Loony Ben (Luinne Bheinn)

1 11 2013

Tue 1 Oct 2013

Day 2 of my second Knoydart Munroing attempt and I was to attempt Luinne Bheinn (which sounds like, and is often called ‘Loony Ben’). It was again very windy – more so than the day before when I’d done Ladhar Bheinn. I was worried about the wind as the summit ridge looked very narrow and has crags down both sides but both the ridge orientation and the wind were south-east so I hoped all would be okay.

Click on photos for full size/resolution
After another superb breakfast at Knoydart Lodge, I was again out of the door bang on 9 o’ clock – my route started, yet again, up Gleann an Dubh-Lochain. This walk, as I’d already done Meall Buidhe, was an out-and-back on exactly the same route – not my favourite way to walk really…

I again reached the Dubh-Lochain in just over an hour but, for the last half of the distance, I had the very pleasant company of a man who was walking to the foot of the Mam Barrisdale to meet his friend who was coming over the pass from Barrisdale. Just as we reached the far end of the loch, we saw his friend was almost down the pass – already – it was only just after 10 o’ clock – he must have set off pretty early. When I passed him he asked me where I was going and expressed concern about the high winds – he said they’d been very bad on the pass summit. I told him I was already concerned about them myself but had to make the attempt at my hill as it wasn’t due to get any calmer and I couldn’t stay on Knoydart indefinitely. At least it was a bright and clear sunny day…

Dubh Lochain

It’s a very long walk up the pass – the summit of it is about 8 miles from Inverie and the walk up the actual pass is around 4 miles. As the wind was blowing hard down the pass, I was finding it a pretty tiring ascent…

Mam Barrisdale Path

I was pleased to again meet the young couple I’d been chatting to on Ladhar Bheinn as I neared the pass summit and we had another brief chat.

Gleann an Dubh-Lochain from Mam Barrisdale
Looking back down to Dubh-Lochain

During my September visit, I’d chatted to three guys in the pub who’d also had to do Luinne Bheinn and Meall Buidhe separately due to the weather conditions. They’d gone up Luinne Bheinn in complete clag and said they hadn’t found the path up the ridge but had followed a path alongside an old boundary fenceline (still marked on the OS 1:25000 map). As that would keep me out of the wind as much as possible, I decided I’d try the same route.

The first path I found leaving the summit of the pass was the one following the fence posts (no wire) so I headed off along it. It wasn’t totally sheltered – sometimes the wind blasted against me – I hoped it was calmer on the summit ridge (surprisingly, it sometimes is).

Luinne Bheinn from Mam Barrisdale

The fenceline was steeper than it looked on the map but it gained height nicely and wasn’t particularly strenuous. After it flattened out a bit and crossed a couple of small grassy shelves on the flank of the hill, I reached the part where it headed downhill along a ridge to Coire Odhair – this was the point I’d decided to turn uphill as the map showed a crag-free route with fairly easy contours.

I looked up and saw there was a grassy ridge (no path) heading easily back left up to the end of the craggy-sided summit ridge – it wasn’t far to climb at all – I was surprised at how easy the peak had been from the pass summit. In a few minutes I was at the ridge-end where the wind became quite obnoxious…

Luckily, as I gained the top of the ridge, the wind abated quite a bit and was anyway running exactly along the ridgeline – I was glad about that as there looked to be a huge drop off to my left (and I already knew about the crags to my right). The ridge wasn’t as narrow as it had looked from a distance though and it was a pleasantly flat grassy promenade with superb views.

Luinne Bheinn Summit Ridge to E Top

It was a very short distance indeed to the first cairn but I could see another cairn across a slight dip. I wasn’t sure which was the summit but it didn’t matter to me really as I was also wanting to bag the East Top which was only another hundred yards or so along the ridge – much nearer than I’d thought.

Luinne Bheinn East Top

Luinne Bheinn to Ladhair Bheinn
The Day Before’s Ladhair Bheinn

Within very few minutes, I’d done the whole ridge right along to the ‘top’ where I had a study of the route to Meall Buidhe to see what I’d missed on my last visit. It didn’t look a difficult route and I was sorry not to have done it last time but the conditions had been very dire. I suppose I could have done Meall Buidhe again but decided not to this time and headed off back along the ridge to re-descend my ascent route.

When I’d walked back along the ridge to the end I’d come up, I had a look down to see what the ridgeline descent looked like. It had a path and looked fine but the wind was really battering me now and I decided just to take the path I knew back down.

Descending back to the fenceline was difficult as the wind was again knocking me over – despite it being very easy ground, initially I had to sit down and crab my way downhill. Once back at the fenceposts though things calmed down and I had an easy descent.

Stob a' Chearchaill from Luinne Bheinn Descent
Stob a’ Chearchaill from Fenceline Descent

Aonach Sgoilte from Mam Barrisdale
Aonach Sgoilte from Mam Barrisdale

The walk back down Mam Barrisdale with the wind behind me and in bright sunshine was exceedingly pleasant. I kept looking behind and taking photos of Luinne Bheinn as it looked very scenic.

Luinne Bheinn (cropped)

Luinne Bheinn

Luinne Bheinn from Gleann an Dubh-Lochain

Nearing the village, as this was the umpteenth time in the last month or so I’d walked this track, I decided to leave it at the ‘white gate’ and instead head off down the ‘Knoydart in a Nutshell’ trail which heads straight back down to Knoydart Lodge. This was a direct and easy route and saved me a few minutes. The only unpleasant thing was that I had my first encounter with deer keds here and the damn things wouldn’t leave me alone! Luckily they don’t seem to bite, they’re just annoying…

I decided this was easily my favourite Knoydart hill – I might even do it again one day with Meall Buidhe. I came away from Knoydart with a more favourable view of the place, much helped by a delightfully bumpy boat ride out in the even higher winds the following day – great fun :-)

Stats: 17 miles, 3168 feet of ascent, 7 hours


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29 responses

21 11 2013
McEff

You had a good day, fantastic photos. One of my favourite mountains, that.
Cheers, Alen

22 11 2013
mountaincoward

It was by far my best day on Knoydart. Until I did that one, I wasn’t ever going to visit again – now I may well do :-)

8 11 2013
LensScaper

Beautiful images, Carol.

8 11 2013
mountaincoward

Thanks – the backgrounds got a bit washed out unfortunately – think I need to get myself a different filter (I don’t carry more than one, I just leave one on the camera).

8 11 2013
LensScaper

That’s all I do too, Carol. My technique in the mountains is to always under-expose by half a stop. The camera is set-up that way and the metering is set to matrix mode and that usually just helps to get a little more bite and richer colours. But actually what I like about these shots of yours is the dreamy soft colours.

8 11 2013
mountaincoward

Being film, I don’t have a ‘matrix’ mode – I can see I’ll have a lot to learn if I go digital :-(

I think the dreamy, soft colours are courtesy of film characteristics though… I try to under rather than over-expose but that doesn’t always work – then the foreground sometimes goes too dark. I think I need to put one of those filters which are darker at the top on the camera to make the skies darker/bluer (gradation/graduation filters?)

4 11 2013
bob

Another mountain in the bag. Glad you got a sunny day for it. I remember that pass well as I only walked a quarter of it before turning back to do other things. I liked the Knoydart in a nutshell walk. Best bit of the peninsula for me as It must have all looked like that once down in the lower glens.

5 11 2013
mountaincoward

It might look like that again if they go ahead with their ‘re-foresting for the deer’ project :-)

2 11 2013
fedupofuserids

Great pics :)

Lovely Autumn colours.

2 11 2013
mountaincoward

Thanks Simon – we haven’t had any autumn colours at all around here – and all the leaves are falling off now :-(

1 11 2013
Paul Shorrock

Great write up AND great pics Carol.

2 11 2013
mountaincoward

Thanks Paul – it was a great hill :-)

1 11 2013
lanceleuven

It’s funny, I read your words and imagine biting winds and inhospitable conditions, but then I look at the photos and it looks positively serene! :-)

1 11 2013
mountaincoward

It was a nice day apart from the high winds and, when you got out of them, really warm.

1 11 2013
CairnStoner

Lovely pics, looking forward to visiting the Highlands once I’ve got some more experience under my belt :)

1 11 2013
mountaincoward

Make sure you start in summer there – by that, I mean let the snow completely go first – probably May onwards but last year it was June. The Highlands are at least a grade harder in winter than the Lakes.

2 11 2013
CairnStoner

I’m in no rush don’t think they’ll be going anywhere. I want to get a navigation course under my belt along with some wild camping before I take the plunge.

2 11 2013
mountaincoward

Yes you do! There’s nothing worse than fairly pathless Scottish mountains in a total clag! The wild camping’s probably a good idea but I haven’t done any at all up there – I’ve used bothies sometimes – they’re nice as you can light a fire in most of them and get warm and get your stuff dried out. You can also stand up and walk around!

1 11 2013
backpackbrewer

wind aside, at least you had good weather for such great views :)

1 11 2013
mountaincoward

It was much better weather on that visit to Knoydart – but then, with the weather I had the month before, it could hardly have been worse!

1 11 2013
backpackbrewer

When it comes to mountains, I always thank my lucky stars when its clear as you know that 1/2 the time it’ll be wet, claggy or both!

1 11 2013
mountaincoward

Bit more than half the time for me – I seem to be a bad-weather generator or something!

1 11 2013
backpackbrewer

ah, tell me when you are out and where and I’ll avoid the area then :-D

1 11 2013
smackedpentax

what an excellent days walking Carol…I wish I had the time (& youth) to do the big Scottish mountains now, but sadly I don’t anymore. Superb photos too…I really enjoyed this post

1 11 2013
mountaincoward

It was a much easier day than Ladhar Bheinn and didn’t tire me at all. Maybe you could still do that one – it was just distance really – the hill climb was one of the easiest Munros I’ve ever done.

1 11 2013
smackedpentax

I am pretty fit – despite being 60 soon – I did the 3 Peaks last year in 8:40…and wasn’t in the least bit tired when I had finished (got a blister though) :-(

1 11 2013
mountaincoward

You’ll be fine in Scotland if you can still do the 3 Peaks in that time – I think it took us just over 10 hours (with about an hour’s rest stops as it was very hot)

1 11 2013
stravaigerjohn

Lovely pictures too!

1 11 2013
mountaincoward

Thanks John, I nearly put a photography tag on the post but decided some of the backgrounds are too washed out. it’s a pretty walk though…

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