Slioch - one of those munro's of less reknown being outdone by the nearby beinn eighe and torridon in general, I guess the meaning of its name does'nt help - a spear! but regardless I guess most who have looked upon it remember it as more like below as you drove along loch maree
First off the details (see GPX file attached), todays hike is 16 mile long has an upness of about 1000m, start at the CP NH038624 kinlochewe - loch maree - slioch - loch fada - heights of kinlocheve - CP.
The greatest moment to be on a summit be it a munro, I've found is at sunrise just as the sun starts to rise seeing the sky of stars, the milky way and all the others slowly dim as the first hint of orange light grows and as it creeps down onto the surrounding mountain tops transforming their dark black masses, highlighting every nook and cranny and detail in a sharp crispness that only the morning sun can. Of course being at a peak at sunrise is far easier if your already their the night before, but as usual I decided to do it the hard.
Thus after a sleepless night (no daught due to excitment!) I set off into the dark night from the CP with the pup at the ungodly hour of 04.00 with the aid of probably the most unreliable torch in the history of torches but did a good enough job for the hour I needed it, guiding me over the narrow path through overgrown bracken only time it let me down was over an exposed rocky part of the path when the beam lead me down the wrong path. But no big problem finally found the right one again after a few river crossings.
When the path comes out of the woods along the shores of loch maree I can only imagine what the scenery is like along the length of it surrounded by high mountains, for me all I saw was the dark mass of these mountains with the more brighter stars still visiable with the approaching dawn. Just along from here you cross a bridge taking the right hand path, the left carrying on along the loch shore.
The right path is the main one leading to loch fada following the river you've just crossed and along its initial length their are some awsome waterfalls. I could hear many of them but at this time could onlt just see them. The path you take for the summit is fairly evident just as you start climbing from the birdge just follow the left one but it you want to see the waterfalls then their are others further up the main path but very faint - just remember to head between the two outcrops you see above you. Following the river you have the first climb after the bridge then flattish, then another short climb bewtween trees and the river then another flattish bit - here you cross alittle stream and after viewing the better of the waterfalls just above and right of it find a path which heads towards the centre of these two outcrops.
After your above these two outcrops all the mess of little paths that lead their become one very definite one. This will lead the rest of the way to the summit. The higher I went the lighter the sky become and the view of beinn eighe across loch maree became clearer and clearer, the colours in the sky were great, ahead of me I could see where the sun was rising and by the time I got level with meall each I could see that had fully risen but kept out of sight by a few streaky clouds. Must admit I was tempted to stay where I was in the hope that when it cleared them the mountains of beinn eighe would be soaked in that great early deep orange glow but as I later found, the rays of morning light did not appear on them until much later (just as I got to the summit in fact - very handy).
The route goes round under sgurr dubh into what can only be described as a bowl with the fore mentioned peak along with slioch and tuill creating the bowls sides - just head towards the top of it and the well defined track crossinbg up the steep sides to the tweo small lochs will suddenly apear as you near it - really annoying cause before you do see it the path heads towards the steepest bowl side making you wonder just what dangers your being lead towards!
The lochs are a great sight - or one is, the other doe'nt show itself until your half way up the last steep climb. There are many paths crossing this steep bit so you have a choice and this is where I recon I saw a goat over on sgurr but it was probably a sheep or could of been a deer, perhaps one of the many I saw on the way down. Once on the top head for the first group of stones and be prepared for the best views around. I guess as is normal around here that most of the higher mountains, if not the one your on, will be covered in clouds but this day was'nt normal in fact it was very unnormal and..well look at the panoramas and your see what I saw - bloody marvelous - could'nt of asked for better views if I was able to order it, plus hardly any wind and a warm sun.
From this first load of rocks descent some before heading for the second group - the summit of slioch, the cairn on top looks like the remains of a little house with a chimney. from the summit head round to the thrid top from where your get the unobstructed views to the end of loch maree and round towards mhaighdean - a great sight that one especially if you've ever been on it.
Well I could harp on with fantastic poetic words of the views, the atmosphere, the sounds but my feeble attempts to enbrace this scene and portray its full worth would be less then adequate, so just view the photos below while imagine sitting the best days hiking you've ever had.
From the third load of stones you cross a short but nice fluffy bear ridge bit - might have only been about 30m long but vertical either side - last it the climb back upto tuill which resembles a shark fin. From here I think most people return by descending to the track by meall each but if your feeling a tad adventourous and like venturing off the beaton track - in fact beating your own then follow my route down to meet up with the path you left earlier following it to loch fada. The only hard bit of this self beaton track is from NH0269686 where on a map appears a break in the line of curvy lines - it is steep and in places goes over rock but no more differcult then a scramble except your going down it instead of up.
Down by the loch the sun was fully risen and its heat produced a situation where the crasys start to consider stripping off and jumping into ice cold water and around this loch miles from anywhere it was possible - but I won't go into that except to say that if the weather had been different I may of hated all the river crossing involved getting to the path down gleann na muice glen and the great small beaches of loch fada.....But even the best scenes have to be left at some point.
The path along the loch fada shore is very faint leading to a path slightly more evident across the lochs river, this leads to a gravel path once the estate fence is reached, which evolves into a vehicle track just before decending to the bridge over the river where you meet up with the access road for the estate house...leading right back to the CP giving you a great view of beinn eighe along the way.
I can'y really find any bad to say about todays hike, the rivers sparkled, wet my feet a few times but the sky was deep blue the clouds distant but picturesque, the ground wet but firm and even the wildlife showed its self...perfect.
Here are links to the panoramic photos, the first is of long loch maree with the eighe and torridon mountain s in full view and the first time I've seen them without any snow. The second is of the view along the ridge walk towards mhaighdean.
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