The two Corbetts, Beinn Bhan and Meall a’ Phùbuill are both accessed from the same minor road through Glen Loy. This is the road (B8004) that passes the Commando Memorial near Spean Bridge, just off the A82, and heads west, then south west along the glen.
It would be possible to walk both Corbetts in one outing but it would be a long day, probably best done with summer daylight on your side. Instead, my friend Rob and I decided to walk each Corbett on two consecutive days with a van overnight in between amid stunning autumnal colours.
Corbett Beinn Bhan, Glen Loy
Beinn Bhan proved to be a great shorter walk for Rob and I. We met late morning in Glen Loy and set off to complete the 9km route during the early afternoon. The weather was one of those bright and beautiful autumnal days.
We parked in a layby just off the A8004 and before Inverskilavulin Bridge. On foot, we crossed the road bridge and turned right following a sign for Inverskilavulin Lodges. Approaching a locked gate, we spotted an ATV track to the left of the fence and headed on to this. It was boggy to start with but we soon found ourselves on a steeper slope that was rough but less boggy.
Our aim was to follow broad nose of the southern side of the mountain. It was fairly relentlessly steep which meant we were quickly peeling off layers of clothing. There were bits and pieces of trod to follow but, mainly, the route was straight up the slope of Beinn Bhan until we reached a cairn at the west top at around 770m elevation.
From here, we tracked north and then east on to a high plateau of lovely springy grass. The gradient eased to a much gentler ascent and on clear trod. Of note, there was a long line of old fence posts. They looked to be made of cast iron and presumably dated to the Victorian era. The posts have long outlasted any fencing that was once installed to mark a boundary on this mountain.
Visibility was excellent and we enjoyed superb views of mountains all around. Around 2km along the plateau we reached the true summit cairn at 796m.
The panorama took in many snowy topped mountains, including the Ben Nevis in the distance to the south, plus beautiful Loch Arkaig and Loch Lochy below.
Our descent took us south-west, then south, off the summit with a gentle descent followed by a steeper decline. Again, the route was mostly pathless with bits and pieces of trod. We needed to check the map a few times to make sure we were heading in the right direction to return to Inverskilavulin.
We met only one other person, with a dog, on this remote Corbett.
The total elevation for this relatively short hike was 788m.
Day 2: Corbett Meall a’ Phubuill
The start of the walk of Meall a’ Phùbuill is further along the glen. After a van overnight – Rob and Storm in their van and me in my van – we drove one vehicle along to the end of public road at Achnanellan. There is very limited space for parking here so it is a good idea to car share.
The day had started with low cloud and as we drove along the glen we hoped the cloud would lift, or our hike would take us above the cloud line.
The walk heads off the end of the road and on to a wide track, passing through a big gate and then past a couple of houses. After going through another gate, Rob and I found ourselves in a wide glen with suddenly fabulous views and sunshine. Looking behind us, we could see cloud hanigng in the glen below and, up ahead, a bright blue sky.
The track passed below a woodland of spruce trees and then continued along the glen where it turned into a boggy path. The path crossed a burn beside an old drystone dyke before we swung uphill and on to a steep and rugged slope. Like the day before, the going was fairly relentless as we tracked north.
Our aim was the lower western end of a ridge line, Drum Gleann Laoigh. Although a tough hike uphill, the rewards were stunning views. Looking over our shoulders and back along the glen we were treated to a gorgeous vista of distant low cloud in the glen and autumn hues of moorland vegetation. We could also hear the roaring of several stags below and above us.
Rob and I often say how lucky we are to have such an impressive outdoors arena on our doorsteps and especially when the weather is fine.
Finally, we reached the ridge line, where we spotted a remarkable old stone wall that we followed westwards. The going eased to a much more gentle up and down as we continued to gradually climb to a high point of around 750m.
But this wasn’t high enough to qualify as our Corbett summit, which was around 2.5km further on and after a steeper descent and then another ascent. Meall a’ Phùbuill is 774m tall.
The views from the summit were wide ranging with Loch Eil below to the south and the Munro, Gulvain, rising impressviely to the northwest.
To return to the start, Rob and I headed back down to the bealach and instead of following the same route along the ridge, we hiked south-east down Coire nan Laogh.
Although it was satisfying to be on a descent route, the terrain was very rough and we spent around 3km contouring south and then south-east on pathless rugged mountain slope.
It was with great relief that we finally spotted an old track along the base of the glen. While the track was boggy and wet it soon became firmer and more obvious and we enjoyed the final stretch of the walk back to the parking spot. The total distance was 15km and the elevation was 825m.
Corbetts bagged: 136 & 137.