An autumn dauner on Beinn Mor Coigach

Scotland’s weather is notoriously fickle so when you head for the hills in November, you hope for the best but plan for the worst. Sometimes, the worst happens but sometimes you get one of these unforgettable days on the hill. Typically, you start off in poor weather wondering if you should have taken the ‘sensible’ option of a coastal walk, where you might actually see something. But then the weather improves, the clouds disappear, the landscape emerges and you know that you’ve done the right thing.

When this happens in Wester Ross, which I think has the most fabulous landscape in Scotland, then it’s just magic.  We had such a day this last weekend on Beinn Mor Coigach, just north of Ullapool. We were there for the annual dinner of the Corriemulzie Mountaineering Club. We first got together in the early seventies and, while it’s maybe going too far to say we are ‘still going strong’, we are still going, albeit rather more slowly than we used to.

We’ve been going to Ullapool for a good few years and most people have done all of the local hills. So, when Saturday dawned wet and windy, some of the group decided on low level options. A few of us (perhaps more optimistic, perhaps more masochistic) decided on a walk up Beinn Mor Coigach.

Beinn Mor Coigach is not a very big hill (height)  but, like all of the hills in Wester Ross, it feels like a mountain. We started from Blughasary, where there’s a good path that takes you over the bogs to the foot of the hill. As we reached the end of the path, there were the first signs on improvement in the weather.

Beinn Mor Coigach, Wester Ross, Ullapool. Corriemulzie meet
Low cloud on Beinn Mor Coigach

It was still pretty windy and we weren’t sure if our preferred route up Speicein Coinnich would be feasible. As we ascended, the weather was slow to change but, eventually, there were very definite signs of improvement.

Improving weather as the hill emerges from the clouds
Improving weather as the hill emerges from the clouds

Then, suddenly, it all cleared and we had views over Loch Broom to An Teallach on the way up the ridge.

Looking over Loch Broom to An Teallach
Looking over Loch Broom to An Teallach

I’ve been up Beinn Mor Coigach before but this was the first time by this route and I’d definitely recommend it. It’s steep and looks a bit intimidating but apart from a couple of places (as in the picture below) where there’s quite a steep drop on one side, it’s pretty straightforward.

Richard, John and Ian reaching the top of Speicein Coinnich
Richard, John and Ian reaching the top of Speicein Coinnich

From the summit ridge, the views north to the Wester Ross hills and Sutherland were just fantastic.

Looking north to Stac Pollaidh and Suilven
Looking north to Sgorr Tuath, Stac Pollaidh, Suilven and Cul Beag.

Suilven
Suilven

 

Stac Pollaidh
Stac Pollaidh

Although it was sunny, the wind hadn’t dropped that much and it was a bit of a struggle to get along the ridge to the summit. Cajoling the group into a summit photograph was rather like herding cats, and this was the best I could do, especially as it was hard to hold the camera steady in the wind. Note the wide legged stances to avoid being blown over – Liz was the sensible one who sat down.

Liz, Richard, John and Ian on the summit
Liz, Richard, John and Ian on the summit

Time was getting on and the wind was uncomfortably strong so we decided against going all the way to the end of the ridge and we headed down the northern corrie. It was steep, grassy, a bit slippy and we had to contour round the hill to get back to the track.  We got a rather different view of  the hill from earlier in the day.

Evening, Beinn Mor Coigach, Wester Ross
Beinn Mor Coigach, Wester Ross

Saturday evening was eating, drinking and regaling each other with tales of the hills, not all of which were exaggerated.  Sunday was spend pottering but I couldn’t resist including this pic of Slioch, taken on the way home. It simply looked superb.

Slioch and Loch Maree
Slioch and Loch Maree

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