Beinn Dearg Range (Ullapool)

The apparently longest heatwave in Scotland since 1976 has made hill-walking a challenge in a different way than I’ve got used to. My last two routes, along the east and west banks of Loch Treig had been so exhausting due to direct sun and high temperatures that I decided to start this walk before the sunrise. It had meant waking-up at 1am and leaving the house 30 minutes later in order to reach my starting point at about 4am. The combination of a busy weekend, short sleep and long drive was pretty dangerous; I had to stop twice to take a short nap. Consequently I hit the track almost 30 minutes later than I’d planned, and for another 30-45 minutes I was struggling mentally to carry on. I felt much better when the boring forest road turned into a mountain path; that made me feel ‘at home’. The path was climbing constantly up the glen, but in a gentle manner, and going along it was pretty pleasant. In the rising sun I had first glimpse of my first and highest top of the day, Beinn Dearg; or more accurately: its rocky north face.

Finally I reached the plateau sitting between the three tops: Beinn DeargCona’ Mheall and Meall nan Ceapraichean, a launching pad to climb all three. The tops lie in an awkward position to each another; in practical terms it means a climb to the top, followed by the return to the same point; other ways included serious rock climbing or flying, neither available to me. I managed to climb Beinn Dearg just in time to have my breakfast on the top: 8:15am. The two other followed: Cona’ Mheall at 9:40am and Meall nan Ceapraichean at 10:50am.

The last Munro of the day was sitting north off the latter, and after pretty straightforward walk along its ridge it required a rather steep descent down the slope with many rock bulges and walls, hardly visible from my position, but creating real danger of falling down. So it required a bit of wander around to find relatively safe passages. Climbing up the top of Eididh nan Clach Geala was much easier, however slower as the temperature had risen significantly, and the slope was well sheltered from refreshing breeze. At 12:10pm I reached the top, but left it almost instantly to find a bit nicer place to have a break and lunch. I found that by a small pool at the west end of the ridge. From there I traversed the south slope down to reach a path, that led me back to the bottom of the glen and eventually to my car just before 3pm. That last stretch was really tough due to the temperature and direct sun – I was congratulating myself the idea of starting so early.