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Sunshine on the South Shiel Ridge

Sunshine on the South Shiel Ridge

Postby iainwatson » Tue Mar 27, 2012 1:00 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: 23/03/2012

Time taken: 10 hours

Distance: 25 km

Ascent: 1900m

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I had been waiting for weeks for decent weather to walk this ridge and lay the ghost of having to walk off at Munro no.2 last year due to not feeling so great (i blame the whiskey,lack of sleep and the dreadful weather :lol: )

So finally the West was due some sunshine and a plan was hatched with Tomsie that we would go up on the thursday night,sleep in our car/van so we could make an early start on the friday morning.i arrived just short of midnight and got snuggled into my sleeping bag but due to the excitement of the walk the next day i struggled to get to sleep and heard Tomsie arrive around 1am.After a cold sleep in the van(really need to invest in a decent sleeping bag) i awoke around 5:40 am and ventured out into the glorious setting that is Kintail just as the sun was beginning to rise,a quick chap on the window of Tomsie's car to wake him up and we got ready to head down and leave the van at the end of the walk.
the sun rising at 5:30am

the early morning sun lighting up the ridge

We then parked just by the Cluanie inn and set off in the sunshine,its fair to say for most of the walk in along the track we never put our camera's away as the sunrise over Loch Cluanie was gorgeous and just had to be photographed from every possible angle and after a wee while we began the ascent up the zig zag path to the first Munro,Creag a'Mhaim.
sunrise over loch cluanie

loch cluanie

After 2hrs from leaving the car we reached the summit to be rewarded with some of the most stunning views i have ever witnessed from the top of a mountain,my eyes drawn in every direction to the mountain landscape but more importantly to the rest of the ridge and the day ahead of us.
Creag a'Mhaim summit

the ridge from Creag a'Mhaim

After many,many pictures we set off toward Druim Shionnach at a good pace,soaking in the views and relishing the brilliant weather we had.The ridge narrows at one point between the 1st and 2nd Munro's but it posed no problem with the rock being dry and we quickly arrived at the summit of Druim Shionnach.
looking back to Creag a'Mhaim while walking to Druim Shionnach

Tomsie walking out to the second Munro

the view to Gleouriach & Spidean Mialach

Druim Shionnach summit

the view along the ridge from the 2nd summit

Again i took lots and lots of pictures and just before we set off for summit no.3 of the day i remembered back to the last time i tried to tackle the full ridge when i had the 'walk of shame' back down to the Cluanie inn from here,that day it was cold,very wet and i was ill.Today was very different,the sun was blazing down on us and i wasnt feeling worse for wear after too much 'socialising' the night before so we set off again for the 2.5km walk to Aonach air Chrith along the good path,crossing the minor top and soon enough we arrived on the third summit,Aonach air Chrith.
Tomsie walking to the 3rd summit

Aonach air Chrith summit

As we sat and took loads more pictures i thought to myself "this is what i really love,a long ridge walk in fantastic weather with good company in one of the most scenic areas of Scotland,you just cant beat it"

By this point there was a haze appearing and slightly spoiling the long distance views although it did give a layering effect to mountains which again,i took many pictures of and there were a few ascents and descents on the walk to Maol Chinn-Dearg with the ridge broadening and narrowing in a few places also but nothing of note to slow our progress.
Tomsie leading the way to Maol Chinn-Dearg

Maol Chinn-Dearg,summit no.4 of the day

We soon arrived at the summit and took our usual cairn pictures before setting off for the next Munro.One of the great things for me was that with the good weather we could see the next Munro from the one before,its so much better for me personally when you get that situation on a ridge walk and i felt fortunate to be here in the great weather,almost convincing myself that i was now happy i walked off last year in the poor conditions as it had given me the opportunity to come back when the sun was shining and appreciate this walk so much more.

We descended from the summit then ascended up and over Sgorr Coire na Feinne as we made our way to summit no.5,Sgurr an Doire Leathain.My memories of the actual ridge are a bit hazy from here on and i put this down to my eyes being drawn to the views of the surrounding hills,none more so than the Brother and Sisters ridge on the other side of the road as i hope to walk it at the weekend during the WH spring meet.
Sgurr an Doire Leathain,summit no.5 for the day

the brothers/sisters ridge

As we arrived at the summit of Sgurr an Doire Leathain i looked at the view of the rest of the walk and proclaimed how happy i was that i could see the final summit and it didnt look far away,yay! Only for Tomsie to point out that we were only on the 5th summit ha ha ha,
i'm sure it was on this summit aswell that,after checking my watch,i couldnt believe it was only around 12 noon,"my god" i thought "we must have been walking at some pace" only for Tomsie to point out that this also,wasnt the case and that my watch was running slow ha ha ha

After having a good laugh at me for not being able to count and tell the time properly we walked off toward the next summit and in no time at all we were on Sgurr an Lochain,snapping away as we had been all day.i think it was this summit that when looking back actually felt like we had travelled a decent distance from the Cluanie inn,up until here it never seemed to get any further away.
Tomsie heading for summit no.6

Sgurr an Doire Leathain,summit no.6

From here we could see out to the last Munro and as we dropped down we decided to take the path which skirts round the side of Sgurr Beag,well no point in adding in more ascent when its not needed.
the path that skirts Sgurr Beag

We stopped before the final rise to the 7th Munro to refresh ourselves for the final push and we set off up the hillside at a great pace,eating up the metres of ascent and distance no problem,despite having walked so far already and in no time at all we arrived on the final summit,Creag nan Damh,getting pictures of both summit cairns as we were unsure which was the higher and my gps was giving a height of 917 at both.
onward to the last Munro of the day

Tomsie setting a great pace up to the final summit

the final summit of the 7 Munro's-Creag nan Damh

So,just the walkout to go now and we dropped off the summit to be presented with two options,a path runs from here down Am Fas Allt and would shorten the walk considerably but looked really steep in parts or we could climb up a rock section and complete the intended route.We took option no.2 as we had made good time across the ridge all day and were in no great hurry to finish the walk.So we climbed up the rocks which wasnt too bad (but i wouldnt fancy having to come down it so much) and headed down to the col and after a bit of searching Tomsie spotted the cairn that marks where the path twists and turns down the hillside before reaching the river.
the path down to Am Fas Allt

The sun was in full glory again by this point but we were both feeling the effects of the day we had and we both were suffering from tired feet and also from the view-as nice as the view was the van just never seemed to get any closer which was slightly demoralising.Once we reached the path where it runs alongside the river this eased off as we knew we were closing in on reaching the road and after crossing over the bridge arrived back at the van about 4:45pm.

This for me was a superb walk! loved every minute of it (part of the walkout aside) and cant praise it enough! With the surrounding hills this really is like disneyland for hillwalkers and i cant wait to spend time walking here again,fortunately i only have to wait till Friday! :D
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Re: Sunshine on the South Shiel Ridge

Postby Jockstar » Tue Mar 27, 2012 1:07 pm

Great report Ian with super pics and I'm sure the memories of the first walk being abandoned are now consigned to the bin! :D You certainly picked the right day even though its a bit chilly at night! :lol:
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Re: Sunshine on the South Shiel Ridge

Postby iainwatson » Tue Mar 27, 2012 1:08 pm

some more pics as they wouldnt fit in the report

the rocky section we had to climb

Tomsie climbing up the rocks

the walkout to the van
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Re: Sunshine on the South Shiel Ridge

Postby mrssanta » Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:31 pm

that's the way to do it!
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Re: Sunshine on the South Shiel Ridge

Postby Graeme D » Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:49 pm

Cracking stuff Mr Watson! I bet it felt good walking off Druim Shionnaich this time (unlike 6 months ago!). I'm really glad I went on that day even although it was only in the latter stages that things started to brighten up and we got any sort of views. I kind of think that if you watch Alan's video of the first two Munros that day, even although it's all clagged in, it kind of adds to the atmosphere. Would still like to go back and do it again on a day like this one though! :D
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Re: Sunshine on the South Shiel Ridge

Postby SusieThePensioner » Tue Mar 27, 2012 4:50 pm

Great report, Iain, well worth the wait for you to write it up :lol: Some fantastic photos, forget about the haze, there are still some wonderful views in them :D

Hope the weather doesn't deteriorate too much for the weekend :?
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Re: Sunshine on the South Shiel Ridge

Postby pigeon » Tue Mar 27, 2012 4:50 pm

Great stuff ,we are heading up that way early May so good to see this report,hope our weather is as good as yours :thumbup:
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Re: Sunshine on the South Shiel Ridge

Postby BlackPanther » Tue Mar 27, 2012 5:14 pm

Superb! The ultimate fitness test for Munro baggers, as I call it :lol: Well done!
I climbed in Glen Shiel on Saturday, on the other side of Loch Cluanie, in similar weather... Not so easy to have a decent, sunny day in that area. I noticed that the eastern part of Scotland gets much more sunshine, and unfortunately many of the best mountains are on the western side.
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Re: Sunshine on the South Shiel Ridge

Postby KeithS » Tue Mar 27, 2012 5:27 pm

I enjoyed reading that. It took me back quite a few years to when I did the ridge. Only problem then was that I forgot to stop at the end and kept on going till I got to The Saddle. Oi, was I knackered by the time I got back to the road. My youngest did the ridge a couple of years ago (his first solo Munros) but he had more sense than me (and you) and stopped at the end. It's a great area for knocking up your tally.
Well done
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Re: Sunshine on the South Shiel Ridge

Postby Lackadaisy » Tue Mar 27, 2012 5:39 pm

Great report, looks like you had an amazing day! Love the photos of Loch Cluanie :)
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Re: Sunshine on the South Shiel Ridge

Postby quoman » Tue Mar 27, 2012 6:40 pm

Hi Iain.
Very good report and stunning photo's the ridge walk in that weather is amazing when you can see most or all of the way.
We done it in june last year and didn't have the good weather as you plus on the rocky section at the last bit we had a 5st wrottie dug to lift up some of the bits :lol: :lol:
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Re: Sunshine on the South Shiel Ridge

Postby blanchie » Tue Mar 27, 2012 7:38 pm

"I noticed that the eastern part of Scotland gets much more sunshine, and unfortunately many of the best mountains are on the western side."

Its amazing driving east thru Fort Augustus the rubbish weather just stops every time.

Great report - that's me even keener to do the ridge next month. Thanks.
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Re: Sunshine on the South Shiel Ridge

Postby pollyh33 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 7:45 pm

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh so that's what it looks like :lol: :lol:

Brilliant report Iain :D

Your photographs are fantastic :thumbup:

Please please please let it at least be dry at the weekend!!!
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Re: Sunshine on the South Shiel Ridge

Postby gammy leg walker » Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:12 pm

Brilliant report Iain,cannie wait till its my turn for the ridge.
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Re: Sunshine on the South Shiel Ridge

Postby yokehead » Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:17 pm

Great stuff, and glad to see you got such great weather all the way. :D The whole ridge still to do for me, after a couple of winter excursions at the east end in a variety of conditions!
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