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Saddle, Sgurr na Sgine, 7 Brothers and perfect weather

Saddle, Sgurr na Sgine, 7 Brothers and perfect weather

Postby Alteknacker » Tue Jun 03, 2014 10:31 pm

Munros included on this walk: Aonach Air Chrith, Creag a'Mhàim, Creag nan Dàmh, Druim Shionnach, Maol chinn-dearg, Sgùrr an Doire Leathain, Sgùrr an Lochain, Sgùrr na Sgìne, The Saddle

Date walked: 25/05/2014

Time taken: 13.2 hours

Distance: 29.5 km

Ascent: 3185m

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I’d been anxiously scanning all the weather forecast sites I know of in a rather anally retentive way, probably in the subconscious belief that if I looked often enough and hoped hard enough, the weather would improve.
It doesn’t usually, but this time it did - in that one day looked positive for the North West Highlands: Saturday 24th May!

But also: Damn! That meant travelling on Friday – the start of the Bank Holiday. And I couldn’t get away before late afternoon.
Yes, the expected traffic jam was very frustrating….
Traffic Jam.jpg

…but once into the highlands, everything began to look better. As I drove across Rannoch Moor around 10.30pm, the sky cleared, and the lowering mountains were suddenly clearly visible in the moonlight. I couldn’t prevent a silly grin spreading across my face
silly grin.jpg
, and that happened frequently over the next few hours as the silhouettes of mountains framed the moonlit sky:
back in God’s own country!
The roads were absolutely clear now, and I arrived at Cluanie at 1.15am. Since I didn’t know the area, and anyway was going to be up early, I just pitched the tent next to the flagpoles in front of the inn, finally switching off my head torch at 2.00am.
Image0349. A perfect place to pitch a tent so close to culture...

The plan was to leave the car in the free car park at Cluanie and cycle down to the start point below the Forcan Ridge, to get there at early dawn so as to leave plenty of time to enjoy the anticipated views from the ridge without being under any time pressure.

our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

So it was pretty amazing to get up at 4.00am to find that it was already light enough to see the hills clearly: 4 weeks earlier in Torridon it hadn’t got light until about 5.00am!

Image0350. Clouds wreath the tops at 0430 - view from Cluanie.

Image0351. Looking down Glen Shiel @ 04.40 am.

The signs were most auspicious: just a little cloud wreathing the tops of a few of the hills.

ImageIMG_0352. The start: barely a wisp of cloud on the top of Forcan Ridge - 05.20

ImageIMG_0353. Flowering butterwort. Very common, still beautiful. But I've never seen one that's caught a fly...

ImageIMG_0361. Still pretty dark looking East up Glen Shiel.

ImageIMG_0362. Forcan Ridge comes into view. Not at all as I remembered it from 20 years ago...


ImageIMG_0365. Looking North. West side of Glen Shiel beginning to get the sun, but Shiel Bridge still in shadow.

ImageIMG_0369. Some great scrambling (this down); and I had to do the little boy thing of sticking to the peak of the ridge. Little things please little minds...

ImageIMG_0367. Looking West from Forcan Ridge to what I guess must be Ladhar Bheinn.

ImageIMG_0368. The Saddle, just a short stroll away.

Image]IMG_0370. Lots of landslide debris...

ImageIMG_0384 ...and large tension cracks in paths. This hill ought to be appreciably lower in a few hundred thousand years' time...

ImageIMG_0372. Looking towards The Saddle trig point. Ladhar Bheinn in the background...

ImageIMG_0374. And what a sunrise. Forcan ridge and Glen Shiel from The Saddle.

ImageIMG_0381. I sat down to eat breakfast. Suddenly there was a rustling behind me.... Echoes of Alfred Hitchcock notwithstanding, I couldn't resist sharing a few crumbs of croissant with my sole companion.

ImageIMG_382a. The clouds rolled in as I descended to Bealach Coire Mhalagain, giving some amazing visuals around Easter Buttress.


ImageIMG_0387. I seemed to have got the best of the early morning sun. Cloud was now bearing in.

ImageIMG_0388. ...albeit to varying degrees.[/url]

ImageIMG_0391. On the path to Sgurr na Sgine - a fossilised tapeworm from the gut of a dinosaur .??!!?? Perhaps not....

ImageIMG_0389. No walkers, but a few rather shy locals (Bealach Coire Mhalagain).

ImageIMG_0395. Sgurr na Sgine ahead. Easy walking.

Image IMG_0394. Behind, Forcan Ridge and the Saddle already intermittently in part cloud.

ImageIMG_0398. At the top of Sgurr na Sgine, looking East across Sgurr a Bhac Chaolais towards Creag nan Damh.

ImageIMG_0400. As I munch another croissant I hear a rustle behind me. I wonder if it followed me over from The Saddle...? The Alfred Hitchcock scenario is revived in my imagination... will I survive??? :shock:

ImageIMG_0404. More beautiful things on a small scale...

ImageIMG_0408. Looking back at the descent from the summit of Sgurr na Sgine, which is quite challenging because of the mix of steep gradient and grass. This direct route down would probably be pretty tricky in the wet.

Image IMG_0406. Approaching Sgurr a Bhac Chaolais.

ImageIMG_0411. Creag nan Damh just out of the cloud, Sgurr an Lochain just in... Thankfully the ridge seems to be escaping most of the cloud: the peaks on the North side of Glen Shiel are already shrouded.

ImageIMG_0415. On the way from Sgurr a Bhac Chaolais to Creag nan Damh, looking down the upper part of Glen Quoich.

ImageIMG_0417. Looking East along the ridge from Creag nan Damh towards Sgurr an Lochain, with what I suppose are the Glenquoich peaks- Gleouraich, Creag Coire na Fiar Bhealaich and Spidean Mialach - in the background.

ImageIMG_0418. Looking back, the Saddle already seems a long way off.

ImageIMG_0420. Onwards in absolutely perfect weather: Sgurr an Lochain. Amazed not to have bumped into anyone yet, on a Bank Holiday Saturday...

Image IMG_0423. Looking back along the ridge, The Saddle and Sgurr na Sgine progressively diminish into the distance...

ImageIMG_0427. The ridge seems to stretch out endlessly ahead, although the Glenquoich hills draw nearer. Thankfully the sun is behind the clouds, although visibility is still wonderful. Sgurr an Doire Leathain and Sgurr Coire na Feinne ahead.

ImageIMG_0430. Looking down Glen Quoich towards Loch Cuaich, from the bealach between Sgurr Coire na Feinne and Meall Chin-dearg.

ImageIMG_0433. The views all day, in every direction, were simply breathtaking. This looking South West from the ridge.

ImageIMG_0434. Looking back along the ridge from somewhere around Maol Chinn-dearg.

Quite a few more people now coming from the East end, enjoying the prefect weather.

Although I was blessed with such weather, I would say that the route is eminently doable even in clag, because of the clear ridge and associated path.

ImageIMG_0435. The end in sight: Druim Shionnach and Creag a' Mhaim, from Aonach air Chrith

ImageIMG_0436. A wonderful looking set of hills that this pic doesn't really do justice to: Gleouraich, Creag Coire na Fiar Bhealaich and Spidean Mialach (I think). I must have taken a dozen pics of them as I walked along the ridge.

ImageIMG_0437. The final summit in sight: Creag a' Mheim, from Druim Shionnach. The kind of easy walking that is very welcome at this stage in a long day.

ImageIMG_0438. ...and back to Druim Shionnach....

ImageIMG_0441. Glen Shiel and the Sisters looking at their most alluring in the evening light as I descend towards Cluanie.

Fortunately, none of the usual experiences of a telmatological nature (check it out) :lol:

ImageAfter taking the car to collect the bike from the start, back to contemplate the day over a half of shandy an the establishment of cultural, architectural and historical interest. And then a happy collapse into the tent and a long peaceful sleep.

General summary: quite a straightforward walk, that wouldn't be too difficult to navigate in clag because of the more or less continuous path along the main ridge, and the topography being reasonably easy to read between The Saddle, Sgurr na Sgine and Sgurr a Bhac Chaolais.
Last edited by Alteknacker on Sat Dec 22, 2018 12:32 am, edited 12 times in total.
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Re: Saddle, Sgurr na Signe, 7 Brothers and perfect weather

Postby Fife Flyer » Wed Jun 04, 2014 8:44 pm

Enjoyed the photo's :clap: :clap: however a few of them weren't opening :shock:

Well planned trip, glad to see I am not the only one who checks the forecasts :lol: :lol:
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Re: Saddle, Sgurr na Signe, 7 Brothers and perfect weather

Postby ceaser » Thu Jun 05, 2014 12:59 am

Big walk well done :clap:
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Re: Saddle, Sgurr na Signe, 7 Brothers and perfect weather

Postby Johnny Corbett » Thu Jun 05, 2014 8:58 am

Good effort, thats a long day :clap:
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Re: Saddle, Sgurr na Signe, 7 Brothers and perfect weather

Postby rockhopper » Fri Jun 06, 2014 11:00 pm

Cracking stuff - did this the other way round but bypassed the ridge on the way down so hope to go back for it some time. Long but rewarding day - well done - cheers :)
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