A glorious day on the South Glen Shiel Ridge
by rockhopper » Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:33 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, Sgurr na Sgine, The Saddle
Date walked: 11/08/2012
Time taken: 16 hours
Distance: 48.5 km
Ascent: 2890m25 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Time taken: 16hrs [Moving 12.5hrs,........Stops 3.5hrs for photos, more photos, even more photos, sunbathing, sunburning, food, drink, meeting people, gazing at the views…..etc etc]
Distance: 48.5km [Walk 36.8km, bike 11.7km]
As we’d just returned from our summer holidays the previous Sunday, I hadn’t intended going walking this weekend. However, the weather forecast was just too good to miss – had a look at my plans, decided it was either Glenfinnan or Glen Shiel and in the end I opted for the latter.
Left Glasgow on Friday evening eventually arriving in Glen Shiel just after 10.30pm. I drove to where the track down from the Saddle meets the A87 to look for a spot to leave the bike – hidden by long grass, I locked it to the fence round the trees just down from the bridge over the Allt Mhalagain. I then drove back towards Cluanie to find a spot to park for the night – all the main car parking spots were busy but I got parked a wee bit west of Cluanie Inn.
The plan was to cover the seven munros and then see how I was getting on – I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to cover any more but at least this way I had the option and both this track and The Saddle track end up close to where I had left the bike on the A87 anyway.
Up rather early on the Saturday, I drove to the Tourist Information car park beside the Inn, got ready and set off walking around 4.45am. The forecast suggested it would be hot so I took my normal 1.5l water bladder and a 1l water bottle. I was hoping to get higher up before sunrise but this plan didn’t quite work out due to some cloud on the horizon. Although still pre-dawn, I didn’t really need to use the headtorch as the moon was out and there was enough light to see where I was going. Little traffic on the A87 at this point and I soon turned on to the track at the western end of Loch Cluanie – the off road car park was full.
It’s a nice easy track which climbs gradually and I was starting to be able to see more of the surroundings as the sky gradually lightened.
Low mist looking back towards Cluanie Inn
Even at this time before the sun appeared I was getting very warm. Stayed on the track as it climbed and passed a wee digger which was being used to repair the surface – small piles of bitumen every so often which were to be flattened out. I had toyed with the idea of climbing southwards more directly up Creag a' Mhaim but decided that I’d just stay on the track and take it easy at this stage. Followed the track until I reached a wee cairn marking the start of the South Glen Shiel ridge path. Turned sharp right and began the ascent.
As the sky became lighter, the views were starting to open up. The path is easy to follow making for a straightforward ascent with less than 600m from when I left the main track.
There was some lower cloud on some of the hilltops nearby and I couldn’t see the top of Creag a' Mhaim for the same reason – started to get that “sinking feeling” of being in clag again but it was short lived. I wasn’t in the clag for long when it substantially cleared on nearing the summit.
With the views all around and the sun starting to burn off the mist, my early misgivings were soon forgotten – looked as though it was going to be a good day. I’d already stopped quite a few times – this was the start of the pattern for the day which was to have a lot more time than usual for stoppages.
Although this was just the first summit, I spent quite some time just gazing at the view and contemplating. The mist came and went, the sun was rising higher and I had that “on top of the world” feeling – makes up for all the trips in the clag and rain earlier in the year.
On my way again, the mist rolled in giving a faint brocken spectre
And a little more mist
Followed the track round above Coire nan Leac
Views south to the Glen Quoich hills
Back towards Glen Shiel
Panorama of the way ahead
Loch a’ Mhaoil Dhisnich towards Cluanie
Soon arrived at the summit of Druim Shionnach
Panorama towards Glen Shiel
Misty back down the glen
But somewhat clearer out towards Knoydart
Could see clearly where I was going next
Couldn’t get enough of the Glen Shiel views
Inversion looking back SE
Staying on the track, headed towards Aonach Air Chrith
As I got closer, I could see the ridge which leads up to it from the north. Looked quite dramatic from this angle with the North Glen Shiel hills behind.
Got to the summit of Aonach Air Chrith with the views becoming steadily clearer as the mist became more sporadic
Next up was Maol Chinn-dearg – passed by Druim Coire nan Eirecheanach to the north on the way
Started to ascend up towards it
While over to the south I could see the road bridge on Loch Cuaich – it was a bit hazy but I could see the remnants of some low mist still hanging over it
Onwards and upwards and not long before I got to the top of Maol Chinn-dearg
By now I was feeling the heat – the sun tan lotion wasn’t really staying on long before it got washed off with sweat ! Guess what we need it waterproof sun tan lotion from the other direction. I was conscious of keeping drinking as I was going but didn’t want to use up too much in case I ran out.
Zoomed shot southwards
Mist still coming and going en route to Sgurr an Doire Leathain
Steadily upwards until reaching the summit
Then retraced my steps a bit to get a view of the ridge towards the NW
The ridge zig-zags towards Sgurr an Lochain
With a view northwards down to the lochan
Panorama to the north again
Before reaching the summit shortly thereafter
Views down to Glen Quoich and north to Choire Reidh
Picking up the track, it then skirts round to the south of Sgurr Beag – I did have a think about walking up to its summit but decided instead just to stay on the track – I was already hot enough as it was without getting any hotter !
A wee look to where I’d just been
Straightforward walking to arrive at the seventh summit of the ridge, Creag nan Damh
It was now decision time. As it was still only just after midday, I reckoned that it seemed too early to head back down. Granted I’d been on the go for around 7.5hrs but the time had passed very quickly. Lots of stops for views and photos, I was having a great time. So, quite and east decision really – keep going to the Corbett and onwards.
I had a clear view of the next part of the walk
Granted Sgurr na Sgine and The Saddle did look rather far away but there was plenty of daylight left. The only thing at the back of my mind was the cycle back up Glen Shiel – although I had torches, I was hoping to complete it in daylight. The traffic is fast enough in daylight....didn’t much like the thought of it in the dark with me on a bike !
View towards Shiel Bridge
I kept on the track towards Bealach Dubh Leac which then becomes the normal descent route north to the A87. Shortly after I reached that point I stopped for a long lunch break and change of socks – still experimenting to try to solve some metatarsal problems particularly in my left foot.
Then it was on towards the Corbett, Sgurr a'Bhac Chaolais – a case of “follow that dyke”
Cairn at the top and good view of Sgurr na Sgine
I think this is towards Gleann Dubh and further to Loch Hourn
Sgurr na Sgine and its cliffs was certainly looking rather imposing but I could quite clearly see the track over to the left
Looking back down the ridge
I found the descent of the Corbett quite steep as I headed towards the bealach between it and Sgurr na Sgine.
Then passed under its crags
Rising up the track, view backwards
Definitely the way to go - round the crags and up to the summit
The tack from here then heads down to the Bealach Coire Mhalagain with it small lochans
The Saddle and Forcan Ridge became even clearer as I got down to the bealach
View over one of the lochans to the north
The track then winds its way up to the left beside a dyke before heading much more steeply up to the summit. I met another walker on this stretch who turned out to be “burnsider” on WH. Washed my face and had a wee drink in one of the small streams which runs down the hill side.
Reached the top of the steep part having lost and regained the track in some boulders and arrived at the circular trig point.
I could see across the short ridge to the summit cairn so headed off towards it.
View from the cairn
Back towards the trig point with burnsider heading this way
I had a brief chat with burnsider before heading back to the trig point. Sat down for some food and to air my feet. The sun was still strong, the views a bit hazy but I was extremely happy with how the day had gone. I had considered descending via the Forcan Ridge but quickly decided against it - I had read reports about ascents but not about descents so wasn’t sure about any downclimbs and I was also not sure how long it would take – so, it’ll need to wait for another day.
Reluctantly I got ready to leave and started down – one last photo
I met up again with burnsider and we made the descent together. Back down to the bealach, followed the dyke then joined up with the track to the ridge. It then goes round Meallan Odhar and beneath the Graham, Biod an Fhithich (also for another day.....).
Long walk back down to the A87
Burnsider had his camper van parked near my bike so we walked the last bit of the road together. If he had been going the same direction, he would have given me a lift but as he was going back to Shiel Bridge we shook hands and said our goodbyes. I recovered the bike, changed out of my boots (had left a helmet and shoes beside the bike) and started the cycle back up Glen Shiel. I found this quite hard going as there are several uphill sections with an ascent of 200 – 300m before the descent to Cluanie. Eventually ran out of water about 20 minutes from the end so no great problems. Got back to the car at about 8.40pm still in daylight – changed, quick cup of strong coffee and then drove back to Glasgow. I had met a few other walkers on the ridge but not as many I'd thought. Long day but very enjoyable.
by gammy leg walker » Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:55 pm
PS......surprised you chose your route this way,would have made the bike ride easier reversing your route.
by Bod » Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:09 pm
We recently covered all these hills without the corbett over two separate days. Both wonderful days too, love the area
by rockhopper » Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:10 pm
cheers gammy - good point - I was aiming to cover the 7 on the main ridge but wanted to keep the additional 2+corbett as an option depending on how I got on - if I'd gone west to east I'd have had to commit at the start whereas east to west kept my options open.....and the downhill to Cluanie at the end was good even though I got a face full of midgesgammy leg walker wrote:PS......surprised you chose your route this way,would have made the bike ride easier reversing your route.
by nathan79 » Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:22 pm
It does make me want to go back and finish the ridge though.
by Alan S » Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:24 pm
Well done thats some walk
Love the pics especially the 1st one
by Stretch » Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:43 pm
by MarilynMunro » Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:47 pm
Glad you were rewarded with stunning views for your effort, shame about the facefull of midgie's.
by jonny616 » Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:00 pm
by mountain thyme » Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:56 pm
by jimandandrea » Wed Aug 15, 2012 7:52 am
by davgil » Wed Aug 15, 2012 8:45 am
I always enjoy reading about these long routes of yours.
Like jonny616 said I'm amazed you survived on so little water
I'd be taking at least 4 litres for that distance!
Well done again!
by b-illie » Wed Aug 15, 2012 3:33 pm
by Johnny Corbett » Wed Aug 15, 2012 8:29 pm