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Last updated: 20/07/11


Achnashellach Overnighter (A Tale of Two Walks)
18 - 19 Jun, 2011

Fifteen members, and one new Interim member, attended the 2011 Overnight meet to the Achnashellach Area “aka Wonderland"… and most found their Wonderlands in either the Coulin or West Monar Deer Forests.


With an ever improving weather forecast (it had been dire earlier in the week) all enjoyed some rather superb weather, especially after around 8pm, when the showers stopped and the mist and low cloud cleared from the tops. No thunderbolts were encountered and it stayed dry for the rest of the trip.


The ‘Main Group’

We headed up from Achnashellach up into Coire Lair and ascended Beinn Liath Mhor (in the mist though it did clear on the top) and Sgorr Ruadh which gave some fantastic views out over the western hills and to Skye. Nine folk made the ascent of these two rather fine Munros which were tackled packless and from the col at the head of Coire Lair.

Willie Robb, who made up our party of ten missed out on the hills in favour of a direct route to the bothy in the next glen on the fine stalking paths of the area (I remember them being better than they are now – perhaps there’s not money being spent on them these days and the rain is getting in?)


Saturday afternoon on the path into Coire Lair


A moody Coire Lair


On the summit of Beinn Liath Mhor


Beinn Liath Mhor (left) and Sgorr Ruadh (right) on the climb from the col at 650mtrs


Looking southeast from Sgorr Ruadh


On Sgorr Ruadh (the Red Peak)


Looking out to Maol Chean-dearg, Loch an Eion and Beinn Damph from Sgorr Ruadh


Munro bagging the Cairngorm Club way ... on Sgorr Ruadh with upper Loch Torridon behind


In amongst the rocks on Sgorr Ruadh


Liathach from the col


Westwards from the path to the bivvy site


We spent 4hrs 45mins at our bivvy – arriving at 11.30hrs and setting off again at 04.15hrs. The bivvy, for those in the Coulin Forest, was a dry one. It was windless, there was no rain and better still there were no midges. It was a joy to sit with a coffee and a small port and watch the sun go down behind Loch Torridon and Liathach or simply contemplate Maol Chean-dearg which we could also see from our rocky knoll just above the Bealach Ban and its small lochan.


Liathach and Beinn Eighe in the morning (circa 03.55am) from our bivvy above the Bealach Ban


Maol Chean-dearg was our target for Sunday and we gained the triple col by way of the path around Loch an Eion (the Loch of the Night) and around the back of Maol Chean-dearg which at one point had a rather interesting small cloud formation on it’s top. The walk around the loch and up to the col itself is delightful. Beinn Damph was a picture (and many were taken) A small herd of deer, a small landslide (which covered the path) and dozen upon dozen of glacial moraines (some with “erratics” perched upon them) were points of interest as we tramped along in the heat and the sun of the morning. We wondered how Garry and Carol were getting on on Lurg Mhor and Bidein a’ Choire Sheasgaich (see report below) and if the bacon and eggs were up to scratch at the Strathcarron Hotel where our two drivers had overnighted. We also wondered where and what Rhona and Ruth were up to. I think only 3 members met in with Rhona (who had self propelled herself to Craig) for this trip. Rhona is included in the meet attendance figure which shows nearly an 89% increase on last year’s number. This is encouraging… especially so if one considers a Club Meet to the Stubai Alps also began this weekend.


Maol Chean-dearg from Loch an Eion (early Sunday)


Small cloud formation on Maol Chean-dearg

Landslip on path


An Ruadh Stac from near the Bealach a’ Choire Ghairbh


And so to Maol Chean-dearg. Gear again was left on the col and five made the rather misty ascent to this wonderful summit though no views were obtainable in the low cloud. Colin was “Bergfuhrer” of this small elite group and all are now one Munro nearer their goal of compleating the Munros.


The path up Maol Chean-dearg


The misty summit of  Maol Chean-dearg (Marie is happy !!)


Marie back at the col


On their return to the col we all descended the glen to the bothy. The heat was really up now, the sky was blue, and rather ironically Maol Chean-dearg was beautifully clear!


The MBA have done a super job on this bothy. It is a fine example of a Scottish “open bothy”.  I hope its renovation (along with countless others) means the tradition of the “open bothy system” is here to stay.


Sgorr Ruadh and the Bothy


The Fionn–Abhainn  below Coulags


We met Ruth here and on the walk-out and also met plenty of day trippers coming in. We also made the 11.30hrs RV with Eilidh and the mini-bus before being whisked away to Lochcarron for some food and drink and relaxation by the sea.


The 'Other Baggers'

Garry and Carol went in search of the illusive Lurg Mhor leaving the bus at Craig. First they  headed off up the track to the Bealach Bhearnais.


Looking back to Craig through the now light drizzle.

They soon reached the bealach and headed up the ridge of Beinn Tharsuinn.  As they traversed towards the summit they could see Bhearnais bothy below


Bhearnais bothy in the rain


…….. and occasionaly a view east to Loch Monar from the summit of Beinn Tharsuinn.


The mist started to clear and the views northwest were stunning, the sun streaming down on the Coulin hills where the main group were walking. Most of these pictures were taken high on the North ridge of Cheesecake (Bidein a Choire Sheasgaich).



Looking across to Lurg Mhor looming across the corrie, our next Munro.


They continued on, down to the col and then up the west ridge, stopping, too tired to go on, by the little lochan for the night.  Despite being the middle of the night the views were still fantastic, with no wind or midges to bother they either. 


Taken at 12:20am


It was such a fantastic place to be sat drinking Talisker from the hip flask until 1:00, not realising the time! Waking at 5:30, slightly later than intended as the alarm hadn't gone off, so got up quickly they left the gear and headed up Lurg Mhor. The weather was still fantastic and they were treated to more amazing views.




Back at the bivvy site


Clouds gathered around the tops as they reached the floor of the glen, so it was a quick run along the path for a brief stop in Glen Dronach Lodge (bothy).


Carol checking the map, only 14km/3 hrs to go !!!


Within an hour the clouds had thinned and the tops cleared as a quick glimpse back, as they headed up to Bealach  Alltan Ruairidh, shows.


Through the bealach towards Stathcarron.


And so it was on to the hotel, arriving at 12:40pm, 40 minutes later than our planned time, but with just enough time for a bowl of Cullen Skink, before being picked up for the journey back to Aberdeen.

And finally ….

All in all this was another successful and memorable Overnighter made possible in no small part by our two fine drivers Eilidh and Anne who gave up the opportunity of a night in ‘Wonderland’ to ensure the tradition of the Cairngorm Club Overnighter happens and happens safely. Thank you both and to everyone who attended.

Authors - Derek Beverley & Garry Wardrope
Photos - Derek Beverley, Colin Brown, Sue Chalmers & Garry Wardrope