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Corbett bagging: Winter walk of Beinn Loinne, Kintail

Written by Fiona

December 12 2023

While Beinne Loinne, a Corbett in the Kintail area of the Scottish Highlands, does not get a great write up on various walking websites, I enjoyed a superb day on the mountain recently. Walk Highlands calls it a “straightforward trudge” from Cluanie, although the website does recommend the fine views, particularly of the Glen Shiel mountains.

There is mention of boggy moorland, too, and few people like a walk on soggy ground. In fact, I chose this Corbett for a winter’s hike because I thought the boggy ground might be frozen. It was!

Winter’s hike: Beinn Loinne, Kintail

While many eastern areas of Scotland had, had a big dump of snow, the west remained relatively snow-free for early December. The mountain summits had a thin blanket of snow but, lower down the slopes, the ground was simply frost-covered.

Geraldine and I started our walk in a rough parking area off the A87, just before the Cluanie Inn. It’s the same parking area that walkers use for completing the more famous South Glen Shiel Ridge.

See my summer revisit of this ridge of seven Munros.

As we set out on foot, heading south and then south-east, the cloud was low and cold. We could see very little ahead or above us and we worried we might end up in the frozen fog for the entire day. Brilliantly, just a few kilometres on, we could see a few bits of blue sky breaking through the mist and, shortly afterwards, we rose to an elevation above the clouds.

Here and there along the side of the wide track, we spotted red deer – both hinds and stags – peering out at us while we peered at them.

The track is actually the old road from Cluanie to Tomdoun. The creation of the Loch Loyne dam caused the area to flood but until then the road formed the main route to Kyle of Lochalsh and Skye. It’s the A87 that does this now.

The old road climbed steadily over some 5kms until we reached almost the highest point. If you are walking the South Glen Shiel Ridge you would continue further on the track before heading west to start the climb of the first mountain.

Instead, our route headed east and directly on to moorland. This was where we realised the bog had been frozen solid. It was a huge bonus because we were able to more easily cross the ground that would normally be a soggy, boggy quagmire.

Our only obstacle was to avoid ground ice. Where there were bits and pieces of trod, water and then ice had formed, so it was better to walk off-trod.

We followed the route described by Walk Highlands and climbed easterly over several undulations before continuing south-easterly once we reached a higher plateau.

The views were superb in every direction and especially across to the South Glen Shiel Ridge and the summits of the so-called Brothers and Sisters of Kintail.

Read about my run-hike of the Kintail Brothers and Sisters.

Snow capped all the summits, while thick mist hung in the glens, creating a spectacular winter scenery. Above the clouds the sun was bright and we spotted a brocken spectre.

Geraldine and I saw only one other person, a man who had followed the same route as us. We passed him as he was climbing to the summit and we were descending.

To return to the roadside, we traced almost the same route and, once back on the track, we spotted dozens more deer. Their outlines against the misty background created a fabulous winterscape.

Eventually, we descended back into the mist and returned as speedily as we could to avoid becoming too chilly.

I recommend you do this Corbett after a period of dry weather or when the ground is frozen or snowy.

Route details: Beinn Loinne

Distance: 18km

Total elevation: 640m

Our route: OS Maps and Strava

Corbetts bagged: 139

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