Wednesday 12 August 2020

On Beinn Bhan of Applecross


A recent trip west produced a wonderful camp, awful midges, tough boggy walking, brilliant views, spectacular rock scenery, and an early return home due to a forecast for thunderstorms.

Beinn Bhan on the Applecross peninsula is one of the most impressive Torridonian sandstone hills with its series of magnificent corries and some of the biggest and steepest cliffs yet because it doesn’t reach the magic Munro figure (by all of nineteen metres) its not very frequented, as can be seen by the lack of paths. 

I’d wanted to camp in one of the corries ever since my first visit and with a good weather forecast and a desire to roam a bit further than the Cairngorms this seemed the time. A drive across the country revealed no roadside tents and only a few campervans and I wondered just how localised the much-publicised problems actually are.

A good path, the only one of the trip, led away from the road for a few kilometres. I left it for a sketchy narrow path to Lochan Coire na Poite, situated between the towering rock faces called A’Phoit and A’Chioch. Here I wanted to camp. It is not an ideal place, however. Most of the terrain is boggy and tussocky. It took a fair bit of searching to find a fairly dry spot atop one of the many knolls around the lochan and once I stopped to pitch the tent clouds of midges rose up. As fast as possible I was inside, doors zipped shut and a mosquito coil burning. 

Heat woke me. In sunshine a closed nylon tent becomes a hothouse very quickly. I unzipped the doors and looked out. The sun had just climbed above a bank of cloud on the eastern horizon. The lochan sparkled in the early light. There were only a few midges. Quickly dressed I was soon outside, wandering round the loch, gazing at the water and the cliffs and taking photographs. Breakfast could wait.


By the time I set off thin clouds were slipping across the sky. The ascent up steep, boggy slopes laced with little crags was tough in the heat. There was no path and the rough terrain meant maintaining a rhythm was impossible. But the views to the Torridon hills behind me were wonderful and a justification for many stops. 


Finally, the angle eased, and I was on the long ridge of Beinn Bhan, which stretches some six kilometres. Suddenly the walking was easy. Out across the sea the ragged silhouette of the Cuillin Ridge on the Isle of Skye came into view. I followed the rim of the corries round to the summit of Beinn Bhan, staring down into the depths and marvelling at the vast stratified cliffs. 


The descent was less steep than the ascent but still tough due to the rough boggy terrain and fierce heat. I found traces of a path that came and went. In the distance four figures were descending ahead of me, the only people I saw all day.


I had planned on a second night out and another ascent but a forecast for thunderstorms had been at the back of my mind all day. After my experiences in the Colorado Rockies a year earlier I really didn’t want to be in the mountains in a thunderstorm if it could be avoided. I certainly wasn’t going to risk a high camp. But a low, sheltered one would mean midges and a thunderstorm could still be worrying. Home, I decided. I’d had a superb camp and a superb walk. It was enough.



  1. Great photos of a cracking area Chris. I'm surprised you didn't camp on the wee beach at the loch but then maybe the water level was too high. That was my plan last autumn but stormy weather prompted a relocation to the camp site at Sheildaig 😊

  2. The wee beach didn't look that appealing! There was just room for the tent. I thought if I camped above the water there might be a breeze and fewer midges. Not so!

  3. Hi Chris. Is that the new flex capacitor you were using on this walk? Would you rate it over the previous version? It's on my list of options for a trip next summer.

    1. Hi Andrew, that is the new Flex Capacitor. It's actually not much different to the original. There's a second mesh shoulder strap pocket, the hydration pack can be hung on the back as a mesh pocket,two hipbelt sizes rather than four, and a choice of black or white rather than grey.

    2. Thanks - it doesn't look too different in the photos online. How do you feel it performs compared to a more traditional design such as the Mariposa or the Osprey Exos, given the "novel" zip top. It's always a struggle trying to get a feel for a new pack when nowhere north of Hadrian's Wall seems to stock them...

  4. It requires packing a little differently of course but I soon got used to that. Overall I like it. I used it on a month long walk in the Colorado Rockies a year ago and was happy with it. Have you read my review?