By James Carron
The ancient county of Badenoch prides itself as being at the heart of the Scottish Highlands. Certainly thereís plenty here to get a walkerís blood pumping; there are plenty of Munros and Corbetts, numerous woodland trails and a good helping of lochside strolls. Sandwiched between Loch Laggan and Lochan na h-Earba, Binnein Shuas is a craggy little peak and one that is rarely climbed, baggers bypassing it on route for the neighbouring trio of Munros, Creag Pitridh, Geal Charn and Beinn a Chlachair. You will soon leave the crowds behind as you step off the beaten track and venture up magnificent little mountain.
Follow the layby to its western end, bear left and cross the River Spean via a substantial bridge. Pass through a gate on the other side and follow the track as it heads towards the house at Luiblea. The way curves left to reach a junction. Bear left here and continue to a high locked gate and ladder stile. Climb over the stile and continue up the track which runs close to the Abhain Ghuilbinn, down to your right. A kilometre from the Luiblea junction, the track curves left, rising quite steeply to another junction.
Turn right at the junction and follow the well graded track south as it rises on to the south-west flank of Binnein Shuas. As you progress, views open out to the west, down Glen Spean towards Britainís highest peak, Ben Nevis, and neighbouring Aonach Mor. To the north is the craggy bulk of Creag Meagaidh with its plunging scree-lined coires. Stay with the track to its highest point.
At its highest point, the track cuts through the south-west ridge of Binnein Shuas and begins to bear left. Follow the curve in the track until it begins to curve right, then leave the track and head north east up the wide ridge. There is no clear path but route finding is easy as you simply aim for the craggy summit above. The ground cover is a mix of grass and stubbly heather and in the summer colourful wildflowers and orchids dot the lush terrain. There are a few boggy patches but on the whole the going underfoot is fairly good. Higher up the way skirts between rocky outcrops to finally emerge on the summit, marked by a small cairn sitting atop a large slab of stone.
Binnein Shuas offers spectacular views over the surrounding landscape of mountains and lochs. Below sits Loch Laggan, to the north, and Lochan na h-Earba, to the south. Neighbouring Binnein Shios is a robust looking little peak, flanked by crags and woodland. To continue the walk, retrace your steps down the ridge but, rather than return to the track, half way down, below the craggy outcrops, bear right and contour round the slope. Head for the right-hand end of the patch of forestry occupying grid square 4482 and descend to the track.
Once on the track, turn right and follow it the short distance to the delightful sandy beach at the western end of Loch Laggan. Itís a wonderfully relaxing spot and worthy of the short detour. To finish the walk, return to the track and follow it south-west to reach the junction encountered earlier in the day at point two. Retrace steps from here to the start.