Wednesday, 22 June 2011
Beinn Mhor, Ben Corodale and Hecla, South Uist.
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.