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Ring of Steall

PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:36 pm
by LeithySuburbs
With winter on the horizon and the dreaded return to GMT imminent, I wanted to get a reasonably big day under my belt for the fine Sunday which was forecast for the Western Highlands. The Ring of Steall seemed to tick this and a few other boxes and after a little procrastinating became the route of choice.

As I set off from the head of Glen Nevis the tops were just shaking off the last of their night-time cloud and blue skies were emerging. I followed the well worn path to the wire bridge and hopped across (it seemed steadier than the last time I crossed but that may have been my imagination...). The path on the other side was unpleasantly boggy and I found myself doing more jumping than walking. Next I had to cross the Allt Coire a' Mhail just below Steall Falls. This was quite a torrent and after a couple of thinking-better-of-it half crossings I headed downstream to find a shallower section. "Better wet feet than an impromptu swim" I thought :crazy:.
Steall Falls.jpg
Steall Falls

To my surprise, with the help of my poles my feet stayed dry as I managed to lurch from one semi-submerged stepping stone to the next. I could see the path heading up into Coire Chadha Chaoruinn but first I had to cross another horrendous bog which involved a detour up the hillside to avoid the worst of :? .

Relieved to be on firm ground I started off at a fair pace on the good steep path to the summit of An Gearanach. I was feeling good and my leg muscles seemed to be working well so I barely stopped until I reached the Munro summit. Here I had brief chat with a couple of ladies from Aberdeen who were also doing the round. Views of Ben Nevis, in particular, were superb. The route ahead was also clear which is always reassuring should the weather deteriorate later.
Ben 2.jpg
The Ben looking fine

Grey Corries.jpg
east to Grey Corries

Binnein Mor.jpg
Binnein Mor from An Gearanach

After a short break it was onwards to An Garbhanach and the next Munro Stob Coire a' Chairn. There was some easy scrambling on this section but I avoided a good chunk of it as the rock was slippy and it didn't seem like the primary purpose of this route. An easy pull brought me to the second Munro where I touched the cairn and moved on.

The route up Am Bodach looked good fun - nice and steep with an infinite choice of routes. There was a bit of a chill now as the breeze had picked up but I was still sweating as I arrived at the summit. 3 down in a little over 3 hours and I decided it was time for a proper lunch break. I chilled down after lunch which gave me a chance to try my new mittens - very cosy :D . There were good views along Loch Leven and of the route completed so far.
Loch Leven.jpg
Loch Leven

An Gearanach.jpg
An Gearanach & An Garbhanach from Am Bodach

Sgurr an Ia.jpg
Sgor an Iubhair from Am Bodach

A light but bracing shower of drizzly snow passed as I descended the bouldery west ridge of Am Bodach but I soon warmed again on the easy graded ascent to Sgurr an Iubhair. Hat and mitts were removed as the sun re-appeared and I could see the Devils Ridge ahead of the final climb to Sgurr a' Mhaim 8) .
Devil Ridge.jpg
Devil's Ridge

Now, I don't know what I was expecting from the ridge but I must confess to being a little underwhelmed by it. A very short lived downclimb followed by a tricky move upwards was about the most interesting scrambling I could find. Did I miss something or have I just been spoiled this year by great days on Skye and the Aonach Eagach? Despite the lack of hands on fun, this was still an enjoyably narrow ridge and I reckon would be great fun in winter.

At the Bealach a' Chip I had a good drink of water and set off for the final Munro of the day. There was plenty of interest as the clag briefly rolled up to the edge of the ridge behind me and I could catch glimpses of Fort William below.
looking back to DR.jpg
looking back to Devil's Ridge

Fort William.jpg
Fort Bill

I reached the summit a little over 5 hours after leaving the car which I considered not bad going having not done any large days recently.

As usual I hobbled my way downhill on the good path back to the road. My knees have started to show the strain of 7 years going up and down hills and I am now forced to take small slow steps and make full use of my trekking poles. Magical views up Glen Nevis compensated for the pain in my knees for the hour and a half it took to reach the road.
upper Glen Nevis.jpg
nice views up Glen Nevis

I followed the charming path on the south side of the river until it crossed over to the road about half way back to the car. The glen was on fire as the evening sun lit up the autumn colours 8) .
amazing colours to end the day

I don't exaggerate to say this walk back up the glen was one of the highlights of my year. A paradise of mountains, water and flora to the sound of the roaring stags. I was sad to finish the walk but thrilled to have enjoyed such a day :D .

Re: Ring of Steall

PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:45 pm
by rockhopper
Enjoyed that Leithy :thumbup: - occasional clag's not too bad especially when you get dramatic shots of the mist rolling into the hills. Know what you mean about the knees - especially at the end of the day - cheers :)

Re: Ring of Steall

PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:46 pm
by pigeon
Great stuff Leithy ,done this a few months back mostly in the clag so always like to see good pics like yours :thumbup: Will defo do this route again,great report ,well done :thumbup:

Re: Ring of Steall

PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:15 pm
by Scotjamie
Excellent report of a great walk Dougie. Some really good pics with it

20 years since I was up on the devil's ridge and also enjoyed it without fear ....but also remember sore knees coming off the hill that day.

However your 5 hour round is almost monty-esque.

Re: Ring of Steall

PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:17 pm
by Collaciotach
Good day out there Leafy....... the snow is not far away :D

Re: Ring of Steall

PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:39 pm
by davedanson28
Cracking photo's! :clap: Enjoyed the read as well. :D

Re: Ring of Steall

PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 11:48 pm
by schalmers
Hello Leithy - we had a chat as you passed us on the Ring yesterday. It was a fantastic day for it and I agree with you both about the autumn colours and the knee strain on the descent.

Re: Ring of Steall

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 12:07 am
by GentianBlue
Hi there, we passed you too, I think at the bealach after Am Bodach. We were staying at the Steall Hut for the weekend so a shorter walk in. The wire bridge on the Friday night, in the dark after all the rain was more of a challenge though!

The autumn colours were certainly terrific.

Re: Ring of Steall

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 12:08 am
by Meatball
Good report. It's a cracking walk!
Wasn't phased by devils ridge either.
I'll do this one again, maybe clockwise this time....

Re: Ring of Steall

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 3:35 am
by Stretch
Love it, Dougie. Wish I had done this when I had the chance, but I kept putting it off. Glad you got a great day in before the darkness comes!

Re: Ring of Steall

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:09 am
by Fudgie
Great stuff Leithy and that was ideal weather you had for the circuit. I share your disappointment about the Devil's Ridge although I did the route in the opposite direction from you.

I think I can see myself in your picture of Binnein Mor :lol:

Re: Ring of Steall

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:27 pm
by ChrisW
What an absolute stunner Leithy, beautiful photos made all the better by the rolling clouds :clap: I had the knee thing going on until I got poles, now I use them all the time (literally from the car and back to the car) and have no knee trouble at all :wink:

Re: Ring of Steall

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:29 pm
by gammy leg walker
Nice one Dougie,loved this one when I did a few months back.

Re: Ring of Steall

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:43 pm
by Paula Hubens
Nice report and great pictures! You make the Devil's Ridge sound easy :lol: ! Might attempt it....

Re: Ring of Steall

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:53 pm
by soulminer
That is what you would want of a day out- a great walk and some fine views to photograph. You pick a great place to walk and took pictures of quality- success 8)