Hills: Meall nan Ceapraichean, Ceann Garbh and Beinn Dearg
Date: Sunday 18th November 2018
Company: Just myself
Distance: 23.2km, Ascent: 1315m
Time: 7Hrs 25Mins

It was not my intention to head for the hills on Sunday, however, on seeing the MWIS forecast for the North-West Highlands I just had to change my plans. MWIS rarely states - chance of rain: "nil", chance of cloud-free Munros: "almost certain", visibility: "excellent" .

My mountaineering club were heading for Ben Wyvis so my initial thinking was to join them. I had however been up Ben Wyvis several times previously and they were not starting walking until 09:30!!! I didn't want to waste half the day so I decided to do my own thing. Sorry MMC, you need to get up earlier .

On Saturday evening, I made my way west stopping for a few hours en-route in Hopeman to hear a friend singing in the bar there. At around 23:30, I continued on as far as the Ben Wyvis car park arriving there fairly late. I was able to grab a whole 3.5 hours sleep before getting up and dressed for the hills .

From the Ben Wyvis car park I drove to the Inverlael car park. There was an incredible 11 degrees temperature difference between car parks -4C at the Ben Wyvis one and +7C at the Inverlael one. I set off walking with headtorch around 90 minutes before sunrise.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

I walked with the headtorch on for around ten minutes before switching it off and instead letting my eyes become accustomed to the low level of light.

Heading for the hills circa one hour before sunrise:

As I was concentrating more on walking in the dark than where I was going I made a navigational blunder in the forest missing the bridge over the River Lael. Instead I continued on along a track on the other bank which led down to a new hydro scheme not marked on the map. It was easy to cross the river at the hydro scheme so my navigational error didn't cause any delays.

Once on the correct side of the river, I continued along Gleann na Sguaib with increasingly beautiful colours behind me in the run up to sunrise.

Looking back along the glen to beautiful pre-sunrise colours:

I last ascended the four Beinn Dearg group Munros in 2004 on a really long, hot day. It was particularly memorable as I acquired my worst sunburn gained on a hillwalk that day. Some years on, I now regret all my days on the hill not wearing sunblock and getting burnt. I did however revisit Eididh Clach nan Geala in January 2016 on a stunning winter's day. My intention on this walk was therefore to ascend Meall nan Ceapraichean, its Munro Top and Beinn Dearg. I intend ascending Cona' Mheall from the east in a future walk to see the impressive cliffs in Coire Ghrande.

Heading along Gleann na Sguaib:

As I progressed along the track I was passed by a lad walking at an incredible pace. I saw no-one else during the entire walk.

About to head up into Coire Mathair Lathail:

Despite wall-to-wall blue skies overhead, the walk along Gleann na Sguaib was arduous as the wind was strong and I was walking directly into it. It was cold as a result of the windchill and walking in the shadow of the mountains.

Coire Mathair Lathail:

Looking back during ascent of coire:

I followed the good track which zig-zags its way up the coire before reaching the col between Meall nan Ceapraichean and Beinn Dearg.

Looking back during ascent of coire:

Meall nan Ceapraichean:

Once into the sunlight I stopped to put on some sunblock before making my way up Meall nan Ceapraichean.

Out of the cold mountain shadow and into the sunshine:

Looking across to Cona' Mheall during initial ascent of Meall nan Ceapraichean:

On reaching the summit of Meall nan Ceapraichean I stopped to post a couple of photos up to Twitter before continuing on and across to its Munro Top, Ceann Garbh. I had ascended this Munro Top previously but no harm visiting it again to get some views and take some pics.

View from the summit of Meall nan Ceapraichean:

The view towards the hills of Coigach and Assynt and the view towards An Teallach were particularly special.

Looking towards Beinn Ghoblaich, Ullapool and the Coigach hills from the summit of Meall nan Ceapraichean:

The hills of Coigach and Assynt from the summit of Meall nan Ceapraichean:

An Teallach (zoom):

It would have been fantastic to head out to also ascend Seana Bhraigh but given the time of year and amount of available light that would have been a Munro too far. I am already looking forward to revisiting Seana Bhraigh.

Seana Bhraigh and Eididh nan Clach Geala from the summit of Ceann Garbh:

From Ceann Garbh, I skirted round Meall nan Ceapraichean to get back to the col and then made my way across to the dyke which ascends Beinn Dearg.

Looking back to Meall nan Ceapraichean:

On reaching the dyke I followed it up the hill. There were small patches of ice during the ascent but it was all completely avoidable.

About to follow the dyke up Beinn Dearg:

During the ascent of Beinn Dearg, Cona' Mheall's cliffs looked really impressive.

Cona' Mheall during the ascent of Beinn Dearg:

Looking back during ascent:

Over the dyke:

On reaching the summit of Beinn Dearg I spent at least fifteen minutes there soaking in the views and taking photos. What a day to be out.

Standing atop the summit cairn of Beinn Dearg:

Panorama from the summit of Beinn Dearg:

View from the summit of Beinn Dearg:

View from the summit of Beinn Dearg:

Ullapool and Ben More Coigach from the summit of Beinn Dearg (zoom):

During the descent of Beinn Dearg I stopped to photograph a Ptarmigan which was almost but not all white. Most of its summer plumage had been replaced with its white winter coat.

Ptarmigan (winter plumage coming in):

On reaching the base of Beinn Dearg I recalled Muriel Gray's question on the fantastic Munro Show. What does a long walk in mean? Answer: a long walk out.

I returned to the van via the same route that I had walked earlier in the day with the exception of this time not missing the bridge over the river.

"A long walk in means ................ a long walk out":

A fantastic day out in the North-West Highlands .