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All the Fun of The Forcan

All the Fun of The Forcan

Postby old danensian » Tue Aug 02, 2011 11:07 am

Route description: The Saddle, Forcan Ridge and Sgùrr na Sgìne

Munros included on this walk: Sgùrr na Sgìne, The Saddle

Date walked: 30/07/2011

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 13 km

Ascent: 1350m

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After the rollercoaster ups and downs of the tops to the north of Glen Shiel, I was now up for whatever the Forcan Ridge had to offer. Would it be a ghost train with unexpected surprises? Would it be a white knuckle ride? Would it be an experience that left my mind in one place and my stomach in another?

The Forcan Ridge peeps out

The walk from the Malagan Bridge on the A87 to the Bealach na Craoibhe was straightforward but no cakewalk shuffle: it just seemed to go on and on and on. However, the traverse round behind Meallan Odhar proved to be a surprisingly comfortable piece of candy floss; sweet but of little substance while whetting the appetite for a substantial toffee apple to come.

Sgurr na Forcan and The Saddle from Bealach na Craoibhe

Then the decision point arrives: an unassuming split in the path. One track carries on, while the other simply turns right. At the fairground there would be a cartoon character with an arm outstretched. “Sorry, if you fit under here you can’t go on this ride” would read the instructions. But no, instead, within a few yards the hands-on scrambling interest begins up a gently angled slabby wall.

After that the ride switches from one side to another, up, over, round, past; at times with just one option, at others like a lateral maze with choices that all inevitably lead to the next twist or turn on the ridge. It’s unrelenting; it’s exposed; it’s sustained. For an hour’s interest and entertainment it’s what I’d call a proper ridge.

Forcan Ridge

After Sgurr na Forcan the final choice is between right or left to avoid the vertical scramble that now separates you from The Saddle itself. I’d recommend going left. To the right it’s dark, damp and very exposed on what look like little platforms of muddy grass. While the option to the right is rockier, drier, appears to go down a little further, but leads you through a narrow window slit that suddenly appears, revealing an easy track upwards.

The Saddle from Sgurr na Forcan

Track emerging from window slit on latter part of ridge

Wondering where to put your hands and feet means you are less conscious of how tired you are, and that proved to be the case on the final slope to The Saddle itself. Given the previous day’s exertions on the Brothers and Sisters opposite I felt that the completion of the Sgurr na Sgine was now on a shaky nail.

The Saddle

The sociability of groups meeting on top and sharing their experiences was a boost that drove any doubts away. The book time of an hour to the next Munro was met with a consensus of cynicism by all but the youngest there as the descent to the Bealach Coire Mhalagain began.

Once the first pull up to the ridge of Faochag had been surmounted the ups and downs on the remainder of the walk were short and straightforward and the top of Sgurr na Sgine was reached in a little over an hour and a half instead – but by then no one was counting.

Sgurr na Sgine from western end of Faochag

Forcan Ridge from Faochag

The conical nose of Faochag that rears up from the valley floor is an easier descent than it at first appears, and not the knee-jarring, toe-jamming experience that I feared it would be. As always, the descent down the nose of any ridge means that water is going to be non-existent, and after a longish day I had already been rationing myself for quite a while. It had been touch-and-go whether the factor 25 or the water was going to run out first. The sound of rushing water in the Allt Mhalagain hundreds of feet below lures you on to the end of the day and the short walk across the valley floor to the car.

Panorama of ridges on north side of Glen Shiel - previous day's excursion!

After the peach of a toffee apple above, all I wanted now was the ice cream, and the chance to sit in the shade and savour the experience.
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Re: All the Fun of The Forcan

Postby davetherave » Tue Aug 02, 2011 4:16 pm

Really is a ridge that demands concentration.

Thanks again for the memories.
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Re: All the Fun of The Forcan

Postby monty » Tue Aug 02, 2011 5:33 pm

Excellent photos OD. We done it in the clag and didn't find it too bad. Couldn't see much which is probably a good thing :lol:

Re: All the Fun of The Forcan

Postby Paul Webster » Tue Aug 02, 2011 7:11 pm

Two great reports there OD. Well worth you driving all that way from our point of view!
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Re: All the Fun of The Forcan

Postby HighlandSC » Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:27 pm

Yep, a great report- and a reminder that this ridge is already at the top of my to-do list :)

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