Beinn Achaladair - 1038m
Meall Buidhe - 978m
Beinn a' Chreachain - 1081m
Sunday 5th May 2012
Weather/Conditions: Amazing weather. The forecasted deteriorating weather seemed to start setting in on Chreachain's summit. But it brightened up again on the walk out. Just perfect weather with blue skies, yellowed grasses and snow-dappled peaks of Rannoch Moor, Blackmount, Lochaber, etc... Awesome.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 20.4km / 1150m / 6h 10m
Accompanying: Uncle Steve, Gordon
We turned off at Achaladair farm, and parked in the first layby you come to. It turns out you can head further up to park by the farm, which would cut a couple kilometres off the day.
We started a hot slog up through the farm to the track leading to the hulking north face of Beinn an Dothaidh. It's an impressive place, and even better to turn around and have the expanse of Rannoch Moor behind. The glen leading to the Achaladair-Dothaidh saddle is long, so progress was slow in coming. We talked often about my planned Munro Round for the following year.
Up on the summit ridges, I was loving it so much I shot ahead to the summit of Achaladair. Once up, Gordon felt like heading back - but no, we couldn't. No way, so after some persuasion we all headed off in the direction of Beinn a' Chreachain. The ridges are great for walking.
Chreachain's summit was a touch colder, then we headed off down the north ridge and onto sunny flanks - fast, flowing walking through the grasses. This brought us down toward the glen which was really one of the most memorable parts of the day.
Below Beinn a' Chreachain and Achaladair you'll find Crannach Wood, which is a pocket of indigenous woodland - sadly a rarity in Scotland. Unfortunately there doesn't appear to be much new growth - I remember all the trees being fairly mature with little new growth coming through.
But when you enter this wood, the air changes. It's a strange feeling. There's an incredible aliveness to this place, and contrary to the open slopes above, I could feel it intensely. The pines breathed, the sounds of life returned. I only wish more of Scotland was like this. We are seeing areas of the country regenerated and coming back to life. The tide is turning, but enough? I'm not sure that in the current model of land ownership this can be allowed to happen, but some estates are showing the way. I'm not sure the deer fence is the answer. Maybe the wolf is?
A long sunny walk took us back to the farm - and then from there, back to Glasgow. Interesting though, that I've always just loved these hills, especially in this kind of weather, and yet they gave me one of my lowest moments of the following summer, when I did all the Munros in the one go. At that point, I was sort-of-frustrated by Achaladair, and really pissed off by the time I reached Chreachain. Only on Beinn Mhanach did I break free from the negativity of that day - a kind of resolution, perhaps, that carried me all the way to Ben Hope. The Mhanach sunset was a hell of a time to be...
Images: Beinn Achaladair
Beinn a' Chreachain
Descent & Walk out
Beinn a' Chreachain
(0.00) 11.50am Car park
(2.10) 2.00pm Beinn Achaladair South Top
(2.25) 2.15pm Beinn Achaladair
(3.25) 3.15pm Meall Buidhe
(4.00) 3.50pm Beinn a' Chreachain
(6.20) 6.10pm Car park