- Friday 13th-Sunday 15th May 2020
We decided to head up north for another weekend in the Highlands. I simply love escaping up here anytime I can. We had no major plans other than hopefully bagging another Munro which we were still undecided about.
We left Friday night slowly making our way up towards Aviemore where we would stay for the evening.
When we arrived the evening was beautiful so we decided to have a hike in the forest amongst the stunning Caledonian pines which led us to one of our old magical haunts, The Green Loch – An Lochan Uaine.
An Lochan Uaine , named the ‘Green Loch’ by locals is one of the many beautiful lochs in this area. Sitting beside the mountain known as ‘Angels Peak’. I always find it a beautiful, tranquil spot to visit.
The green appearance of the loch is likely caused by light reflected from the trees that line it aswell as algae in the water. But legend has it that it takes on this colour because pixies wash their socks in it, I much prefer that explanation!
Saturday saw us heading via Fort William to Glencoe. This is where we were going to base ourselves for the evening with the intention of undertaking a hillwalk the next day. We had eventually agreed on what we thought was an exciting choice of hill – Beinn a’ Bheithir via Schoolhouse Ridge – which would encompass 2 munros and a hike that would give us a pretty longish day on the hills, just what we needed.
On arriving in Glencoe village, I love it here, we wandered around for a bit before finding a very beautiful forest. This was new to us, a hidden gem.
There were several trekking routes within the forest so we decided we would undertake a couple as we planned to stay here for the night as it was so peaceful.
Our first route took us around a very beautuful Lochan. This was an easy trail, with beautiful paths but it felt quite magical. It felt so peaceful and views were stunning.
Next we took the forest route, a pretty woodland walk covered in bluebells and filled with rhododendron. There was also every shade of green it was stunning.
Tonight we were staying right here in the forest with no-one else around. The evening was still and beautiful and by 10.30pm it was still light outside. We fell asleep and woke up next morning to nothing but the sound of the birds singing all around us.
We were up and away sharp and walking by 08.30am to undertake Beinn a’Bheithir via Schoolhouse Ridge, taking in the Munro summits of Sgorr Dhearg and Sgorr Dhonuill. Some reports estimated this could take up to 9 hours and we needed to be back home tonight for work tomorrow.
We started from Ballachuilish village, passing by the primary school, following a road before it bacame a track which then led us into a grassy field full of grazing sheep and lambs.
From here and looking up at the hill it looked like a very very steep direct route heading right up the eastern shoulder of Beinn a’ Bheithir to the minor summit of Sgorr Bhan, pretty intimidating actually.
Not before long we were onto very wet, boggy terrain, with the ground becoming covered in heather the higher up we went.
The path climbed directly towards the ridge, and was indeed very much steep and direct. The views back over Ballachulish however were amazing and the higher we climbed the better they became.
We were almost at our first scrambly section when we looked up and saw two female walkers with dogs who looked like they were in a bit of trouble. They had clearly tried to avoid the scramble section by taking what they thought was a route to the left but this however took them onto what to us looked like a very dangerous ‘shelf’ with a shear drop below. The dogs were obviously petrified and could go no further, actually there was no where for anyone to go other than back the way they had came, without dying!
A couple of guys had followed them, the blind leading the blind, until they too looked like they were in trouble! On reaching them, they had just managed back safely and we had a brief conversation with them about the section ahead and how they could take an ‘easier’ route to the right, not left!
It clearly became obvious they hadn’t read the route description, or were not ready for what lay ahead as a couple of the guys said “we didn’t expect it to be so steep or rocky” and there lies the problem and that’s what can lead you into trouble I’m afraid!
We asked if they were going up but they told us to go ahead as they were still making up their minds so we carried on and scrambled up the rocks with them watching on, still clearly trying to make up their minds.
The rock-scrambling involved is pretty straightforward and we were up pretty quickly. We shouted back to the group below that we could see an easier option to the right. This is marked on the route description if they had read it and looked at the map! Four out of the six turned back and headed back down the mountain. I’m always pleased to see people make good choices based on their ability/confidence as the mountain will always be there and they could always return in the future. The other two went to the right and managed to get up the slightly easier section.
We soon hit another steeper wall, again with good holds, some were slack however so it was important to check them out first, but again there was a slightly easier option to the left this time….we love a scramble so we went straight up and over.
Just above this section the gradient eased with another rocky but less steep bit before we finally hit Sgòrr Bhan. A small cairn sits here but all eyes were on the viewpoint. Straight ahead we could see this amazing curving ridge towards Sgòrr Dhearg and behind that Sgorr Dhonuill. Looking back we could see all the way up Glencoe, what a sight!
Views like these is why I love Scotland so much, its breathtakingly beautiful. No photos or videos or words can do it justice, you simply need to be stood right in amongst it. Surrounded by such beauty is simply the best feeling in the world, and its simple and free.
We soon hit our first summit, with views still stunning all around.
Eventually we had to move on as we could see rain clouds coming in quick. The weather forcast predicted a possibility of a few small scattered showers so we wanted to try hit the summit beforehand. We gradually headed down the bealach before climbing upwards again. Our climb started of on a grassy section before it became rocky. The final ascent was over what looked like an intimidating cone but it really only involved a simple scramble to the summit of Sgorr Dhònuill.
We were literally 30/40 minutes from the summit when the rain started and clouds rolled in so not as great views from this top, but we have learned to ‘dance in the rain’ and embrace it.
We had a bite to eat in the rain and then from the summit of Sgorr Dhonuill we headed back down, doubling back on ourselves for a short distance .
Once back on the bealach we reached a path which would take us back down the hill. This route down was very boggy. We continued down and down through the wetness before eventually coming to some stone steps. We traversed the hillside passing through a felled area, which i’m guessing would once have been a very beautiful forest, before hitting the actual forest. This then descended more steeply before we reached a forest road.
We continued to walk and walk and walk all the time taking in the gorgeous views over Loch Leven and views to the Pap of Glencoe before eventually returning to Ballachulish.
This had been such a beautiful hike from beginning to end and it had taken us just under 7 hours to complete, meaning we would be home earlier than expected.
Hope you enjoyed the video above 👆 of Beinn a’ Bheithir via Schoolhouse Ridge 💙⛰.