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Decisions, decisions: heads or hearts on the ridge

Decisions, decisions: heads or hearts on the ridge


Postby old danensian » Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:27 pm

Munros included on this walk: Creag a'Mhaim, Druim Shionnach

Date walked: 30/03/2012

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 16.5 km

Ascent: 1077m

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It’s Kintail, it’s Glen Shiel, so it’s got to be Brothers or Sisters, North one or South one. Whichever, it means it’s got to be a big day out. Or does it?

Because when mists still cling to the shoreline hills, it’s already nearly 10 o’clock and you’ve still not finished your second mug of tea maybe a less arduous day will suffice.

Yes, the South Ridge is still on my list: the whole thing, end to end, a full traverse. Savour it, enjoy it, but don’t endure a route-finding wrestle if you can avoid it. Was that the motto of a wimp or a pragmatist? Or shall I have a third mug of tea?

Decisions, decisions. Even after the third mug of tea (or it might have been four by then) and the drive up to Cluanie, the question now is - overtrousers or not?

And so it comes to pass that it’ll just be two. As better weather is promised further east, Creag a’ Mhaim and Druim Shionnach suggest themselves, with a circuit if things improve or just up, along and back the same way if they don’t.

And fortunately they do.

The first gamble pays off. By the time the old road from Cluanie swings south they are definitely superfluous, and as the path towards the south east ridge of Creag a’ Mhaim comes in to view my sun hat replaces the woolly one. Things are looking up – and the path definitely is.

But the nicely graded zig-zags swing back and forth and really help legs and lungs keep a metronomic pace up the ridge. And let’s not worry about long summit slopes or a succession of false tops. A cairn appears on the horizon and as the angle eases you’re there – and so is the ridge ahead as it sweeps along to Druim Shionnach.

Shiel01.jpg
Aonach air Chrith and Druim Shionnach from Creag a Mhaim


Shiel02.jpg
South from Creag a Mhaim - Gleouraich


Shiel03.jpg
North from Creag a Mhaim - Sgurr nan Conbhairean


By now wisps of cloud are just playing with the tops all around and the prospect for the rest of the day looks good. The path clearly marks the way to the second Munro of the day which is nothing more than a high-level saunter in the sun with spectacular views to all sides. A bite in the air reminds that it still March and should technically still be winter, but jet streams do funny things nowadays.

Shiel04.jpg
Druim Shionnach from Creag a Mhaim


Shiel05.jpg
Creag a Mhaim from Druim Shionnach


Temptation sits waiting for me at the cairn on Druim Shionnach and he points the way to Aonach air Chrith and beyond. Heart listens to what he says but Head knows that the next way down is another Munro beyond that. Heart plays and ponders with the prospect while Head calculates the timings and the state my legs might be in the following morning. Pride might have nudged its way into the deliberations then and reminded me that it’s a WH meet Saturday tomorrow and I might not want to appear old, unfit and incapable of climbing three days in a row (I’d done the four on the Carn Mairg round above Glen Lyon the day before).

Briefly the Ghost of Ridge Future appears and promises the prospect of an early start and a still warm day. Heart chips in and reckons he could defer the Present and enjoy that, but now Head of all people comes along and wonders how accurate this ghost is at forecasting weather.

Shiel06.jpg
Glen Shiel and Five Sisters from Druim Shionnach


By now I’ve had my very late lunch and am getting fed up of these voices. I decide to go with enjoying the pleasure of today’s circuit of just two and the prospect of future gratification by savouring the indulgence of all seven at the behest of the Ghost of Ridge Future. But if I find he’s got that weather forecast wrong ...

So, a descent by the north ridge it is. I trend slightly left to avoid the small cliffs just below the summit of Druim Shionnach and then occasionally stumble across stretches of path that litter the way past Loch a Mhaoil Dhisnich and then down to the old road. I’m sure they all must link up somehow, but finding that particular missing link eludes me and I keep on having to traverse back to a better line.

Shiel07.jpg
Sgurr an Fhuarall and Ciste Dhubh and Cluanie


Shiel08.jpg
Loch Cluanie


Back at the car at Cluanie I don’t regret the dilemmas and decisions wrestled with by Head and Heart and have thoroughly enjoyed a satisfying day. And I’ve still got the excuse of needing to come back and enjoy the whole ridge in the future – but maybe not tomorrow.
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old danensian
 
Posts: 408
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Re: Decisions, decisions: heads or hearts on the ridge

Postby Jockstar » Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:57 pm

It was great to meet up again and to hear that you are moving to Scotland means we will see each other out on the hills.
Great report and understable after 3 days of walking to pick your walk in Kintail. Brilliantly told and super photos have made me earmark these 2 for the future. :D BTW must do better in quizzes.... :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Jockstar
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Re: Decisions, decisions: heads or hearts on the ridge

Postby walk aboot » Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:25 pm

Great reports and photos from your Kintail trip, OD :) .

It was good to see you again and, just like Jockstar says, glad to hear you're finally moving to Scotland :thumbup: .
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walk aboot
 
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Re: Decisions, decisions: heads or hearts on the ridge

Postby andrewdoggett » Thu Apr 05, 2012 3:33 pm

Good to catch up again Nigel - and in sunshine - and enjoy pumping out the Munros now you're in Scotland - see if you can catch me up 8)
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andrewdoggett
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Re: Decisions, decisions: heads or hearts on the ridge

Postby Valerie » Thu Apr 05, 2012 4:29 pm

Great photos and wasn't it a fantastic weekend :D :D :D . Like you we came down after the first 2 last September so still have the other 5 to do but we now face the dilemma, do we go back up and join the ridge where we left off or wait for a perfect summers day and start at the beginning again :)
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Valerie
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Re: Decisions, decisions: heads or hearts on the ridge

Postby old danensian » Thu Apr 05, 2012 4:57 pm

Hi Val

No, as I prevaricated and pondered about exactly this when I bumped into Polly and Johnny in the Green Wellie on the way back I was put right - correctly - in no uncertain terms - if the ridge is to be done it's end to end - take that initial foray as a mere training run - a sighter - and the old road gets the legs going for those of us at a more senior stage in life

OD
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old danensian
 
Posts: 408
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Re: Decisions, decisions: heads or hearts on the ridge

Postby Scotjamie » Thu Apr 05, 2012 5:06 pm

Great pics and well written report Nigel
Good to meet at Kintail and realise there are a few of us of the finer vintage - perhaps a mature WH meet sometime :)
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