Froachaidh 879 metres “The heathery hill” and one of many tops!

On the way

On the way off into the sun.

I was out with the Moray Mountaineering Club (MMC) staying at the superb Alec MacIntyre hut near Onich for the weekend. It is situated just off the busy A82  and I drove down late morning. The drive down was magic and I left early on Friday as I had a few things to do. I caught up with various friends and had a couple of hours with Hamish in Glencoe. He was on great form and I was amazed at his plans for “projects ongoing”what a man. The hills were loking pretty sparse with little snow and looked frosted on the higher hills in Glencoe. The weather was still superb and forecast great cold but clear with little wind.  On arriving at the hut  I was given was given a thorough brief by the custodian as I was one of the first to arrive. As the night drew on the members arrived after work the last one from Ireland at 0200 and as always it was a steady night.
There a keen bunch the MMC!
The first part of the walk through the Glen.

The first part of the walk through the Glen.

Plans were made and everyone was away early incredibly there were about 16 member’s out. The routes planned were   Curved Ridge, Bidean, The Mamores, Creise and the Etive hills and several Corbetts. I had a plan to get an elusive Corbett done, a few had done it before Fraochaidh a big Corbett hidden behind the Ballachulish Horseshoe Beinn a’ Bheitheir. It is defended by a big walk in over three tops and I had no takers as those who had done it before were saying it could be a long day and put of the rest. So it was a day out on my own.
I was gone by 0745 after getting out of the tight car park at the hut and parked near the school in Ballachulish at East Larroch from here it is a Glen walk for me of an hour until you cross the river. I was involved with a helicopter that crashed in the Glen many years ago before Christmas . It was in Glen a Hullish on the 8/12/1994 and sadly both crew were killed.
Over these tops.

Over these tops. Thank goodness the weather was clear.

All the way up the Glen the massive Ballachulish horseshoe  towers above it to me is another neglected hill in my option! Hamish Brown says of it in his wonderful book Climbing the Corbett’s says of this hill ” in winter it has the curvaceous purity of Marlyin Munro” I passed the lovely “schoolhouse ridge” a great way up and a good scramble in winter. My mate Chalky used to live here in the village so we had some fun on the ridge in the past and a big gully if I remember. Memories flood back in the walk in and I found a key on the path. It says on the back Outward Bound Trust any takers?
I had been on this way before but I had forgotten  what a wild area it is. I lost the path after crossing the river in the thick grass and heather not easy and then up to right of way to Glen Creran and the first top at 628 metres  following faint path by the deer fence.
Great views of the big hills.

Great views of the big hills.

I now had great views all round and my hill was still not in view but all the major hills were Ben Nevis and the Mamores dominates as does Bidean Nam Bian a massive mountain and of course the Aonach Eag and the other hills. Time was moving on and the day was perfect but a bitter wind I was so glad as this was a clear day in deep snow and poor visibility it would not be fun.
At last the summit beckons.

At last the summit beckons.

At last I had views of my hill and it was along to 718 metres then following old metal fence posts the ridge narrows and becomes rockier and the wild corries and the Glen heavily forested are all over. Maybe as Hamish Brown says this should be the walk of the forestry or hill of the trees. The final climb of 20o metres had bits of hard snow and was steep the time was moving on and I eventually reached the summit. The views of Ardgour and the sea are massive but I was tired there was no way I was going back the same way as it would be dark in 3 hours. I decided to drop off the ridge along to Duror and hopefully  get a bus from the main road back to Ballachulish.
A bit of sun on the way off.

A bit of sun on the way off.

The descent was lovely the fading sun lighting up the hills and the views to sea impressive. The worst bit is about 20 minutes of felled trees “pathless purgatory” and then you are on the forestry road and easy walking to Duror. I tried to hitch and had no idea of bus times from Oban so I called a friend ” Sue” who dropped everything and picked up a cold old guy from Duror! Poor Sue was working on  a big dinner for the Cioch club dinner in the Inchree Restaurant that night and my little sad request knocked her back in time. We had a hairy drive to my car while she rushed back to finish the dinner menu!
Thanks Sue owe you one xxxx
The way off to the right of the lochan and down to the forestry,

The way off to the right of the lochan and down to the forestry,

It was then get back to the hut and warm up shower  and lots of tea and the others all started arriving after great days on the hill! I was exhausted it was a long 7 hours and hard ground but a great hill that can be done much easier from the forestry road at Duror and save the tortuous walk in but then I would not have had the great views!
I retired early the fiddle was out in the hut but my body said no and it will be an easy day today as I have a busy week ahead. It was well worth getting away early as we all did.
Today’s tip worth getting away early and do not forget the torch, Heather Morning was on the radio saying that you should carry two torches ?
Ever tried putting batteries in the dark on your torch ?
The wonderful Beinn a Bheitheir - see Hamish Browns comments on this hill in winter .

The wonderful Beinn a Bheitheir – see Hamish Browns comments on this hill in winter .


About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Corbetts, Enviroment, Equipment, Friends, Gear, Mountain rescue, Rock Climbing, Scottish winter climbing., SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

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