The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Saturday 28 April 2018

Beinn Udlaidh and Beinn Bhreac-liath

Beinn Udlaidh (NN280331; 840m) and Beinn Bhreac-liath (NN302339; 802m)

Distance (foot): 7.6 miles
Ascent: 940m
Start point: parking for about 3 vehicles at gateway into forest at around NN 27801 36739.
Weather: Quite a bit of sunshine and only a couple of light showers, one of which was soft hail.

In due course I shall put a screen grab of the route I recorded during today's outing (edit: as you now see above), but I would caution anyone looking at it as a resource that the lines we took up our first hill and down our second were not the best choices. There are easier ways.

The first bit of our route was easier than expected. The Cicerone guide to the Corbetts describes the initial section through the forest as being rough, with just a few animal tracks to help you along. For most of the way, we followed a track, leaving it each time it seemed to be going off in an unhelpful direction, only to join it a little later, after a squelch through a bog.

Once we got out of the forest the book said we were to find ourselves on easy terrain as we made our way up the open hillside. Here I made the first bad decision. Instead of following the line of the relatively-new deer fence, which would (I later realised) have taken us nicely up onto the shoulder we were meant to be following, we crossed through the fence and continued along the track. On this route we soon came to appreciate that the 'easy hillside' had now been planted as natural woodland. The trees are still tiny twigs, but with all the digging involved in establishing a new forest, the going was far rougher than 'easy' and by the time we struck off up the hill we had given ourselves a steeper task than was necessary.

Still, the sun was shining, the air was clear and it was a fine day to be hauling ourselves up a steep hillside. Even a pause, as we hit the snowline, for elevenses, didn't cool us down too much.


Elevenses view

A couple of minutes after elevenses we finally gained the ridge and the going became much easier, allowing us to skip along until we reached the big cairn...

...which is not the summit. Soon after, we reached a tiny cairn, which marks the actual top:

Contemplating the second hill

By luck rather than judgement, the exact right line was taken through the crags and onwards down to the pass.

Sitting down for lunch just before the next climb, we pondered again what had become of the two chaps who had been just walking off down the road as we arrived at our start point and whom we had seen atop our second hill as we stood atop the first. Finally, as we made inroads into our sandwiches, they came into view and had the misfortune of two bystanders observing their progress through the crags. From below, we could see the good lines. From above, they could not.

We never did see them to speak to, as we passed at a distance of about 100 yards, as we took what proved to be a very efficient way up to the summit of Beinn Bhreac-liath.

On Beinn Bhreac-liath, with Beinn Udlaidh behind

For the third time this week, a shower hit us just as we were on the summit, and again it was hail. It accompanied us as we made our way the 2km along the ridge, before we started descending.

The descent seemed to go on for ever and I was ready for it to be over by about a third of the way down. All dull, knee-killing things must come to an end though, and we eventually reached the edge of a forest, from where we only had to yomp through some more bogginess to reach the road. Bertie was then just a couple of minutes further along.

With the exception of the final descent, I found it to be another very enjoyable outing. Mick may beg to differ, although only because after weeks of inactivity due to his poorly ribs, this sudden flurry of longer routes on hard terrain is proving (understandably) to be a bit of a shock to his body. As for his ribs, they're definitely heading in the right direction, although not quite healed yet.


  1. Is Mick going to be ok for the TGO - sounds as though it's dragging on a bit?

    1. By the time the Challenge starts it will be 6 weeks since the injury happened, so it should be pretty well healed by then. He's giving it a good test today by walking from Bridge of Orchy to just beyond Kingshouse with a fully loaded pack.