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Monday, 28 October 2013

Beinn Dearg four plus Seana Braigh

Every spring and autumn, Roger, Mike and I meet for some serious Munrobagging. This time we stayed in the Aultguish Inn bunkhouse ( which is the luxury version of a bunkhouse with en suite bathrooms and a large kitchen. We wanted to do the Beinn Dearg four but the forecast predicted 60 mph winds with gusts up to 80 mph after a lull in the morning and also both Roger and I had the remnants of a cold. My coughing was the alarm and we got up at 6 h to start walking from Inverlael at 7.40 h.
A landrover track follows the river Lael and generally there is easy walking to reach a saddle at the foot of Beinn Dearg and of two other Munros of the trip, Cona 'Mheall and Meall nan Ceapriachean. Here Roger and Mike nearly reach the end of the glen...
... and here they pass a lochain at the foot of Beinn Dearg.
Clouds came and went and during the ascent to Beinn Dearg we had at times views of Ullapool. The white dot on Loch Broom is the ferry from Ullapool to Stornoway on Lewis. The summer isles are further in the distance.
More to the North the Coigach peninsula with Stac Pollaidh and Suilven.
Finally the summit in good time and no gales yet.
We descended and crossed via a saddle over towards Cona 'Mheall. To the East the winter climbing cliffs that line Coire Ghranda.
Here is Mike on the ascent with Beinn Dearg behind...
... and here he is approaching the summit of Cona 'Mheall.
The landscape towards the North is remote.
A brief rest at the Cairn.
We then went over Meall nan Capraichean - all these Munros are close together - and here Mike crosses a line of white Quartz.
On the ascent to Eilidh nan Clach Geala we talked to three guys from Dundee which we met the night before in the Aultguish bar. By that time Seana Braigh entered one of our sentences...
... and at the Cairn, reached in good time and with still no bad weather in sight, we agreed to add Seana Braigh which is seen just to the left of Roger's head in the distance.
The walking was not quite as easy as anticipated and the wind picked up and was funnelled to reach high speed just before we were turning Northwards to reach first the top and then the main summit of the Old Height, as the translation of Seana Braigh goes. I had loved the remoteness the first time I did it and I loved it this time. One of my favourite hills with a dramatic corrie.
By now we had done some serious mileage and it was a seriously long way back to Inverlael, our starting point. We pushed on as walking in daylight is easier than walking at night. At 18 h it got dark, rainy and increasingly boggy. Mike had new pants which he hoped were waterproof (you guess whether they were) and had forgotten his head torch and so he practiced the art of semi-blind bogwalking. I did the Cairngorm winter climber trick of going visceral, just allowing the muscle diesel to tucker along whilst not thinking. Here a nocturnal crossing of a stream in the rain still many miles from Inverlael.
In the end my GPS watch said that we had done more than 36 km and no, we did not watch 'Whisky Galore' and no, we did not drink any Ardbeg. Also my heels were shredded as I was wearing new boots (some never learn) but after a good sleep my cold was better and here is our finisher photo in front of the Aultguish. The bunkhouse is on the right.