Monday, 8 July 2013

Beinn na h-Imeilte

Beinn na h-Imeilte is an elongated ridge which runs from the Sanna road northwestwards for about 2.5km - see map at bottom of post.  We've walked this ridge before but yesterday, with the prospect of a fine and warm day, we did it again so we could enjoy the wonderful views it offers.  This picture was taken early in the walk as we struggled up the first slope: we've not been in the hills recently and our fitness has suffered.  The hill in the middle ground is Meall Sanna, and the distant island is Muck.

As we climbed, the first township came in to view.  Achnaha lies in the centre of the Ardnamurchan volcanic complex.  The hills that surround it, of which Beinn na h-Imeilte forms the southwestern part, are caused by the outcrop of hard gabbroic rocks.  Beyond Achnaha is the northern part of the ring, the highest point being Meall Clach an Daraich.  To the right in the distance lies the Isle of Eigg and, almost lost in the mist to the left, the Isle of Rum.

Looking down to our left we could see the Sonachan Hotel and, on the opposite side of the road, West Ardnamurchan's Community Garden.  By this time the walk was becoming hard work, not because the slopes were steep but because the ridge is one of those irritating features which is broken by gaps, so each time one reaches what appears to be the top of hill, there's a drop, and another slope to climb.

Nearing the summit, we looked down on the tiny township of Achosnich, where the road out to Ardnamurchan Point lighthouse branches off from the Portuairk road.  The hill rising beyond it is Beinn Bhuidhe.

As we staggered the last few steps to the summit we could see Portuairk, a lovely little seaside township with sheltered bay and wonderful beaches for children.  Portuairk is reputed to be the centre of the known universe.  Beyond it can be seen one of several yachts which were rounding Ardnamurchan Point.

After a climb which had some resemblance to walking a switchback railway, we finally reached the summit and added another rock to the cairn.  We had no intention of returning to the Sanna road by the same route, so decided to drop down the northeast, Achnaha, side of ridge.

We didn't come down the vertical face, but even a less precipitate route was a challenge.  The rock-strewn slope was deep in heather, which made the going difficult but the journey rewarding, as heather plays host to a huge variety of species - butterflies, dragonflies, red deer, and a host of plants.  We then walked back to the road along a much more gentle ridge called Sithean Mor.

An interactive version of this map is here.

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