Beinn Sgulaird

(well not quite)

Update August 2015:

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Beinn Sgulaird and I seem not to get on, and for the second time I haven't  reached the top. After not managing to climb the hill in September 2014, when I was using the bus to reach Creagan, a return visit found me using a car to get to the normal start of the walk at Druimvuic. Click here to see the 2014 report. Otherwise continue reading this account of my 2015 visit.

The layby at Druimvuic has space for about 5 or 6 cars.

There's now a new deer fence across the vehicle track that goes up the glen 

The vehicle track seems ot have been rebuilt for access to what I think is a small dam.

There's a cairn on the left where the hill path leaves the road.

Superb views back over Loch Creran.

The path leads uphill towards Meall Garbh.

There's a curious eratic (shaped like the end of a houes) on the ridge.

Over to the north east is Beinn Fhionnlaidh (959m) which I planned to walk the next day.

The path now drops down into a col at the head of Coire Bliochdaig

There is no stile across the wire fence near the pools but several of the lower strands have been removed to make it obvious where to cross.

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Looking north east up Glen Creran with Ben Nevis visible in the centre of the photograph about 18 miles away. The Ballachulish Munros are on the left.

The path continues clearly uphill towards the 863m summit of Meall Garbh.

By this stage of the walk I was finding it difficult to make a lot of progress as the wind had been steadily increasing and heavy rain clouds were building up to the west. This view shows Loch Etive across to the west.

The summit of Beinn Sgulaird appears just before reaching Meall Garbh.

There are two small pools just before the cairn on Meall Garbh.

Although the photos don't suggest it, by now the wind was making progress difficult and storm clouds were building behind me so I decided that this was as far as I was going. The MWIS weather forecast had referred to 40-50mph gusts and "wind will impede mobility" so I wasn't too surprised to have to turn back.

My decision was the correct one as shortly afterwards the gusts increased in significantly in speed and several times I had to stop and use my trekking poles to maintain my balance. Walking on my own means I don't take risks in conditions such as this.

Whilst it was disappointing not to reach the summit at least this time I'd seen the summit and had a good day's walk.

September 2014 attempt



The plan for this day was to take the Citylink bus from Oban to Creagan Bridge, and then walk along the old main road to the usual starting point to climb Beinn Sgulaird at Druimvaric. I'd then the climb the hill, head back to the Creagan Inn for a meal and then take the bus back to Oban in the evening. 

Unfortunately, I didn't reach the summit as the hill walk took longer than expected. I think I was a little tired after three hard day's walking, the hills were covered in thick mist and the path wasn't at all clear in places as well as being rough. All of these factors combined to make me run out of time, so I had to turn back about one kilometre from the summit.

The bus stop is just across the Creagan Bridge where I started  at 9.15. This used to be the old Connell Ferry to Ballachulish railway but the old bridge was pulled down and a new road bridge constructed in 1999, partly supported on the pillars of the railway bridge. This dramatically shortened road journeys as the old route around Loch Creran was no longer needed.

The first part of the walk follows the old main road which now carries virtually no traffic

The road begins to drop down to the loch with the slopes of Beinn Sgulaird beyond.

Loch Creran and a sight I didn't want - low cloud. The way up the hill goes up through the trees and then along the ridge of Meall Garbh that slopes diagonally across the centre of the photo. The summit of Beinn Sgulaird is out of sight under the cloud on the far left of the photo.

The old road turns sharply across a bridge at the head of the loch...

......and crosses the River Crearn....

....before turning to follow the opposite side of the loch.

I reached the forestry road just before Druimvuic exactly on schedule at 1025 and turned off....

...up through the woods... reach the open hillside at the bottom of Coire Buidhe.

There is a substantial cairn and a clear start to the path.....

...with the track heading straight up the ridge towards Meall Garbh.

Looking back over the still waters of Loch Creran with Creagan Bridge across the narrows.

There's a most unusual stone visible all the way up the first part of the ridge that looks like the end of a house.

The path comes to a deep gully across the ridge....

...and the path runs along the top of the crags before....

....dropping down hill and then doubling back... reach a fence (surprisingly with no stile) near some pools of water. By this stage I was running 20 minutes later than expected,  presumably as my energy levels were low. The wire fence has been opened up a little (by walkers I suspect) to allow easier passage.

The view ahead wasn't exactly inspiring and there was a long tramp across the hillside...

...with the ground becoming rockier.

At about NN 042 448 there is a pool marked on the map which gave me a pretty firm location - I was now 40 minutes late on my time estimates.

From here onwards the ground gets more difficult and the path harder to follow with lots of boulders and numerous small ascents and descents over rocks which slowed me down. 

This is the cairn marked 863m on the OS maps....

....and then there's another descent to...

... a coll at the point marked 800m. There was a brief clearance of cloud....

....but as I started to climb again it closed in. By now I was an hour later than expected.

I finally reached the 848m point on Meall Garbh and started off downhill over more boulders towards the coll that lies before the final climb to Beinn Sgulaird. The mist was thicker and I couldn't see any obvious track. I also knew that this next section was no better than what had gone before.

 I reckoned that to get to the summit and back to this point would take an hour and a half. It had taken me 5 hours to get this far and was now 14.10. So I'd probably be back at this spot by 15.40. I'd need 4 hours for the downhill walk back to Creagan so I'd be lucky to get back to the bus stop by 19.30 for the bus at 19.57. That would be far too tight at that time of the evening, especially when my bed was in Oban.

I also wanted a meal. For once there was no need to make the decision as it was made for me. I turned back without any hesitation and as I'd estimated I took exactly 4 hours to get back to Creagan and I had time to have a delightful meal in the Creagan Inn - highly recommended.

Whilst I failed to reach the summit I'd enjoyed the walk and hopefully next time I try to climb this hill I won't be as tired and maybe the visibility might be a bit better.