Saturday, 12 July 2014

Rois Bheinn

Three Corbetts and the glorious Druim Fiaclach ridge
Thurday, 10 July 2014
Ascent:       1560 metres
Distance:    18 kilometres
Time:         7hours 39minutes

Druim Fiaclach            869m     2hrs 11mins
Sgurr na Ba Glaise        874m     3hrs 23mins    
Rois Bheinn                 882m     4hrs
Rois Bheinn (w. top)   878m     4hrs 12mins
An Stac                        814m    5hrs 41mins

This was the best of weeks with the sunshine lingering in the west and the visibility quite exceptional. I had originally decided to walk on Wednesday but became so absorbed in watching Germany overrun Brazil in the World Cup that I postponed the walk for a day. I had been saving the three Corbetts overlooking Loch Ailort and the small isles for a day such as this. I was away by 7am and after a stunning drive through Glencoe, which was mesmeric in the low angled sunlight, and a brief stop in Fort William for fuel made it to Inverailort by 10:15am. I had read a number of walk reports and decided that I would start by climbing Druim Fiaclach, which although not a corbett was described in the SMC guide as the finest of peaks. It would allow me to spend the rest of the day walking westwards towards the sun and sea views as I climbed the three corbetts.

It proved a good decision, although the walk up from the parking space at Inverailort was a march through a bog just after the massive lochailort salmon farming recirculation unit. My feet were soaked before the walk began but on a hot summer's day they would dry when on the tops. I arrived at a massive new track being bulldozed up the glen with a couple of diggers working to extend it, I presumed that there must be a micro hydro scheme being installed and this was verified by a search when I got home. The development is of a run of the river hydro power scheme which will generate a maximum 979kW on the Allt a Bhuriridh on the Inverailort estate.

Further up the glen I crossed the burn and began the ascent of Beinn Coire nan Gall. Although the sun was beating down, it was a dry heat, so no sweat and progress was steady interrupted only by a stop to fill up with water from the sparkling burn. I made for the bealach below Druim Fiaclach and then dodged round the exposed rocks to reach the summit. It was a revelation perched at the end of a long ridge coming out from Sgurr na Ba Glaise and giving extensive views to the small isles with Rum and Skye blue serrated profiles in the distance. The three corbetts that were the reason for today stood as the peaks of an equilateral triangle and all offered the prospect of even closer scintillating sea views. I sat in the extensive cairn and had the first half of my lunch and then began the amble across the crest of one of the most delightful ridges,  the walking was easy and the views were sublime.

The light coloured Moinian schists are set in short grass and small lochans are dotted along the ridge. I looked northwards towards the white sand beaches of Arisaig with Skye lurking beyond. I picked out the peaks of Knoydart and the nearer munros of Sgurr Thuilm and Sgurr nan Coireachan, all visited six weeks ago. A group of four walkers sauntered along in the opposite direction, they lived locally and had saved this ridge for a perfect day. We chatted for five minutes before I reached the high point of the ridge at An- t-Slat bheinn and gave myself a break on nature's emerald green mountain garden.

Only now after 3 hours walking was I about to start on the three corbetts, the diversion to Druim Fiaclach had added a couple of hours but what a worthwhile dividend, walking does not get much better than this ridge. Sgur na Ba Glaise was a bit of an anti climax, a hundred metres of ascent to a conical summit but with excellent views. I had the rest of my lunch and headed across to Rois Bheinn, the most westerly of the corbetts with the promise of the best of all sea views. From the bealach there is a long ascent of 170 metres, mainly alongside a wall before you arrive at the summit with its tiny cairn adjacent to the wall. The big cairn is 500 metres further west. It overlooks the awe inspiring coast of Loch Ailort and Moidart with dozens of tiny islands and some very exquisite looking beaches. It was only just past 3pm and the sun was still too high in the sky to get the best of the seascapes. I sat down on the giant Juliet balcony and soaked up the sun and the to die for views.

I still had to climb An Stac and there was a sizeable drop down to 550metres. I returned over Rois Bheinn summit and then down the wall and continued to the col before Sgurr na Ba Glaise before descending down a steep grassy slope to the bealach. On reflection I should have followed the wall down and saved myself 15 minutes. I was not looking forward to the final climb but I found a steady pace and was soon sitting at the top of An Stac. A tiny cairn at the top of a rocky summit, but as throughout the day encircled by short spongy grasses that would make for a perfect bivvy and chance to get those evening and dawn photographs.

I had read that the descent would be tricky threading through the rocks but I found a faint path and was soon down to the col before the outlying hill of Seann Cruach. I could either drop down to the glen of Allt a' Bhuiridh where I would pick up the good path or proceed over the top of Seann Cruach which would have given a good route but instead I chose to contour round and ended up in clumps of grass with numerous hidden boulders with all the discomfort of contouring. I continued over the final top and then suffered a dreadful descent through a new birch plantation on a very steep slope. It was a delight to hit the path back to Inverailort which snakes through the lower slopes until the coastal plain. I went knee deep in a bog before reaching the salmon processing factory and reaching the car. It was a glorious summer evening and a fine end to one of the very best of walks along the enchanting ridge of Druim Fiaclach and over the three corbetts. If the munros were Brazil and the corbetts were Germany, then this outing would have been a walk over for Germany.

The icing on the hot day was the drive home, I stopped at Glenfinnan to admire the views down Loch Shiel, called in at the Corpach Coop for a bottle of lemonade to slake my thirst, and then cruised through Glencoe and Rannoch moor elated by the clarity and beauty of the mountainous landscapes on what had been a perfect day.

Rois Bheinn and An Stac from the slopes of  Beinn Coire nan Gall


Three Corbetts and a spot of cloud

The Arisaig coastline, Rum and Skye under cloud

Why I walk

An-t-Slat-bheinn summit - ravishing

Now that's what I call an infinity pool on the Druim Fiaclach ridge

Eigg and Rum from Sgurr na Ba Glaise

Ross Bheinn  from Sgurr na Ba Glaise

Ross Bheinn west summit

View from Ross Bheinn to Eigg and Rum

The Druim Fiaclach ridge

Bidean nam Bian on the way home
Glenfinnan looking down Loch Shiel

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