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Solo Corbett bagging: Beinn Liath Mhòr a’ Ghiubhais Li

Written by Fiona

December 29 2021

With only a half day spare one Sunday, I chose the long-named Corbett, Beinn Liath Mhòr a’ Ghiubhais Li, above Loch Glascarnoch, for a solo walk. The translation of the hill name is “the big grey hill of the colourful pine”, although the pine that were once here are no longer.

There was a time when I would not have walked on my own due to a lack of confidence. Sadly, a former parter told me I was ”navigationally challenged” – and, for some reason, I believed him. In the end, I learned to read a map and took myself to task.

Walking in the mountains without the ability to read a map and use a compass is foolish, in my opinion. Even if you are with others, anything could happen and you might find yourself stranded or requiring to Get back to base to raise an alarm.

I love walking with other people but every so often I like to test my solo walking skills. The walk to the summit of Beinn Liath Mhòr a’ Ghiubhais Li proved to be a great outing.

At the start, a Land Rover track winds uphill via a new plantation of Scots pines.

Mist and a bearing

While so many people had been enjoyed great views, especially due to temperature inversions, on a weekend in mid-decemebr, I ended up spending a lot of time walking in the mist on Beinn Liath Mhòr a’ Ghiubhais Li.

I had been hoping to break through the cloud at some point but for this didn’t happen. However, the misty walk provided the perfect opportunity to navigate by map and compass alone.

I always have a suggested walk route on my OS Map app, but I also carry a map and compass. The route appeared fairly straightforward and, in clearer conditions, it would have been easy enough to head in approximately the right direction. It is so much easier to navigate by sight when you can see ahead.

On this occasion, and FROM around 400m altitude, I could see nothing more than cloud ahead. So, I stopped, worked out where I was and set a compass bearing to the summit. It is satisfying to know that you can read a map, work out a bearing and then have the confidence to follow it.

Since it wasn’t a hugely complicated walk, the one bearing was almost entirely sufficient to reach the summit. However, I stopped several more times to recheck I had the right bearing and also to ensure I was still walking in the right direction.

I made it to the summit without any problems. There was no view, of course, but I felt a huge sense of satisfaction at reaching my 68th Corbett peak thanks to my own skills.

The return was on the same route and, again, I followed a bearing. It surprised me how easy it was to veer off the straight line – it makes me admire the longest straight line walk all the more – but because I was careful to check my position and direction, I made it back to lower ground, where I could see further into the distance, with little issue.

Solo walking and mental health

As I walked, I enjoyed the peace of the mountain. I met no one else and I was surrounded by a rugged landscape of moorland and Scots pine trees.

I am usually with other people, or busying myself with work or general life stuff, so a chance to spend several hours on my own and in my own thoughts felt wonderful.

I started by thinking through a few work and life issues and then I moved on to considering new goals. I had an interview for a hoped-for place on a Humanist celebrant training course two days’ later and I spent time thinking about what Humanism means to me – and what I might be asked at the interview.

For some of the time, I let my brain rest and thought of nothing other than what I could see around me, as well as the route I was taking.

I returned to my vehicle feeling empowered and satisfied. The boosted self-confidence and sense of well being that comes from walking solo amid a wonderfully wild Scottish landscape is hard to describe. I’d recommend it to everyone.

Peat hags.

Route details: Beinn Liath Mhòr a’ Ghiubhais Li

Distance: 9.5km

Summit height: 768m

Total elevation: 619m.

There is an obvious track from the roadside. It winds up through young Scots pine trees. Stay on this track until you reach a gap in a deer fence. From here, I could see only bits and pieces of trods. The general direction is south-easterly and uphill.

There is a section of peat hags to negotiate although thanks to low temperatures these were frozen and much easier to get through than would be the case in warmer weather. I returned the same way, however if the weather had been different I might have followed a circular route as detailed on Walk Highlands.

Routes: OS Map and Strava.

Corbetts bagged: 68

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