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North Glen Shiel skyline between buses (and a WH celebrity)

North Glen Shiel skyline between buses (and a WH celebrity)

Postby malky_c » Sun Sep 21, 2014 11:55 pm

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

Date walked: 20/09/2014

Time taken: 7.7 hours

Distance: 20 km

Ascent: 2120m

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Munros: Aonach Meadhoin, Sgurr a Bhealaich Dheirg, Saileg, Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe, Sgurr na Carnach, Sgur Fuaran.
Date: 20/09/2014.
Distance: 20km.
Ascent: 2120m.
Time taken: 7 hours, 40 minutes.
Weather: Sunshine and showers.

Back on the big hills again. I was last on the 5 Sisters in 1998 with my dad, and the weather wasn't great. For the last couple of years, it had been my intention to go back in good weather, and probably do the whole northern skyline of Glen Shiel. This fits in well with the bus timetable (for me at least), so I wasn't too bothered about getting the car this weekend. Unlike last month's Munro foray into the Cairngorms, this time I would be following a popular route used by many others on this forum.

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The bus left Inverness 20 minutes late as the door wouldn't open, and didn't make up any time, so I was a little tight for time right from the start.

Cluanie Inn:

There was a faint path up onto the 864m summit of Sgurr an Fuarail, and the weather stayed mostly good for the ascent, with decent views east and over Am Bathach. However the cloud descended on the summit and a shower came on. Not what I was hoping for!

On the way up Sgurr an Fhuarail:

Am Bathach:

Aonach air Crith and Maol Chinn-dearg:

Loch Cluanie:

Looking back from Sgurr an Fhuarail. Worried this is the last of the good weather:

Coire nan Eun:


There was little to see from Aonach Meadhoin, but some minor scrambling steps on the descent westwards to supply interest instead. The weather began to improve again after the col, where I stopped to chat to a couple of people.

Back to Aonach Meadhoin:


Ciste Dubh:


Walkers on the SE ridge of Sgurr a’ Bhealaich Dheirg:

I remembered the diversion off the main ridge onto the narrow summit arête of Sgurr a' Bhealaich Dheirg from my last visit. I went a short way beyond the cairn (awkward to pass, as it blocks the ridge) to find somewhere grassy to stop. The weather was quite pleasant now. Must use the north ridge of this hill for an ascent sometime - it would fit well with a night at Camban.

Summit ridge of Sgurr a’ Bhealaich Dheirg:



Across Glas-choire to Ciste Dubh:

Saileg and the Sisters:

Sgurr na Sgine, the Saddle and the ridge west:

Onward to Saileag, where the walking was mostly easy, aside from a couple of steep knolls which needed to be avoided.

Back to Sgurr a’ Bhealaich Dheirg:

Now I could see the head of Loch Duich and Morvich, as well as the eastern Sisters. Grassy walking down to Bealach an Lapain, and a short way up the other side, before the terrain became rockier.

Strath Croe:

East along Glen Shiel:

…and west:

Sgurr nan Spainteach is a succession of rocky summits, each one slightly higher than the last. Then there was a bit of scrabbling around on loose ground before ascending the strange double spur of Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe. Coming in the opposite direction, this had confused the hell out of us in the mist last time I was up here.

Sgurr nan Spainteach:


Up the glen:

Along Sgurr nan Spainteach to the eastern Sisters:

Saileag and Sgurr a’ Bhealaich Dheirg:

Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe and Sgurr na Carnach:

Cliffs leading to Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe:

Back to Sgurr nan Spainteach:


The weather forecast had suggested a longer spell of afternoon showers, but instead the weather got sunnier and the scenery better. I enjoyed the views directly down onto Glen Shiel, the road seeming to be almost at my feet at this point. I filled my water bottle from a rather grim pool - I had forgotten that my route would be exclusively on high ridges and only packed my usual litre.

Shiel Bridge and Ratagain:

Loch Duich:

Sgurr na Carnach and Sgurr Fuaran:

Back to Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe:

Loch Duich and the mouth of Glen Shiel:

Big Ben:

Sgurr na Carnach provided an impressive second lunch stop and a steep descent, then it was on to the final pull up Sgurr Fuaran. This was quite bouldery in places, and I was greeted by a guy with a dog at the summit. I had a feeling I knew who this was, as the dog looked familiar somehow...it turned out to be Collaciotach :) . He had done the same route as me, and intended to camp somewhere before heading home on Sunday. The route had been shorter than expected though, so he decided to skip the camping part. We walked off down to Ault a' Chruin together instead.

Last haul of the day to Sgurr Fuaran:

Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe and Sgurr nan Spainteach:


Back to Sgurr na Carnach:


The east ridge of Sgurr Fuaran:

Although there was too much cloud for a decent sunset, there was a lovely evening light as we passed over Sgurr nan Saighead. In fact, we ended up missing the actual summit as there was a contouring path around the back of the highest point. Not that it mattered, as we still saw the best of the impressive slabs on the Glen Lichd side of the ridge.

Sgurr nan Saighead, last of the 3000ers:


Beinn Fada:

Back to Sgurr Fuaran:

On Sgurr nan Saighead:


…looking to Sgurr na Moraich:

As time was moving on, we decided to miss out the 5th sister (Sgurr na Moraich) and drop directly down towards the path following the Allt a' Chruin. After a short amount of rough ground, this gave us an easy walk back down into Ault a' Chruin.

Sgurr an t-Searrach:

Sgurr an Airgid and head of Loch Duich:

Looking back up the Allt a Chruin:

We still had 40 minutes or so before the bus, so Colla tried to hitch back to his car. I decided to make it easier for him by getting out of the way, and went into the Jac-o-bite restaurant for a pint. I'm sure this used to be a ropey greasy spoon, but it is quite posh now, and I felt a bit out of place. The menu looked nice though, and I had a bowl of soup with my pint. The Kintail Lodge hotel would have been more appropriate, but I didn't have enough time to walk down there before my bus came.

When I came out for the bus, Colla had had no luck hitching. Unfortunately when the bus rolled up, it had the same a.rsehole driver on it as the morning one, and he wasn't about to bend the rules and let a dog on the bus. That left Colla to go back to hitching - hope you managed to get a lift without too much bother in the end.

Good to meet another forum member (one who's reports I have often enjoyed too), and a great day out on the higher hills again :D
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Re: North Glen Shiel skyline between buses (and a WH celebri

Postby martin.h » Mon Sep 22, 2014 2:18 pm

Great report and fantastic photo's, you've captured the mood of the day brilliantly.
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Re: North Glen Shiel skyline between buses (and a WH celebri

Postby dooterbang » Mon Sep 22, 2014 3:09 pm

I hope Colla made it home :shock:

Need to try a bowl of soup when up that way, I also remember that place looking dodgy!

Glad you got round to doing these again, a fab walk.
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Re: North Glen Shiel skyline between buses (and a WH celebri

Postby RiverSong » Mon Sep 22, 2014 6:34 pm

Lovely photos, I feel I've done the walk now :clap:
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Re: North Glen Shiel skyline between buses (and a WH celebri

Postby dogplodder » Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:23 pm

Really enjoyed that - your photos are superb and brought back so many memories. :D

I didn't know buses won't take dogs - seems a bit harsh considering the size of that particular mutt. :?
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Re: North Glen Shiel skyline between buses (and a WH celebri

Postby spiderwebb » Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:38 pm

Beautiful photos :clap:
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Re: North Glen Shiel skyline between buses (and a WH celebri

Postby simon-b » Mon Sep 22, 2014 8:24 pm

Welcome back to the big hills, Malky. It's good to see you got those great views, it's a superb ridge. Nice to see the picture of Strath Croe, one of my favourite bases for Scottish visits. The Jacobite's a nice place too; I don't think it's too posh, and it has a beautiful view over Loch Duich. I hope Collaciotach managed to get a lift.
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Re: North Glen Shiel skyline between buses (and a WH celebri

Postby scottishkennyg » Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:12 pm

Cracking photos which capture the route well...shame about the bus driver. For all the time that they would have been on the bus too...
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Re: North Glen Shiel skyline between buses (and a WH celebri

Postby nathan79 » Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:38 pm

BEtter conditions than I had up Saileag on the Friday. Clag clag and more clag for me, ditched plans to take in Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg as well.
I was over on Sgur an Airgid on the Saturday, much better weather.
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Re: North Glen Shiel skyline between buses (and a WH celebri

Postby Fife Flyer » Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:46 pm

Nice one Malky, some great photo's :clap:

The Sisters (possibly the whole ridge) is a definite next year, your photo's showed me what I missed on the Brothers in the clag :lol:
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Re: North Glen Shiel skyline between buses (and a WH celebri

Postby AnnieMacD » Wed Sep 24, 2014 12:07 am

Great walk and report Malky. Admirable that you can fit such a long walk in between buses - your time estimates must be pretty accurate. Now that I've had a taste of the Kintail hills I'll be doing this bunch, but in two or three trips. :roll:

Hope Colla got a lift - what a miserable bus system that is that wouldn't take An Cu.
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Re: North Glen Shiel skyline between buses (and a WH celebri

Postby Collaciotach » Wed Sep 24, 2014 6:53 am

Hello Malky that is me just back :lol: :lol:

Enjoyed the company a bhalaich and aye a miserable specimen indeed was that bus driver.

I did indicate he was a miserable fat b*rsteward ,that getting up off his hefty erse must have been hard work and a we ridge walk would do his frame the world of good :D

We got a lift after about 1hr from a nice Polish family on holiday back in A'Shuaineirt by 11pm so not bad at all :wink:
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Re: North Glen Shiel skyline between buses (and a WH celebri

Postby electricfly » Thu Sep 25, 2014 6:48 pm

Collaciotach wrote:Hello Malky that is me just back :lol: :lol:

:lol: :clap: :lol:

Enjoyed reading that report Malky, however it did bring some traumatic memories back from a few months ago. :lol:

What is it with dug-hating bus drivers? Trains have never had a problem with them, so why are buses such a pain? :crazy:
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Re: North Glen Shiel skyline between buses (and a WH celebri

Postby Alteknacker » Thu Sep 25, 2014 11:54 pm

Fantastic pics, and a great read. :clap: :clap: :clap: You really had some wonderful light.

This is one I had been hoping to do this year, but circumstances have conspired against it, so I guess it's likely to be next year now.

I'm impressed that you trust buses. I'm completely sold on using a bike for long ridge walks, and I did that earlier in the year for the South Ridge from the Saddle to the East end (and a number of other linear ridges). I can't recommend it highly enough.
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Re: North Glen Shiel skyline between buses (and a WH celebri

Postby rockhopper » Fri Sep 26, 2014 10:11 pm

Alteknacker wrote:I'm impressed that you trust buses. I'm completely sold on using a bike for long ridge walks.....
I wouldn't give him ideas....or before long you'll see malky cycling here from Inverness :lol: :wink:

Enjoyed that, malky - looks like it was worth the wait for the return vist - great views down over Loch Duich - cheers :)
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