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Evening Corbett: Bac an Eich, Strathconon

Written by Fiona

January 11 2022

A festive streak of Corbetts culminated on January 3 with an evening walk on Bac an Eich, Strathconon. While I hiked my first Corbett of the day, friends, including Jamie, her partner Andy, Jenn and Rob, plus Rupert the dog, summitted their third Corbett of the day.

There is the option to complete a circuit to reach the 849m summit but with daylight running out, even as we met on the remote single track tarmac road in Strathconon, we decided to walk an out-and-back route.

We found a safe place to park off the road just north of Inverchoran. The route headed south-west along Gleann Chorainn, before taking a turn to the north, heading as directly as we could for the summit of Bac an Eich.

The strange tale of a horse

A few things happened that were not expected. First, a horse in field just after the start gave us more concern than I have ever experienced with an animal. I have previously encountered restless and aggressive cows hut never before has a horse been a harassment.

We did have a dog with us but he was on a lead. To begin with, we thought it was the dog that was causing the horse to follow us with a great deal more enthusiasm (aggression?) than we were keen on. But then the horse kept pushing towards us humans, especially Jamie.

We were are all rather spooked but tried to stay calm. We talked gently to the horse, tried to walk on while ignoring it and generally hoped that it would stop trying to head butt us and slightly rearing up.

In the end, the horse backed off but not before we were all a bit shaken.

A difficult river to cross

A river winds through Gleann Chorainn. The track we were following crossed the river numerous times. However, because the water level was high we really struggled to find a safe place to make our crossing.

Instead, we kept walking along the south/east bank of the winding river. Every time one of us spotted a potential place to cross, just up ahead, we’d arrive to find the water was too deep, flowing too fast or there were not enough rocks for a dry footed passage.

Of course, we discussed whether to just walk through the water or take off your footwear for a cold bare foot crossing. But then we kept on walking.

Eventually, as is often the case, we found a suitable place to make a try at a crossing. There was still quite a leap from the last rock to the other bank but we all made it safely and without wet feet.

On the return route, we stayed to the north side of the river. Again, we came across many places where we could have forded the winding river if the water level had been lower.

We did make a few crossings but because we were coming to the end of the walk, none of us seemed to mind the likelihood for wet feet. We were happier to take more chances with stepping into the river.

Track to heather and snow

The first part of the walk through the glen mostly followed a track and trods alongside the river. Once we reached a height of about 450m at the head of the glen, we turned up on to a rougher terrain of heather, bog and snow.

It was much harder to keep to a trod, although I have no doubt that in summer you would be more successful at following more trods.

We simply walked uphill, aiming generally north for the summit. It was steep in places and also fairly challenging due to the gradient and the heather and snow.

I was on relatively fresh legs so I have no idea how it felt for the others who had already walked the other two Corbetts. The higher we climbed the colder it became and the wind picked up.

I was grateful to have extra layers to put on plus my heated mittens. My hands suffer badly in cold conditions and I have been very happy to have these mittens on many winter walks and skis.

As we ascended, we enjoyed some beautiful sunset views over our shoulder.

We made it to the 849m top just as the light was disappearing. It was very cold at the summit with the wind whipping around us and any warmth of the daylight – plus our body heat from the climb – disappearing quickly.

A route plan for the descent

There was some discussion at the summit about how to descend. There was an option to drop more directly from the summit back to the glen, or simply follow a similar route to the one we’d chosen for the ascent.

The vote was for the latter – and so we turned around and made the descent, but this time by using our head torches to light the way.

I enjoy a night run or walk and it always feels quite magical. The snow only added to my joy. Plus we were on the return and going downhill, which is always a great feeling.

As we walked, we chatted and generally seemed to be in high spirits. Thankfully, the horse didn’t bother us on the return.

It had been a great period of mountain walking for me – and the others, too.

Good winter days in Scotland are the stuff of brilliant memories.

Details: Bac an Eich

The distance of the return route was more than 16km with a total ascent of around 1025m. See Strava and OS Maps for our route.

Corbetts bagged: 74.

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