I was staying at the very comfortable Forest Way independent hostel near Inverlael. Iain, the owner, is a hillwalker himself and has designed the hostel to suit the needs of other hillwalkers; it's really well thought out and very comfortable.
An advantage of the location is that I was able to climb hills right from the front door. I chose a Corbett, Beinn Enaiglair (hill of timid birds) which would give a good short route. The hill just looks like a grassy lump when seen from the road at Braemore junction, but has plenty of interest on it's eastern flanks which are hidden from the road.
After an initially very steep start, a superbly built stalker's path runs right around the hill. These old paths are a joy to walk, taking elegant lines on the hill and gaining height almost effortlessly. There was a jarring contrast with an ugly vehicle track which has been crudely bulldozed into the face of the hill above the road by Braemore estate.
This eastern side of the hill doesn't get much sun in the winter and I was glad to climb into bright sunshine higher up. The view to the east is dominated by the Munro of Beinn Dearg (Red hill). The massive drystone wall which is such a feature on this hill can be seen running up into the snowline on the left hand skyline. This wall was built as a "destitution wall", one of a number of roads and walls built to give men work in return for food during the famine of the 1840's
From the 889 metre summit of Beinn Enaiglair, the views are extensive and very fine. To the south the Fannaichs range stand out on the horizon
To the west, there's a view over Loch a'Bhraoin to the tangle of mountains and ridges in the Fisherfield forest
While to the north west, An Teallach catches the eye. Strangely, this hill had far less snow than most
In an eastern corrie of the "hill of timid birds" I found this superbly camouflaged grouse doing it's best to remain unnoticed and neatly illustrating the hill name!