Golden eagles sighted at last [# 70]

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.

    Icicles on the slopes of Beinn Bhuidhe

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.

Highland cow in Glen Fyne

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.

Locking our bikes ready to begin our climb of Beinn Bhuidhe

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.

Hydro-electric power plant in Glen Fyne

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.

Elaine still smiling despite trudging through the knee deep snow

Looking southwest from the slopes of Beinn Bhuidhe

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’.

Elaine at the summit of Beinn Bhuidhe

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.

Looking south over the Arrochar Alps from the slopes of Beinn Bhuidhe

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.

Even the sheep are yellow on Beinn Bhuidhe - the Yellow Peak

Fyne Ales brewery in Glen Fyne




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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7 Responses to Golden eagles sighted at last [# 70]

  1. Seonaid says:

    Glad to see you are having fun. The photos are great but I’m sure they don’t do the landscape justice. Reading this makes me want to go home, especially when you’re around Loch Lomond and Loch Fyne.

    • Elaine says:

      Hi Seonaid, Great to hear from you. I can certainly appreciate that the photos make you think of “home”. We’re currently camping near Arrochar at the head of Loch Long and we spotted a few road signs that point motorists westwards towards the Kintyre peninsular. We’re having a wonderful time – today we climbed Beinn Ime and Beinn Narnain in glorious alpine weather – it was pure magic. Hope all is well with you in the Midlands, Elaine x

  2. Karl says:

    Congratulations! By my reckoning you have now completed a quarter of the Munro’s.

    Maybe those three ales could come in handy for a mini-celebration…

    • Cameron says:

      Thanks Karl. We climbed another two Munros today … that’s 72 done and so definitely takes us over the quarter mark. It was extremely tiring, but made up for as the weather was absolutely beautiful with the hills looking truly alpine. I’ve just opened a bottle of the Fyne Ales: it’s called the “Vital Spark” after a fictional Clyde puffer, created by Scottish writer Neil Munro. The beer is certainly a “Fyne/fine” ale. Cheers!

  3. Alasdair the dad says:

    Hi Elaine & Cameron,
    Congratulations on > quarter way to your target. Thought the weather would be backing off a bit to make the going easier and more enjoyable. This is Scotland and you’ve got to fight it all the way.
    Here we go again – another request. Can you add the day/date to the opening headings of the climb of the day? Sorry, I get confused with the munroe pie-chart count and weather conditions on the blog which may be a couple of days behind actual climb day. I think it’s an age thing. Dad

    • Cameron says:

      Hi Alasdair,
      I can appreciate the confusion regarding dates etc. Hopefully the following will help.
      1. The pie-chart gives the up to date number of Munros climbed. After each Munro bagging outing I make sure that the pie-chart Munro count gets updated correctly – it only requires basic mobile phone access to allow me to do this.
      2. It generally takes me a day or so to write the account of a trip, create the maps and decide on any appropriate photographs. Once I’ve done this I still need to find somewhere that I can get decent broadband wifi access to upload this content to the site. That’s why blogs are often a few days “late”. However, and to address your request to include dates in the blog titles, I always set the blog posting date to be the day of the climb or activity and not when I actually post the story. So, to recap, the blog posting date IS the date when the walk or activity took place.
      I hope that this explanation helps?
      Best regards, Cameron

  4. Alasdair the dad says:

    Hi Camerom,
    I’ve got it in the head now. Everything is now as clear as translucent mud!

    Best regards,

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