Cul Beag – Steep Little Corbett

18 09 2012

On our last walking day of one of our visits to Ullapool, we were both feeling a bit “can’t be bothered” so decided we’d just go and do a single Sutherland Corbett. We couldn’t decide between doing Cul Mor or Beag – I felt it was still too windy for me to make much of Stac Pollaidh. As we couldn’t decide which to do (although I was thinking Cul Mor myself) we said we’d drive round there and see which was ‘out’ (of the cloud)…

When we drove over the last rise and the hills came into view Cul Beag was out but Cul Mor had a stubborn little cloud hiding its summit… so, Cul Beag it was… I turned down the Coigach road and parked up at the foot of the recommended descent route from the SMC guidebook – but that was always the route I’d planned to do, even way back before reading any of the guide books. I remember seeing it when touring with my parents in their camping van and thinking what an easy little hill it looked from there and how spectacular it looked from the Stac Pollaidh side!

We booted up and hunted around for some kind of path – I was sure there must be something with it being a route mentioned in the guidebooks… All we could find was a tiny 3 rock cairn and a little scrape setting off from the roadside. Within 50 yards it had disappeared and we were just left with a squelch up the long, wet grass on rough and boggy ground. Still, it didn’t look far up to the top of that section so we just stuck by the burn and picked a way up it.


Looking back to car from Cul Beag ascent


Beinn an Eoin & Loch Lurgainn from Cul Beag ascent


Ben More Coigach from Cul Beag ascent

It didn’t take long to ascend to the skyline and we were soon in a nice-looking corrie with crags on two sides. Here we found a little path with boot marks in the mud following the burn… However, we soon left it and aimed left away from all the craggy stuff and continued up on grass towards another col. From here the ground became slightly more rocky and flattened out a bit.


Levelling out into corrie

We studied the summit peak and decided to go up the steep and rocky left-hand side – mainly because it had a few grassy bumps leading that way and getting progressively higher so broke the ascent up into small chunks… I thought it looked very steep but expected it to look less so when we arrived at the foot of the final climb.


Cul Beag summit – ascent(L) descent(R)


Meall Dearg

There were quite a few ups and downs and we tried to skirt most of them and soon arrived at the foot of ‘the steep bit’ – it didn’t look any less steep! We discussed a line up through the bits of small crag and set off up. More or less immediately we split up into two separate tracks – Richard went straight up and I went further left hoping it would get less steep sooner than his route.


Looking back along the ascent route


Looking south to Loch Lurgainn

We arrived at the top of the section around the same time onto a shoulder above the crags where a spectacular view suddenly burst upon us. Stac Pollaidh lay just past a pretty little lochan and looked very like a ‘thumbs up’… I got my camera out and started roaming round the edge of the crags (not too near though as it was very windy again and blowing that way) taking pictures. The next part of the ascent was just past a gully and looked spectacularly rocky from our shoulder. There was a very simple and easy route up the back though.


Summit from shoulder


Stac Pollaidh

We promenaded around the edge of the crags ooo-ing and aah-ing – the views were great in all directions – some of the best mountain views I’ve seen. Unfortunately, Cul Mor was looking very murky for photos but I still took some. When we reached the end of the summit promenade, we came to the one and only path on the mountain – the route up from the stalkers’ track and little peak mentioned in the SMC Corbetts book. I peered over to see how steep it was and was very glad we hadn’t chosen that way – I might have come up it but there was no way I’d have gone down at that angle with crags around and under some of the zig-zags of the path. It looked awful to me!


Moody weather to Suilven


The ‘Knoll & Col’ of usual ascent

For our descent, we aimed for the little lochan between Cul Beag’s summit and Meall Dearg. That was a lovely descent – the hill had ‘slumped’ a bit and was sort of terraced so looked a bit like a naturally zig-zagging path down. There was easily-angled grass between the ‘terraces’ and we bounded down. We’d already decided Meall Dearg had to be climbed as well as it was such a neat little peak.


Descent to Meall Dearg


Meall Dearg & lochan


Cul Mor from Cul Beag col


… and minutes later in rain…

Just as we arrived at the little lochan, the heavens opened (I’d seen it coming). We hunkered down behind some large rocks and put rain gear on and, while we were stopped, had a slice of tea-loaf and a hot drink. There was a great rainbow over Cul Mor but it didn’t really stand out of the murkiness when I looked through the SLR’s lens – I took it anyway… I took a few more photos, especially after we’d ascended Meall Dearg as it was a superb viewpoint looking back to Cul Beag and the ‘death path’ everyone else uses. Unfortunately I noticed I had lots of rain spots on my lens but know from experience that trying to get rid of them just causes smudges instead.

Rainspots getting on my lens now 😦

Cul Beag-death route!

Then there was nothing for it but to trudge back down the even wetter grass and bog to the car. The rain was by now running off my waterproofs and into my boots so I got back with thoroughly wet feet! No matter, it was our last day so I had a couple of weeks to get them dry again… We had planned to re-visit the excellent Elphin tearoom but decided we were too soggy and so just went back to the holiday let to get everything dried out before packing up in the morning.

Stats: 6 miles, 2277 feet of ascent, 3 and a quarter hours

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17 responses

3 10 2012
Scotlands Mountains

I`m with you on Beinn Mhor Coigach .It`s been on my “to do” list for a long time but I`ve promised my self an excellent days weather for it.Unfortunately,being Scotland……. 🙂

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4 10 2012
mountaincoward

I promised myself a great day’s weather for Braeriach but I’d also promised Richard I’d do it with him… so, I turned down several great days (including snowy ones) to do it with others so that I could walk it with Richard. When he finally made it to Aviemore with me, we ended up with really crappy weather and never saw a thing – I was gutted! 😦 We’re hoping to do it again anyway but by a different route…

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29 09 2012
Dog Yoga

I couldnt have said it any better to be honest! keep up the awesome work. You are very talented & I only wish I could write as good as you do 🙂 …
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23 09 2012
icemandan

If you’re up there and unenergetic, Beinn Mhor Coigach and Sgurr an Fhidleir are non-Corbetts and a great walk with fantastic sea views. Sgurr an Fhidleir has sensational views over a near vertical drop off to the north.

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24 09 2012
mountaincoward

I’ve had my eye on Beinn Mhor Coigach for ages! I suppose mainly because it’s always visible from Ullapool and I stay there a lot. It looks superb and Fhidleir looks a must!

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19 09 2012
bob

Ah, The Jewels of Assynt without snow.Some lovely photographs Carol.I always seem to manage up there in the depths of winter nowadays as my club only books winter huts.Its usually too windy to see anything apart from spindrift.

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20 09 2012
mountaincoward

I’ll give you a shout if we’re passing on our way to Sutherland again – you can come with us – it definitely won’t be in winter… too far to drive!

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18 09 2012
lanceleuven

You’ve got some spectacular photos there. I love how clearly the rock layers stand out in the first three, particularly the third one labelled ‘Ben More Coigach from Cul Beag ascent’. ‘Stac Pollaidh’ looks spectacular too. Congratulations on another successful mission! 🙂

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18 09 2012
mountaincoward

Hi Lance, unfortunately, it’s an old, archival, mission… I still have a broken big toe and can’t walk anywhere 😦
Carol.

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18 09 2012
lanceleuven

Ah, I did wonder how the toe was getting on but missed that detail and assumed all was (miraculously) okay again. Sorry to hear it’s still giving you trouble. I hope it sorts itself out soon. 😦

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18 09 2012
mountaincoward

As it’s now starting to set/knit, I’m hoping perhaps in about 3 weeks… I’m going to ask for an x-ray to check after 3 weeks

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18 09 2012
chrissiedixie

Love those photos Carol!

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18 09 2012
mountaincoward

Thanks Chrissie – though I think it’s more the area’s scenery than my photography!
Carol.

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18 09 2012
fedupofuserids

Fab photos 🙂

Another added to my todo list – it might be easier just to print off a list of all the Munros & Corbetts 😀

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18 09 2012
mountaincoward

You can buy one of those little maps with both marked on! 😉 Richard bought me one once as a pressie… I’m only colouring in Munros just now though.

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18 09 2012
Paul Shorrock

Great post Carol, with some cracking images!

I had to smile at the title – it sounded like the kind of thing a Lancashire mum would say about her child – “Oh yes, he’s a right steep little Corbett!” (Sorry, the late night dram brings on these whimsical ideas 🙂 )

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18 09 2012
mountaincoward

Yeah – it probably does – my Dad always has a couple of drams before bed (as does my Mum) and he comes out with some corkers!

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