The last of the Glen Lochay Munros – [# 111 & 112]

Beinn Heasgarnich (1078m); Creag Mhor (1047m)

  • Pronunciation:              Bine Heskarnich; Krayk Voar
  • Translation:                   Sheltering Mountain; Big Cliff
  • Total distance:              23.7km
  • Total time:                     7hrs 02mins
  • Total ascent:                 1350m
  • Weather:                        Dry and bright: improved throughout the day with sunshine by the afternoon. Cold wind on the ridges and summits, but warm in sheltered spots.
  • Start / end location:   On the roadside above Lenknock near the head of Glen Lochay. [OS Map Sheet 51 – Grid Ref: NN 461 370]
  • 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.

Descending west from Stob na Fhir-Bhogha with Creag Mhor in the background

 

Huge white quartz boulder seam protruding out of the hillside

We started out this morning with the intention of mountain biking the initial 5km along a land-rover track in order to more easily access the start of the climb of today’s two Munros. Unfortunately, when I took the cover off the bikes at the back of the ‘van I found that my bike had a flat front tyre. Undeterred, I quickly found the leak and set about patching it. The puncture was noticeably bigger than a simple thorn hole and I wasn’t too sure if the repair patch would work. Nevertheless, it seemed to do the job when I re-fitted the wheel and inflated the tyre. The climb was back on!

We travelled from our overnight camping spot to the start of the route at the east end of the public road running through Glen Lochay and parked up ready for our cycle followed by our climb. Disappointingly, the “repaired” tyre was once again as flat as a pancake and I knew then that the inner-tube was probably irreparable. It called for a slight change in approach. I decided that Elaine should cycle the 5km into the start of the climb as planned and that I’d “simply” run along beside her: easy!

The summit of Beinn Heasgarnich from Stob an Fhir-Bhoghe

Crossing the Beinn Heasgarnich summit plateau

Cameron at the summit cairn of Beinn Heasgarnich

So wearing my mountaineering boots and carrying my rucksack I jogged alongside Elaine, who graciously didn’t cycle too fast for me to keep up. That said, it was definitely the fastest 5km start to any of my walks so far on this trip.

After 5km we locked up the one bike and took to the hillside just to the east of the Allt Bad a’ Mhaim burn, heading north up the steep flank towards the prow of Stob an Fhir-Bhoghe. Two steep grassy tiers either side of a flatter plateau were negotiated to eventually bring us to the top of the prow. On the grassy plateau we came across a small “island” of brilliant quartz jutting through the otherwise uniform expanse of brown hillside. It looked like a giant lump of snow left over from the winter.

From the prow of Stob an Fhir-Bhoghe we headed NNE along a broad ridge to reach the summit of our first Munro, Beinn Heasgarnich at 1078m or 3,537ft. [Aside: the OS map that I have names this peak as “Beinn Sheasgarnaich” but I can find no other reference to this form of spelling in any of my guidebooks or indeed Peter Drummond’s book on Scottish Hill Names [Drummond07].

We walked back from the summit to the prow and then followed the west ridge steeply down to the wide bealach at the top of the Allt Bad a’ Mhaim burn. Here we crossed to the west of the bealach and began the ascent up the other side on a course to intersect the NNW ridge of Creag Mhor and in so doing avoiding the peak’s craggy north and NE facing aspects. Once on the NNW ridge it was a straightforward ascent to the summit at 1047m or 3,435ft.

Looking beyond the summit cairn on Creag Mhor towards Ben More and Stob Binnein on the horizon

After “bagging” the top we sheltered in what was effectively a grassy knoll to get out of the cooling wind. This worked well and we were soon enjoying the sunshine and feeling quite warm. Once we’d finished our lunchtime snacks we descended from the top via the ESE ridge, avoiding some steep and high crags near the bottom of the route where the ridge expanded out onto a broad flank. From the bottom of the crags a final short descent down some further grassy slopes brought us back to the land-rover track just to the east of where Elaine had left her bike.

Looking ESE from the summit of Creag Mhor towards Meall Glas and Sgaith Chuil

I’m not too sure why we never thought of this on the outward journey, but for the way back Elaine came up with the bright idea of strapping my rucksack onto the cycle rack on her bike thus lightening my load for the jog back to the car. I was very grateful since after a 5km run earlier in the day followed by a walk of 13.7km and 1350m of climbing any assistance that could be provided for the 5km run back was most appreciated.

 

Looking east along Glen Lochay from the high slopes on Creag Mhor

About Cameron Speirs

Born and brought up in the Scottish Highlands, Cameron, has been interested in outdoor pursuits since he was a wee lad. Over the last few decades he has climbed extensively in the Italian Dolomites as well as summiting the Matterhorn and several other 4000m alpine peaks. Closer to home he has spent many wonderful weekends mountaineering and biking in Snowdonia, Cairngorms, Glen Coe, Skye and Lochaber.
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