Ruadh Stac Mor (1010m); Spidean Coire nan Clach (993m)
- Pronunciation: Bine Ehyer – Roower Stack More; Speedyan Korrer nern Klach
- Translation: File Mountain – Big Red Steep Hill; Peak of the Stony Corrie
- Total distance: 18.9km
- Total time: 6hrs 10mins
- Total ascent: 1310m
- Weather: Thick mist from sea level – all morning. Very humid. Brightened considerably in the afternoon.
- Start / end location: Roadside car-park on A896 by the bridge over the Allt a’ Choire Dubh Mhoir burn. [OS Map Sheets 19 & 25 – Grid Ref: NG 957 569 (Sheet 25)]
- 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.
This morning there wasn’t a breath of wind in which to stir the air and agitate the blanket of thick mist that was enveloping everything protruding above sea level. This lack of a breeze also meant that the midges were out in force and so, once again, it was like a military campaign getting ready to leave the car to begin our walk. We were parked at a roadside car-park at the base of the glen that runs between the eastern fringes of Liathach and the western side of Beinn Eighe.
Beinn Eighe, with its two Munros, was our objective for today, and so we began our outing by taking the excellently constructed walkers’ path alongside the Allt a’ Choire Dhuibh Mhoir burn as it led up to Coire Dubh Mor. As we exited the top of the corrie the path divided and we took the right hand branch, which veered slowly around the western buttress cliffs of Sail Mhor. In reality we could have been on almost any mountain as the mist was so low and thick that we couldn’t see any discerning features.
After approximately 6.5km we swung around the north flank of Sail Mhor and came to Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair, which nestles with its shoreline at a height of 600m within Coire Mhic Fhearchair. The view from the NW shore of the loch across to the Triple Buttress cliffs below Coinneach Mhor is one of Scotland’s iconic mountain views, however, this morning we were “rewarded” with only a wall of white mist (as can be seen in one of the photographs).
We circled clockwise around the north shore of the loch until we reached its south-eastern tip where a small burn, fed via three small pools above, entered the loch. We followed the course of the little burn ESE, passing each of the three pools en route, as we climbed up through a sloping boulder field. There was no discernible path to follow at this stage, although in clear weather conditions it would have been possible to ensure that a line is taken that joins to the next section of path through pebble-sized scree.
We were lucky (or was it just our navigational skills?) that our route through the boulders brought us directly to the start of the scree path. We joined the start of this path and climbed up towards a col at the lowest point in the ridgeline above us. The climb up was fairly straightforward as we made good use of some natural steps in the crags to the left of the scree path. We were still in the mist as we arrived at the col on the ridge that stretched between Ruadh-stac Mor (our first objective north of the col) and the peak marked 956m (to the south of the col). A short curving ridge to the north expanded out into a broader slope where we were warily watched from “out of the mist” by a large herd of red deer hinds.
The angle of the slope levelled as we approached the summit of Ruadh-stac Mor, which was topped with a small jumbled pile of stones at 1010m or 3,314ft. We stopped at the summit for a few minutes for a snack – but sadly still without any views.
We returned to the col, which we crossed, and then ascended the rocky ridge to the top of a subsidiary peak at 956m before turning SE to follow the ridge created between Coire Ruadh-staca to the north and the steep slopes of Beinn Eighe to the south. We crossed a minor top at 913m and then descended gently to a col at 822m. A stiff climb brought us to a top at 905m where we subsequently veered ENE and continued our climb to reach a Trig Point and rock wall “shelter” at 972m. It was only around this point that we started to get one or two small breaks in the mist cover and we were able to see the trail to the true summit of Spidean Coire nan Clach some 200m metres beyond the Trig Point.
After spending some time lunching at the summit, the mist was definitely showing some positive signs of evaporating and we could begin to see our descent route back down to the roadside. We retraced our steps back to the Trig Point and then descended south to a cairn that marked the beginning of a steep path eastward into the upper reaches of Coire an Laoigh. Once we were safely down into the corrie we joined an excellent path that worked its way right back to the roadside just a couple of kilometres east of where we had parked our car. A short walk along the road brought us back to the car as the weather continued to brighten.