To many who know the mountains especially the Munro Fionn Bheinn above Achnasheen to most it is not the most motivating of hills.
In summer it can be a short boggy wander and often climbed quickly along with other hills. Sadly it has a reputation of a boring hill by many !
Why folk ask was I on Fionn Bheinn yesterday. Sadly of the many times I have done it a few times at night with the Mountain Rescue is has been wet and with limited views. Yesterday was a chance with a reasonable weather forecast to get those missing views.
A friend is training for a trip to the Sahara and with my cough, ribs etc I needed a “easy hill” There was snow forecast so this was the plan for the day. Take it easy and get some views.
Fionn Bheinn is barely just a Munro at 933 metres and is Munro 246. The drive was interesting and we met several gritters on route the road was icy so we took our time leaving at 0730. As daybreak came the hills looked superb and Ben Wyvis and Little Wyvis were snow-covered. It was – 3 temperature but the weather looked good. It took just over two hours to park near the old garage at Achnasheen.
It’s a great drive passing so many familiar hills on route looking wintry . There were as always plenty of deer about on the flats of the river Bran. The railway follows the road and we saw the wee train heading to Kyle of Lochalsh a great railway journey.
The snow was down to the road and off the main road the road was icy.
We wandered down to the start of the hill and followed the signs taking you up on the open hillside.
I was amazed that on the hill in places there was a lot of snow. There is a estate road that goes up the hill and we watched an estate
tracked wagon coming down they had been away early. The tracks were nearly on to the ridge we later found out.
We wandered passed the waterfall there was ice forming and I found it hard work in the snow and eventually got into the tracks that the wagon had left.
We met “Cube Cain Alaister Cain from the Scottish Avalanche Service on his way to compile his daily report for the Torridon Area. The wee Coire is an ideal place to evaluate the conditions.
We had a good chat, we have many pals from the past and he powered off he had to be back to get his report in. My pal John Armstrong who lives locally says you get some big avalanches on this slope.
Do you follow the SAIS reports and blogs? They are essential reading for winter walkers skiers and mountaineers. Well worth a read.
I could see ski tracks ahead one brave soul had taken advantage of the snow and was rewarded. We could also see there was a party of 5 behind. I was glad of the tracks of others to follow. The views opened and this hill in winter has incredible viewpoints .
How folk cannot enjoy these views of Moruisk and Slioch and so many others. We stopped and had a drink and enjoyed the no wind sun and wonderful views.
The party behind caught up they were the first of 3 groups from Inverness Cameron Barracks taking some University Air Squadron cadets on the hill. They were all enjoying the day and they passed us making the walking easier but still hard work.
After 2 hours we reached the ridge and got the views of Loch Fannich and the Fannich Munros. Below us was the remote Toll Mor Corrie where we came on our Big walks across Scotland. Memories came back of many years ago 1976/77 after leaving the famous “Nest of Fannichs ” bothy now long gone. I bet few climb Fionn Bheinn from the long ridge heading from the Lochan below. It is a long way across wild land.
The final ridge to the summit was busy but measy walking at last and another party from Cameron Barracks were with us. Dianne went on and I enjoyed looking into the depths of this rugged Coire and wild land and the great hills. On our walks we would climb the 7 or 9 Fannich Munros in a day nowadays 1 is hard work.
Dianne was on the summit and we met another group this time it was Simon who was guiding the Cadets. He is a friend of Rusty Bale who works in Wales but is up for the winter. The students were loving their day and it was great to see. Now we could see all the Fisherfield Hills and An Teallach what a place to be. It was encouraging to see that all the students were loving the day and moving well.
It w as then head off a great track to follow but I started coughing all the way off. It must have been the cold air but we were soon down the snow still down to the road .
Yet it was slippy and you have to take care.
I had to visit an old pal John Armstrong who was with SARDA for a chat he lives in Achnasheen. John was also with the Tweed Valley Team and was at Lockerbie where they and the other teams did some incredible work.. John like many in SARDA is an unassuming man like all the Dog Handlers. Great folk who I have huge respect for and we had some wild memories of epic 3- 4 day callouts all over Scotland. No wonder our bodies are battered after all those hard rescues and call outs. Would we change it I doubt it despite the toll it takes on your body.
John I cannot thank you enough for the the tea biscuits and Journals. It was great to see you again. Will catch up soon stay well.
John Armstrong one of SARDA ‘s finest and Tweed Valley MRT now like me retired. Great men, women and Dogs who are so important in SAR great folk and even greater memories.
In the end a busy day meeting so many good folk and great to see the young Cadets out in hills loving an experience of Scottish winter.
So for all you folk that are spoiled for choice every hill is an adventure some of us are luckier than others. We all get different things out of the mountains and wild places. I have learned as you get older you never take any day in the wilds for granted.