Wednesday, July 29, 2015

15 Mountains in 2015 - #6: Beinn Bheula

Mountain number 6 in 2015 was a bit smaller than number 5, and was a solo affair. I regularly spend time in the Cowal area of Argyll, but somehow have never found the opportunity to climb any of the handful of mountains that are there. On Wednesday 29th July I had a free morning, so I got up early and took my chance. Beinn Bheula is the highest peak in the area and is normally (not that many people do it, I think) approached from the Loch Goil side. But I chose to approach from the south, largely to cut down my driving time.

I left the car at the Glenbranter forestry car park (with hindsight, I could have parked closer to the start of the route, but this was fine) and set off. It was a fine morning, although there was quite a lot of misty stuff around, covering all the nearby hills (and filling some of the valley too). 

The route I had planned took me up the forestry paths to the north of Invernoaden, and these proved to be a great way to get some elevation early on. 

Quite a lot of the forest has been felled since my map was printed, and a new forestry road (at about grid ref 994127) offered, or seemed to offer, a good route up the side of Carnach Mor, sooner than I had originally planned. But once among the recently felled forestry, the going got very rough and it proved an unpleasant 30 minutes or so, picking my way up the hillside. But having emerged from the forestry ground, the hill improved and provided tantalising glimpses (through the mist) of interesting looking crags above.

When I made it up among them, they were some pretty interesting rocks. I wish I had had time to explore, but this walk was against the clock, so I moved on.

Having reached the top of Carnach Mor, the peak of Beinn Bheula should have been in view for the first time, but it was hidden in some cloud, still lingering on the tops.

The bealach between Carnach Mor and Beinn Bheula is a very peaty, very soggy, very boggy trudge and I was glad when I finally made it onto the grassy slopes of Beinn Bheula proper.

By the time I reached the top, the cloud had lifted and I was rewarded with excellent views towards Loch Goil and the Arrochar Alps:

And also towards the Clyde:

After pausing to enjoy the view for a few minutes, I carried on along the ridge to Creag Sgoilte. Here's the view looking back to the summit of Bheula:

I descended more or less due south from the Creag, hoping to find the plane wreckage that is still to be found on that hillside, but sadly didn't manage to find anything in the knee high grass. So I kept going down the pathless (and boggy in bits) hillside, eventually reaching the Coire Ealt burn.

I then followed the forestry road back to Invernodan. The views across Loch Eck were stunning, and I would recommend this path as a walk to anyone, even if they don't attempt the mountain behind. On this stretch of my walk I passed a lone mountain biker - the only other person I saw on the entire walk!

All in all this took me about 5 hours. Here's the route:

And here's the elevation:

It was a good walk, which I greatly enjoyed, but I'm not sure I can totally recommend the route - the climb up to Carnach Mor was tough, the bealach boggy and the descent into Coire Ealt was rough, with no obvious best route. But if you like being alone on a mountain, then maybe this one is for you.

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