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Go on then, let’s do another 7 in Glen Shiel!

Go on then, let’s do another 7 in Glen Shiel!


Postby Lenore » Sat Jul 28, 2012 7:51 pm

Route description: South Glen Shiel Ridge: 7 Munros

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

Date walked: 26/07/2012

Time taken: 11 hours

Distance: 26 km

Ascent: 1800m

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I’m back in Kintail after a week in Rum, as there’s another mountain waiting for me. Or seven, actually: Creag a’Mhaim, Druim Shionnnach, Aonach air Crith, Maol Chinn-dearg, Sgurr an Doire Leathain, Sgurr an Lochain and Creag nan Damh: the South Shiel Ridge. Got up this morning at 6 due to a mix of nerves and snores of the 9 other ladies crammed into the dorm at Ratagan. We finally left at around 9, drove to the Cluanie Inn and were walking just before 9.30. We being Paul, a teacher from Liverpool, Rule, the intrepid ranger, and me. (for those of you who are starting to see a pattern here: I have actually done most of my walks this summer alone, but no woman in her right mind would pass up a chance to walk another 11 hours with ranger Rule :D :lol: ).

On one of the last nights of my first visit to Kintail earlier this month I’d met up with Bod and Valerie in the Kintail Lodge for a drink after they had just walked the ridge. I was absolutely shattered from all the walking I’d done earlier that week so hadn’t gone with them but did a lighter walk to the Falls of Glomach instead. Wise, yes, maybe. But over the next few days I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d just missed out on something tremendously awesome. That this one could well be as good as the Sisters. That I’d certainly regret going home without giving it a try. So I made up my mind: if I still had time after Rum and before meeting my friend John in Lochcarron I’d come back. If it’s meant to be, it will happen. If not, I’ll have something to come back for next year.

As it so happened, I had a week of wonderful weather on Rum and ‘got through’ all of my walks there in record time, even with taking two days off drinking tea (and whisky) and eating cake. So two days ago I was on my way back to Kintail! Phoned the hostel and booked the very last bed; a good sign, surely?

Day of the walk: wait a minute, what’s going on here? Who ordered this pea soup? Certainly not me! This can’t be right. This is no “clearing to above 1000 by midday”! It seems like my beginners luck has finally run out; instead of the next epic ridge walk this might well become my first epic cloud walk: 7 munros and no views? I don’t mind a mixed bag of weather, and it doesn’t have to be perfect, but absolutely nothing? That’s a bit harsh :( I know I said last night “come rain or shine (or was it "come hell or high water"?) as long as it’s safe I’ll darn well bag those 7 peaks,” but that shouldn’t have been taken literally…

After the long walk in and ascent (2 hours 15 minutes) we found ourselves on the summit of Creag a’Dham just before noon, not a thing in sight:

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Me on Craig a'Mhaim in clag


Just before ducking into the mist I mentioned that I’d seen a golden eagle up close, pretty much tripped over stags on Rum, and all I needed now was a ptarmigan. Can that be arranged? I guess someone / something must have been listening, because there it was:

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Ptarmigan male in the wind


Optimistic that it would clear at some point, I didn’t mind the clag too much. It made for a very ‘atmospheric’ start of the day and it was pretty cool to see the others disappear into the mist and the clouds swirl about over the ridge. Made for some cool close-ups as well:

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Water pearls


On the ridge after Druim Shionnach, munro number 2, there was but the occasional glimpse of something deep and I couldn’t help thinking this probably would have been scary had we seen what was below. As it was, there was hardly anything to see so we made it over quite quickly and reached number three, Aonach air Chrith in record time!

And then, suddenly, a southerly wind picked up and revealed the glen below, a silvery ribbon flowing through it. The views were tentative at first, disappearing as quickly as they had come, but soon most cloud ahead and South washed away and what was left lifted to well above all peaks but Ben Nevis in the distance.

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Clearing!


For what came next I barely have words. Every time I think I have seen the best of what Scotland has in store for me this summer something comes along that blows me away. As I have no words for it, I’ll just give you some pictures.

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Looking towards Maol Chinn-dearg


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Layer after layer


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Little lochan and big summit


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All the way to Eigg


Doing gymnastics on the summit of Sgurr an Diore Leathain?
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There's a spot on my boot - balancing on the summit of Sgurr an Doire Leathain


With Rule:
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Me and Rule


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Looking back towards the fun rocky bit of ridge


Interestingly enough, though they are so close to the Sisters, the views are so different from this ridge. I did recognize some hills, but there was so much I hadn’t seen or hadn’t seen in these conditions before. The air was quite clear and as the sun made its progression down and we moved on further along the ridge, the light that swept over the hills took on a softer and eventually more golden quality.

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Gorgeous Sgurr an Lochain and its lochan


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Wester Glen Quoich Burn


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Looking back East along the ridge


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Gleouraich? That's surely next on my list!


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Looking towards Loch Duich - Is that the Forcan ridge in the middle?


We slowed down considerably as I was taking a lot of pictures. The guys kept the pace up and occasionally looked at me in a ‘we’d-like-to-get-off-this-ridge-before-dark-and-that’s-the-umpteenth-lichen-you’re-photographing’-kinda way, while I just kept wishing this walk would never end. They should be thankful, actually, as due to my dallying we were still up in that gorgeous early evening light!

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Eastern end of the ridge


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Cool stripy bits


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Creag nan Damh panorama Southwest


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Creag nan Damh panorama Northwest


But eventually we reached the ascent of the last one, Creag nan Damh, Peak of the Stag. Supposedly this one’s a bit of a b****, but not for us. Just below the summit we were treated to this, an uncanny coincidence:

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Stag on the peak of the stag!


The silly little poser, quite a young one still, wasn’t at all impressed by us coming up on the path right by him and just stuck around so we could get a good look. How is that for a magical finish?! As I said at the start: if it’s meant to be, it’ll happen. And meant to be it surely was today.

Paul checking the map to see if we've really done it:
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Paul looking at the map on Creag nan Damh summit


Yes, we have! Number 7:
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Me on number 7: Creag nan Damh


Time to go back down:
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Sun going down, Loch Duich


We took a slightly different route on the descent than the WH description, one which Rule think is slightly more comfortable and safest (the route map below shows the descent). We skirted around the far side of the corrie via which you ascend Creag nan Damh, staying above the crags on the North side of that corrie, crossing the stream that runs from the corrie just above a waterfall. We went down a bit further alongside the stream and crossed it again once it levels out a bit at the bottom of the same waterfall. We soon hit a path that stays on that side of the stream all the way down to some woods. The part close to the road was quite boggy and I managed to slip about 50 meters from the road and make myself very muddy. Uhm, hadn’t we driven up in Rule’s own car instead of the dirty work van? Oops. Didn’t do it on purpose, I swear!


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Lenore
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Re: Go on then, let’s do another 7 in Glen Shiel!

Postby iainwatson » Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:29 pm

fantastic report! so glad it cleared and you got to see more of kintail in the sunshine,your enjoyment of the walk shines from your report,

love the stag pic :0)
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Re: Go on then, let’s do another 7 in Glen Shiel!

Postby mrssanta » Sat Jul 28, 2012 9:01 pm

Brilliant! it's always magical when it clears up. :clap:
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Re: Go on then, let’s do another 7 in Glen Shiel!

Postby Stuart Angus » Sat Jul 28, 2012 9:11 pm

You got pretty good weather for some excellent pics, very cool 8)
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Re: Go on then, let’s do another 7 in Glen Shiel!

Postby dogplodder » Sat Jul 28, 2012 9:18 pm

It was worth starting in the clag to then experience the contrast of those views - and they are stunning!

Love the pic of the young stag too. :D
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Re: Go on then, let’s do another 7 in Glen Shiel!

Postby Lenore » Sat Jul 28, 2012 10:17 pm

dogplodder wrote:It was worth starting in the clag to then experience the contrast of those views - and they are stunning!

Love the pic of the young stag too. :D


Thanks :D And yes, that made it all the sweeter!!
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Re: Go on then, let’s do another 7 in Glen Shiel!

Postby David-Main » Sat Jul 28, 2012 10:43 pm

Magic report Lenore, look forward to your reports and pics, i love wildlife and you always seem to incorparate pics of wildlife, love the stag well done.
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Re: Go on then, let’s do another 7 in Glen Shiel!

Postby Lenore » Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:32 am

Thanks Iain, Mrssanta and David! That stag - sometimes you're just being offered something that can hardly go amiss :D He was a bit of a dummy, though; had we been stalkers he should have run off :(
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Re: Go on then, let’s do another 7 in Glen Shiel!

Postby Lenore » Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:33 am

Ooops forgot Stuart :o Thanks, man :D
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Re: Go on then, let’s do another 7 in Glen Shiel!

Postby ceaser » Sun Jul 29, 2012 11:35 am

great report and pics Lenore ,i,ve a feeling this wont be your last visit to scotland :D
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Re: Go on then, let’s do another 7 in Glen Shiel!

Postby rocket-ron » Sun Jul 29, 2012 1:07 pm

well done lenore looks like you had a fab day :clap:
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Re: Go on then, let’s do another 7 in Glen Shiel!

Postby Bod » Sun Jul 29, 2012 2:27 pm

Sgurr an Lochain is a lovely mountain isn't it? Possibly my favourite section of this wonderful long day out :wink: :D :D
Great report and well done! You are having some summer :clap:
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Re: Go on then, let’s do another 7 in Glen Shiel!

Postby bogtrotter » Sun Jul 29, 2012 5:01 pm

Great report and nice to meet you at Ratagan YHA.
I've looked up my Munro diaries and found the 7 Munros took me 8hrs30mins but that was a long time ago and I was as tired at the end as you looked on Thursday evening.
Hope you manage to get back to the Highlands next year.
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Re: Go on then, let’s do another 7 in Glen Shiel!

Postby Lenore » Sun Jul 29, 2012 5:24 pm

bogtrotter wrote:Great report and nice to meet you at Ratagan YHA.
I've looked up my Munro diaries and found the 7 Munros took me 8hrs30mins but that was a long time ago and I was as tired at the end as you looked on Thursday evening.
Hope you manage to get back to the Highlands next year.


Same here :D Hahaha, yes I was completely dazed and confused by the time I made it back to Ratagan; even left the milk out on the counter all night :lol: :lol: Wow, that's some speed you managed out there then! And no worries, will find my way back here for sure.
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Re: Go on then, let’s do another 7 in Glen Shiel!

Postby Lenore » Sun Jul 29, 2012 5:26 pm

ceaser wrote:great report and pics Lenore ,i,ve a feeling this wont be your last visit to scotland :D


Thanks! And I think you're right :D I quite liked the look of that hill Gleouraich and it looks like a nice (shorter) ridge walk on the map. And very much fancy going back to Knoydart and walk over some hills this time instead of around. There's so much to choose! :lol:
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