Footprints Across Scotland
Why not make a few of your own!
19th to 21st April 2008
A roam around the hills of the Flowerdale forest.
After passing through Inverness I travelled on the Ullapool road as far as Garve before taking a left turn on the road that leads out to Achnasheen. From here I headed for Kinlochewe stopping at the viewpoint at the top of the pass that looks down to Loch Maree for a drink and bite to eat. The pleasant drive continued as I headed along the shore of Loch Maree heading toward Gairloch. I parked in the small car park beside the green barn just opposite Am Feur-loch which appears at the road side just before the larger Loch Bad an Sgalaig. The green barn is apparently known locally as the red barn, it obviously has a somewhat chameleon nature. After adding my food provisions to my pack I crossed the road to join the track opposite that leads into 'Loch Bad an Sgalaig pinewood'. A bridge crosses over the burn that runs out of Am Feur-loch and down to Loch Bad an Sgalaig. The track climbed gently giving initial views of the northern end of Baosbheinn. Bad na Sgalag native pinewood is a project undertaken by the Gairloch estate. To try and regenerate the area over a million native trees have been planted. I bumped into a guy associated with the estate and he told me the trees were now around 8 years old but slow growing, he said it would probably be another century before the wood really matured. He was hoping for a warm dry summer to bring them on a bit, a few had a slight browning after plenty of the normal wet west coast weather. The trees however still gave a nice dash of green to the still brown hillsides. On the left Lochan a Chleirich came into view sat below the rocky slopes of Meall Lochan a Chleirich.
Loch Bad an Sgalaig pinewood
In the distance the prominent upper rock towers of Slioch could be seen. Soon after the rounded north end of the Beinn an Eoin was evident in silhouette against the bright sky. The track passed between Meall na Meine and the gorge through which Abhainn a Gharbh Choire flows. Near the top of the gorge the "Grouse stone" marked the edge of the pinewood. This large sandstone rock was where shooting parties of old used to leave their bag of birds for a ghillie to collect and transfer them to the estate larder back toward Gairloch.
The Grouse Stone
After passing through the gate in the deer fence empty moorland stretched ahead. The ground was very boulder strewn with large erratic's and many smaller boulders everywhere. I was beginning to wonder if I would find a spot even large enough to pitch my small tent. The north end of Beinn an Eoin was now well in view together with more extensive ones of Baosbheinn. The track climbed round to the right of the hillock of Meall Lochan na Geala before descending slightly and crossing the Abhainn Loch na h-Oidhche via some stepping-stones. It wasn't long before I got my first look at Loch na h-Oidche. Beinn an Eoin and Baosbheinn form two long walls either side of the Loch while at the far end the Torridon peaks dominate the skyline, with Beinn Dearg taking centre stage. There is a rust coloured corrugated iron boat house at this the northern end of the loch and I was fortunate to find just enough flat grassy ground to pitch my tent. After erecting the tent and storing my sleeping and cooking gear in it I continued on my way down the left side of the loch.
Baosbheinn across Loch na h-Oidhche
Baosbheinn across Loch na h-Oidhche
There was a stiff north easterly wind blowing which was keeping the temperature down and would become a feature for the weekend. At the southern end of the loch I came across Poca Buidhe bothy which is a private fishing and stalking cottage owned by the estate. There was a small section that was left unlocked on the right hand side of the bothy with loft space to sleep two which maybe available for walkers.
Poca Buidhe Bothy and Baosbheinn
I followed the path on past the bothy and along the side of some small lochans before turning left to traverse upward across the lower slopes of Beinn an Eion, then climbing more steeply the southern end of the mountain. There was not too much snow on this side until near the upper reaches. I bypassed some rocky slabs by going right to emerge on the summit ridge a short distance from the top. I had enjoyed fantastic views out to the northern slopes of the Torridon hills as I climbed and spent more time taking them in. They appeared brilliant white against the great expanse of brown rocky countryside.
The Northern slopes of the Torridon hills from Beinn an Eoin
A short rocky descent was followed by a gradual loss in height as I traversed the length of Beinn an Eion.
The Beinn an Eoin ridge pointing north west
I dropped down through Coire Loch na Geala to gain the open moor and the short walk to the loch side and the tent.
The north face of Beinn an Eoin
It was time for a quick wash at the loch side while the sun was still shining and then a nice cup of hot chocolate before a curry dinner. The sun dipped behind Baosbheinn around 7.30pm and with it the temperature dropped quite rapidly. The wind continued to blow through the night but I woke early to find a clear blue morning sky.
Home for a couple of days and Baosbheinn
After breakfasting and preparing my lunch it was off down the side of loch na h-Oidhche at around 7.30am. After again passing the bothy I headed south-west between Gorm loch Fada and Gorm loch na Beinne. Some deer walked away casually as they became aware of my presence, a pair of ducks however took off from one of the lochs with a bit more commotion.
Beinn an Eoin from the south
I took my time wandering over the hillside taking photos and enjoying the sun which was now strong enough to take the chill off the wind. I gradually turned and made my way north west onto the lower part of Baosbheinn, the amazing cliffs and terraces of Beinn Dearg and Beinn Alligin providing stunning scenery as I ambled along.
Beinn Dearg and Beinn Alligin behind
Beinn Dearg and Beinn Alligin
I know turned my attention to the slopes of Baosbheinn, the first rise took me up onto Ceann Beag, the way then dropped me down the other side to a col and then on a steep-ish ascent curving right onto the lower of the two main tops.
South top of Baosbheinn
Steep snowy faces dropped from here steeply into the depths of Coire Mor.
The 'Quick' way down
The main summit was now close but I had to pick my way down through some small crag's to another col before a final pull up onto the top.
The main top of Baosbheinn from the south
The small plateau was almost completely snow covered and the surrounding hills appeared over a white rim topped by the blue sky. I carried on along the ridge over the two rock towers, having a lunch stop on the second. I had planned to continue straight along the ridge but the steep snow slopes on the northern side of the second pillar had me retracing my steps back to the top. I dropped down to the upper reaches of An Reidh-choire and then continued along to the top above Coire beg. There was still plenty of time left in the day for a nice long siesta.
Baosbheinn from further north
After relaxing I returned south and descended into An Reidh-choire and then to the north end of Loch na h-Oidhche. The bridge here had been swept away but with the aid of some stepping stones and use of my walking poles there was little difficulty crossing the outlet from the loch. Feeling warm and with the sun still shinning I was encouraged to visit the "plunge pool". The cold loch water took my breath away but I did feel energised after the briefest of dips. I took my time preparing to leave the following day but was still ready to set off around 8. The morning shadow cast by Beinn an Eoin was just about receeding past the tent to greet my departure. After reaching the car I took the short trip down the road to the shores of Loch Maree and Slattadale forest.
Beinn Airigh Charr across the north end of Loch Maree
The islands of Loch Maree still contain remnants of Caledonain pinwoods and seeds from these trees have been used in the regeneration project at Loch Bad an Sgalaig pinewood. I had a bite to eat and a brew before a leisurely walk along the forest trails. That just left the drive back to Aberdeen at the end of what had been an exceptionally good weekend.Top Of Page
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