Beinn nan Ramh

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Beinn Nan Ramh – Between the Fannichs and Fisherfield

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After our junior reporter’s sorry attempt at bringing us some of nature’s wondrous colours, (no MrP a bright yellow dump truck doesn’t qualify) he has, once more, been ordered into the wilds in the hope that he has gained sufficient valuable experience from his initial dismal showing to bring us Scotland’s mountain scenery at its best.  To ensure we don’t go through the same “live show” fiasco as last time, this report has been pre-recorded.

Today we find MrP struggling with the hardships of bothy life and the undoubted rigours of having to walk uphill…’cause that’s where the summits are (maybe we should have told him about that before we sent him out)…

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You WILL want to come back to this map to have any idea of where Mr.P went a-rambling.

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Note:  If you click on the map it becomes much clearer.

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Date: 5 November 2011

Weather: good; cold; windy at times

Participants: just the one

Distance: approx 20km; plus evening walk-out approx 6km

Ascent: approx 1,400m

Dog-doability: high

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Right, Ken wanted me to cover all of the various aspects of Scottish hill walking, and so in spite of the lateness of the season I was staying in a bothy. You may need to Google this (other fine search engine options are available.) Eg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bothy .  It was my second morning in Lochivroan bothy – a 5 star bothy featuring running water and an indoor toilet. Such effete luxuries are never going to catch on, trust me on this. The interior:

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I wanted to get an early start as I had ambitious plans. Ah well, a 7.30 start would have to do. I was heading for Beinn nan Ramh. (Which I assume is pronounced Rav and is Gaelic for ‘Hill of the Indian Fast Bowler’.) If you have enough information about Grahams at your finger tips to immediately identify this as a daft idea, then shame on you – you need to get over your fixation and stay in more. The easiest way to do Ramh is to cycle up an excellent quality track to within less than 2km of the summit. The ‘walk’ part of the outing then consists of 3½km and 380m of ascent. My option was gratuitously gruelling.

Anyhow, across the first of the streams running into the west end of Loch a Bhraoin. Narrow but deep and with a rather handy bridge across:

Sadly the rather fine white cottage is not the bothy where I had stayed. It is the dingier shack just visible behind. Then over the Abhainn itself. Broad and shallow, barely wetting the leather of my boots. I then followed the Allt a Ghleibh uphill. I hadn’t been sure what this would be like; it could have been anything from a boggy hell to straight forward. Happily, once away from the area of the loch, it was mostly towards the straight forward side.   The map promised ‘Waterfall’ and in wetter weather it is probably impressive. There was a flat and extensive bealach between Groban and A Chailleach which again I had been a little concerned about. But although lightly hagged:

It wasn’t up to Derbyshire standards (possibly I should say ‘down to’)

Round the corner and into the broad valley of the Abhainn a Chadha Bhuidhe:

A nice view of Meallan Chuaich:

Only frequented by HuMPers and trig point baggers. Oh, and deer:

It was squelchy underfoot, but fairly consistently so, which allowed for rapid progress. I crabbed right and started edging up Beinn nan Ramh’s west ridge. Looking back down the river. I had emerged from the first valley on the right:

The ascent became steadily more gentle and allowed a good view of much of the rest of the day’s walk (A Chailleach):

Towards the summit it was nearly horizontal and very pleasant going – both in terms of conditions underfoot and the weather:

Difficult to believe that it was November, although it was actually fairly chilly, even in the sun. Rabh is a superb view point, situated in the middle of the Fannichs and Fisherfield, with views past Slioch to Torridon and of the northern cliffs of Fionn Beinn . Sadly, whilst I was in sunshine many of these prospects were partly or wholly cloud shrouded.

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I now had a decision to make: how to get back to the bothy? I could retrace my steps – 9 uneventful km and 150m of ascent. I could take the direct route via the high pass between Meallan Chuaich and A Chailleach:

Or I could take in A Chailleach itself. The going had been so easy that it was well before 12.00, so there should be time. Ken had stressed “full coverage”, so I suppose that a Munro (possibly time for Mr Goggle again) was mandatory (Too damned right – Ed.). What the hell, it was only 800m of ascent. So, a bearing to get me off this pudding of a hill, rather steeply down to the Land Rover track, and a pleasant surprise – there is a very stout bridge over the river. Turned east for ½ km, then set off north up the slope. After 50m I stopped by a stream for some lunch.

I had been dreading the climb to the ridge. It looked ferociously steep on the map and my legs had already put in a few miles. I sighed, put my head down, switched off my brain (yes, thank you at the back) and ground upwards. Surprisingly quickly and easily I popped out onto the ridge:

That looks like nice, easy walking. In full it is a magnificent, sweeping, 7km ridge around Nest of Fannich. I was only doing the easy half, and it was a joy. Well, apart from the ascent. Some Fannichs:

The Nest:

It was very windy. I found a rock to shelter behind for a snack, and still cooled off quite rapidly. There was even a sharp little snow storm for 5 minutes. Oh no, the summit, which has been clear all day, is clouding up as I approach it:

But wait, what’s this:

Hurrah.

The low sun washed out most of the photos. Did I care?

Steeply down the north ridge:

From where I could see the bothy, or, at least, the cottage:

I tended left across the easy slope, crossing a few streams in their upper reaches until I got alongside the one I wanted. Then romped down the ever gentling slope as the night fell softly from the sky. Fantastic.

Through the boggy bottom land and over the twin water courses in visibility which really needed a head torch but in which I could just get by without. Back at the bothy for 5.10. What a fantastic day.

I had a bite to eat and a drink whilst consolidating my packs, then set off along the track to the road by head torch. As easy as it was coming in and an hour and twenty minutes later I was de-booting at the car. I ended up in The Ferry Boat Inn in Ullapool. OK, but I wouldn’t especially recommend it. All in all a rather full I was certainly glad that I had held out for a 50% more remuneration than Ken’s last junior reporter. (Readers of an especially morbid disposition may wish to peruse my even more mundane account of the previous day’s walking at http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=12281 .)