Another Classic hill Beinn Dearg (Red Mountain) Ullapool. The “Moon Rescue” and the Famine Wall.

Beinn Dearg is a big classic mountain in the North of Scotland it is the highest mountain North of the Inverness Ullapool road. It holds its lofty position and is often climbed with the other 3 Munro’s in Summer. Thecharder folk climb Seanna Bhraigh as well . The second peak, remote Cona Mheall, is on the opposite side of impressively rocky and wild Coire Ghranda whilst Meall nan Ceapraichean and Eididh nan Clach Geala can extend the route to give a grand traverse with spectacular views across towards Assynt. These are grand hills with superb viewpoints and lochans.

Yet to me on its own Beinn Dearg is a big mountain easily recognised from views from other hills and from the road and from Ullapool is one to savour .

It looks fairly dome shaped from the distance and benign but it has cliffs all the way along the most popular way in from Inverael. In winter they can hold some classic ice routes.


Beinn Dearg: a mountain in the Inverlael area of the Highlands of Scotland. It is most frequently climbed by following the River Lael up Gleann na Sguaib. There is parking at the main road till the end of the forestry track just of the main road it can be cycled to the stalkers path (about 3 k) which then follows the stalkers path glen to the bealach, which is about a kilometre north of the summit. From here it’s a steady pull to the summit . At 1,084 metres it’s a big hill translation. There is a “Famine wall” which stops short of the summit. The summit can be hard to locate in Winter under snow.

This is another to me neglected mountain often I have climbed it usually with Mountain Rescue pals on training and on a few call outs. I had a great long day just after my operations on my own a few years back in deep snow.

It is a huge mountain from the Inverlael side. The path lets you see the hidden Hydro that helps powers the nearby Ullapool and the never ending stalkers path takes past the climbs where the late Doctor Tom Patey and his pals explored in the 60’s. Tom was a local Doctor in Ullapool and often climbed solo here. There are many great routes here the classic Emerald Gully a winter route that is well known. We climbed a few gullies round here in the 70’ when we started ice climbing it is a magnificent setting.

There are a few classic climbs like Emerald Gully and Penguin Gully not to be underestimated and scope for much more.

As the path steepens there is a big Boulder field near the beleach that can be tricky in deep snow that takes you to the Beleach where you can enjoy the views of Coire Ghranda on its South East Side. This is now wild country and there is a huge cliff that only the brave visit. I snow-holed here with a pal in winter leaving early to winter climb in this wild Corrie. The approach from the Aultguish side is a long slog. Yet it takes you into another world.

The cliffs of Beinn Dearg

From the Beleach there is a big wall the Famine wall. It was built during a terrible Famine in Scotland one can only imagine the effort needed to build this wall. There are Famine walls all over and I have written about them. You would think things would be much better 200 years later but we have “Food Banks” now. Very sad.

Famine Wall

The wall does not take you to the summit but veers away West. The summit is only a small cairn hard to find on a winters day.

The Beleach

Many go on to do several of the nearby hills. Cona Meall Meal na Caeprachian, Edidh Nan Glach Geala. This is wonderful country full of wildness and incredible views. I ask anyone to name all the hills from this summit its magnificent.

There is another way in to the mountain from the end of Loch Glasgarnoch it’s wild land and can be boggy with a big river crossing.

It takes you into Loch Coire Ghranda one of the finest Corries in Scotland. It is well worth the long walk in as it is a place of solitude and remoteness.

I did several call outs here there have been a few bad avalanches and several times folk have walked off from the summit the wrong way. This is especially in Coire Ghranda a hard place to get communications and a long walk back to your car. If you make a mistake.

I had one really hard day in winter a few years ago in deep snow. We had broken a trail leaving the path for Beinn Dearg. It was a one early winters day doing a one point 1 kilometre an hour. I was with Dan Carrol who had just summited Everest. We had been followed at a distance by a solo climber. He kept his distance and we broke the path in. On getting back to Ullapool fairly tired we got a call to help Dundonnell MRT as a climber was struggling in the Beinn Dearg area. We were pretty tired but the weather was good and we drove to start of the forestry track. We were dreading an all night search and our area to search was up to the Beleach of Ben Dearg. The weather cleared and the helicopter was sent to search. We stopped regularly as we were tired. Our previous footprints were gone and it was hellish hard. We were scanning the hills looking for torchlightv. I saw something high and bright a small dot on the ridge. It must be him we got hold of the helicopter by radio and gave him a rough location.

The wind was gone and then I saw the light it was the moon sneaking over the ridge .

The helicopter called and said “ the light is the moon we do not have the fuel to go there.” I felt a right plonker as the Glen was now floodlight by the moon.

This was all we needed as we prepared for a long night on the hill. An hour later the missing Walker was located tired and a bit lost but okay and flown back to Rescue control. He had underestimated the snow depth and got caught by the weather.

I lived with my “Moon Rescue” for a few years. We got back in time to Ullapool for a late pint and our dinner.

Timings : It easy to underestimate your hill time in deep snow. It takes so long even though we had snow shoes on it was hard work.

The wild Coire Ghranda

Lots of snow about be careful.

Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team (DMRT)
operate in a vast area of rugged and
remote mountainous country. The team
of around 35 volunteers is available
24 hours a day, 365 days a year to help anyone in difficulty on the hills, mountains or crags in an area spanning more than 2,600 square miles.

Welcome to our website.  




About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Avalanche info, Books, Enviroment, Mountain Biking, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Recomended books and Guides, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Another Classic hill Beinn Dearg (Red Mountain) Ullapool. The “Moon Rescue” and the Famine Wall.

  1. terrymcdevitt says:

    A beltin read Heavy. Well done and thank you again pal.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.