Corbett bagging: Ruadh-stac Beag
While walking with an old school friend, Kirstin, in Torridon to reach the summit of Meall a’Ghuibhais, I looked across the Beinn Eighe range and spotted another stunning peak that I ear-marked for day sometime soon.
Coincidentally, I ended up walking Ruadh-stac Beag with another old school friend Ben. We all attended Peebles High School in the 1980s and while we lost touch over some of the intervening decades, I am now firmly back in contact with Kirstin and Ben, as well as many other old school pals.
So, the last day of walking Corbetts with Ben during a recent visit to my new home near Inverness, saw me on Ruadh-stac Beag.
A brilliant Corbett: Ruadh-stac Beag
This is a stunning steep-side Corbett is close to the main Beinn Eighe ridge, although separate and with amazing views.
The route starts at the car park for Beinn Eighe Visitor Centre on the A832. It is free.
From a distance, the dome shape of Ruadh-stac Beag appears to be almost impossible to easily ascend. In fact, from the outset of the walk, as you approach from the east, the mountain looks to be too steep and covered in scree to envisage making it to the top.
But this is because the ascent slope is not visible until you have walked much further.
Having walked on an obvious trail for around 4km, the route then heads south between Ruadh-stac Beag and Creag Dhubh, to the south. Creag Dhubh is the northern top of the Beinn Eighe ridge.
Having climbed gently for the first part of the walk, the route then descends a little, before climbing again. This time the gradient is steeper but it feels like you will never reach a point where you can ascend the main slopes of Ruadh-stac Beag.
There are fewer trods to follow, although you can pick up bits and pieces, especially if you stick to the eastern side of the burn (stream). The way is reasonably obvious though because the aim is to reach a higher point below the souther steep slope of Ruadh-stac Beag.
All around, mountains rise steeply above. The Beinn Eighe Ridge really is a tremendous sight towering up and curving around to the south and west as you walk.
Finally, at the southern lower slopes of Ruadh-stac Beag, Ben and I spotted a route up steep scree. It is not an obvious path, but rather it’s possible to see a series of more worn rocks among the huge jumble.
Tentatively, we started the climb upwards. Many rocks moved or slid a little as we stepped on them and so we put some distance between each other. We were worried that one of us would knock a rock loose and send it down on to the person below.
Once on this slope, the route becomes more obvious and it was possible to weave and zig-zag between and around larger rocks.
Still, for someone who isn’t keen on heights, there were a few bits that felt slightly uncomfortable. I tried not to look down and instead focused on the slope in front of me or up ahead.
There were also a few bits where I needed to use my hands to help with balance.
Thankfully, this final push didn’t take too long. When a slope is steep and you are concentrating, the climbing metres always seem to fly by.
We reached a flatter top, which was still rocky. We needed to take care while walking north towards the summit itself. The views were breath-taking.
There was also a lovely breeze, which we welcomed. The weather was hot and sunny and unusually for Scotland it was brilliant to have a cool wind on the top of a mountain.
To return to the car park we followed almost the same route as for the outward journey. If you look at the map, you’ll see we cut the corner a bit to the south but I am not sure I’d recommend this. There was a lot of walking on very rough ground.
Finally we rejoined the well-made path and descended back to the start. This is a superb walk and wee worth saving for a day of great weather.
The Walk Highlands route is a good one to have a look at.
Corbett tally: 60.
- Note: It is possible to walk Ruadh-stac Beag with Meall a’Ghuibhais.