There was a cool easterly breeze on the summit of Sgurr a’ Choire-bheithe so after taking in and shooting the lovely sunset, I ducked down a few metres on the west side and found a sheltered, flattish spot with an open vista over Barrisdale Bay and Barisdale (as the setllement seems to be spelled). A stunning spot for a bivvy. Fortunately it was a dry calm night as I’d forgotten my bivvy bag! I was up at about 04:30 to catch the sunrise for an hour or so then back off to sleep again for a bit.
After 8 am I set off down the west ridge with a plan to drop down to the Mam Unndalain pass, then descend towards the south east to the River Carnach and tackle the remote and enigmatic Corbett, Beinn an Aodainn (Ben Aden) by its north ridge. The southern slopes of Sgurr a’ Choire-bheithe above the Mam Unndalain are steep and craggy but judging by the contours on the OS 1:25,000 map it looked possible to negotiate a route through. Fortunately this was also true in reality, but the ground is steep and rough, and I felt a bit lucky to find a safe route without searching. The west north west ridge towards Barrisdale looks a pleasant and straight forward line and better than using the slopes above the Mam Unndalain if it suits your route.
A good path runs through the Mam Unndalain pass, from Barrisdale to the west, to the shores of Loch Cuaich (Quoich), and it provided a fine descent for a way. All too soon I dropped off down to the upper reaches of the River Carnach, to cross at its near 90 degree change in direction beneath the northern flank of Beinn an Aodainn, a beautiful and peaceful (if midgey) spot on this warm sunny day.
Above lay the hulking, slabby bulk of Beinn an Aodainn’s northern slopes. Taking it grassy slope, by rock slab, one by one, I soon made progress – though it was warm work. There is no real difficulty though some scrambling might be possible. I’ve looked at maps of this area and Beinn an Aodainn many times over the years and it was great to finally cover this ground and see it for real, having concentrated on the surrounding Munros in the past. Reaching the summit of Beinn an Aodainn felt like one of those moments that mean a bit more, is a bit more special, a little momentous in comparison to most others. This isn’t a roadside peak that you can nip up anytime in passing – it takes real effort to get to a place like this and it is not only a remote mountain – it is an especially rough and charismatic one in a fantastic location with wonderful views. If you make the effort to visit, I very much doubt you’ll be disappointed.
The descent to the east from the summit of Beinn an Aodainn is rough and complex. I headed for Bealach a’ Chairn Deirg by the east flank and on to Meall a’ Choire Dhuibh, but the east north east ridge looks to be an interesting route. Beware the OS 1:25k map in this area, there is a section east of the summit where contours are inexplicably missing giving the false impression of gentler gradients than will actually be encountered. The 1:50k does a better job here to my mind but is too small scale for the detail that should be on the 1:25k. Suffice to say, there is a relatively short section of steep ground to drop off the summit ridge towards Bealach a’ Chairn Deirg, before a gentler sloping section, then some steeper slabs just above the bealach. There are big drops off to the south of this area to be avoided.
Descent or ascent from Meall a’ Choire Dhuibh is a choice between the north east ridge or an easterly ridge that is approached by a stalkers path shown on the OS maps in Coire Dubh. I chose the easterly ridge which was rough and steep in places and needed care to find an easy route into Coire Dubh to the top of the path. From there it was easier going to the path in Coire nan Gall and north to the dams at the west end of Loch Cuaich.
A long but uneventful plod out led back to the road, the first section from the dams being along an old track, presumably used during the hydro construction work. This disappears into the loch near Gleann Cosaidh and from here there is just the small path along the shore of the loch back to near the road. The main and grim point of note about the walk out was the number of dead deer encountered by sight and or smell. Sadly, perhaps the cold spring weather in April and May 2021 was the final straw for a large number of these hardy hill dwellers?
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