Mountain writers tend to be a bit disparaging when it comes to Fionn Bheinn – “undistinguished”, “unexciting” and “uninspiring” are some of the rather negative adjectives used.
I think this is unfair. Admittedly, the short ascent is a wade through a bog then a slog up grassy slopes, but the reward is a truly incredible view – easily one of the most stunning in not just the north-west Highlands but the whole of Scotland.
Fionn Bheinn can be climbed in four hours in summer conditions – a perfect half-day for those planning a weekend walking in Torridon, after all you drive through Achnasheen, on the A832, as you head west.
A brief stop, in clear weather, to ascend Fionn Bheinn will reveal the hills that await in the days to come – it’s an awe-inspiring sight.
West, the Torridon giants soar from flat sea-level plains. There’s Liathach, then the grey-white monster of Beinn Eighe and, further north, the unmistakable outline of Slioch. If these are your targets in coming days, it’s a sight that’s sure to quicken the pulse.
As your eyes continue to trace an arc north they’ll find Loch Fada, before alighting on the jumble of peaks of the Fisherfield Forest – the most remote of Scotland’s Munros.
The 360-degree panorama continues to your north and west where the rest of the Fannaich mountains lie, beyond Loch Fannich. It’s quite a view, and one that reveals itself suddenly, taking you by surprise as you approach the summit from Creagan nan Laogh, especially as for the previous hour or so you’ve been staring at the grass slope in front of you or stumbling through a wet, tussocky marshland.
Leading to Fionn Bheinn’s summit is a nice ridge, riven on the north side by two big corries. It’s another fine feature, and one totally unsuspected from the roadside at Achnasheen.
Mountain’s dark future predicted by prophet
The Highland seer Kenneth Mackenzie predicted “the day will come when a raven, attired in plaid and bonnet, will drink his fill of human blood on Fionn-bheinn, three times a day, for three successive days”. It hasn’t happened… yet.
Mackenzie, the Brahan Seer, was born at the beginning of the 17th Century. His gift of second sight was thanks to a blue stone with a hole in its centre, through which he claimed to see the future. It’s said to have been given to his mother by the ghost of a Norwegian princess. Among events he’s said to have foretold are the Clearances and Culloden.
Mackenzie was put to death by Lady Seaforth, who had him burned as a witch in a tar barrel with metal spikes driven through its sides.
Pronunciation: Fee-on Ven
Meaning: white hill
Height: 933m (3061ft)
OS Landranger Map: 20 & 25
Summit grid ref: NH147621 (trig point)
Nearest town: Achnasheen is 5km (3 miles) south of the summit. Facilities are very limited. There is a railway station and 1.6km (1 mile) west is the Ledgowan Hotel.
The hamlet does have public toilets where you can get changed.
Head back to the main road from the car park in the centre of Achnasheen.
At the telephone box, take the old road over the bridge and turn right, through a gate on a track that takes you to a water treatment works.
The traditional path climbs steeply up open hillside on the right bank of the Allt Achadh na Sine. However, on the left bank a service track to a hydro dam further up the river has been bulldozed up the hillside. It’s not the prettiest of routes, but the zig-zags make for a very easy ascent.
From the dam, head across very boggy ground to the nose of Creagan an Laoigh. From the small cairn here, head north across a dip before climbing to the ridge that leads to Fionn Bheinn’s summit just over 1km (0.6 miles) away. The going is much more pleasant than the bog below – mostly on short grass and moss.
Once you’ve finished admiring the views, retrace your steps for a few hundred metres before heading south to skirt Cregan an Laogh on the way back to the dam. Then retrace your steps to Achnasheen.
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