The highest peak north of the A835 road to Ullapool, Beinn Dearg is big and complex, with some impressive cliffs and corries. Its smaller neighbour Cona' Mheall looks its best from said road, with the craggy south ridge seen end-on from around Loch Glascarnoch. Probably most often climbed in a four-Munro day from Inverlael, the pair make arguably a more satisfying challenge when done from the south, a circuit that allows for an ascent of Cona' Mheall's ridge. This lovely low-end scramble in a wild setting is worth the bog fest on the approach. You probably won't have much company on this round, and that's part of the appeal.
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Distance: 9.76 miles (15.70 km)
Total ascent: 1,190m
Time: 7 – 8 hours (Walking)
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Car park south off the road, at the west end of Loch Droma near the farm buildings at Lochdrum, NH253755
The lower ground is invariably boggy, and much of the route pathless. With some brief grade 1 scrambling by the easiest line, and options to make things harder, the steep ascent onto Cona' Mheall's south ridge takes some route finding ability. The ridge above is a delightful airy walk with short hands-on sections. Straightforward hill paths from Cona' Mheall to Beinn Dearg, but the descent of the latter's south ridge puts you back on rough and little-trodden ground. In wet weather the double crossing of the Allt a' Ghabhrain needs care, and at times it may be impassable.
A big walk for brief winter days, but with a bit of navigation the long approach and return would be very do-able in the dark. Cona' Mheall's south ridge is a grade I winter mountaineering route.
Weather and Hill Conditions: mwis: Northwest Highlands – Met Office: West Highlands
The start is on the bus route from Inverness to Ullapool
This route gets a brief mention in The Munros (SMC)
OS Explorer 436 (1:25,000), OS Landranger 20 (1:50,000) Directory Listings:
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Ullapool (0845 22 55 121)
by Dan Bailey UKH