Search this site:
Ladhar Bheinn is Scotland's most westerly mainland Munro. It's pronounced - roughly - as 'laar-vinn'. This is a description of the day we set out climb Ladhar Bheinn in July 2007. I don't expect the hill will have changed much in the interim. We started from Inverie (accessed by ferry from Mallaig.) We also started out late because our landlady slept in. (Don't ask - the accommodation choice is much better now. You can book Inverie accommodation with confidence, we hear.)
The usually totally reliable Scottish Mountaineering Club Munros guidebook's description of Ladhar Bheinn suggests that, if coming in from Inverie, then the route goes northwards into Gleann na Guiserein, circles eastwards to the ruined house (Folach), then slogs up the south-western flanks of the hill via Coire Garbh (the 'rough corrie' - there's a surprise) to reach the summit ridge. You can see the line of ascent in the picture immediately below, taken from the woodlands that lead into Gleann na Guiserein. Coire Garbh is a tiny bit left of centre. Look, I'll stick on an arrow immediately below and you can't go wrong.......
Afterwards, the guidebook advises that the route to Ladhar Bheinn should be continued eastwards and upwards, with great views in all directions, especially to remote Loch Hourn, then down and over rough grounds, west along a ridge, before eventually circling back to the village via Gleann an Dubh Lochan. Got that? Yes, you do need Ordnance Survey Landranger map number 33.
(Above) This looks back down towards the fiendishly dull ascent of Coire Garbh, west of the main summit of Ladhar Beinn (if you approach from the south, as we did). The dull comment is unfair, as the views open out south-east towards the Small Isles - Eigg is on the left . The first picture - with the arrow at the top - was taken from the woodland in the centre of this picture.
(Above) Once on the ridge, the reward was a northwards view, strictly speaking, out of the 'Rough Bounds of Knoydart', though it looked pretty rough to me (or was that how we were feeling?). Anyway, that's Loch Hourn on the left of the picture.
Having pointed all this out, I would suggest to any reader who has not yet climbed Ladhar Bheinn: do not go this way. Instead, start from the Gleann an Dubh Lochan and do it in reverse - that is, anti-clockwise from Inverie. In the years of walking and climbing I cannot think of a more tedious, relentless slope than the pull up from the woods of Gleann na Guiserein - a lonely, empty place.
The top, hitherto clear all day, then caught the cloud and removed the view just as we reached the summit. Some hillwalkers, at least, will know this feeling: mid afternoon, in cloud, uncertainty of the route ahead, except a guidebook warning and a map suggestion that it is broken ground. Go on and complete the circular route - or go back?
We applied the usual Scottish hillwalking criterion that if it is difficult to spell, it is often difficult to walk over. You'd be surprised how often this works - I mean, we were going to end up in a glen spelt 'gleann'. So we went back - yes, down that tedious slope. Naturally, the cloud lifted again as soon as we turned our backs. Grrr. If only we'd been an hour earlier.
All right, I can hear the hoots of derision from the hardened walkers and hill stravaigers but it was getting late, honest. Yes, we missed the best bits of the hill on that day. Sometimes, experiences in wild land have less to do with fitness and more to do with how you react to the landscapes that envelope you.
I've walked up high hills all my life - but this high bleak ground, I admit now, looking back, felt simply oppressive and unfriendly. And I really think we were uncharacteristically spooked - well, almost. Anyway, some day soon I'll go back but do it anticlockwise from Inverie via Gleann an Dubh-Lochain.
Another unforgettable incident on a great day's walk - yes, really - was the attack of the killer clegs - highly intelligent, fanatical horseflies. (Oh, all right, I'm exaggerating.) There are definitely repellents that work - that there are also midges goes without saying - but my wife Johanna also employed the conventional tactic of running away while screaming. Girls, eh? More on clegs and horseflies here.
(Above) Inverie on Loch Nevis - a few houses, a great pub (The Old Forge - celebrate climbing Ladhar Bheinn there!) - and the gateway to some fine hills.
Return to the Natural Scotland page.
Return to the scotlandinaweek home page.
Your first paragraph ...
Search this site:
Scotland in Three Days