Beinn Eighe East - Scrambling Link-up Walking

Composed almost entirely of scree, Beinn Eighe's accessible southern flank may look unpromising from a scrambling perspective; but the hard-to-get-at northern side is a different story, a series of impressive craggy corries with a real feeling of remoteness. Taking in a Corbett, and the easterly Munro of the range, this round also incorporates three scrambles to create a hands-on enchainment that's greater than the sum of its parts: the exciting Long Stroll Slab (grade 3) of Ruadh-stac Beag; the surprisingly good North Ridge (grade 2) of Spidean Coire nan Clach; and the shattered pinnacles of the Black Carls (grade 1).

The Fisherfield peaks from the upper section of the North Ridge  © Dan Bailey -
The Fisherfield peaks from the upper section of the North Ridge

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Detailed description

NH0196263003 Follow the nature reserve woodland trail southwest past some sculptures, then curving left parallel to the road. Cross first one, and then a second footbridge over the Allt Sguabaidh, and take the trail following the burn uphill, where the woods soon thin out. At a junction stay straight on, continuing beside the burn for a further 1.5km. Pass over an open moorland shoulder, then cross a series of burns at the head of the Doire Dharaich gorge - the footbridge marked on older OS maps is no more. Still easy underfoot, the path continues west-northwest, passing a small lochan to reach the stony bealach between Beinn Eighe and Meall a' Ghiubhais.

NG9847562526 At the high point of the bealach turn left off the main path. Vague traces of trail lead south, traversing the slope towards to the Toll Ban corrie. The Long Stroll Slab can be seen across the mouth of the corrie, an obvious 100m triangular inset slab at the northeast end of Ruadh-stac Beag. Cross the burn (may need care in spate) and climb steeply to the foot of the slab.
Long Stroll Slab - the grade 3 scramble zigzags to avoid the prominent overlap taken by the VDiff Long Stroll  © Dan Bailey -
Long Stroll Slab - the grade 3 scramble zigzags to avoid the prominent overlap taken by the VDiff Long Stroll
© Dan Bailey -

NG9767561775 Long Stroll Slab scramble (grade 3): Start at the lowest point of the slab and climb straight up to gain a small right-facing corner. Go up this, then its left 'arete', heading towards the big overlap that cuts across the crag. The main overlap is rock climbing ground; avoid it by bearing left and following slabs and ledges up to a half-height grass patch tucked into the far left corner of the slab. The rock directly above is quite blank, so instead follow a line of weakness up and right, crossing exposed slabs and little steps above the main overlap (don't fall) to reach easy ground at the top. Bearing left, scramble a short rock step then walk up rough ground to the broad summit of Ruadh-stac Beag.
Above the main overlap on the airy and brilliant Long Stroll Slab  © Dan Bailey -
Above the main overlap on the airy and brilliant Long Stroll Slab
© Dan Bailey -

NG9729961399 Go south over the summit plateau to the steep edge overlooking the Ruadh-stac Beag - Beinn Eighe col. The well-worn direct descent to the col is unfeasibly steep scree, so aim for the slightly easier-angled (if still unpleasantly rubbly) south spur. Once on the easy grass and slabs of the col, bear slightly right to pass idyllic Lochan Uaine. From the springs below the steep gable end of Spidean Coire nan Clach's north ridge, bear left up scree to broken slabs at the bottom of the rocky east flank of the ridge.

NG9697260163 North Ridge scramble (grade 2): Turn right to reach clean rock. To access the ridge itself, you've first got to climb this large area of quartzite slabs and corners. It's go-anywhere ground, and while the steeper steps are generally avoidable, some route finding savvy will be helpful. In general it's easier to the left, harder and more exposed towards the big drop on the right. Pass a tall cairn, climb some dubious rock, then squeeze through a little gap in an overlap. Easier slabby ground leads up to the rocky ridge crest. Almost pavement-level, the enjoyable upper ridge soon brings you to the summit of Spidean Coire nan Clach.

NG9661559786 Descend east and follow Beinn Eighe's rubbly main ridge, briefly narrow with some easy scrambling, before climbing to the peak of Sgurr Ban. Descend east around the edge of the mountain's shattered northern crags, then from a small col climb very steep scree, skirting the top of Sgurr nan Fhir Dhuibe's rickety columnar crags to reach its airy summit.
The Black Carls - easy but quite exciting  © Dan Bailey -
The Black Carls - easy but quite exciting
© Dan Bailey -

NG9816660030 Black Carls scramble (grade 1): Turning north, the ridge now breaks into a series of pinnacles, like gammy teeth in a giant jawbone - the Black Carls, or Bodaich Dubh. A direct descent into the first deep gap is off-putting, and most people instead go down a rotten little gully on the right (east) flank to reach an eroded path. Take the next pinnacle direct - exposed but not difficult - then either climb the remaining smaller pinnacles or avoid them on the right (east) flank. The rock throughout is loose, and requires some care. Beyond the Carls, a broad easy ridge leads to Creag Dhubh, the day's final summit.

NG9854460800 While the best-used path descends the east ridge, on this round it makes more sense to take the north ridge. A steep scree path zigzags down the upper crest. At about 675m a line of broken crags runs across the ridge, and to avoid meeting these directly the path briefly cuts hard right. Descend loose ground between outcrops, following signs of wear, to reach the slope below the crags. The going suddenly gets easier, and a long series of slabs leads downhill towards the approach path of stage 1. The trail tends to disappear, but if you keep heading on a line for distant Beinn a' Mhuinidh you should regain the main path at the fords above the Doire Dharaich.

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Further Routes

by Dan Bailey UKH

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