb A’ Mhaighdean and Ruadh-stac Mor tomorrow and then walk out, completing the trip a day early. It seemed like a good idea at the time!

It was a pleasure to walk in the cool evening air. The light was mesmerising and the cloud effects looking back to A’ Mhaighdean were a boost for our tired legs, we lingered at the summit and Molly enjoyed a snooze. We arrived back at the bothy at 10 p.m eagerly anticipating another stunning day tomorrow.

Our luxury overnight accommodation.

Saying we were disappointed to wake up to see cloud covering the summits was something of an understatement. Hill walking in the Scottish mountains has to be undertaken with a healthy degree of optimism, so we left the bothy sure the cloud would lift before we got near the ridge but alas, it was with us all day and we were denied one of the finest views in the highlands.
In view of the poor weather we revised our plans for the NW ridge and followed the stalkers path past Fuar Loch Mor to the bealach between the two Munros. The air was still and the cloud clearly had no intention of lifting. Route finding to the summit of Ruadh-stac Mor was easy thanks to a worn and discoloured path through the rocks. We returned to the bealach and then walked through the rocks to the grassy slopes of A’ Mhaighdean where visibility was less than 10m. The best view in Scotland? Not today…………………..

The day was still young and we retraced our steps back to the bothy. When we got back to the bothy we confirmed we had just enough energy left to walk back to Poolewe that afternoon; anything to avoid another sweaty night in the barn. During the afternoon the heat increased and the walk out seemed endless but luckily, we made it back to the shop before they closed for several cans of cold drink and an ice cream. As we drove home along the coast road via Dundonnell glances back to the hills showed the summits still covered in cloud. ‘90% chance of cloud free Munros’………….my arse!!!

Two days. Two Munros. Two Corbetts. 45 miles. 4,200m of ascent. Four aching feet. Four tired paws.

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