A very long day east of Corrour – [# 214 – 217]

Beinn Eibhinn (1102m); Aonach Beag (1116m);
Geal Charn (1132m) and Carn Dearg (1034m)

  • Pronunciation:              Bine Eh-veen; Ernoch Bake; Geeya Charn; Karn Dearg
  • Translation:                   Delightful Mountain; Small Ridged Peak; Pale (or White) Hill; Red Hill
  • Total distance:              42.6km (15.6km of which was cycled)
  • Total time:                     10hrs 10mins
  • Total ascent:                  1625m
  • Weather:                        Very bright with sunshine and broken clouds. Warm with just light breezes.
  • Start / end location:     Corrour station on the West Highland Line: Fort William to Glasgow [OS Map Sheets 41 & 42 – Grid Ref: NN 355 664]
  • 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.

Cameron cycling east along the shores of Loch Ossian with Beinn Eibhinn in the background (left)

 Once again we found ourselves travelling by train along the Fort William to Glasgow West Highland Line. As we have done on a couple of previous occasions we alighted at Corrour station and began cycling down the south side of Loch Ossian. This time we continued all the way to the east end of the loch before crossing a bridge over the River Ossian, which flows out from the loch.

Looking west towards Loch Ossian from the lower slopes of Beinn Eibhinn

Just beyond the bridge the track divided in two. One of the tracks led to the very modern designed Corrour Shooting Lodge, which sits rather incongruously on the shores of the loch, whilst the other passes the lodge and follows the river to Strathossian House and then onwards (north) to eventually join the A86 road by Loch Laggan. To the right of the bridge a small path led off ENE to join the outflow of the Uisage Labhair burn that meandered its way through the glen from Bealach Dubh that joins the Corrour Estate with the Alder Estate to the east.

The summit cairn of Beinn Eibhinn with Aonach Beag (L) and Geal-charn (centre) in the background

We managed to cycle along this path for another few hundred metres until we reached a footbridge crossing the Uisaig Labhair. Here we locked our bikes to a nearby deer fence before crossing the bridge and then we followed a walkers’ path ENE along the course of the burn. The path was in fairly good condition in places, but in others it was quite wet and muddy – with many little deviations required to avoid the worst of the bogs. After 1km we crossed the small tributary burn of Allt Feith a’ Mheallain and then 600m further on we left the track (grid ref: NN 43508 70667) and began climbing northward up the open slopes towards Creagan na Craoibhe.

Traversing towards Aonach Beag (L) with Geal-charn in the background

The gradient on the first few hundred metres of ascent was quite shallow, but the terrain comprised deep heather and grassy tussocks. As we climbed higher and the angle steepened a bit the heather gave way to much shorter grass making progress much easier. Above Creagan na Craoibhe we headed up the broad arcing south ridge of Meall Glas Choire where the grassy ground was interspersed with countless rocks and small boulders. When we reached the summit of Meall Glas Choire we got a really great view right back to Corrour Station over 10km away to the west as well as our first Munro objective of Beinn Eibhinn to the east. From the summit we descended slightly in a northerly direction to a sharp little col before climbing gently out the other side towards the western top of Beinn Eibhinn. After passing this top we turned due east and climbed the equally gentle west ridge to reach the summit cairn of Beinn Eibhinn at 1102m or 3,615ft.

Looking back (west) towards Beinn Eibhinn from the summit of Aonach Beag (by Loch Ossian)

The summit cairn sat on the rim of a north-facing corrie that encircled Lochan a’ Charra Mhoir far below as it continued to sweep round to form the western slopes of Aonach Beag. Our route followed this natural feature, first dropping down to a col before ascending the straightforward SW ridge of Aonach Beag to reach its summit cairn at 1116m or 3,661ft. This location gave us great views in every direction: including back around the corrie to Beinn Eibhinn as well as towards Geal-charn, our next objective. To the southeast the massif of Ben Alder dominated the scene which we could appreciate much better than we did when we actually climbed it back in May when the weather was quite poor.

Cameron sitting on the summit cairn of Aonach Beag (by Loch Ossian)

We decided to press on before stopping for lunch so we descended an easy ridge east from the summit of Beinn Eibhinn to a col before climbing the east ridge of Geal-charn. Geal-charn’s summit stands to the west of a massive fairly flat plateau (not unlike the summit topology of Creag Meagaidh just over the other side of Loch Laggan) so it didn’t take us long to reach the cairn at 1132m or 3,714ft. A chap was already sitting at the cairn having lunch so we joined him and chatted about our respective adventures. He had spent the previous night at Culra Bothy not too far away on the Alder Estate and was doing the same set of four Munros as us, but starting from the opposite direction (and travelling east)

Elaine ascending the final slopes of Geal-charn from the west with Aonach Beag (R) and Beinn Eibhinn (L)

Elaine on the summit of Geal-charn

A red hind and calf remain watchful on the skyline of Geal-charn

After our pause for lunch we crossed the summit plateau for over a kilometre before we reached the steep east face of the hill. Here two huge corries lie adjacent to one another with a steep ridge descending ENE formed where the two “arms” of corries come together. Each corrie hosts a little loch at the foot of the respective corrie headwalls. One of the corrie headwalls even yet contained moderate sized patches of snow in its north-eastern aspect. We descended the steep rocky ridge to a col before gently ascending the ridge to the top of Diollaird a’ Chairn (925m). The top provided an excellent view around the extent of the corrie on the south and showed the serrated profile of the Lancet Edge: a classic ridge scramble that extends from the glen floor to the summit of Sgor Iutharn (1028m).

We left the top of Diollaird a’ Chairn by descending a little to the ENE before we climbed the long 1.5km WSW ridge of Carn Dearg. As we neared the top we crossed a boulder field before the ridge levelled off as we walked the last 400m to reach the summit cairn at 1034m or 3,392ft. We stopped for while at the cairn where we were then joined by a chap and his dog. He had walked in from Dalwhinnie and was planning on camping high somewhere between this summit and the first one that we climbed earlier.

Small patches of snow still lying on the NE slopes of Geal-charn

We retraced our steps back to the col on the east side of Diollaird a’ Chairn. From this col we descended south down moderately steep grassy slopes to reach the east end of Loch an Sgoir (the loch in the southern corrie mentioned above). We continued south to skirt around the nose at the bottom of the Lancet Edge (ridge) until we joined the excellent stalkers’ path that headed WSW towards the Beallach Dubh. We crossed the bealach and continued on this path for another 1.5km as it wound round the north side of Ben Alder. Before the path swung sharply SSE into Beallach Cumhann we were forced to leave it to search out another path running along the course of the Uisaig Labhair burn towards the head of Loch Ossian.

Loch an Sgoir with the Lancet Edge (ridgeline) extending down from the summit of Sgor Iutharn

Carn Dearg from the western edge of Geal-charn - Loch an Sgoir is below and right

We descended from the excellent path and dropped down the hillside to meet the burn, where we then had to find the start of the other path. Unlike the path we’d just left, the one that we joined was very wet and muddy in places, as it had been when we’d used it at the other end of the glen. We had a long and tiring walk back to where we’d parked our bikes, but once back we were grateful to be able to cycle the 7.8km back to the station.

It had been over ten hours since we set out from Corrour Station at the start of our route, but it was only just 18:40 and as our train back to Fort William wasn’t due until 21:19 we went for refreshments at the little Corrour Station café and restaurant run by the Scottish Youth Hostel Association. After coffee and something to eat we waited for the last train home. It had been an excellent day’s mountaineering in lovely bright weather – but it had been quite a long outing covering nearly 43km over 10 hours.

We caught the Fort William train and were home by 22.30.

Cameron approaching the summit cairn on Carn Dearg (Alder estate)

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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One Response to A very long day east of Corrour – [# 214 – 217]

  1. Hey guys . . .you have made amzing progress since visiting Cafe Beag in Glen Nevis. Only 66 to go . .wow! Weather-wise it’s been great the last few days, so no doubt you will be cramming them in. Looking forward to seeing your up-dates. Take care, Miranda

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