Ice and snow in Strathconon

Beinn Mheadhoin, Strathconon

Mention Beinn Mheadhoin and most hillwalkers think of the Cairngroms and Loch Avon. But this is a smaller ‘middle hill’ (mheadhoin = middle) – a lovely wee Graham in Strathconon.

At 10pm at night I clicked on the weather forecast and saw sun predicted for my local area. Glorious sun all day. I quickly followed this by checking MWIS for Northwest Highlands and saw more sun. Sun, 90% chance of cloud-free Munros and little winds. Too perfect a forecast not to head to the hills. So without giving it too much thought I decided to return to Strathconon (having previously climbed Bac an Eich in November).

Neil was free to come too this time and this meant a much slower trip, not because he is not as fit as I. but because he likes to snap a pretty picture or two!

The 15-mile drive through Strathconon alongside the River Meig is a pleasure in itself. We took this very cannily due to the thick ice – it was -5°C at 9am – and a slight slip on the single track road could lead to a spending hours stuck in a ditch, or worse.

We made it safely to our starting point – just before the end of the road, where the glen bends around Meall na Faochaig a track breaks off left signposted for Inverchoran. There was one other car in the parking spot here, but we didn’t see anyone else out on the hill, although we saw fresh footprints in the snow on the tops.

The track to the hills rises beyond Inverchoran Farm and the estate have helpfully signed two routes avoiding the curtilage of the properties. The track to the left is shorter, but as we found out on our previous visit, this way goes across a ford. This time we took the right hand track through the farm gates.

Beinn Mheadhoin, Strathconon

As with many other access points in Strathconon, the paths and tracks marked on the maps are actually landrover tracks on the ground. This made for an easy initial ascent allowing us to gain height quickly and was a great warm up as it was still a wee bit nippy in the glen without the benefit of the sun.

Beinn Mheadhoin, Strathconon

Beinn Mheadhoin, Strathconon

Beinn Mheadhoin, Strathconon

We followed this track uphill around the side of Creagan a’ Chaorainn until we came to a ford over the burn.

Beinn Mheadhoin, Strathconon

From here we turned right (west) picking up a stalkers’ path which climbs the slope above the burn. This soon swung south-west away from the burn to eventually peter out on heathery slopes. Looking north-west we had a view of the corrie on Bac an Eich with Loch Toll Lochan.

Beinn Mheadhoin, Strathconon

There is an irregular series of cairns marking a route towards the summit of Beinn Mheadhoin, but on clear days it’s easy enough to pick your own route.

Beinn Mheadhoin, Strathconon

Beinn Mheadhoin, Strathconon

Beinn Mheadhoin, Strathconon

Beinn Mheadhoin, Strathconon

We swung around to the east a bit and approcahed the summit from the south – simply to find lovely big patches of snow for Neil to photograph, with his model placed ‘just so’! So don’t follow our route as seen in the photos below!!

Beinn Mheadhoin, Strathconon

Beinn Mheadhoin, Strathconon

After the icy lower slopes it was a joy to crunch over this snow. It gave a perfect “crunch” with each step and just enough grip to feel secure – it was delightful walking over it.

Beinn Mheadhoin, Strathconon

Beinn Mheadhoin, Strathconon

Beinn Mheadhoin (665m) whose cairn sits on a small outcrop

Beinn Mheadhoin, Strathconon

Instead of returning the same way, we opted to stretch the walk to take in the wee Lochan Sgeireach, on the western edge of the plateau slightly lower than the summit.

Beinn Mheadhoin, Strathconon

Beinn Mheadhoin, Strathconon

Beinn Mheadhoin, Strathconon

The downside of going this way is the downside! That is, how to get down from here?! We dropped straight down into Gleann Chorainn – from 570m at the lochan, to 270m beside the burn; that is 300m in about 1km. This slope of the glen had received very little sun all day and was very icy, so this was a pretty slow, white-knuckle descent. I’m not good at steep descents. I’m as happy as a happy thing scrambling about on rocky precipices, but admit to being a big feartie-cat on slippery heather and grass!

Beinn Mheadhoin, Strathconon

I was very relieved to reach the burn in the glen.

Beinn Mheadhoin, Strathconon

The walk back along the glen beside the burn was a delight in the low afternoon sun. This morning the ground had been covered in sparkly silverr fairy dust; now it had now magically changed to sparkly gold fairy dust!

Beinn Mheadhoin, Strathconon

The landrover track fords the burn numerous times as the water meanders along the glen in sweeping curves, but there is a small path on the west of the burn and we followed this along the glen.

Beinn Mheadhoin, Strathconon

Beinn Mheadhoin, Strathconon

When we returned to the farm the buildings and fields were once again out of the sun and the temperature dropped considerably. But we were still glowing from the pleasure of a good walk (10km) in wonderful scenery and with good company – although you’ll notice from the pictures that half the time we walked about 500m apart, so Neil could get his model in the pictures!

Beinn Mheadhoin, Strathconon

If you wish even more of Neil’s photos I leave you with a wee AV slide show to Runirg’s ‘Leaving Strathconon’

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Gleann Chorainn, Strathconon You may also be interested in 
The Horses Back – Bac an Eich

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8 comments on “Ice and snow in Strathconon

  1. Looks like another very fine walk. Is it high enough to be a Corbett at 665m? Not that it matters except from a bagging point of view: it’s clearly worth exploring either way.

    • Och your right. I’ve changed that in my post! Blame that on a friend who was joking about Corbetts on Facebook when I was explaining what Munros are to a non-hiking friend.

  2. now that’s a Graham which I haven’t gotten around to yet myself. Been saving it for a good day, but when the good days come I invariably find myself heading further west instead. Thinking of an overnighter for this one and Bac an Eich, the only hills in Strathconon still to do.
    Good pics and excellent music…

  3. Lovely day – thinking a trip to Strathconan at Easter may be on the cards, still some Corbetts and Munros out that way I haven’t done.

    Like the photos with the rocks in the foreground and pleased that Neil has found you a role 🙂

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