Saturday, 3 September 2016

Beinn Mheadhoin. Kingairloch. Glensanda Superquarry.

                                                ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
Another 5:00am rise in Glasgow at the invitation of Graeme, David and Alex to bag Beinn Mheadhoin, a remote Graham across the Corran ferry and not the higher more well known one in the Cairngorms. We have been picking off Corbetts, Grahams and Donalds over the past few years in Ardgour, Sunart and Moidart but this was our first trip, or certainly mine, into the region known as Kingairloch.          Beinn Dorain, 1076 metres, above, taken from Graeme's car.
One of the advantages of not driving for an opportunist photographer is that you are free to take photos, albeit  from a moving car travelling up the A82 towards Fort William at speed. This is Loch Tulla just above Bridge of Orchy.
The great rock dome of the Buachaille Etive Mor, 1022 metres, came next, seen through a ribbon of static cloud and heralding the entrance to  Glencoe.
Another fine hill, and a favourite one for me is Creise, 1100 metres, with the famous nose, seen here on the right hand edge, making a fine easy scramble just following a line up the skyline ridge which can be grade 1 or 3 depending on conditions and which route you take up the rock. Having perfect conditions like here helps to see where you are going. If in doubt stick to the shallow gullies running up this rib.
An atmospheric one of the big Buachaille showing the amount of bare clean rock on its slopes and a fine mountain for all grades of rock climb on its near vertical walls of grey andesite and pink rhyolite which usually provides good reassuring grip and holds, particularly important on highly exposed scrambles and rock climbs around the summit. (See video at the end.)
Corran Ferry across Loch Linnhe came next and we left the busy A82 and 95 percent of the tourist traffic behind by crossing over here into Ardgour, one of the wildest regions in modern Scotland, mainly because it is free of Munros and therefore invisible to most of the walking fraternity.
That's not to say it's not spectacular, as it is, just empty of most walkers.
Cattle on the minor road to Kingairloch. The B8043. It was a lovely morning which would soon turn warm.
A track was followed from the small lay- by downhill past the big estate of Kingairloch House and I found out later, searching online for info, a previous owner here holds the record for shooting more stags, around 2000 before her own death, than any other woman in Great Britain. A fine collection, just like bagging Munros or any other addiction. They would make a sizable mountain of their own placed together in a big heap. Our mountain of choice seen in the distance, above. The summit is placed well behind this ridge and it seemed never-ending. Not for the first time we remarked to each other that the lesser hills can be just as hard as the Munros to climb.
Low flying jet passing, looking towards Benderloch region. Full info on the area including this bizarre snippet about stags, in here.

Another view of the ridge we intended to climb. Purple heather blooming on the slopes.
Although trackless once we left the main estate path and slogged through a small bog and tussock filled wood it wasn't too bad underfoot with short grass higher up on the ridge. A view looking down to Loch a' Choire. There was supposed to be an easy scramble on this ridge higher up but it didn't amount to much at all and would only be sporting under snow or severe winds. Our main hindrance here was the heat and humidity but once we reached the horseshoe ridge we got a welcome sea breeze. Quite a steep unrelenting ascent, although mainly a grassy one.
Graeme and fish farms on Loch a' Choire/ Loch Linnhe.
After passing the summit  at 2424 feet or 738 metres we continued down the ridge to visit the edge of Glensanda superquarry. This massive hole in the ground is one of the remotest large quarries in Europe with access only from a deep water dock and the sea. It has grinding and crushing devices to smash the rock into fragments before moving it down a mile long tunnel to the waiting cargo ships. See info link above. You get some idea of the scale here from this jeep on the internal road system. All the little black squares around the building are roughly family car sized.
Another view of the larger quarry. Although well hidden from most angles at ground level six million tons of granite aggregates are shipped out each year around the world and its estimated there's enough left to last 100 years. Probably make a good landfill site by then as we are fast running out of holes to dump our rubbish in.
The islands of Lismore and Eilean Dubh from the quarry. It is cleverly constructed to minimize visual impact and you can't even see it from most low lying locations. Usual summer heat haze obscuring the distant views here.
Looking back into Ardgour.
Coming down the ridge of Meall an Doire Doire Dhuibh and missing out Sgurr a Bhuic at 1866 feet as time was pressing and we were worried about missing the last ferry back. A 8 hour walk, mainly due to the heat and our advancing years. Over 3000 foot of ascent due to the up and down horseshoe ridge we followed and roughly around 14km or 9 miles. Felt a lot more though and were very glad and footsore reaching the car again.
Got the last ferry back just in time and witnessed a lovely sunset looking back towards Ardgour.
One of the Three Sisters and the Lost Valley in Glencoe on the drive up. A full 17 hour day once back in the house around 10:00pm.

In past years of youth I did a lot of rock climbing on the Buachaille Etive Mor as it's a hot spot among climbers for steep, highly exposed routes at all levels of difficulty. A great video here giving a real feel of this and also the camaraderie of climbing together as a close knit team. Worth a watch in full screen. 


Neil said...

That was a long drive for a day trip! I reckon that Glencoe is far enough for me nowadays. Ardgour is wonderful. I've still to do this hill, was looking at the possibility of a route from the west although you would miss all the sea views until the summit was reached. Pity about the quarry, why do they spoil remote areas like this?

Rosemary said...

You must have all been exhausted by the time you reached home, and nodoubt slept like logs.
The mountain views are spectacular especially surrounded by the low lying clouds, and that sunset is to die for.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Neil,
Didn't feel as long as the Jura trip in a day. As this time of year it's fairly easy with 3 or 4 in the car to spread fuel costs and long hours of daylight. Winter would be a different proposition. It's also remote for a landfill as I read recently most of the open cast coal mines in Ayrshire etc, don't have enough money to fill them in or landscape them properly with investors for most energy, including turbines, only interested when there's a healthy profit to be made. Not so keen on spending money with no return. Maybe they could turn the hole into a covered in biosphere park or a giant wildlife reserve as in 100 years time any animals left might need saving from extinction.

blueskyscotland said...

Hello Rosemary,
Wasn't too bad and read a book when I got in for ages until I felt tired mentally. Yeah, it was a lovely day. Not that many up here this summer which is one of the reasons we pick day trips after seeing a forecast for good weather.

Anonymous said...

You're right to take day trips weatherwise - it's been totally unreliable this year in Scotland. Or perhaps I should say it's actually been reliable - reliably wet! :-(

I can't get the video to play more than the first minute or so - I'll have to try from home as I'd really like to see it...

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol.
Seven years without a raindrop! It takes a special kind of dedication and courage to only go out in sunshine and I seem to be cursed with it :o)
Video playing fine here so might be a security lock where you are watching from or a speed issue as it's in HD.

Carol said...

probably a security lock - I'm going to give it another go from home now...

I'd only go out in good weather in Scotland but, unfortunately, we fall foul of the trap of having to do the walk anyway otherwise we waste the 1000 mile or so drive and all the money it entails! :-(

Carol said...

Yeah! works fine at home! Not for me that climb Bob - don't know how you had the nerve to do that sort of thing. I think high multi-pitch isn't really my thing although I quite fancy a go at Tower Ridge on The Ben - but I believe that's nothing like as steep or exposed and is, of course, a MUCH easier grade. Those traverses would put me off that climb most I think. The chimney looked okay though...

Linda said...

Lovely views in your photos and I love the cattle!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
Sometimes it's all about people's perceptions of what's dangerous. From my own experience I've never had that many injuries when rock climbing or hill walking and none life threatening yet I've had knocked out teeth, busted nose and collar bone, elbows and knees scraped down to the bone and cracked ribs... all from cycling which I consider the most dangerous sport I do. Many of the injuries happened on traffic free cycle tracks that children use which is why I prefer minor roads. I cycle at slow speeds but people walking straight out in front of you without any warning, dog attacks, animals and kids running in front of the bike, various wires tied at head height across the track, hidden trenches dug in the ground, air rifles,and faster bikes racing to get past you without any notice have all been encountered. Definitely a more hazardous sport.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Linda
Yes, waiting for the cattle to pass doesn't happen that often these days but it's almost a cliche in films to imply remote rural areas.

Linda W. said...

What a wonderful sunset! Interesting information about that large quarry.

Anabel Marsh said...

Beautiful! Glad you did it so I don't have to ;-) I'll just admire your pictures.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Linda W,
It's certainly remote. They had a major fire in one of the giant tankers a few years ago sitting in the deep water quarry port and even the fire service had a job getting out to fight it as there's no road access to it and everything has to arrive by sea. I think it took a week to put it out and the ship was gutted but no one was injured, luckily enough.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Anabel,
wouldn't like to do that walk in anything other than fine weather as it felt a long day.

Ian Johnston said...

What a good trip Bob....coincidentally, a group of five of us kayaked the circuit of Morvern from Inversanda to Strontian recently over three days, including passing the berth for the very large bulk ship used for transporting the stone away from Glensanda. A huge quarry, but at least as you point out the visual impact is minimised, unlike the proposal to erase Roineabhal some years ago....

Kind Regards

blueskyscotland said...

Evening Ian,
That's a long trip around the coast. Never been to Oronsay or Carna yet. According to the Argyll News the ship was gutted but returned to service in all it's glory... if glory is the right word for a giant floating wheelbarrow :o)

Carol said...

Glasgow cycling sounds hazardous indeed! What's the wires at head-height? people trying to kill cyclists? :-o

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
There's always a few nasty people out there who think its funny to decapitate cyclists for reasons known only to themselves.

Edward Kelly said...

Met you in Dunoon today (Thu.22nd Sept. 2016) and as I said I`d check your pictures and glad I did.
Wonderful pics.
Thanks for sharing same.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi John,
Thanks for dropping in. Glad you liked them. Next post will be on Dunoon area and some surprises captured in the Firth of Clyde.

Anonymous said...

Unusual day out with a remote Corbett in an area I've never looked at before and that rather impressive (if that's the right word for a big hole dug out of a mountain) quarry