MUNRO ADVENTURE 2015 – Graeme and Penny his wonder dog are nearing the end of their magic journey over the Munros in 100 days. They are into the last week and I have so enjoyed their trip, savour the last few days as I have despite the weather they have had. They are some pair.
Day 92 (31st July )
Beinn Eighe – ‘file hill’
Spidean Coire nan Clach (993m, Munro 150) ‘peak of the corrie of stones’
Ruadh-stac Mor (1010m, Munro 120) ‘big/little red conical peak’
After yesterday’s hills I made my tea in the van then headed off to Torridon to meet up with Andy Lawson who was staying in the youth hostel there, had a good blether and a few drinks and made a plan for tomorrow a traverse of Beinn Eighe using 2 cars, off to bed by 10 as I was a tad tired, I had parked up for the night in the NTS car park just down the road from the hostel
Awoke this morning at 7am to a steady fall of rain , I had got a text from Andy that he was heading home as had been unwell during the night so I was in no hurry to get up . Eventually got up at 8.30 it was still drizzling and a with a steady wind blowing, had breakfast and read for a while before heading up the Glen and parked at the small plantation at the foot of Coire nan Laoigh had another brew while deciding what to do, eventually by 11am a bit of brightness began to appear but it was still windy . Got ready with paramo gear on and set off at 11.15 up the very good track which winds it’s way up the hill getting steeper as it enters the top part off the Coire, I was reasonably sheltered all the way up but as I hit the ridge it was a different story gusting winds and rain now and again , reached the trig point then headed out to the summit of Spidean Coire nan Clach which was just in the clag and no more. Headed west along the undulating ridge towards my second hill where I met another hardy walker who told me he had just completed his round of Munro tops on Sail Mhor I congratulated him and wished him well on his future adventures before heading out towards Rhadh-stac Mor , I could see the summit was clear most of the way to it but it clagged in just as I arrived and it was extremely blowy on the top.
I decided just to reverse the outward route as it was still raining but I knew once back into the coire I would be sheltered from the elements, it stayed reasonably dry most of the way back to the van , had a late lunch and within an hour the real rain started and hasn’t stopped since , perfect timing today I reckon. Not the most enjoyable day out today especially after yesterday’s conditions but I still got my 2 hills done.
Today’s totals: 8.08mls, 1465m ascent,3hrs 40mins.
272 Munros to date.
This is a mountain to savour on a good day the incredible ” cathedral of the Triple Buttress is hidden from view. Few see its glory as it is a far wander in (2 hours) but what a view. The walk in from Coire Laoigh is wonderful and the Battleship shape of Liathach the other huge Munro dominates with its huge Coires dominant and the famous Northern pinnacles. After an hour the path then splits to the Alligin car park a great low level but wild walk. After this it is an incredible panorama of lochans, hillocks and views of some great Corbetts. This is wild country and maybe you will see an Eagle and the deer that live in this wild place. The path then takes you up and round the massive bulk of Sail Mor an in – frequented Munro top well worth the scramble up onto the ridge. Most though will head up to the Coire past the waterfall and then the huge mass of the Triple buttress beckons.
This is from Walk Highlands “These Huge ramparts of Sail Mhor may have been impressive, but nothing prepares for the sudden view of the Triple Buttress as Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair is finally reached. The three great, almost vertical towers of rock are seen across the water enclosing the back of a fine natural amphitheatre. They are composed of two clear layers of rock, with their lower halves of sandstone whilst the upper sections are brighter quartzite, and together they are one of the most celebrated climbing grounds in Scotland. The loch itself is large and beautiful, and a popular place for a picnic in fine weather.”
It is also the scene of the tragic Lancaster aircraft crash in 1951 14-16 March – Lancaster Crash – Beinn Eighe – The most important call – out in RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue History.
My great freind Joss Gossling was a member of an RAF team sent to find bodies in 1951 after an aircraft crashed 60 years ago has recalled the recovery party’s venture “into the unknown”.
A Lancaster bomber, which had been converted for maritime patrol duties, crashed near the summit of Beinn Eighe, in Wester Ross, in March 1951.
In the evening of the 13th of March 1951 this Lancaster set out from RAF Kinloss for a training flight a Navigational Exercise. The aircraft was on the final leg of a night-time navigation exercise between the Faroes and Rockall and was heading home when it collided with the mountain, Beinn Eighe, at around 02.00hrs on the 14th of March. It was only thirty minutes from landing back at base.
The nav-ex had been flown in horrendous weather conditions, when they took off from Kinloss seven hours prior to the crash, a deep low pressure was developing further south, this effect caused a strong north-easterly airflow north of this depression which the crew would have been battling with prior to the crash and which almost certainly caused them to have flown too far south of their intended course.
The last radio message picked up reported the aircraft to be “sixty miles north of Cape Wrath”. Nothing more was heard. The aircraft was later found to have crashed and had struck just fifteen feet from the summit of that part of the mountain range and at the top of a very inaccessible gully known at Far West Gully at the western side of Triple Buttress, above Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair in the Beinn Eighe group.
All eight crew from, RAF Kinloss in Moray, died.
Joss Gosling said his team had no prior knowledge of the terrain they were having to search.
Now in his 70s, Mr Gosling has told BBC Radio Scotland’s Out of Doors programme there was a delay in starting the hunt for the crash scene.
Following the crash he and the other members of the RAF Kinloss search party loaded rescue equipment into trucks, but they remained on stand-by for two days.
Mr Gosling said: “Nobody knew where it was and we couldn’t go anywhere until we found some destination.
“Then the story goes that a lad saw a flash in the sky and he told somebody who told the police and then it reached Kinloss. That was when we got on the move.”
Mr Gosling said the team were well equipped by 1950s standards for wintry conditions in the hills. They had studded boots, wind-proof clothing, sou’wester hats and capes.
However, he said they were lacking knowledge of the area. A non commissioned officer (NCO) had been to Slioch, another mountain in the area, but Beinn Eighe was new ground for the team.
Mr Gosling said: “Nobody really knew much about it.
“As far as I know nobody had ever ventured into that area. You were going into the unknown.”Joss Gosling’s first view of the huge Triple Buttress in March 1951 – Joss said it was “like a Cathedral” what an incredible photo taken by a young man in his early 20’s. He was to spend many days in this corrie on a grim task of recovery of 8 aircrew from his home station at RAF Kinloss. photo Joss Gosling collection.
At first the team found wreckage before eventually finding bodies near the summit.
Mr Gosling said: “It was the first time I had seen a body. But we were doing a job and got stuck into it.”
Difficulties in recovering all the bodies over several months led to the formation of RAF Mountain Rescue.
Most of the wrecked Lancaster was understood to have been destroyed in a later controlled explosion, but sections of wing and its Rolls Royce Merlin engines remain to this day.
I was lucky to spend some time with the local Torridon and Kinlochewe Mountain Rescue Team when I retired. I love this area it is so wild and this mountain means so much to me. Go and have a look in the corrie you will see wreckage in the Corrie still there after all these years. It is well worth a visit be aware that the gully can be very loose and dangerous where much of the wreckage still is and can be a serious place to be.
Beinn Eighe “The Triple Buttress”
Unseen from the road, the majestic cliffs are hidden by ridges and wild corries.
A long walk in, views expand as we climb, Liathach, brooding watches our progress from afar.
A familiar family of deer by the boulders, they have been there for many years and are friends.
What have they seen?
The views of moor and lochans, waterfalls sparkle in the sun.
At last, the lochan and then Cathedral like, great cliffs glisten in the snow.
Time and weather sculptured, wreckage glints in the sun.
This is a wonderful poignant place, this Torridonian giant Beinn Eighe.
Heavy Whalley March 2011