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Three for the price of four on the South Glenshiel Ridge

Three for the price of four on the South Glenshiel Ridge


Postby AnnieMacD » Mon Sep 15, 2014 8:11 pm

Munros included on this walk: Aonach Air Chrith, Maol chinn-dearg, Sgurr an Doire Leathain

Date walked: 13/09/2014

Time taken: 11 hours

Distance: 17 km

Ascent: 1430m

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Track_2014-09-13 South Shiel Ridge mid3.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


I had been reading Ralph Storer's description of his favourite route on the South Glenshiel Ridge which included only two Munros - Aonach air Chrith and Maol Chinn-dearg. The ascent would be via A' Chioch and the descent down Druim Coire nan Eirecheanach and what's more you return to the same spot as where you started. I did not want to have to walk/hitch on the Glenshiel road and I thought two tops would be a good introduction to the ridge for me. However, when I started looking into the route of ascent there were some scary stories of the scrambling on Druim na Ciche. There was one Walk Highlands report (from Ridgerunner) and he seemed to find it quite easy so I PM'd him for more info. Unfortunately he didn't respond so I had to make my own decision.

After a lot more research I came up with a different route taking in the middle three Munros but the disadvantage was doubling back to Maol Chinn-dearg to attain the ridge of descent.

Route of ascent up Druim Thollaidh. Maol Chinn-dearg on the left and Sgurr an Doire Lethain in the cloud on the right.
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-3 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

From the same spot - the proposed route of descent. Aonach air Chrith is also in cloud on the left.
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-4 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

The path starts right at the parking lay-by but you have to branch off to the right after crossing the burn to start the climb of Druim Thollaidh. The burn is the last place to top up with water for these three hills. It's a great ridge climb. Initially I kept losing the path but once the ridge narrows it's impossible to deviate off it. At the top is Sgurr Coire na Feinne (902m) and by now I was in the mist. The forecast indicated the tops would clear by 10 - 11am so I took a right and headed off towards Sgurr an Doire Lethain after putting on a couple of layers. Very occasionally there was a glimpse of what was around me and I had high hopes of a clear, warm day ahead. It was not to be!

The ridge up. It's a lovely walk - if only there were some views.
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-5 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Further up - doesn't look too hopeful.
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-6 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

A little bit of colour from the flora! You can see the Glenshiel road far below.
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-7 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

On the main ridge.
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-8 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

I followed the path and got to the cairn at what I thought might be the summit but had to check and double check as there seemed to be higher ground ahead, but this was an optical illusion. This was IT! I took one photo and went back the way I had come. There are a few muddy-looking peat bogs up near the summit and may be OK for water for dogs but not for human consumption - there are lots of deer prints around them!

Summit cairn of Sgurr an Doire Leathan.
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-9 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

I bypassed Sgurr Coire na Feinne on the way back and headed up for Maol Chinn-dearg. It was an easy walk with nothing to see except one short glimpse of Loch Quoich far below to the south.

Summit cairn of Maol Chinn-dearg (take 1).
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-10 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

I didn't stop at the summit except to take a photo and took note of the ridge where I would descend. Off again towards Aonach air Chrith. Up to this point I met or saw not a soul but now things started to change. Firstly I met a guy who was pretty upset about the lack of views as this was his second time doing the ridge and it was the same the last time he did it. Also, the cloud did start to lift somewhat and I started seeing the walk ahead. For me this was the most interesting part of the day. It's a varied ridge walk with a little scrambling and lots of ups and downs. I kept meeting people and stopped to speak to them all - this took up quite a bit of time as I seemed to be the only person going against the flow!

Heading towards Aonach air Chrith. Mist lifting and people on the ridge.
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-11 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Across the glen to the south are the duo of Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach - they are now high on my list!
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-12 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

The summit of Aonach air Chrith shows up. Whoopee I can see something at last.
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-13 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Looking over to Loch Quoich over the shoulder of Gleouraich.
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-14 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Looking back to Maol Chinn-dearg which is now clear.
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-15 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

A group of seven people coming down the shoulder of Aonach air Chrith - they looked like spiders. The summit is way over to the left.
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-16 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Aonach air Chrith has to be one of the best named hills in the Highlands. Most names are pretty boring and are variations on a theme - big, small, medium, grey, white, black, red or female body parts :( But this hill - I just kept repeating it all the way up "Aonach air Chrith, Aonach air Chrith". It sounds lovely and it gives one a frission of excitement. I'm not sure if it's the ridge that shivering or the person walking it :lol:

Summit of Aonach air Chrith with the ridge beyond.
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-17 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

I went over to the start of Druim na Ciche which is the top of A'Chioch (my original plan for ascent). It looked a bit scary from here but there may have been some bypasses. I still don't know if I should have tried it :?

Druim na Ciche up which I did not come!
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-18 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Looking west to Druim Shionnach. I'll leave that for another day.
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-19 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Looking east to Glen Loyne and Loch Loyne.
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-20 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Back to Maol Chinn-dearg where I'm now heading.
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-21 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Looking down to Alltbeithe. The slopes of Gleouraich on the left and Sgurr a'Mhaoraich is on the right.
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-22 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Zoomed in on Alltbeithe. Lots of activity here - not sure what is being constructed.
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-23 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

A ray of sunshine on the Claunie Inn - but the haze did not clear all day.
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-24 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

A splash of colour on the top of Maol Chinn-dearg (take 2).
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-25 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Sgurr a'Mhaoraich from Maol Chinn-dearg.
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-26 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

I spent a while on the second visit to Maol Chinn-dearg as the visibility had improved but I still could not see any details of the north ridge or beyond. Druim Coire na Eirecheanach is a great ridge until you reach the zig-zags. Then I found it a bit tedious! However, I was glad to get back to the burn as I had drunk the last of my water. Glad it wasn't a hot day after all!

The top of Druim Coire nan Eirecheanach heading down.
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-27 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

A puff of cloud looking towards my ascent ridge. Sgurr an Doire Lethain is now also clear in the distance.
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-28 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Looking back up Druim Coire nan Eirecheanach before I reached the zig-zags.
ImageSouth Glenshiel Ridge (3 Mid)-29 by anniesmountains, on Flickr

Oh, and did I mention the deer keds? They were horrible on the way up and one even got into my mouth :shock: I managed to get it out but not without difficulty! I didn't experience them on the ridge at all but met them again on the way down. I don't remember ever seeing or hearing of these creatures before but I have to say they are not as troublesome as the midges or even clegs as I have never been bitten by one - not even the one in my mouth!

In summary, I really enjoyed the hills but missed the views. I'll be back to do the two 'ends' and hope for better weather. I feel I've cracked open the box of mysteries that is Kintail!
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AnnieMacD
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Re: Three for the price of four on the South Glenshiel Ridge

Postby clivegrif » Mon Sep 15, 2014 8:21 pm

Great report Annie, with super pictures as ever. Kintail is somewhere to spend many a happy day, wonderful mountains!
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Re: Three for the price of four on the South Glenshiel Ridge

Postby Silverhill » Tue Sep 16, 2014 9:39 pm

Enjoyed reading your report Annie, and your pictures are great even in the mist! :D This surely is an awesome ridge, which I hope to do the summer after next. 8)
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Re: Three for the price of four on the South Glenshiel Ridge

Postby CatoTheYounger » Wed Sep 17, 2014 10:49 am

Hello Annie, thanks for the lift back to my van, it was a tough day on the north ridge but a rewarding one.
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Re: Three for the price of four on the South Glenshiel Ridge

Postby scottishkennyg » Wed Sep 17, 2014 1:09 pm

Grand day there Annie, Alltbeithe looked different from that angle, will watch your post for an update on the activities..
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Re: Three for the price of four on the South Glenshiel Ridge

Postby litljortindan » Wed Sep 17, 2014 8:28 pm

Like the figures on the ridge, the dark cloud over Loch Quoich, the sun beams and the solitary sinking or rising or floating fluffy white cloud.
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Re: Three for the price of four on the South Glenshiel Ridge

Postby AnnieMacD » Wed Sep 17, 2014 8:58 pm

clivegrif wrote:Great report Annie, with super pictures as ever. Kintail is somewhere to spend many a happy day, wonderful mountains!

Thanks, Clive. I'm looking forward to spending many hours there next year!
Silverhill wrote:Enjoyed reading your report Annie, and your pictures are great even in the mist! :D This surely is an awesome ridge, which I hope to do the summer after next. 8)

Thanks, Siverhill. I can't believe you know already what you are doing the year after next! I decide on Friday night what I'm doing on Saturday. :shock:
CatoTheYounger wrote:Hello Annie, thanks for the lift back to my van, it was a tough day on the north ridge but a rewarding one.
You are very welcome. You had had a much tougher day than I did and then the long road walk back. Hope you got a good sleep that night.
scottishkennyg wrote:Grand day there Annie, Alltbeithe looked different from that angle, will watch your post for an update on the activities..

I don't know what was going on. There were loads of yellow diggers and trucks. There also seems to be quite the road system and all for one house. Hmmm something fishy going on there I suspect.
litljortindan wrote:Like the figures on the ridge, the dark cloud over Loch Quoich, the sun beams and the solitary sinking or rising or floating fluffy white cloud.

Thanks. I was a bit disappointed in the visibility as I had high hopes for seeing for miles and miles. The wee fluffy cloud floated a bit up the corrie and then dispersed.
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Re: Three for the price of four on the South Glenshiel Ridge

Postby rockhopper » Wed Sep 17, 2014 8:59 pm

Nice one, Annie - good photos as ever :thumbup:
That's an interesting route - don't think I've seen similar before - I guess you trade off doubling back against not having to go along the road - cheers :)
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Re: Three for the price of four on the South Glenshiel Ridge

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Sep 18, 2014 10:19 am

Very original route :D Good if you want to do South Shiel ridge in chunks. The mist was so nasty last weekend, hope this one will be better for views... Maybe the keds will be less annoying, too. I don't know what's worse - one in your mouth or one wriggling into your ear? :lol:

We did the easternmost 3 Munros of this ridge last year, starting and finishing by Cluanie Inn - that's a way to climb half of the ridge without returning along the road (which I hate!). Your version is good for the middle chunk, but I guess we are going to do the western four in one go anyway - probably not this year, days are getting too short. We'll use one of the two Druims as a descent route.

So now when you tasted Glen Shiel, what's the next ridge you fancy? :wink:
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Re: Three for the price of four on the South Glenshiel Ridge

Postby ancancha » Thu Sep 18, 2014 12:51 pm

Good to hear the knee has recovered from your adventure a few weeks ago.
Despite the mist some nice clear photos :clap:
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