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Brothers Ridge and 5 Sisters of Kintail

Brothers Ridge and 5 Sisters of Kintail

Postby khimpson » Mon Sep 21, 2020 7:43 pm

Route description: Five Sisters of Kintail

Munros included on this walk: Aonach Meadhoin, Sàileag, Sgùrr a' Bhealaich Dheirg, Sgùrr Fhuaran, Sgùrr na Càrnach, Sgùrr na Ciste Duibhe

Date walked: 20/09/2020

Time taken: 13 hours

Distance: 23 km

Ascent: 2039m

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This route came about after completing the South Shiel ridge and wondering whether both the 5 sisters and 3 brothers would be possible to achieve as a day walk. With day length already shortening we realised that at least some of the route would need to be in the dark but with a spectacular weather forecast and good fitness levels at the end of summer it was too tempting to miss.

Sunrise looking back over Loch Cluanie

We camped on the shore of Loch Cluanie just along from the inn, having left a second car at Allt a'Chruinn. There is a small car park just off the main road there. We estimated the walk would take around 14 hours and so decided to start at 5am in order to be off the hill by nightfall. The initial path behind the new bakery opposite the Cluanie Inn was easily found in the dark and we followed up a moderate incline through a mild bog to reach the start of the ridge at 843m, keeping to the left of the steep rocky ground. From there it was an easy ascent to Sgurr a'Fhuarail where we paused to watch the sunrise. Just ahead of us we could see Aonach Meadhoan, our first summit of the day which we reached around 7.30am.

Summit of Sgurr a' Bhealaich Dheirg

From here the path remained obvious as it descended along the ridge line before climbing the broader slope of Sgurr a' Bealaich Dhearg. The summit cairn sits at the end of a short but narrow and rocky section of ridge just to the north west of the broad summit and offers spectacular views both back towards loch Cluanie but also west towards the 5 sisters. The peak of Saileag can just be seen in front of the sisters and although it looks diminutive in comparison to the sisters, is still a munroe in its own right.

Descending Sailaeg with the 5 sisters ahead

It is necessary to retrace the route to the summit in order to continue onwards. The path then gently curves around a coire to the right and is steep in places as it climbs back up toSaileag, the third munro of the day.

The bealach an lapain was the next stop after an easy descent from the summit. This is the access point for both the sisters and the brothers individually and as a result was our most convenient bailing point of the day as the remainder of the ridge offers little opportunity for early descents. At this point spirits were high and the timing was looking feasable so we continued onwards. It took just under 5 hours of walking to reach this point.

Enjoying a scramble

Although the bealach was the lowest point of the entire ridge, the climb from here to the first of the sisters was undulating and impressive but relatively easy. By this point the temperature had risen to the mid teens and a distinct lack of breeze made for hot work. The peak of Sgurr nan Spainteach made an excellent point for a food stop allowing us to admire the views. From here the descent was a little more rocky with one short scramble before reaching the bealach under Sgurr na Ciste Duich, the first munro of the day, which looks a little forboding with its steep sides. There are two ridges that ascend from here- keep right along the obvious track then move to the left after 50m or so, the path is less clear for a short while. The climb to the summit is steep and rocky. From the cairn the end of loch Duich is visible along with the finish point.

Looking back along the ridge

The descent from here is rocky and steep and the ridge broader. Sgurr na Carnach, munro two of the sisters and five of the day, looks impressive with its conical shape and steep sides. The going becomes rough although there is a path which bypasses the steepest sections of ascent. There are also some excellent optional scrambles along the way to the cairn. From the top there is a slight sense of deja vu as the next section looks very similar to the last although the final munroe of the day, Sgurr Fhuaran, is obviously taller and more impressive than its neighbor. Again the path is the simplest option but there are scrambles aplenty to be had.

Sgurr nan Saighead

By this point legs were getting a bit tired and we took a decent break by the cairn but opted to move on rather quickly after being bothered by a pack of very irritating ked flies. The descent swings west to avoid very steep ground before continuing in an easier fashion along the top of the cliffs that border Coire a' Mhadaidh to Bealach Bhuidhe. During the descent Sgurr nan Saighead looked spectacular but daunting with its steep cliffs. However, once at the bottom of the slope it appeared much more friendly and we opted to continue to the top rather than skirt around as many people do. It was well worth the extra climb and gave amazing views across to the Cuillins to the west.

Beinn Bhuidhe

As we still had plenty of daylight we continued parallel to the cliffs to scramble an extra few metres onto Beinn Bhuidhe rather than pass to the left. The descent for here runs roughly WNW down a broad grassy slope and begins to become softer underfoot as the peat bog of Fasach an t'Searraich approaches. Just before the flat of the bog there is a steeper section of slope to negotiate. Traversing north here avoids the wettest sections and brings you to the stream of Allt a'Chruinn. Cross the stream to reach a relatively well made path. From here the rest of the journey is straightforward, continuing on the path next to the stream and then swinging to the right to avoid the steep drop that the stream plummets down. There are 2 gates through deer fencing before reaching the paved road. Continue towards the loch to reach the car park, there is a small shop which sells cold drinks and ice cream which were very much appreciated at the time.

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We reached the car just after 6.30pm, thirteen and a half hours after starting. Our pace was fairly relaxed and definitely slowed a little towards the end but to have gone much faster than we did would have meant rushing. We had some good red deer sightings over the course of the day and could hear the stags rutting below us in the valleys but were really bothered by keds, especially on the higher ground- probably due to the lack of wind. In all it was a very enjoyable day and definitely achievable with good fitness levels.

These are the links to the official routes that were useful to us: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/kintail/Brothersridge.shtml
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The five sisters ahead
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Joined: Jul 27, 2015

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