So what to do on day two? Why, of course it just had to be to Cona’ Mheall, though this time from the west, the commonly used route in conjunction with Beinn Dearg. Whilst 980m/3215ft Cona’ Mheall is part of the Beinn Dearg group of hills, it occupies only a small triangular area. The name means adjoining hill, an apt description as it is really a north-east top of the higher and bulkier Beinn Dearg.
Admittedly, this approach fails to reveal Cona’ Mheall’s grandeur, best observed from Am Faochagach and best approached from delightful Loch Prille by way of a rocky, narrow ridge that soars to a graceful conical point; an easy 400m scramble on a summer’s day. Nevertheless, an approach from the west, starting from Inverlael on the A835, leads via a stalkers’ path to a 852m high lochan-studded rocky amphitheatre, especially dramatic under snow, nestling between Beinn Dearg to the SSW, Cona’ Mheall to the ESE and a third Munro, Meall nan Ceapraichean, to the north-west. From this hub, gentle slopes lead to the narrow rocky summit of Cona’ Mheall.
On a wintry May day after a fall of deep fresh snow, an approach from the hub was the safest option. All other sides of the hill have crags, below which slopes fall sharply to an intricate drainage system flowing through lochs Tuath, Prille, na Still, Coire Lair and a’Gharbhrain and so to Loch Glascarnoch – truly the land of mountain and flood.
The new off-road car park at Inverlael, replacing the limited parking space of old, was created by the Forestry Commission and it was there that I heard my first cuckoo of the year, and again on entering Gleann na Sguaib, a common haunt.
Map Ordnance Survey map 20, Beinn Dearg & Loch Broom
Distance 7 miles
Terrain Track, stalkers’ path to rocky amphitheatre then easy slopes
Start point Inverlael car park off the A835, map ref 182853
Time 6 to 7 hours
Nearest town Ullapool
Recommended refreshment spot The Ceilidh Place, Ullapool
MAP REFS FOR GRAPHICS
Glensguaib ruin 205853
Clear forest 214850
End of path 262820
SE to 265818
Flatter area 269818
Cona` Mheall 275816