The last hill tour of the 2015 “campaign” was the bare red headed hill of the Ben Damph / Coulin Forrest. Frank and I parked the Volvo at the lochside layby in Annat. While getting our things together we were joined by a mountain biker who also wanted to head for Maol Chean-dearg. We chatted a bit and after some “see you later” we set off behind him.
I (Cord) had already climbed Maol Chean-dearg from Annat in 2000 so the good path on gravel and over slabby terrain was kind of familiar. It climbs to an altitude of about 300m and then levels off when it reaches the flat terrain characterized by slabs, sand and two or three small lochans lying between Beinn na h-Eaglaise and Meall Dearg. Having passed Lochan Domhain we soon came to the banks of Loch an Eion. From there the north face of Maol Chean-dearg was quite an impressive view both ahead and also as reflected in the loch.
Again as I had done in 2000 we took the right-hand fork and followed the path around the west and later south flank of the hill towards the beallach between Maol Chean-dearg and An Ruadh Stac. This path rises steadily and more or less gently towards Loch Coire an Ruadh Stac and further on to a small round lochan with whitish quartzite walls that nestles nicely between the two hills. Here we again met “our” mountain biker who had embarked on the trip back to the car.
At the 590m beallach we had our second break of the walk and ate sandwiches basking in the sunshine. We left our rucksacks at the beallach and started the stiff climb up the steep 150m of the ridge consisting of quartzite and quartzite scree. From my memory I knew that a more level section would follow that also has a lot of quartzite slabs standing upright due to folding. Here snow covered the ground in some spots.
Then the terrain became grassy underfoot for a few hundred metres before the final steep … [Read More]