Beinn Bhuidhe (948m)
- Pronunciation: Bine Vooyah
- Translation: Yellow Peak
- Total distance: 21.9km
- Total time: 6hrs 30mins
- Total ascent: 1107m
- Weather: Generally fair. Misty on the summit with strong winds. Improved during the afternoon into a bright sunny day.
- Start / end location: Just off A83 at the head of Loch Fyne. [OS Map Sheet 56 – Grid Ref: NN 194 125]
- Map: A map of route can be found here – it may take a few moments to load into a separate window. The map displays on most browsers, but not unfortunately Internet Explorer.
The weather today was a great improvement from yesterday as we parked up on a small loop of road adjacent to the A83 at the head of Loch Fyne. Our objective was to cycle up Glen Fyne for about 5-6km before leaving our bikes and going on to tackle Beinn Bhuidhe: the Yellow Peak.
There are two very minor roads up the initial part of Glen Fyne, but both are private and do not allow vehicular access: although cycling and walking are permitted. We cycled up the SE side, which avoids passing through a working quarry on the other side of the glen. About 500m up the glen we came to Achadunan where the Fyne Ales Brewery is situated. We made a mental note to pop in on the way back. Another 1.5km further on we literally passed through a large herd of Highlands Cows, who were happily standing blocking the road. They ambled out of our way as we approached on our bikes.
3km from our starting point the two roads either side of the glen merged and continued as a single track along the left hand side of the River Fyne. The road at this point was still tarred as it passed Glen Fyne Lodge. A kilometre on from the lodge the tarred road ended at a fork: the right sweeping up to a high reservoir, and the left continuing on the flat to follow the River Fyne. Our route followed the left hand track, now gravelly like a forestry road. Only 500m after the fork an unlocked metal gate across the track requested that cyclists leave their bikes and continue along the glen on foot. The estate owners had thoughtfully provided a sturdy metal railing to chain bikes to, which we happily did.
Just across the glen from where we locked our bikes a small hydro-electric generating plant was being supplied by a large-bore water-pipe that extended down the side of the glen, which in turn was being fed by the reservoir formed behind a dam across the Allt na Lairige river in the hills above.
We then set off on foot to cover the next 1.5km along the glen to reach the derelict “Inverchorachan” cottage, which marked the point where we’d turn of the track and head ENE onto the open hillside. Just before leaving the track we both heard a bird calling before spotting two pairs of birds circling high over Newton Hill, just to the SSW of us. The call from the birds was not the usual buzzard cry but was, instead, coming from two pairs of golden eagles. Although the birds were quite high up we could clearly make out the relative proportion of their bodies to their long and large wings that were slightly rounded at the ends. This ratio of body length to wingspan, plus the shape of the wings whilst soaring differentiated them clearly as golden eagles and not the more common buzzard that is often seen. The pair slightly closest to us were even diving towards one another with wings drawn close to their bodies in the mock sparing display of their courtship.
Our route from the track took us steeply upwards along the left side of a small burn that had numerous cascading waterfalls. At the top of the first section of falls we crossed the burn and continued steeply up a broad and indistinct ridge. This ridge soon broadened out to become a steep-sided slope interjected with many craggy rock-faces. The snow covered the slopes and filled any slight depression deeply. We struggled up this slope and many others like it against a tide of powdery, unconsolidated snow until we finally reached our first objective: a low col on the ridge between Beinn Buidhe and a minor top (marked as 901m on the map). Once on this col we turned SSW and found the conditions to be much easier as much of the top powdery snow layer had been blow off. The ridge, which is generally broad, proved to be rather entertaining as we weaved our way to the summit between, and at times over, small undulations along the way. We arrived that the summit comprising a Trig Point long since toppled over which now formed the base of a small cairn at 948m or 3,110’.
From the summit we retraced our steps to the col on the ridge and then back down the steep snowy hillside. We ended up veering more quickly towards the burn with the cascading waterfalls than I’d intended and ended up being committed to negotiating our way through a steep and tricky boulder field covered in snow before crossing the burn high up the hillside to find a path back down. The path turned out to be quite rough with a very steep drop into the ravine carved by the burn. Eventually, though we made it back to the derelict cottage and after a very short walk were back at our bikes.
The weather had been improving since we left the summit and by now the sun was shining and our cycle back down Glen Fyne was very scenic. The River Fyne was crystal clear with many fine pools along its course that looked ideal for swimming – although definitely not until the summer. In a field just passed the Highland Cows, which were still standing on the road, we spotted a flock of snipe busy drilling their beaks into the soft grass of a large agricultural field. Back at the brewery at Achadunan we stopped and bought three bottles of their ales. At least we only had a few hundred metres in which to carry them back to our waiting car.