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Seventh Heaven: South Glen Shiel Ridge

Seventh Heaven: South Glen Shiel Ridge

Postby Craig 7483 » Wed Aug 18, 2021 12:18 pm

Route description: South Glen Shiel Ridge: 7 Munros

Munros included on this walk: Aonach Air Chrith, Creag a'Mhàim, Creag nan Dàmh, Druim Shionnach, Maol chinn-dearg, Sgùrr an Doire Leathain, Sgùrr an Lochain

Date walked: 14/08/2021

Time taken: 11 hours

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With a four hour drive bookending either side of the epic South Glen Shiel Ridge walk from Ayrshire, it was decided to best arrive the night before and stay at a nearby hostel at Loch Ness.

Jordan and myself had done a few hills together before but were delighted to welcome a friend down from Ullapool who in recent times has qualified as a Mountain Leader. There was a piquancy to this as with his wealth of experience on the hill, he brought a friend who alongside him, also volunteers for the Assynt MRT.

We had the benefit of two cars to spare us the long walk back and agreed to kick off from the side road of the Cluanie Inn. There wasn’t many spaces left for our near 8am start and had to drive down and park next to the ‘no unauthorised vehicles beyond this point’ sign, considerably of course.

We took the path that took us to the southeastern shoulder of Creag a’Mhaim. A fair but gentle walk in, this gave us a chance to catchup and exchange our recent tales from the hills. A cairn marks a distinct path where you turn off right and start to make notable elevation on the first munro. We could see some cloud sticking to the tops of the nearby peaks but managed to get some views of Loch Loyne on the lower parts of the ascent.
Loch Loyne
It was little after two hours when we reached the summit cairn. The cloud was rolling in at times and we had some refreshments where Loch Cluanie and Druim Shionnach - the next munro - were visible from this point whenever there was a break in the clouds.
Ullapool’s finest
Loch Cluanie
Druim Shionnach

It was an easy enough ridge walk to Druim Shionnach from the first summit, although, the path narrows and there was a bypass option available but the ridge seemed fine in current conditions. This was one of the shorter legs of the day, if not the shortest with the trip between munros five and six running it close.
Druim Shionnach summit cairn

Heading to Aonach air Chrith, the weather became increasingly unreliable with the odd shower tricking us into put on more waterproofs, then having us believe we were over the worst of it, for it to come back with a vengeance. It was a straightforward enough task however taking us to the third and highest point in the route undertaken.
Heading to Aonach air Chrith
Cloud arrived again on Aonach air Chrith summit
The route to Maol Chinn Dearg was one of the longer legs and required some basic downhill scrambling at times. The rocks were slippy too and this was exacerbated by enduring the worst rain of the day. By this point I gave up hope of it ending and resigned myself that if it ever did to count it as a bonus.
Heading to Maol Chinn Dearg
We got there though and by this point we agreed to have lunch. The experienced duo in the group had bothy bags in their rucksacks and this provided welcome refuge from the elements. It was something I had never used but when I saw their bag contents, I was perhaps borderline inadequately prepared. It was like a portable outdoors shop in comparison to my multiple layers, plenty of food and water approach. We had lunch and chatted as the rain battered off the makeshift bothy. Some of the general advice I picked up during lunch was invaluable and by the time we packed up and moved on, the worst of the weather began to recede.
Maol Chinn Dearg
Inside the bothy bag
The weather largely remained dry from this point for the remainder of the walk so the forecast was somewhat accurate albeit delayed. We heard voices outside a few times over lunch so by now there were more people on the hillside doing the route in both directions. We followed the path to Sgurr an Doire Leathain and an airfield strip was visible while bypassing the minor top between the two munros.
Ladies and Gentleman, this is manro number 5
A brief return down the path before forking right at the small cairn had us on our way to the penultimate munro for the day. The rain was thankfully kept at bay but, periodically, cloud cover came in and when it moved away the ridgeline looked absolutely fantastic.
The nearby peaks and corries offered great views and it wasn’t too long before we were on Sgurr an Lochain.
Sgurr an Lochain
We didn’t hang around the summit long and made our way to the final peak of the day. Taking the path bypassing the minor top of Sgurr Beag, there was a stream available to fill up water bottles which was used before heading onto the summit of Creag nan Damh with some very easy scrambling. It capped a fantastic but long day, but it was a long way time-wise to get back down.
Creag nan Damh
We followed the ridgeline and lost a bit of height before a mild scramble - a bit more hands on than scramble to Creag nan Damh - up to the ridgeline again. A cairn marked the descent route and the route seemed to go on forever, we never seemed to be losing altitude fast. Some of the waterfalls surrounding us were a natural beauty and eventually we crossed over just after one of the confluences.
One of our crossing points
Continuing after that, we eventually encountered a deer fence on the left which at one point had been obliterated from a landslide.
The path then continued over another river crossing, this one slightly more tricky, the trekking poles gave good leverage for this part, before continuing on through ferns and severely wet ground. It was beyond ankle deep in puddles but managed to get through the worst of it hassle free.

We made it back to the car and were in unanimous agreement that it was a fabulous day had. The wisdom and observations from the two professionals were richly received and added to the overall enjoyability of the day. Undoubtedly, one of my best days on the hills to date.
Craig 7483
Posts: 19
Joined: Jun 1, 2021

Re: Seventh Heaven: South Glen Shiel Ridge

Postby Graeme D » Fri Aug 20, 2021 11:07 pm

That brings back some good memories! 10 years ago next month if I am not mistaken! :shock: Some nice "atmospheric" photos in there.
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Graeme D
Posts: 3716
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Joined: Oct 17, 2008
Location: Perth

Re: Seventh Heaven: South Glen Shiel Ridge

Postby Craig 7483 » Fri Aug 20, 2021 11:16 pm

Thanks, Graeme. A day that’ll live long in the memory for me. One of those ones I’d gladly revisit in years further down the line.
Craig 7483
Posts: 19
Joined: Jun 1, 2021

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