After the unexpected bonus of a fine climb of Ben Vane the previous day, the forecast for the remainder of the week was still looking grim. MWIS was holding out some hope of a brief respite during the middle of the day. So I suggested to Ciaran that we tackle the Innses – Cruach Innse and Sgurr Innse – which are visible from Caroline’s house in Spean Bridge.
It should prove a relatively short day and we could easily bail out should the weather not improve. After Ciaran’s first Munro on Ben Vane, I would now introduce him to the world of Corbetts!
It was about a three minute drive to Coirechoille where a track turns south and we bumped our way up to the end near the gate where the forest begins. This is a private track but there is no objection to using it. There was already a car parked at the end when we arrived.
The weather remained unpromising and there was drizzle in the air and the tops were covered. But we gritted our teeth and set off. The track continues all the way to the bothy at the Lairig Leacach. A lot of the forestry shown on the map has been felled. We passed the Wee Minister (of whom more anon) and would our way up. After a couple of kilometres at around the 400m contour we turned left off the track to begin the climb of Cruach Innse. The ground was sodden and boots were wet. I was glad I had decided to wear gaiters today. At first the wind was not that strong, but it increased as elevation was gained. And so did the water penetration from the persistent drizzle. Part way up I stopped for a quick snack and drink. Ciaran pressed on doggedly. It was decidedly unpleasant.
I caught him up just before the top. Here he is showing himself thrilled at my suggestion of being out on the hill.
Of course, we did not stay long on the top and continued on south. A path materialised that wound its way through the steeper ground and we were soon out of the cloud and down to the col between the two Corbetts. The cloud had begun to lift. This was the view ahead to Sgurr Innse, an altogether rockier prospect than Cruach Innse.
Even the much higher Stob Coire na Ceannain (at over 1,000m) was visible, plastered with snow.
Ciaran decided he had had enough at this point. Caroline had earlier suggested that, if we had the time and inclination, we might check out the bothy to ensure that it was OK and did not need cleaning out. She keeps an eye out for it for the MBA. So Ciaran said he would go to it. This was the view to where he was going.
I continued on. The path was cleat to the foot of the steepening and then it split into many different routes, demonstrating that most people made their own way up. The thighs were soon burning, but the weather was holding for the moment. So it looked as though I might have the summit clear. Indeed, I did.
Here was the view to Stob Ban, a Munro hidden behind the bulk of the Grey Corries and which stands over the Lairig Leacach with its bothy.
Perversely, Cruach Innse was now clear – perhaps we should have started an hour later!
The Easains to the east were also looking very wintry.
It was time to go. I made my way carefully down the steep and sometimes loose slopes. For a while I could see Ciaran on the track heading back to the car. He later said that he could see me on the summit. Ahead of him was another lone soul.
Once down to near the col, I could cut down left and make a slanting traverse down towards the track. I made quick progress to lose the 100m of elevation to gain the firmer ground of the track. It was then a further 4 kilometres back to the car.
Just before I got back, I stopped to say hello to The Wee Minister.
This is a wooden replica of a stone statue of a Free Church minister that used to stand hereabouts. This version was placed here in 2010. The stone incarnation was said to bring good luck to travellers. He had an outstretched hand and it was customary to place coins in it. Today there is just a collection box nearby for the local mountain rescue. There is more about him here.
Having bidden my farewell to him I was soon back to the car. And the sun was shining!