At the start of June there were several warm, dry settled days and the idea of a quick light weight foray into the eastern Knoydart hills of Sgurr a’ Choire-bheithe and Beinn an Aodainn (Ben Aden), both remote Corbetts, came to mind. After working the morning it was mid afternoon before I was driving along the shores of Loch Cuaich, as it is now spelled by the Ordnance Survey (formerly Quoich). The weather was warm with hazy sun and I wondered if the walk in along the loch would be uncomfortably hot. In the event, a fair breeze kept the temperature comfortable and there weren’t many midges or other biters about – perhaps in part due to the cold weather during May? There were a few cars and camper vans about on the wee road to Kinloch Hourn but it wasn’t exactly manic, despite it being a bank holiday and English half term week. Once I left the road, I didn’t see another walker from the moment I left to returning to it about 26 hours later, not even a distant figure.
The loch level was low and the north western end protruding towards Kinloch Hourn was largely dry. I trudged round and then over the promontory below Sron Lice na Fearna to get on to the north shore of the western arm of the loch, heading for Gleann Cosaidh and the ridge of Meall an Spardain at the east end of the long ridge of Druim Chosaidh that leads to the Corbett Sgurr a’ Choire-bheithe. There were grand views across the loch to Sgurr Mor and down towards the sublime peak of Sgurr na Ciche, a favourite of mine. I had no idea how the going would be along the loch but there is a small and persistent path above the eroded shoreline that really helped.
Interactive map of the route and photos; all the Munros and Corbetts of the Lochalsh and Knoydart areas, and the rest of my photos from this area.
Important note: Routes on this map are provided as an indication only in good faith. They are approximate and indicative and should not be relied on for navigation or as a guarantee that any specific person will be capable of completing them. Hill information adapted from The Database of British and Irish Hills (DoBIH) under CC BY 4.0
I stopped for a good drink and full top up of water at the Abhainn Chosaidh thinking that this would be the last readily available water until the next day, given that I planned to spend the evening traversing the Druim Chosaidh ridge and bivvy close to the summit of Sgurr a’ Choire-bheithe. Climbing up on to Meall an Spardain, outcrops of highly metamorphosed rock soon emerged and the terrain become increasingly rugged.
I’d like to think I’m no stranger to remote, rocky, rugged terrain, but by the time I reached the top of Sgurr Airigh na Beinne, four kilometres along the ridge, I was quite awe struck by the magnificent landscape and Druim Chosaidh ridge that was making me work hard for progress. The scene became ever more dramatic with the sun slowly descending beyond Sgurr a’ Choire-bheithe at the end of the ridge and the various twists, turns and undulations of the ridge emerging.
From Sgurr Airigh na Beinne there are a further four kilometres of incredibly rough terrain to reach the summit of Sgurr a’ Choire-bheithe. There are no big drops in elevation, but several smaller ones with reclimbs longer than the drops as height is gained. Towards Sgurr a’ Choire-bheithe there are two prominent subsidiary tops that look quite spectacular from a distance and offer the possibility of a little scrambling if taken direct. I’m afraid I didn’t on this occasion as time and energy were fading.
The timing of arrival on the summit of Sgurr a’ Choire-bheithe was good as the sun was sinking towards southern Skye and the Sound of Sleat with mighty Ladhar Bheinn, Barrisdale and Loch Hourn in the foreground. A cracking vista to compare with any and a privilege to witness.
Read on for the traverse of Beinn an Aodainn (Ben Aden) on day two.