Friday, 31 May 2013

Beinn Airigh Charr

Beinn Airigh Charr from Kernsay

Moorland path, Beinn Airigh Charr ahead

Primroses at 550 metres

At 600 metres on the ascent

Beinn Airigh Charr summit final approach


 Fionn Loch causeway with A'Mhaighdean the dominant peak

Looking south east to the Torridons

Loch on the walk in to Carnmore, Ben Lair ahead

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Ascent:       1065 metres
Distance:    24 kilometres
Time:          6 hours 4 minutes

c  Beinn Airigh Charr      791m    3hrs 25mins    

Arriving back from London late on Tuesday, I had a phone call from Keith Adam about the possibility of a trip to Fisherfield in the morning. He was nearing the end of his fifth round and this was the last two/three day walk that he had to do. I immediately said yes, this is one of my favourite walks, but he then called round to the house after 10:00pm on his way back from a day walk to say that he might not be able to make it and could we just do a walk nearer home. The weather was to be good in the north west for two days and I wanted to make the best of it and started making alternative plans. Keith arrived on Thursday morning and had reverted to the Fisherfield plan so we loaded my car and set out just after 10:00am.

After stopping at Inverness for diesel and some macaroni cheese, we were going to be in the wilderness for 48 hours, we drove on to Poolewe. The sun was shining as we drove past Loch Maree and Slioch was a shimmering sentinel. The coastal scenery from Gareloch to Poolewe was stunning and it felt like we were in for a great adventure. There is a good parking area just over the bridge in Poolewe. We repacked our rucksacks and set off about 4pm for the long trek in to Carnmore, where we intended to wild camp for a couple of nights.

We walked along the road beside the river Ewe which was sparkling in the afternoon sun. There is a good road/track for the first 5 kilometres to Kernsary where prefect green pastures fall to the loch side and deer graze like domestic herds. Shortly afterwards a track leads into the forest and there is a fairly boggy couple of kilometres to negotiate before emerging on a good moorland path that snakes along past numerous small lochans for 8 or 9 kilometres to Carnmore.

I had suggested that we climb a corbett on the way in and Beinn Airigh Charr looked tempting, so we cut across the moorland and began a fairly direct ascent after dropping our rucksacks. Rather than taking the path we continued to climb at a steady rate cutting underneath the 705m top, walking through a hillside of yellow primroses and making for the grass and scree slopes to the west of the summit. For the first of many occasions in the next 24 hours we were blessed by the perfect conditions. I took photos and sent messages, surprised that phone reception was better here than in many urban areas.

We set out back at a strong pace hoping to pick up the sacks at 8pm which would mean we could reach our camp location before 10pm. Stupidly I had put my phone down at the summit after sending pictures to friends whilst I took photos with my camera. I only realised this when down to 600 metres, and I could not find my phone for another picture opportunity. I hollered Keith who was ahead that I was I returning to the summit where I spent 10 minutes searching for my phone but to no avail. I must have dropped it on the descent. It was almost 8:30pm by the time I reached the rucksacks. Keith had been waiting for half an hour and was starting back up the hill to look for me. I had climbed an extra 170 metres and walked 2 kilometres on my futile search.

We sharpened our pace for what was another couple of hours on the track. Initially the lochans, the magnificent scenery and the sense of exhilaration fuelled our walking but it dragged on and by the time we crossed the causeway between Fionn Loch and Dubh Loch we were relieved to call it a day. There is a short climb and then some good camping spots near to the house and barn at Carnmore, four other tents were pitched. We had enjoyed some spectacular views and it looked like the weather would hold. A thrifty supper of soup and cous cous and I was ready for sleep.

The loss of phone had a happy ending when I arrived home on Friday there had been a random phone call from someone who had found it near the summit. He had flown home to Southampton and, having obtained my address, put the phone in the post. It arrived on Saturday morning, a tribute to the honesty and kindness of outdoor enthusiasts and the speed and efficiency of Royal Mail. It also saved friends the agony of sitting at work on Thursday and seeing my photos of Fisherfield in all its glory appear in their in boxes. One of the joys of retirement.

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