The web site, Caledonia Hilltreks details my ascents of the Munros, Corbetts, Grahams and New Donalds all of which are above 2000 feet. This blog will contain an account of my ascents of the hills below this height as and when they are climbed.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Beinn a'Chaoinich, Glenelg.

Beinn a'Chaoinich

Beinn a’Chaoinich, Glenelg. Section 10A.
Height – 410 metres. Map – OS Landranger 33.
Date - 12 June 2011. Time taken – 3.25 hours.
Distance – 6 kilometres. Ascent 405 metres.
Trip Report Details:

The previous day I was on Beinn Sgritheall and thereafter the Kintail Lodge Hotel celebrating a couple’s final Munro. Prior to heading home I decided to climb this Sub 2000 Marilyn, which meant re-crossing the Bealach Ratagan, not a hardship as I enjoy the drive and the views of the Five Sisters and Loch Duich.

On the descent towards Glenelg I took the road signposted Moyle, and drove into Glen More where I parked on the grass verge just west of the bridge leading to Braeside Farm. Once geared up I crossed this bridge and followed the south bank of the Glenmore River upstream. The path shown on the map was initially indistinct but soon became obvious as it was wet and muddy with cattle use.

The state of the path caused me to abandon my plan to climb Beinn a’Chaoinich via Sron Mhor. Opposite the camp site at Cnoc Fhionn, I crossed the fence and commenced the ascent of the north face of Beinn a’Chaoinich. This was through long wet grassy vegetation which seemed to cover most of the hillside. On the plus side I had improving views towards The Saddle.

The east ridge was reached and I now looked across to the previous day’s Munro. A few animal trails were followed and this led to a dip in the ridge, which was wet and boggy. A fence came in from the south and headed west across the summit area. On arriving in this area I was pleased that the weather was fine with high broken cloud as it was going to be difficult to work out the highest point in an area of bog and knolls.

At the first cairned knoll I stopped for a coffee break, to allow me to study the map and switch on my GPS to check heights. The midges were out, my first encounter with them this year. I figured that I was on the 410 knoll shown on my map but other knolls appeared higher and there were three different areas shown with a 400 metre contour line.

I did a circuit of the summit area, crossing and re-crossing the fence and wandering round the bog taking in the knolls. As well as ensuring I had been at the highest point I had better views of Beinn Sgritheall, Skye and the distant Island of Rum. The GPS showed a few knolls at 410 metres and one knoll to the north at 413 metres. I know this isn’t reliable but I thought the northerly knolls were higher. I later checked another map which showed two 410 knolls on the south side of the summit area. Well at least I satisfied myself that I had been at the highest point. On my wanderings I came across a red deer fawn lying in a dip but by the time I got my camera out it had taken fright and ran off.

The descent was in a north-easterly direction, steep in places and through bracken where I disturbed a couple of red deer hinds. Some rocky outcrops had to be avoided as I headed for Braeside Farm, which was just a few farm buildings with no house. Lower down the ground was wet and boggy and a couple of electric fences had to be crossed. Once beyond the farm it was a short walk back to my car.

Photos taken on walk.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Triuirebheinn and Beinn Ruigh Choinnich, South Uist.

Beinn Ruigh Choinnich

Triuirebheinn and Beinn Ruigh Choinnich, South Uist. Section 24C.
Height 357 metres/276 metres. Map – OS Landranger 31.
Climbed - 9 June 2011. Time taken – 4 hours.
Distance – 9 kilometres. Ascent – 570 metres.
Trip Report Deatails:

It was my final day on South Uist and I had to decide which of the five remaining Marilyns to climb. I settled for Triuirebheinn and Beinn Ruigh Choinnich, as the starting point, Lochboisdale, was only a few miles east of Dalabrog, where I was staying. On studying the map the main obstacle appeared to be the crossing of the outflow of Loch a’Bharp, but the map showed three different crossing points, if they still existed.

At Lasgair, part of the village of Lochboisdale, I looked for the access road to the bridge at Oratobht. However it appeared a house had been built there so rather than wander through a garden I opted to check out the route further north. It led passed a couple of houses to a fishing hut on the south side of the river. A concrete foot causeway gave access to the opposite bank where I followed a muddy track downstream to Oratobht where I found the bridge there still in position.

I continued along the riverside, following some animal tracks, until I reached the outflow from Loch nan Smalag. I walked up the side of this outflow but it was hard going through some deep heather. Some ponies were feeding nearby. An old water treatment works was reached and thereafter the underfoot conditions improved slightly as I headed to and along the north side of Loch nan Smalag.

Beyond the loch the ground steepened as I worked my way uphill through grass and heather, avoiding several rocky outcrops. There was a strong cold north-westerly wind blowing so I opted to stay on the south and east sides of Triuirebheinn before climbing to the summit cairn. It was surprisingly cold and windy there so after taking a few photographs I found some shelter for a coffee break and put on my down gilet.

The descent of the south face of Triuirebheinn to the Bealach an Easain was also quite rocky with heather and bracken to contend with. There was similar terrain and vegetation on the ascent of Beinn Ruigh Choinnich. The summit of this Marilyn had several cairns so I visited the higher ones. There were excellent views out over Loch Boisdale to the Sea of the Hebrides and to the ferry port of Lochboisdale and the many lochs and lochans stretching as far as the west coast of South Uist.

I descended the west ridge of Beinn Ruigh Choinnich, which was initially a bit rocky. Lower down the terrain was rather awkward to cross so progress was slow but I now had close up views of Lochboisdale, just across its loch. Eventually I reached the outflow from Loch nan Smalag and returned to the start by the outward route.

Photos taken on walk.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Beinn Mhor, Ben Corodale and Hecla, South Uist.

Hecla and Ben Corodale

Beinn Mhor, Ben Corodale and Hecla, South Uist. Section 24C.
Height 620metres, 527 metres and 606 metres.
Map – OS Landranger 22.
Climbed - 8 June 2011. Time taken – 8.75 hours.
Distance – 21 kilometres. Ascent – 1210 metres.
Trip Report Details:

I climbed the Graham, Beinn Mhor a few years ago on a day trip from Harris but due to ferry timings it wasn’t possible to include the Sub 2000 Marilyns, Ben Corodale and Hecla, one of Ralph Storer’s 100 Best Routes on Scottish Mountains. On this second visit I was hoping to rectify the matter.

The proposed starting point was just north of Loch Dobhrain on the A865, the road through the Uists and Benbecula. It was single track at this point making parking difficult so we left the car on the access road to Tobha Beag, after consulting the owner of the house opposite. We walked back along the main road and up the vehicle track which by-passed a croft where large polytunnels had been constructed.

Initially good progress was made but it was short lived. When we reached the end of the track the route became a faint, wet and boggy path and was no longer heading in the correct direction. We left it and made our way across more wet and boggy ground, and around some small lochans, searching for the driest areas to place our boots. A couple of Golden Plovers were perturbed by our presence. Once we gained a bit of height, the ground steepened and the underfoot conditions improved. Occasionally we would follow some paths until they were lost in the vegetation.

On reaching the Bealach Carra Dhomhnuill Ghuirm we took a break with views to the west coast of South Uist and north towards Benbecula. Five guys who had been following us passed nearby. After our break we continued the ascent of Beinn Mhor as the cloud lowered and engulfed the ridge, which was rather disappointing. Steady progress was made and we reached the North Top where the ridge narrowed considerably. However there was no problem as paths ran along the top of the ridge or on either side.

The cloud began to break up and we could now see the five guys on the summit. We stopped and spoke to them as they returned along the north ridge. The path passed below the west face of the top before swinging round to the summit trig point, which was surrounded by boulders, and where we had broken views of Loch Aineort.

We took a stroll out to the cairn on Beinn Mhor’s south-east ridge, which appeared higher although the map showed it at least ten metres lower. From the cairn we had more views of Loch Aineort and the hills to the south. We returned to the north ridge where we met an older couple who weren’t sure of their location or if they were on the right hill.

At a suitable point on the north ridge we commenced the rather steep and initially grassy descent towards the Bealach Sheiliosdail. Lower down minor diversions were made to avoid rocky drops. Once at the bealach we had a late lunch and studied the next section of the route to Ben Corodale.

The direct route was rather steep and rocky so we headed right and made a not too difficult ascent by zig zagging our way through the rocks and onto the grassy slopes of the south-east ridge of Ben Corodale where we disturbed more Golden Plovers. It was then an easy ascent to the summit cairn where we had views of the east coast of South Uist and out to the Sea of the Hebrides.

The north face of Ben Corodale was a rock face so we opted to return south for a hundred metres or so until we located a suitable route round its west face before making an easy descent to the bealach with Hecla where the ground was rougher with several dips. Next was the ascent of Hecla. It was a steady climb with lots of exposed rock to walk round to gain the west ridge where the walking was easier. The ridge did narrow and the final section was rocky but again there were no problems except the low cloud which obstructed our view. While at the summit cairn the cloud broke briefly and we saw out towards the Sea of the Hebrides.

It was now time to return to the car. Initially this was back along the west ridge until it started to change direction. We continued west, left the ridge, and descended across a mixture of vegetation with the intention of keeping to the south of Loch Airigh Amhlaidh and the Abhainn Rog. Some red deer were spotted here. The gradient eased and the walking became awkward as we crossed rough ground with a mixture of wet and boggy vegetation. This entailed a few diversions and stream crossings but we made progress, albeit slow, until near the croft we passed earlier in the morning. It became almost impossible, due to the long vegetation and areas of water, to continue so we cut across to the croft and returned to the car by the track used earlier that day. We reached the car just as the rain started and set in for the evening.

Photos taken on walk.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Easaval, South Uist.


Easaval, South Uist. Section 24C.
Height – 243 metres. Map – OS Landranger 31.
Climbed - 7 June 2011. Time taken – 2.25 hours.
Distance – 6 kilometres. Ascent – 260 metres.
Trip Report Details:

After climbing Ben Scrien, on the Island of Eriskay, we drove across the causeway and into South Uist before heading for the hamlet of Cille Bhrighde where we had planned to commence the ascent of Easaval.

East of Cille Bhrighde, at NF758141, we parked on the grass, west of the historical walled kitchen garden, An Garradh Mor and walked up the tarred road which later became a grassy track and led to a gate in the fence. Beyond this gate we followed animal tracks east through a mixture of bracken, rocks and heather. There were also some old metal fence posts but we soon left this route and commenced the ascent of Easaval.

The brief drier spell of weather had changed to some light showers as we made our way onto Coire Bheinn and the south west ridge of Easaval. There were lots of areas of rock, some we used to our advantage and others we avoided. The rain became heavier and we were engulfed in low cloud but fortunately both were short lived and the cloud lifted above our hill.

The summit area was a mass of peat hags and some rocks so we did some meandering to reach the summit cairn which the map showed was to the north. We had views of Lochboisdale and the masses of inland and sea lochs that are part of South Uist. The summit area had numerous cairns so to satisfy myself that I had been at the top we took in the higher ones. The southerly cairn gave views of the Islands of Eriskay and Barra where we had travelled from earlier that day.

Once we had completed a circuit of the cairns we returned by the ascent route.

The Gaelic name for this hill and what is shown on the map is Easabhal.

Photos taken on walk.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Ben Scrien, Island of Eriskay.

Ben Scrien

Ben Scrien, Island of Eriskay. Section 24C.
Height – 185 metres. Map – OS Landranger 31.
Climbed - 7 June 2011. Time taken – 1 hour.
Distance – 2.5 kilometres. Ascent – 165 metres.
Trip Report Details:

It was wet in Castlebay and the plan to get the early morning ferry to Eriskay was abandoned for a more relaxed and later start. On arrival at the ferry terminal in Ardmhor it appeared that the rain was clearing with brighter skies to the north, across the Uists. The crossing, which took forty minutes, was followed by a short drive uphill to Coilleag where we located a parking area.

We crossed the road and clambered through some rocks before heading onto Ben Scrien’s south-west ridge. There were lots of dips in the ridge some containing small pools of water or bog so there was a bit of meandering required to avoid them. Three walkers were spotted approaching from the south and there appeared to be a chap on the summit.

A gate in the fence was reached before grassy rakes were followed through the rocks taking us close to the trig point. On reaching the summit we had reasonable views of the Island of Eriskay and the causeway leading to South Uist, our next destination.

The return was by the ascent route although lower down we avoided some of the dips and joined the road through Eriskay slightly north of the starting point followed by a brief road walk back to the car.

The map shows the Gaelic name for this hill which is Beinn Sciathan.

Photos taken on walk.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Heaval, Island of Barra.


Heaval, Island of Barra. Section 24D.
Height – 383 metres. Map – OS Landranger 31.
Climbed - 6 June 2011. Time taken – 1.25 hours.
Distance – 3.5 kilometres. Ascent – 300 metres.
Trip Report Details:

The sunny morning had been replaced by some light rain with cloud engulfing the summit of Heaval. I was dropped off at the high point on the A888, between Breibhig and Castlebay, where a new car park and picnic area had been constructed.

I crossed the main road and passed through a small gate but the area beyond was rather wet and boggy so I walked along the edge of a fence until the conditions improved. On crossing the fence I commenced the ascent of Heaval following several grassy rakes.

The cloud continued to lower and as height was gained I found traces of muddy paths some of which I followed. The ground steepened before I reached the south-west ridge of Heaval then an easy walk took me to the summit trig point. It appeared that a rock to the north-west was slightly higher than the base of the trig point so I decreed the rock was the highest point of Heaval.

Due to the low cloud there was little point in hanging around at the summit so initially I descended by my ascent route before, once out of the cloud, aiming for the area of Gleann in Castlebay. The ground was fairly steep in sections with a few rocky outcrops. Lower down there were some tussocky ground to cross before I reached the old track that led from my starting point to Gleann. It was then only a short walk to my accommodation in Castlebay.

The map shows the Gaelic name for this hill which is Sheabhal.

Photos taken on walk.

Ben Cliad, Island of Barra.

Ben Cliad

Ben Cliad, Island of Barra. Section 24D.
Height 206 metres. Map – OS Landranger 31.
Climbed - 6 June 2011. Time taken – 1 hour.
Distance – 2.25 kilometres. Ascent – 175 metres.

We headed to the north-west corner of the Island of Barra for our next Sub 2000 Marilyn, Ben Cliad. Ascent options were either from the south or west with the southerly approach having the advantage of a higher starting point. However we opted to climb the west face.

A parking spot was found south of the telephone kiosk and cattle grid between Grein and Cliaid before we made a slight descent across grassy pastures towards the foot of the hill. We hadn’t gone far when we came to an area of smelly bog which I had no intention of trying to cross. The decision was to head north which involved crossing a fence topped with barbed wire and walking along the edge of a field containing sheep and lambs. Once beyond the worst of the bog we re-crossed the fence and commenced the ascent of Ben Cliad.

The earlier fine and sunny weather was replaced by cloud but it was still quite warm as we ascended the gully to the north passing a couple of ponies and their foals. Higher up the heathery terrain had been burnt in places and I spotted a couple of golf balls, which had been singed by the fire. The local golf course was away to the west so I presumed the balls had been picked up by birds and dropped on the hillside.

On approaching the top there was a couple of spots of rain and a rabbit disappeared down its summit burrow. The top was marked by a few stones and while there we spotted a plane taking off from the nearby airport, the runway being part of the local beach.

The return was by the ascent route although once over the fence and to avoid the bog we crossed the field and passed through a couple of gates to reach the road north of the telephone kiosk and cattle grid.

The map shows the Gaelic name for this hill which is Beinn Chliaid.

Photos taken on walk.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Ben Tangaval, Island of Barra.

Ben Tangaval

Ben Tangaval, Island of Barra. Section 24D.
Height – 332 metres. Map – OS Landranger 31.
Climbed - 6 June 2011. Time taken – 1.5 hours.
Distance – 4 kilometres, Ascent – 325 metres.
Trip Report Details:

On returning from the Island of Vatersay we left the car in the parking area beside the war memorial located on the high point between Castlebay and the Causeway to Vatersay, south of Nasg.

We crossed the road, a ditch and then a fence topped with barbed wire, which I never find easy. Thereafter some wet rough ground was crossed before we came to another fence with barbed wire. Once across it we were on the open hillside with views back to Castlebay and the surrounding sea, Bagh a’Chaisteill, the same name as the village in Gaelic.

The ground was a bit drier as height was gained and we reached the 244 knoll before a slight descent to the Bealach a’Mhaim. Climbing slightly to the east of the summit of Ben Tangaval gave us good views of the beach beside Tangasdal on the west coast of Barra. After a few photographs we climbed to the summit trig point where there were more great views of Barra, the islands to the south and to the Uists in the north.

The return was by the upward route.

Ben Tangaval is shown on several maps as Beinn Tangabhal, its Gaelic name.

Photos taken on walk.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Heishival Mor, Island of Vatersay.

Heishival Mor

Heishival Mor, Island of Vatersay. Section 24D.
Height – 190 metres. Map – OS Landranger 31.
Climbed - 6 June 2011. Time taken – 1.75 hours.
Distance – 4 kilometres. Ascent – 230 metres.
Trip Report Details:

The previous afternoon we left Oban on the Cal Mac ferry for the four hour fifty minutes sail to Castlebay on the Island of Barra. Unfortunately there was some rain and low cloud so there was little in the way of any decent views on the crossing.

However the next morning was lovely and sunny as we made our way across the causeway linking Barra with the Island of Vatersay. Rather than just make a direct and quick ascent from near Caolas in the north we drove round to the east side of the hill and found a parking area just south of the Uidh junction.

The ascent of the east ridge of Heishival Beag was over a mixture of grass and heather, which was wet in places after some overnight rain. Boulders and slab rock made up the rest of the terrain. It was an easy climb and as height was gained, there were some superb views of the nearby islands including Sandray, Pabbay and Mingulay and the various blues of the sea and bays.

The cairn on Heishival Beag was reached followed by a slight dip in the ridge before the final short ascent to the trig point on Heishival Mor. To the west was the Atlantic Ocean with the next land mass being America. From these two tops we were able to view most of Vatersay.

It was too nice a day just to turn around and head back to the car so we took a break taking in these awesome views before returning by the ascent route.

Photos taken on walk.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Carn na Dubh Choille, Strathgarve.

Carn na Dubh Choille

Carn na Dubh Choille, Strathgarve, Ross-shire. Section 14B.
Height – 479 metres. Map – OS Landranger – 20.
Climbed - 30 May 2011. Time taken – 3.75 hours.
Distance – 12 kilometres. Ascent – 500 metres.
Trip Report Details:

My plan was to climb the Sub 2000 Marilyn, Carn na Dubh Choille, from the bridge east of Inchbae Lodge, on the A835 Garve to Ullapool Road, but on my arrival I discovered the bridge no longer existed, although apparently it will be reinstated next year. On studying my map I noted a path, an old drover’s road, ran from Little Garve through to Aultguish, although it is not shown on all the maps I have examined.

I parked on the grass verge, at the western access road to Little Garve, and walked back along the main road. The starting point for the Drovers Road was closer than expected due to road alignment. This led to a grassy path which ran above the north embankment of the A835 to the track shown on my map. A couple of fallen trees blocked this track but were easily crossed before I reached a crossroads junction, which was signposted. My route, which was marked Drovers Path, crossed the vehicle track and continued through the forest, some sections of which had been harvested.

Again a couple of trees blocked the path before I emerged into a gap between forests where the track was rather wet with lots of running water. It improved when I entered the second forested area but this change was short lived. Beyond a track on the left, the route degenerated into large areas of water and marsh as it descended slightly to the northern edge of the forest.

On clearing the trees I followed the path as it past to the west of Lochan nam Breac and when the path changed direction I commenced the ascent of Carn na Duibh Choille. Initially it was over heather and grasses but higher up the ground was softer and wet with some tussoky grass. It was here that a Meadow Pipit flew its nest revealing four eggs.

The top section of the hill was a bit rocky but it made for easier walking. The trig point was reached with views up Loch Glascarnoch and across to Ben Wyvis. The weather was an improvement compared to the previous couple of days with only the odd shower so I had an early lunch taking in the surrounding views. I visited the north top before returning by the ascent route and heading home.

Photos taken on walk.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Beinn Eilideach, Wester Ross.

Beinn Eilideach

Beinn Eilideach, Ullapool, Wester Ross. Section 15A.
Height – 559 metres. Map – OS Landranger 20.
Climbed - 29 May 2011. Time taken – 2.25 hours.
Distance – 6 kilometres. Ascent – 530 metres.
Trip Report Details:

The weather forecast was for heavy rain with strong winds but on rising, and during breakfast at Forest Way Bunkhouse, Braemore, there was little evidence of any wind although it was showery. I had planned to climb the HuMP, Meall Cruaidh in Srath Nimhe but with conditions better than forecasted I decided to climb this Sub 2000 Marilyn instead.

Parking facilities at the start of this walk, a double bend near Leckmelm Farm, on the A835 Ullapool Road was non existent so I parked on the verge at GR NH164908 although in hindsight it probably wasn’t the safest spot. Here there was a Walkers Welcome notice and a directional sign to a viewpoint 1 mile.

I passed through a gate and soon came to another one, again with a viewpoint sign. Just beyond this gate a caravan was partially concealed in the woods with a couple of bikes outside so I presumed it was occupied by someone who kept a low profile. The track led through a forest with rhododendron still in flower.

On emerging into a wide fire break the track, now lined with flowering gorse bushes, zig zagged uphill. Cattle had obviously grazed here but there was no sign of them. Above the tree line I reached a gate in the deer fence and a sign for the viewpoint which was marked by a large rock with views across Loch Broom to the western hills. A reasonable viewpoint on a fine day but today in rain and cloud it wasn’t very spectacular.

I passed through a wicket gate in the deer fence and followed the track for a few more metres before leaving it and heading for Beinn Eilideach over a mixture of heather, bracken and grasses. The ground was a bit wet in places as the frequent showers continued. The gradient eased and I could see the HuMP I had planned to climb and was wondering whether to include it in this outing when the cloud lowered and engulfed me for a few moments.

A band of rocks was reached and I followed it to what appeared to be the highest point, marked by a rock. I could see the outline of Loch Achall and Meall Liath Choire, a Sub 2000 Marilyn, I had climbed earlier that month. I then walked over to the cairn surrounding the trig point where I had a coffee waiting for the cloud to lift. It was rather windy and the rain became quite heavy. A Golden Plover was rather upset by my presence.

With no improvement in the weather I returned to my car by the upward route although the rain did ease and it was less windy once I lost a bit of height.

On returning home I studied the 1:25000 map and noted that the highest point of Beinn Eildeach, was as suspected, east of the cairn and trig point at 559 metres with the trig point a metre lower.

Photos taken on walk.