July 12th 2002

Beinn Tharsuinn can be clearly seen from both Alness and Invergordon. It is only 2270 feet high and is overlooked by most walkers. Most people looking for a local walk go up Cnoc Fyrish.

Beinn Tharsuin is the highest looking summit towards the right and back Beinn Tharsuinn is really 5 small summits – Torr Leathann, Beinn Tharsuinn, Sidhean a’ Choin Bhain, Cnoc a’ Mhadaidh and Cnoc an t-Sidhean Mor. The distance of this walk is about 12 miles and takes 4 1/2 hours. A very comfortable length.


It is an absolutely delightful walk starting at the forest gate above Ardross Mains farm. Bheinn Tharsuinn ahead

Not long into the walk an artificial loch is passed with stunning views across it.

There is a windfarm above Strath Mor across the valley. The view was much nicer before the windmills were constructed along with the horrific scar or track that leads up to them. The forest track keeps climbing and the smell of resin is strong on a warm day.

Leaving the artificial loch. Fyrish is the hill to the left.
At each fork in the track the right turn is taken. A lot of tree harvesting has been taking place. It is unsightly but new trees will soon take the place of those that have been felled. Near the top of the forest it looks like there was a fire at one time leaving strange dead trees – just their bones remain.

There is a gate here and its here I had a wee rest and something to eat. Here’s the gate and a strange dead tree beside it.

The strenuous work starts now going up Torr Leathann, the heather is deep, higher than your knees, but as you climb higher the views become amazing. The heather gets short near the top of Torr Leathann and the walking easy. There is a cairn on the top.

Looking across the valley, that’s the way back. Ben Wyvis is just showing over the shoulder.

Looking back towards the Cromarty Firth.

Looking towards Dornoch and East Sutherland.

Torr Leathann

The centre of the horse shoe

Getting towards the top of Torr Leathann

Looking back the way we’ve come. The artificial loch can just be seen. The view is towards Fyrish and Contullich !

Looking to the Soutars of Cromarty and the Moray coast beyond

At last the summit cairn on Torr Leathann You then head for Beinn Tharsuinn. A big problem on all these hills is the peat hags. They have to be climbed in and out of and the bottom can be very soft. If you like dry clean feet take care ! On the top of Beinn Tharsuinn is an Ordinance Survey triangulation cairn. These were used (and are used) for the accurate mapping of the UK. There are now views out to the west. I stopped and had my dinner here. Maybe a bit greedy and a bit early but I enjoyed it. Saves having to carry it !

Summit with the hills of the west showing far off

Looking to Alness in the centre and Invergordon to the left

Looking out the Cromarty Firth – Invergordon is in the centre After Beinn Tharsuinn you could go to Cnoc a’ Mhadaidh and round the horse-shoe but I went to Sidhean a’ Choin Bhain which is on a spur. The ground is very wet here and the peat hags really tiring. A bit of a shower passed me here but did not last. The views to the west kept getting better and better, and I got a bit excited seeing Suilven about 37 miles distant – the Sugar Loaf Mountain. It is above Lochinver in the West and is a stunning looking hill. It just rises straight out of a bog ! The cairn is beyond the summit with views down to Bonar Bridge.

The summit cairn and looking down to Bonar Bridge

Meall Mhor with Ben Wyvis much higher

Carn Chuinneag is about centre

Suilven with the double summit is in the centre, Canisp to the right and Cul Mor just being hidden to he left of it – far off West Sutherland ! Steps are retraced back towards Beinn Tharsuinn but bearing right as you reach the low point. There is then a nice gradual rise passing over Cnoc a’ Mhadaidh to reach the cairn at the last high point on Cnoc an t-Sidhean Mor.

I stopped here, put my head against the cairn and shut my eyes for maybe 15 minutes. There is just the sound of wind and birds and maybe one or two flies. You can smell the growing – the moors. How can you not believe in the Creator at a time like this – you feel this sensation trying to get to the surface – the feeling of awe and wonder.

That’s the way we’ve come. Torr Leathann and the shoulder of Beinn Tharsuinn.

Clouds have rolled over the top of Ben Wyvis.

The last cairn on Cnoc a’ Mhadaidh – not much of a cairn On the windfarm across the valley vehicles could be seen going up and down the tracks. The windfarm was having an open day. The horrific thing is that on these lovely hills I am on now, permission has been granted to build a windfarm. Scotland is going to be ruined. Windfarms are not the answer – they pollute the land, they pollute views. It is very difficult at present to take photos in the area that don’t have pylons and/or windmills in them.

A view out to Invergordon and the Soutars of Cromarty beyond.

The last top – Cnoc an t-Sidhean Mor  and its down all the way – you can see the artificial loch – green field to its left and dark green forest to its right.

Back to the forest and looking at where we’ve come down But its time to go down. It is easy now to hit the forest track just below Cnoc an t-Sidhean Beag now that the trees are cleared. The heather gets longer as you go down and the ground is boggy near the forest. There are two fences to get past – a new one and the remains of the old. Once on the forest track I emptied my boots and picked the stabby bits of heather off my socks. Then its down the track to where I started.

A great 4 1/2 hours.