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Kintail Siblings and a Mountain of Scree

Kintail Siblings and a Mountain of Scree


Postby weaselmaster » Mon Sep 23, 2013 2:42 pm

Munros included on this walk: Aonach Meadhoin, Beinn Sgritheall, Saileag, Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg, Sgurr Fhuaran, Sgurr na Carnach, Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe

Date walked: 22/09/2013

Time taken: 15.3 hours

Distance: 33.1 km

Ascent: 3569m

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Ever since an abortive attempt to climb the 5 Sisters in July which had to be abandoned due to "sickly child" being, well - sickly - I've been keen to experience these hills. I'd spent a bit of time looking at a selection of possible routes. The first was a 2 day trek over the full ridge of Beinn Fhada from Morvich, camp near Camban and return along the Brothers & Sisters ridges. However, it seemed the ridge over Fhada was maybe a little tricky with a full pack, and to be honest I didn't really fancy doing the North Shiel Ridge fully laden either. So the alternative was to have a nice long walk down Glean Lichd as far as Camban and head back to Morvich along the hill ridge.

Weather however had a role to play, with the forecast for the weekend being gales from the SW on saturday afternoon onwards. Damn :roll:

Drove up after work on Friday and - eschewing our usual wild camping option - camped in Shiel Bridge campsite. We'd be there for 2 nights and might like the safety of a site if it was going to be gales right enough. Campsite was very quiet, clean and good hot showers - would happily stay here again.
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P1040361 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Lying in the tent we decided that, given the forecast suggesting weather worsening as the day went on, we'd reverse the route, tackling the hills first and leaving the low level path for our return route. Parked at the Outdoor Centre at Morvich, looking at the interesting ridge of Beinn Fhada
Image
P1040363 by 23weasels, on Flickr

and walked back to the start of the usual route up Bidean Dubh the Beinn Bhuidhe from Ault-a'Chruinn. The path follows the Allt up, past a series of waterfalls and gives some impressive views back over Loch Duich.
Image
P1040370 by 23weasels, on Flickr

As we mounted the slopes of Beinn Bhuidhe we could see the imposing shape of Sgurr nan Saighead ahead of us, with the tops of the hills shrouded in mist. The route passes along the side of an impressive corrie, with slabs falling steeply away to the NE.
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P1040373 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1040374 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1040377 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1040379 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1040384 by 23weasels, on Flickr


Sgurr Fhuran rose up ahead, some jaggy pinnacles of rock visible through the mist.

Image
P1040386 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View back to L Duich
Image
P1040387 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1040388 by 23weasels, on Flickr

A short rocky ascent led to the top, followed by descent to Sgurr na Carnach.
Image
P1040390 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Carnach
Image
P1040392 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Summit Carnach
Image
P1040396 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Near the top of this ascent there's a little bit of scrambling, which is easier going up than I imagine it would be in descent as the rocks were somewhat greasy in the wet. Descending to Sgurr na Ciste Dubh we met a party of 4 walkers, later on another 2 - the sum total of everyone we saw on the hills that day, which I found surprising for a Saturday in September - maybe the weather forecast put everyone else off. Actually there was very little wind and the visibility on the summits was far better than I'd been fearing.

Looking over to Saddle
Image
P1040399 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View North
Image
P1040400 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Bach to L Duich
Image
P1040402 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Top Sgurr na Ciste Dubhe
Image
P1040403 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View back to Fhuran
Image
P1040408 by 23weasels, on Flickr

We trotted off the the Spanish hill, with great views back across to the Sisters we'd already climbed and headed down to the Bealach an Lapain.
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P1040409 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Summit of the Spaniards' Hill
Image
P1040411 by 23weasels, on Flickr


South view
Image
P1040412 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Back to The Sisters from Bealach na Lapain
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P1040418 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Glean Lichd
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P1040419 by 23weasels, on Flickr

First decision time - we could just call a halt here and head north from the bealach down to Glean Lichd - as I'd already climbed the Brothers I didn't mind either way. Allison was up for continuing, which pleased me as when I'd done the Brothers in July it had been in complete clag & i saw nothing.

Sisters from top of Saileag
Image
P1040420 by 23weasels, on Flickr

We quickly gained the summit of Saileag and headed across to Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg, with its cairn on a wee rocky outcrop.
Image
P1040421 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Ciste Dubh with Sgurr nan Ceathreamhran behind.
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P1040422 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Sisters, Saileag
Image
P1040423 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Rocky outcrop cairn on SaBD
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P1040425 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1040426 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Descending from here it was clear that Allison was tiring. She wanted to complete the ridge, so we headed up to Aonach Meadhoin, enjoying the little narrow rocky section.

Aonach Meadhoin
Image
P1040428 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Summit AM with Ciste Dubh behind
Image
P1040429 by 23weasels, on Flickr

I'd wondered about retreating back to the bealach between that and Sa'BD and heading down Coire nan Eun or pressing on down the N shoulder of Sgurr an Fhuarail to Bealach a'Choinich, but by this time it was getting on for 5pm and the weather was turning a bit nasty - winds getting up a bit, clag descending and rain beginning.
Image
P1040431 by 23weasels, on Flickr

I reckoned it would take us at least 3 hours to traipse along Glean Lichd - which - lovely glen though it might be, was not going to be at its best in the current conditions, and we'd need a headtorch finish. As I had plans for another hill on the Sunday, I thought that the Sickly One might prefer plan B - namely to head down the SE shoulder of Fhuarail towards that haven The Claunie Inn.
Image
P1040432 by 23weasels, on Flickr

This was definately a good idea! We slipped and slid on the grassy slopes down towards the road, got to the Cluanie just gone 6pm and ordered a welcome pint and meal. From the timetable on the wall it seemed there was a bus that would take us back up to Ault a'Chruinn at 18.38

Waiting outside the Inn in the rain, midge attack on moderate wasn't the best fun. Especially when no bus came. 10, 15 minutes passed, then a white coach pulls up - turns out it was replacing the Citylink bus that had been in an accident earlier. The friendly driver had no idea where Ault a'Chruinn might be - said it was 9 years since he'd driven this route, but let us on and charged us nothing at all for the pleasure of a warm and dry ride back up Glen Shiel. Brilliant! Because I'd anticipated coming back from Glean Lichd, I'd chosen the Outdoor centre to park in, which involved a couple of miles walk - the parking spaces beside the Jac-O-Bite would have been much more sensible in doing the route we ended up on. However, we made it to the car and headed back to the campsite - nice not to have to bother putting the tent up in the dark at the end of a long day.

Image
P1040433 by 23weasels, on Flickr

We settled down for a wet and windy night and reflected that this was probably a good way of setting about the North Shiel Ridge.

Good mobile reception at the campsite meant that we could get a check on the weather forecast for Sunday. Gales of 55mph with "ferocious gusts of 75mph", cloud down to 200m and rain was the news that greeted us. Neither of us slept well maybe due to the battering rain all night, and it would have been easy when faced with a forecast of that nature to just pack up and go home. But that is not the Way of the Weasel. Oh no. As WH Murray would have it - "it's heresy to consider that all weather's not climbing weather". So we decided to go for the original plan for the day which was to tackle Beinn Sgritheall. I was skeptical about the weather being as bad as forecast, given yesterday's experience, but did decide to wait a bit before setting out. The drive down from Shiel Bridge is twisty and, on a day with visibility, likely to be very pretty. Passed through Glen Elg then on to Arnisdale where we parked along the waterfront, just past the sign for Sgritheall. We'd put our full waterproofs on to dismantle the tent at the campsite so felt a bit overdressed when we got out the car and found it was just drizzly. Was a warm breeze too.
Image
P1040461 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Loch Hourn & Ladhar Bheinn
Image
P1040435 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Up an initially boggy section of heather alongside the stream, then onto a good path that wends its way up the early slopes towards the bealach with beinn na h-eaglaise. The cloud was sitting at around 400m, so it was apparent that no views were going to be had today. We took a last view over Loch Hourn and the lower slopes of Ladhar Beinn before entering into the mists.

Ascent route
Image
P1040437 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Pretty Autumnal Colours
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P1040438 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Streams replenished by last night's rain
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P1040439 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1040440 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Views back to Arnisdale
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P1040441 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1040446 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Into the mists
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P1040445 by 23weasels, on Flickr

The route ascends alongside the Allt a'Mhuillin before turning at 90 degrees from the bealach up the final slopes of the mountain. I had read various reports about Sgritheall being a very steep hill, but didn't seem uncommonly steep to me. 250m of loose scree to Ganu Mhor on Foinaven was steep, but this was OK :wink: Allison was maybe of a different opinion and seemed to be moving in slow motion up the last stretch, despite having had a lunch stop to re-fuel. Time for the Weasel to nip up to the top :lol:

Sat at the 906 top for a bit waiting for the Zombie one to reach me, then we trekked over to the summit of the hill, about 1kn from the first top. By this time the wind had risen significantly and was blowing across us, but never causing real problems. There's a very short section of exposed grassy ridge just before the summit of Sgritheall, but we were in no danger of being pitched off the top. Came to the cairn with its shattered trig point.
Image
P1040447 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Just about able to see...
Image
P1040448 by 23weasels, on Flickr

A mix of rain and clag made visibility poor - my glasses constantly fogged up and the journey down over grey rocks in grey mist seen through grey-misted glasses was quite annoying. Fairly soon the rocks gave way to grassy slopes and the remainder of the descent was easier going. We emerged out of the clag to view the islets Eilean a'Chuilinn & Eilean Rarsaidh appearing to float in the air in a silver grey sea.
Image
P1040453 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1040455 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Then down through a delightful wooded area with narrow eroded muddy paths often with sizeable drops below - needed some care. After splashing through a succession of muddy puddles we came upon the road more quickly than expected and tramped the couple of miles back to the car. Despite having no views i really enjoyed this hill, and I felt that bit closer to it for having encountered it on a day like today when not another soul was out and the mist kept the focus on where you were rather on views to somewhere else.
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P1040459 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1040460 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Arnisdale looks a beautiful, peaceful little hamlet - particularly liked the Post Office that's located in a wooden shed behind one of the houses. Didn't manage to identify the "Tea Hut" but by this time it was 5pm and time to get down the road. Stopped off at the Cluanie for another meal before the drive back down, mostly in the dark - a disadvantage of this time of year - I did like the long summer evenings and light until 10pm.
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weaselmaster
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Re: Kintail Siblings and a Mountain of Scree

Postby malky_c » Mon Sep 23, 2013 2:58 pm

Long days as usual. I'd quite like to do the whole of the N side of Glen Shiel in one go - the 5 sisters are long due a re-visit :) . Lucky your friendly bus driver didn't charge you - would've been £7.50 each :shock: .

There was definitely much less wind than forecast this weekend. I was rather hoping to see how my tent would cope in it, but just ended up getting really wet instead :?
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Re: Kintail Siblings and a Mountain of Scree

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Sep 23, 2013 3:10 pm

malky_c wrote:Long days as usual. I'd quite like to do the whole of the N side of Glen Shiel in one go - the 5 sisters are long due a re-visit :) . Lucky your friendly bus driver didn't charge you - would've been £7.50 each :shock: .

There was definitely much less wind than forecast this weekend. I was rather hoping to see how my tent would cope in it, but just ended up getting really wet instead :?


Have to say I preferred the North ridge to the South one overall.
Would quite like to do the North ridge one day, stop off overnight in the Cluanie and return via the South the next day - not least to avoid the exorbitant bus ticket price - £7.50 to go a dozen miles?? blimmin' heck :crazy:
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Re: Kintail Siblings and a Mountain of Scree

Postby PeteR » Mon Sep 23, 2013 3:27 pm

Another weaslemaster epic Alistair :D

Shame about the weather, but you both seem to have enjoyed yourselves by the looks of it :D The Brothers, Sisters and Scree Hill are all great hills :D I'd have them all on my list to repeat at some point in the future.
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Re: Kintail Siblings and a Mountain of Scree

Postby rockhopper » Mon Sep 23, 2013 11:41 pm

Would certainly agree with you - the north side is a great ridge to walk :thumbup: Had an overnight trip up here on the same weekend last year and really enjoyed it - looks like you did too despite the weather - cheers :)
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Re: Kintail Siblings and a Mountain of Scree

Postby basscadet » Tue Sep 24, 2013 8:39 am

Och, shame we didn't know you were in Kintail, we were car camped at the old bridge next to the battlefield :D

Didn't venture up the hills on Sunday though, you must be hardier by far to enjoy that weather.. :roll:
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Re: Kintail Siblings and a Mountain of Scree

Postby weaselmaster » Tue Sep 24, 2013 1:40 pm

basscadet wrote:Och, shame we didn't know you were in Kintail, we were car camped at the old bridge next to the battlefield :D

Didn't venture up the hills on Sunday though, you must be hardier by far to enjoy that weather.. :roll:


Not hardier, BC, just more insane :crazy: :lol:
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Re: Kintail Siblings and a Mountain of Scree

Postby dogplodder » Wed Sep 25, 2013 4:33 pm

That was a pretty impressive walk for the so called sickly child. Think you'll have to come up with new title for her! :lol:
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Re: Kintail Siblings and a Mountain of Scree

Postby battie72 » Wed Sep 25, 2013 5:37 pm

dogplodder wrote:That was a pretty impressive walk for the so called sickly child. Think you'll have to come up with new title for her! :lol:


Thankyou dogplodder! :clap:
I do take some serious stick in these reports. Some people find it amazing that I'm able to get out and about at all the way the weaselmaster goes on!
Just as well I'm good natured and have a sense of humour :wink:
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Re: Kintail Siblings and a Mountain of Scree

Postby brpro26 » Wed Sep 25, 2013 9:22 pm

Yer starting tae reinvent the meaning of the word Epic with all these long truncated walks in challenging conditions.
Wait a minute...your from Greenock and the Seek-o-Walkin one comes from Gourock, your both in your natural habitat, wind, rain, mist and nae views.... :lol:

Like the idea of doing both again with a stop over but reckon I'd prefer staying in the "double garage" Bothy at Kintail Lodge car park, the beer and banter is better. South ridge from Cluanie then back via the Sibling Ridge.

Nice One. :clap:
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