Hills: An Ruadh Stac and Maol Chean Dearg
Date: Saturday 22nd August 2009
Company: Myself and Steve
Time: 8 Hours 05Mins

After a 05:30 rendezvous in Keith this morning, we set off towards Inverness with a few potential hill ‘cocktails’ in mind. On reaching Achnashellach we opted for the combination of An Ruadh Stac (Corbett) and Maol Chean Dearg (Munro). We parked at Coulags bridge, at the gate beside the Right of Way to Torridon. There is room here for several cars. A midge attack prompted us to get booted and suited as quickly as possible and moving on our way alongside the Fionn-abhainn.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

View towards Meall nan Ceapairean from near Coulags:

After a couple of kilometres, and a near mishap crossing the Alltan Odhar, we crossed the wooden bridge over the Fionn-abhainn.

Steve crossing the Fionn-abhainn:

We continued along the path on the left bank of the Fionn-abhainn until reaching the Coire fionnaraich bothy.

Coire fionnaraich bothy:

After a quick look round the bothy we were on our way and soon passed the Clach nan Con-fionn (the Stone of Fingal’s dogs).

Clach nan Con-fionn:

Looking back towards Fuar Tholl:

Another 0.5km on and we took a West fork leading up between An Ruadh Stac and Maol Chean Dearg. During the ascent to the bealach we were undecided as to whether to tackle the Munro or the Corbett first. We opted to do the Corbett first - hoping that the weather would improve as the day went on and provide us with good views of the Torridon hills from Maol Chean Dearg later in the day. An Ruadh Stac is pretty-much hidden from view until reaching the bealach. An Ruadh Stac has to be one of the most impressive Corbetts. From a distance it looks “challenging”. Thankfully though the ascent was reasonably straight-forward.

An Ruadh Stac:

Approaching An Ruadh Stac:

The slabs in the lower section are made of quartzite which is not the grippiest of rocks. While the slabs are straight-forward in dry conditions, I wouldn’t fancy ascending or descending them in the wet.

Looking down towards bealach from An Ruadh Stac:

After passing the slabs, the middle-section is quite easy. The final section, involves a few bits of ‘hands-on’ but nothing more than easy scrambling.

Myself ascending An Ruadh Stac (Photo by Steve):

Steve on An Ruadh Stac:

Maol Chean Dearg from An Ruadh Stac:

Final easy section towards summit of An Ruadh Stac:

On reaching the summit, we stayed long enough to take a few photos and were then on our way.

Myself at summit of An Ruadh Stac:

We both found the descent to be easier than expected.

Steve descending An Ruadh Stac:

We returned to the bealach and then started the ascent of Maol Chean Dearg up a badly eroded path of quartzite.

An Ruadh Stac from Maol Chean Dearg:

Beinn Bhan, Applecross from Maol Chean Dearg:

During the ascent of Maol Chean Dearg the rock changes from grey quartzite to red Torridonian sandstone. The final ascent to the summit involves quite a bit of boulder-hopping.

Ascending Maol Chean Dearg:

The conditions did improve as we ascended Maol Chean Dearg providing us with fine views of the surrounding hills.

Enjoying the views (Photo by Steve):

Beinn Damh:

Beinn Alligan:


Beinn Eighe:

Beinn Liath Mhor and Sgorr Ruadh:

Beinn na h-Eaglaise (and Torridon):

We spent around 15 minutes at the summit enjoying the views.

Myself on summit cairn of Maol Chean Dearg:

Steve on summit cairn of Maol Chean Dearg:

Rather than return to the bealach, we decided to descend Northwards down a scree slope.

Scree descent from Maol Chean Dearg:

On reaching the path we followed it back out to Coulags. During the walk-out I stopped briefly to take a photo of a Peacock butterfly.

Peacock butterfly:

Looking back from Coulags:

These two hills make a great combination.
An Ruadh Stac is a fantastic Corbett which is well worth doing along with Maol Chean Dearg.