Meallan a' Chuail and Beinn Leoid from the stalkers path

Beinn Leoid and neighbours from Loch Merkland

Hillwalking route up Beinn Leoid, Meallan a' Chuail and Meall an Fheur Loch

Heading in from the roadside by the forestry plantations just west of Loch Merkland, this route takes advantage of fine stalker's paths to bag Beinn Leoid and its neighbouring Grahams Meallan a' Chuail and Meall an Fheur Loch



Route outline


  Map base ©OpenStreetMap
Corbetts

Beinn Leoid

Ascent 1175m (3850ft)
Distance 17km (11m)
Time 6:10hr
Start/finish Kinloch Brae
Grid Ref : NC357334
Terrain
easy hard
Nav
easy hard
Effort
easy hard
Scenery
ok fab


Some stunning views to be taken in while hiking up this rugged route over the Corbett Beinn Leoid and neighbouring Grahams Meallan a' Chuail and Meall an Fheur Loch.

Stalker's path access into the wild area from the north-east by Loch Merkland, thereafter terrain can be rough and pathless presenting navigation challenges.



Route map




Route description


1. Getting to Loch Merkland

Stalkers path near West Merkland

North of Lairg the A838 follows the eastern shore of Loch Shin through a vast land of moor and forestry. At the northern end of Loch Shin the road wynds further and around Loch Merkland before aiming for more dramatic countryside.

The starting point for this route is on the A838, just over 1km west of the northern tip of Loch Merkland, where a small wooden bridge can be seen crossing the Allt Cean Locha.

There is a small parking area with sufficient space for 3 or 4 cars just to the east of the bridge.


2. Beinn Leoid via Loch Dubh

Beinn Leoid above Loch Dubh

From the roadside, what appears a faint stalkers path makes a route through felled forestry southwards up a hillside ahead. Once over the footbridge the path quickly becomes less overgrown and transforms into a well constructed path as it twists and turns climbing steeply uphill.

A fair height above the forestry, the gradient begins to ease and at the 450m contour, ground levels out with Meallan a' Chuail and Beinn Leoid appearing distant ahead. Some soggy undulating ground is crossed and the path ends abruptly by a small cairn .

From the cairn, turn southwards and hike over undulating grass covered terrain to reach the foot of Meallan a'Chuail's northern crest .

Start to head south-west, contouring around Meallan a'Chuail north-west aspect and lose a little height. The terrain is fairly rough, but after around 1km of crossing heather, grass and peat another stalkers path is joined. This stalker's path leads up to the wide, flat bealach between Meallan a'Chuail and Beinn Leoid.

Once onto the col, the ground underfoot becomes more gentle and a faint occasional path can be detected aiming up Beinn Leoid's eastern shoulder. The ground rises and a small cairn is found denoting there's only 1km further to reach Beinn Leoid's summit. Higher up boulderfields begin to appear, though they never hinder progress much and the summit with its trig point sheltering behind a small dyke is finally gained.

Views are quite outstanding !


3. Meallan a' Chuaill

Meallan a' Chuail from the cairn on Beinn Leoid

From Beinn Leoid's summit, about turn and retrace your steps pass the cairn to the bealach .

Meallan a' Chuail is directly ahead, it's summit a direct and mere 200m climb up its western shoulder.

Begin to hike up grassy slopes and around halfway up the hillside , try to aim slightly south of a direct line to the summit - this will keep on a route avoiding sections of boulderfields and rocks that would otherwise require negotiating.

A tiny cairn obscured by grass rests on Meallan a' Chuail's summit , from where views are superb, with a particularly fine aspect of Ben More Assynt and Convial being given.


4. Meall an Fheur Loch

Meall an Fheur Loch from Meallan a' Chuail with Ben Hope and Ben Loyal beyond

From Meallan a'Chuail's summit turn northwards and pick up a faint path. Alas, the path doesn't last and ends in some bouldery ground. Picking a route over the rocks, aim north-east and drop to a delightful grass covered crest.

On my first visit to bag these hills, weather was pretty dreich and I baled out at around the 500m contour by continuing northwards to re-join the stalker's track by the cairn .

If weather is fine (which it was for me on subsequent visits), from the 500m contour, turn east and drop down over heather and grass, picking up the occasional deer-trod, to meet with the outflowing burn from Loch Cul a' Mhill.

The climb up Meall an Fheur Loch is a straightforward hike up a gentle grassy slope and onto a wide flat plateau, where a cairn marks the highest point .

Fine views from here, especially to Ben Hope and Ben Loyal.


5. Return

Summit cairn on Meall an Fheur Loch looking back to Meallan a' Chuail and Beinn Leoid

By Meall an Fheur Loch's summit cairn, turn and aim north-east, then hike over the wide crest for around 500m or so. Further on ground gets rougher as a route is made downhill through thickening heather.

The stalker's path hiked up earlier in the day is met, from where a simple retrace of your route is made back to the forestry by Loch Merkland.





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