Beinn Eibhinn, Aonach Beag and Geal Charn from Corrour Lodge
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After a shaky start to the season, July finally heralded the arrival of summer and it’s great to be able to get out to bank big Munro days in the good weather.
A particularly sunny weekend staying in Corrour culminated in this traverse of the chain of three Munros from the east end of Loch Ossian consisting of Beinn Eibhinn, Aonach Beag and Geal Charn.
We were staying close to the lodge at the east end of the loch, so had a short start to the day, but most people would begin from the train station at Corrour, a stop on the Fort William to Glasgow West Highland line.
The out-and-back journey along the lochside adds around 10 kilometres to the day but the tracks on both sides of the loch are in good condition, making for swift going either on foot or by bike. It is also possible to cycle in from Moy, Spean Bridge and Fersit along very good estate tracks as well as the rougher path from Glen Nevis.
The long summer day meant we could enjoy a leisurely start along the broad track leading eastwards from Corrour’s modernist shooting lodge. This section of road was constructed for the sizable hydro scheme so, after a dam, the path reverted to the original stalker’s path. We didn’t stay on the path for very long, soon striking north over open ground to climb the broad ridge of the top of Meall Glas Choire.
The ground was rough and, if there was a walkers' path, we failed to find it. After a full weekend of hills and sunshine already behind us, the pull up the slope felt hard with plenty of stops needed. Looking west behind us on one of these rests, Loch Ossian appeared, making an elegant sweeping S between the flanking Munros of Beinn Na Lap and Carn Dearg.
Nearing the top of Meall Glas Choire the ground improved significantly and the short heather and gravels made progress much easier for our tired legs. From the summit dome it was then a short steep drop to a bealach before climbing again onto the flank of Beinn Eibhinn, the first Munro of the day. The wind got up along this final section but, as we picked our way across the small boulder field, the cooling breeze was a welcome relief from the still air of the glen below.
Reaching the summit cairn, the view changed dramatically. We looked straight down into the base of Coire a' Charra Mhoir (Corrie of the Big Rock), the steep north-east face of Beinn Eibhinn dropping down to tiny Lochan a' Charra Mhoir. Around it a herd of deer grazed – once my eyes spotted one, another and another become visible until I could see 20 or 30 beasts strung out across the hillside.
Leading east from the summit the path was now clear along the ridge and then descended and steepened towards the low point at the bealach to give some interesting, steep running. On the steep, final part of this descent we passed a couple of backpackers who were completing a multi-day traverse of the Central Highland Munros. We looked jealously at their vast amount of food, and they looked even more enviously at our small, light rucksacks.
The climb up to Aonach Beag was short and had the sweet reward of a grand view of the northern flanks of Ben Alder. We stopped here, looking at the summit of Geal Charn, the next Munro in the long chain. It was temptingly close. Eric had done all these Munros before but it was my first time into this remote area.
In the end it was the glorious weather that made the difference – Eric opted to snooze in the sunshine at the cairn of Aonach Beag while I made the swift three-kilometre return journey across to the summit of Geal Charn. On the descent from Aonach Beag I was spurred on by a walker coming the other way who assured me that it was “as easy at it looked and would also be a very annoying Munro to have to come back for”!
Back on Aonach Beag and reunited with Eric, we both returned to the bealach before Beinn Eibhinn and then started our descent into the glen via Coire a' Charra Bhig (Corrie of the Small Rock). Gaelic names are usually useful to help navigate but I struggled to see the big and small rocks referred to in the corrie names.
By following the faint line of an old stalkers' path, we made our way around the edge of Beinn Eibhinn. The path traversed some steeper ground but, with dry grass and the remnants of the constructed path crossing the scree slopes, there were no difficulties.
Our plan was to stay high for as long as possible on the flanks of Beinn Eibhinn before descending into the glen once the stalkers' path reformed after its descent into the glen from Bealach Cumhann and Ben Alder Cottage.
The terrain stayed surprisingly good and, as the hillside pulled away from the glen into Glas Choire below Beinn Eibhinn’s summit, we made a beeline downwards. Quickly and over surprisingly good ground we were soon at the side of Uisge Labhair and onto the stalkers' path.
In the late afternoon sunshine, the gradual descent along the riverside was a great end to the big hill day. Once we reached Loch Ossian, it would have been wasting the summer sun to not swim in the loch, and we finished the day in style with dinner in the Station Restaurant at Corrour. As we sat in the evening sunshine eating venison stew made with estate deer and admiring the majestic Highland landscape, I commented to Eric that when Scotland decides to do summer, it does it really well.
Beinn Eibhinn, Aonach Beag and Geal Charn from Corrour
Distance 12.5 miles / 20km (plus 6 miles / 10km approach from railway station to the east end of Loch Ossian)
Terrain Paths, stretches of rough, pathless ground and some Land Rover tracks
Start/finish Corrour Lodge/Corrour railway station
Maps OS Explorer OL50; OS Landranger 41 and 42; Harvey Superwalker, Ben Alder
A big mountain day out, with the reward of fine views of the heart of the Highlands