Hill: Meall a' Bhainne
Date: Friday 16th February 2018
Company: Just myself
Distance: 6.4km, Ascent: 550m
Time: 3Hrs 15Mins

On Thursday evening I parked-up for the evening in Lossiemouth hoping to see some aurora as a result of a recent coronal mass ejection. Despite looking out the van window and checking AuroraWatch forecast throughout the evening and night it wasn't to be.

On Friday morning, the forecast for the east looked best so I am still wondering why I decided to head west . En-route to Fort William I left the good weather behind and was soon travelling in rain. The weather was so poor I really was not inspired to get out of the van, so I decided to just park up near the end of Loch Eil and see if I could spot any wildlife. My wildlife spotting was every bit as successful as my aurora spotting had been a number of hours previous. I sat in the van looking out the window feeling fairly p'd off with the weather.

The rain eventually stopped and it brightened-up a little so I got suited and booted and drove to nearby Callop for an ascent of my first new Marilyn of the year, Meall a' Bhainne.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

Despite Meall a' Bhainne being less than 2000ft in height, it looked to have a considerable volume of snow. Even if the weather had been less inclement I had already decided I would be staying fairly low owing to the avalanche forecasts being at the highest level.

From the car park, I made my way towards Callop and then followed a track leading to a very small dam across a burn. I crossed the dam and then began progressing up seriously-wet hillside. Within a matter of minutes I had water inside my boots.

Meall a' Bhainne and Meall na h-Airigh:

Meall a' Bhainne and Meall na h-Airigh:

Before long I reached the snowline and was soon wading through surprisingly deep snow.

Above the snowline on Meall a' Bhainne:

As I made my way uphill, the ground got steeper and steeper to the point I decided to get out my ice axe as a slip would have resulted in a long slide/fall. The snow was still so soft and wet crampons were not necessary.

Steep, snowy ascent:

During my ascent I could see what I initially thought was avalanche debris but on getting closer I could see it was simply numerous snowballs that had accumulated while being blown down the hill.


The snow ended up quite deep due to drifts with me having to wade through knee-deep stuff at a height of around 450m.

Deep snow:

Minimal views looking back towards Loch Eil:

It was a bit of a relief to get onto less steep ground and head towards the summit. By now it was again raining fairly heavily.

Looking towards the summit of Meall a' Bhainne:

I was glad to see the summit cairn come into view and know that I was almost there.

Approaching the summit of Meall a' Bhainne:

On reaching the summit I touched the cairn, took a photo and then headed straight back following my trail of footsteps in the snow.

At the summit of Meall a' Bhainne:

The hills around Glenfinnan are all rocky in nature and this one is little different.  I recalled ascending its Corbett neighbours in the run up to completing the Corbetts in 2011.

The descent was certainly much easier than the ascent as I made use of my inbound steps.


Looking back during descent:

On setting off I had expected this small hill to take around 2hrs up and back. Thanks to the snow, it took around 3hrs 15mins.

This hill is likely a pretty-good viewpoint in good weather but last Friday it was not inspiring.

I am now starting to look forward to Spring and considerable melting taking place.