blowing the cobwebs away on beinn na cro

Mon, Jan 16, 2012

Back to the usual west coast winters then. No snow just lots of cold rain. Just before Christmas the hills were looking alpine with not a lot of rock showing through the thick layer of snow that stretched from sea level to summit but in contrast to the last two winters, all the snow has now gone and the Atlantic has delivered a succession of cold rain from its mid ocean cupboard. But the high rocks are iced up although there’s no snow and not being in the mood for carrying axe or crampons I headed past Torrin intending to go up An Stac next to Blaven, which had its head in the clouds. Just as I drove past the head of Loch Slapin the sun came out and lit up the gabbro boulders high on the ridge of Beinn na Cro just above me so on the other side of the bridge I did a u-turn and before I knew it I was booted up and making for those irresistible heights.

Beinn na Cro

Beinn na Cro means hill of the enclosure, such as a sheep pen but it also has links with witchcraft. Perhaps it’s the hogwarty ground around Torrin which is limestone and full of little caves and mysteriously green rocks.

Just past the top of the fence I stopped to watch a couple of ravens playing above me, drawing their wings into an arrowhead muscly pose and diving low over the hillside and their antics drew my eye to the crags on the other side of the face. So rather than plod up the ridge I followed the ravens up the rocks and had some nippy moves on soaking slippy basalt. A fine detour I must say, thank you ravens!

Blaven and Sgurr nan Each from Beinn na Cro

It’s a wonderfully open and gradually ascending route with Blaven and her outliers on one side, the glacially sculpted sides of Beinn Dearg Mhor on the other while behind is Loch Slapin leading out to the Minch and the open Atlantic.

Looking down Loch Slapin from Beinn na Cro

There was a rather stiff and cold wind blowing at the top where the ridge is only a few feet wide with continuously steep slopes on either side all the way down to the glacial glens that give the hill its distinctive shape, so I clung to the face out of the wind and chowed down for a bit. Then it was back over the summit and straight down the scree, heather and rocks to the An Slugan path that would take me back to Torrin.

Summit of Beinn na Cro

At one point on the path the burn runs under it in a limestone cave where green algae carpets the rocks below the water line and two ancient silver birches stand above the dank green furry depths of the cave. It’s a wonderful spot where I had a bite to eat, sheltered from the cold wind and warmed by the late afternoon sun.

Beinn na Cro from the Torrin path

Then off down to Torrin and back along the shore road to the car. I was hoping for a coffee at the Blue Shed Cafe, which does really nice coffee and cakes but it was closed for the winter. However the sign outside said it was opening weekends from February. It’s a superb place to relax after a day on Blaven, with its outside seats and wonderful cuisine. Thoroughly recommended.

On the Torrin road

Very peaceful walk along the shore road with no traffic at all just about and some sheep were having a lock-in with a huge mound of turnips in an enclosure. What a wonderful day out.

You can see all the pics here.

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