Cul Beag from the east Walking

One of the island-like peaks so characteristic of Assynt and Coigach, Cul Beag may lack the spiky cuteness of neighbouring Stac Pollaidh, or the impressive scale of nearby Cul Mor, but nevertheless it's a bold sandstone lump that stands very much on its own merits, with a summit view as grand as any. There are shorter ways up, but the approach from the east described here feels less abrupt.

A break in the clouds on Cul Beag  © Dan Bailey -
A break in the clouds on Cul Beag
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Detailed description

NC1849108102 From the A835 just south of Knockan Crag head west-northwest, crossing the line of the old road (possible alternative parking) to pick up a stalker's track. This curves downhill to the southern end of Lochan Fada. Beyond a small ford is a second larger burn crossing (wet feet a possibility in spate conditions - look for the stepping stones). Stay with the track for a further few hundred metres, then before it begins to descend towards Loch nan Ealachan, look out for a cairn marking the junction with a muddy footpath on the left.

NC1757408369 Take this path roughly west. Step over a wire fence and cross a boggy area, then follow your nose - and the occasional small cairn - towards Cul Beag, making a rising traverse across the rough southern flank of Creag Dubh. The ground underfoot can be very wet, and the path often indistinct.

NC1555308512 The huge lump of Meall Dearg rises due ahead, a satellite peak of Cul Beag. Steer left of its craggy northeast flank, following vague traces of path steeply uphill to the rocky twin summits.

NC1480108659 From the col between the tops descend west-northwest, passing a notch with a spectacular view across to Cul Mor before descending to Lochan Uaine, a shallow pool on the bealach immediately beneath Cul Beag's summit slopes. The final ascent is go-anywhere ground up a series of steep grassy terraces, with signs of previous footfall rather than a single well-defined path (the most obvious trail traversing north onto the hill's precipitous northeast face is best left to mountaineers with an exploratory bent). As you gain height it's worth trending right to join the final ridge leading to the cairn marking the summit.
The watery heart of Inverpolly from Cul Beag  © Dan Bailey -
The watery heart of Inverpolly from Cul Beag
© Dan Bailey -

NC1403408817 With steep ground dropping away to the north and west, the summit of Cul Beag is a fantastic viewpoint. Shorter, steeper descents are available, but most people will prefer to go back the way they came. If descending in poor visibility, make sure to bear right of the steeper ground on Meall Dearg's northeast flank. The return through the lower bogs is soggy, but quick.

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