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.
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.
We followed this track uphill around the side of Creagan a’ Chaorainn until we came to a ford over the burn.
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.
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.
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!!
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 (665m) whose cairn sits on a small outcrop
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.
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!
I was very relieved to reach the burn in the glen.
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!
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.
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!
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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