Kintail overnighter - 3 Cousins, 3 Brothers and 4.6 Sisters
by rockhopper » Tue Sep 25, 2012 5:11 pm
Route description: Five Sisters of Kintail
Munros included on this walk: A' Ghlas-bheinn, Aonach Meadhoin, Beinn Fhada, Ciste Dhubh, Saileag, Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg, Sgurr Fhuaran, Sgurr na Carnach, Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe
Date walked: 21/09/2012
Time taken: 24 hours
Distance: 46 km
Ascent: 4200m16 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: 24hrs [including stops 71/4hrs]
I’d looked at various options for walking these hills all of which seemed to require long road walks, cycling, two cars or buses. The alternative was a loop – probably manageable by someone a lot fitter than me in a day but I decided on taking the tent. On the plus side, it meant I wouldn’t be too pushed for time. However, the downside was the extra weight – large rucksack with full waterproofs, food for two days plus emergencies, 1.5l water, extra warm clothing etc etc all weighed in at 18kg at the start. As things panned out, this weight was OK when on the level or gentle gradients but not good on the steeper sections. Maybe 20 or 30 years ago it would have been more manageable but not so much nowadays. Now have some work to do over the winter to get the weight down by at least a few kilos…
Drove up to Kintail on the Thursday evening so that I could make an earlyish start the following day. Parked at the NTS car park at Morvich, got ready and set off up the track which leads to the Falls of Glomach.
At the track split, headed upwards through Gleann Choinneachan and could see the Bealach an Sgairne ahead.
Crossed the Allt and got to where the track splits off for Beinn Fhada
From there I followed up the track to the top of the bealach where I left my rucksack behind a rock.
Loch a’ Bhealaich
Down to Loch Duich
Followed the track up to the first summit of the day, A' Ghlas-bheinn.
Then headed back to the bealach. Could see some rain passing in the distance but not close to my route.
Back to the bealach or Gates of Affric to pick up my rucksack.
Then retraced my steps back to the track split before heading SE up through the corrie and the zig zag track up the hillside.
Clag and mist came down at this point with a little light rain but didn’t come to much – my load wasn’t going to get lightened by having to don the waterproofs after all. Through some boggy sections and got to the summit of Beinn Fhada but couldn’t see anything.
From here it was a straightforward walk along a broad plateau. Clag was still down but it did clear occasionally to let me see where I was headed.
Turned eastwards towards Sgurr a’Dubh Doire and could see Ciste Dhubh in the distance.
I reckoned I could either go further along and descend closer to Camban bothy or just descend SE from just past Sgurr a’Dubh Doire. Opted for the latter and headed down the hillside skirting the side of a deer fence.
Views appearing as the clag disappeared
Could see Camban bothy in the distance
Stopped to fill up with water – using the two bottles for sterilisation rather than the tablets as the latter never seem to dissolve fast enough in cold water.
Was now down at around 300m - Ciste Dhubh looked rather far away and with a steep looking approach. At least the clag had disappeared and I could pick out a line to ascend.
Crossed the Allt Cam-ban without too much difficulty
Then headed up the side of Cist Dhubh. With the heavy pack, I found this extremely hard going. I think all in it must have taken about two hours to get to the summit – the going was very steep and I stopped frequently. Don’t think I’ll be taking a heavy pack on such steep routes again......
Looking back towards Beinn Fhada
And some other views around
Still further to go up the way
Eventually got to the top of Ciste Dhubh
Sun was out, a bit chilly, could see some bad weather in the distance approaching but didn’t come to anything. Managed to get a signal on the phone to text home.
To the west
Started to head down towards the Bealach a’Choinnich where I planned to spend the night.
Back to Ciste Dhubh
Point at 877m
Got to the bealach which was fairly boggy. When descending Beinn Fhada, I could see what may have been running water to the west of the bealach so headed over there to find a spot to set up the tent. Looking back up towards Ciste Dhubh there was a bird soaring high up but no way could I get a picture with my camera. The deer had been bellowing on and off all day – seemed even louder now and was to continue through the night.
Pitched the tent, got in some water supplies and made dinner. Mountainhouse chilli followed by custard and raisins – just the job. Not a great sunset but still some colour in the sky later on.
The skies cleared and it got very cold. That said, the wind dropped and there were no midges. Not a bad night but ice on the tent and on the inside of the outer cover in the morning.
Having woken very early with the intention of making a start predawn, I cooked up breakfast. Then made the mistake of lying back down again and fell asleep. As a result, I didn’t actually set off until after 0700hrs which did, however, man that I could leave the head torch in my rucksack.
Initially went SE past the various bogs before starting SW up Sgurr an Fhuarail. Couldn’t find a track but at least it wasn’t as steep as my last ascent the previous day.
The sun was gradually appearing with mist still low over Loch Cluanie
Sunlight on the hills over to the west
View upwards was clear
And surrounding views opening up
Got to the top with view east over Loch Cluanie
Headed off towards Aonach Meadhoin which I could see clearly
Over to the south ridge
Not long to get top the summit of Aonach Meadhoin
Next was the walk along the ridge towards Sgurr a' Bhealaich Dheirg
Approach to the summit
Then the summit itself with a large well built cairn after a detour over the rocks
Retraced my steps before continuing along the ridge towards the third Brother, Saileag
Views ahead, across the road and up towards Gleann Lichd
Before getting to the summit of Saileag
Looking back where I’d been
Next I headed down to the Bealach an Lapain – still only late morning I was happy with progress but knew that the hardest part of the day was still to come as I expected the Sisters to be steeper and rockier under foot. There were also five of them….
First up was Sgurr nan Spainteach
After which I could see the track clearly up Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe
Started to tire a bit at this point as the ascents were getting steeper – did wonder a bit as to whether I’d make it but kept going and got to the top
Some views ahead and looking back
Had yet another break before starting off for Sister no. 3, Sgurr na Carnach
Another steep climb
Had met quite a lot of people on this section going in different directions. Stopped to speak with many of them – gave me yet another excuse to get my breath back
Then the summit of Sgurr na Carnach
This left the highest of the five Sisters, Sgurr Fhuaran which looked a bit foreboding from the distance
Still had the views around although it was starting to cloud over quite a bit – no sign of rain fortunately
The approach from the foot of the made it look even worse but the track made it not as bad as it looks
Summit of Sgurr Fhuaran and I now felt I was on the homeward run albeit with one Sister to go.
Zoomed westwards out to sea
Set off downwards towards the final Sister - some nice looking lines towards Sgurr nan Saighead
The low point of the ridge before the ascent is at about 820m with just over 100m ascent to the summit. Part way up I came across a bypass track at around 880m by which time I’d covered around 60% of the ascent. I was really starting to feel the effects of the rucksack weight by this time – as noted earlier, on the level was OK but the ascents were now getting just too hard and I gave in to temptation and opted to take the bypass.
From here on I could either return more directly over Beinn Bhuidhe and Sgurr na Moraich or take the longer but easier/no ascent route down by the Allt Chruinn. Not surprisingly I opted for the latter.
Did get some views over towards Skye – Cuillin and Macleods tables maybe ?
And the final view down over Sgurr an t-Searraich towards Loch Duich
Pleasant enough walk back to the car in the dusk. Got changed, put some money in the car park honesty box and drove back to Glasgow stopping in Fort William at the fish and chip shop.
by pigeon » Tue Sep 25, 2012 5:26 pm
by Johnny Corbett » Tue Sep 25, 2012 6:02 pm
by malky_c » Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:36 pm
Great photos and tough route. I tend to struggle a bit on steep slopes with a heavy load too - time just seems to drain away.
by jonny616 » Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:53 pm
by Bod » Tue Sep 25, 2012 8:06 pm
by RicKamila » Tue Sep 25, 2012 8:07 pm
by Alan S » Tue Sep 25, 2012 8:26 pm
by simon-b » Tue Sep 25, 2012 8:28 pm
Manageable in a day by someone? I believe his name is Steven Fallon...
...but he wouldn't have been carrying the weight you were .
by PeteR » Tue Sep 25, 2012 8:30 pm
by gammy leg walker » Tue Sep 25, 2012 8:34 pm
by rockhopper » Tue Sep 25, 2012 9:42 pm
absolutely - if I lose anymore weight, there won't be much left of mepigeon wrote: when you say you've got some work to lose a few kilo's over the winter,do you mean from you're pack
thanks - certainly makes all the differenceJohnny Corbett wrote: glad to see you're getting a spell of good weather
yup - I end up stopping a lot more frequently and as you say it all adds up - still, I was surprised just how long it took on Ciste Dhubhmalky_c wrote: I tend to struggle a bit on steep slopes with a heavy load too - time just seems to drain away.
jonny616 and Alan S - cheers - it's such a great area that makes it all the easier to get some reasonable photos
Bod - fully agree about Kintail- think I'll be back...but will want to wait for another round of good weather
cheers - I walked up one of them a long time ago and the photo reminded of how flat they were but I'm rather limited by the rather basic camera I useRicKamila wrote: and yes, that looks like MacLeods Tables
simon-b - had a look at your Steven Fallon link and have seen/borrowed some others in the past - think he tends to understate the distances/ascents a bit though......and he also would have to get back to his start
ach - why not give it a go....I only tried for the first time early last year and have really enjoyed the trips so far despite the extra effortPeteR wrote: I'll not be lugging my house on my back though
gammy - cheers...certainly good not to be in clag all the time
by burnsider » Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:25 pm
I was in Kintail on Friday, with my non-hillwalking better half and I must confess that I was looking enviously at the hills - you got a West Highland day to die for and no mistake.
by rocket-ron » Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:30 pm
by Graeme D » Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:36 pm