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Saddle, Sgurr na Signe and South Glen Shiel Ridge
by scotdavid63 » Sun Jul 05, 2015 3:43 pm
Route description: South Glen Shiel Ridge: 7 Munros
Munros included on this walk: Aonach Air Chrith, Creag a'Mhaim, Creag nan Damh, Druim Shionnach, Maol chinn-dearg, Sgurr an Doire Leathain, Sgurr an Lochain, Sgurr na Sgine, The Saddle
Date walked: 03/07/2015
Time taken: 13 hours
Distance: 33.8 km
Ascent: 2924m2 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
8.24am Friday, fuelled by weetabix and bananas, carrying six rolls, bottles of water (planning to refill), hula hoops (x3), brekkie bars/flapjacks (x12), energy gels etc, parked car at Ridge lay by and head up the hill, traversed over to the excellent path that goes up to the west side of Meallan Odhar. Very decent way to start the day without a killer ascent. Does not take long to hit Bealach na Craoibhe. Turn left and after a wee while you then have the decision point of the scramble up Sgurr na Forcan or take the bypass path to the left and traverse around. Cameron (12) wanted to do the scramble so off we set - no wind to speak of and dry conditions so little risk for him and me. However, not a good decision for the dog, getting him up/down/over slabs and steep/exposed parts was a nightmare. Cameron was very upset that we had chosen this way up and I do not recommend it for dogs. First thing in the day for this was good, legs fresh, brain not tired etc. Doing this as a descent if starting at the Cluanie side might be hard.
Once up top there is a wee bit of scrambling down to a mini bealach before a simple walk up to the Saddle, munro #1 of the day. By this point we had already consumed and refilled one water bottle. 2hrs 55mins to here, the dog cost us 20mins plus on the scramble so we were going slower than planned.
The descent to the old dry stone dyke is simple and to cross over Bealach Coire Mhalagain is straighforward. Dog a bit happier as he could get a wee swim and drink on the way over. Ascent to the 880m mid point between Faochag and Sgurr na Signe is straightforward, turn right and follow the path up to the summit is fine as well although a bit steep in places. Munro #2 in 4hrs 13mins and just over 8km of distance, slow for us, we are usually almost at 2.5km per hour.
I had read another report on this site that was now pretty helpful, to get off Sgurr na Signe from the top, turn SW for a 200m-300m then South to the dry stone dyke which is easy to find, turn left on the dyke and follow it to the fence posts on Bealach an Toteil, again easy in clear conditions. The fence post line is helpful although very steep at one point going up Sgurr a Bhac Chaolais. Here's the first killer (barring the dog on the Saddle scramble) - you get up to 885m then down to 730m (where the normal ridge path meets up) at Bealach Duibh Leac before heading up to Creag nan Damh. We got to our 3rd munro, first on the ridge, after 6hrs and 16mins and 12.75km. Met a guy who had parked his car with us but then hitched up to Cluanie, it had taken him 5hrs 30mins to get across the ridge, he was part running and was low on water. If there is a story here it is that you cannot take enough water ! He pointed out that the recent rain meant we could skim off the top of the puddles at the top but he had a 3L bladder so was rationing himself. By this time it was hot ! According to my Suunto it got to 29.9 degrees C during the day.
From here the path to Sgurr an Lochain is fine but going down to 730m then up to 896m at Sgurr Beag then down another 100m before back up to the next munro summit at 1004m starts to take it out of you. That said, when you look back at Sgurr na Signe and its cliffs on its East side it makes you feel like you've done a helluva lot already. By now we were saving one bottle for emergencies but had refilled the other two twice - rolls and hula hoops disappearing plus half a packet of wine gums also gone !
Crossing over to Sgurr and Doire Leathain is fine, much shorter distance than between any of the previous munros. We were at 7hrs 56mins and 16.4km by this point. Back to a steady just over 2km per hour. Next though you're back to a bit of up and down although there is a bypass path that contours around the top of Sgurr Coire na Feinne before you hit up Maol Chinn-dearg at 981m. The Explorer Map has the name of the munro spread across the page a bit East of the top itself.
Off to Aonach air Chrith now, memory now a bit fuzzy, getting into autopilot on the walk but the views the whole way are stellar expect for the work going on in Glen Quoich. Back up to over 1000m, we got there in 9hrs 41mins and 20.9km. At this point the next munro looks within grasp but Creag a' Mhaim looks miles away ! Off we bashed, the dog was now feeling quite pleased compared to earlier and starting to gives us looks along the lines of "who's struggling now lads ?". Druim Shionnach is, like the whole ridge, excellent but overlooks the Cluanie Inn and the voices in your head say "do we have to go further east then come back, what a pain in the ****" More food disappeared, now down to Dunkers and bars - a couple of energy gels and a Wispa had disappeared with five of the rolls by now ....
At this point though, we had been cheered up by a couple of short up and downs to get the munros done - less of the down up down then up again stuff more like 150m ish down and the same back up, a bit like bagging the Glenshee six. Distances between munros on this side much shorter as well. Got to Creag a Mhaim in 11hrs 6mins and 25.1km which we thought was pretty decent, much faster after the first three of the day which gives you a sense of this being the best way round to tackle this if you are after all nine. At this time of year with the long days and the day itself being so beautiful it would have been rude not to set our own record for a day at nine.
Now the last killer - the path off heads SE and you would ideally head NW - after a long day not what we needed and the boy's mind was clearly not happy. Seeing the estate road/track helps but not when you point the wrong way. It's a 1.5km descent to the track, roughly, but then over another 6km back to Cluanie. What a **** - surely there is a gap in the market for a land rover taxi at this point, a wee phone system to the Inn for a pick up with a beer ready at the end of the ride, that would be worth a lot of money ! Long story short, it's two hours to descend from the last munro top and then get along the track - thoughts of a slap up meal were disappearing fast.
We are now getting near 10pm and I still have to get to the car back at Malagan Bridge then come back and get Cameron and the dog. Here's where we give thanks to John MacMillan who stopped his camper van within 2mins of me getting to the road and he insisted on Cameron and Baillie getting in too. What a kind man and, in chatting to him on the drive down the road, what a lovely man as well - happy to help genuine hitchers, had just bought his van three weeks ago, had helped a couple of girls from Argentina and France that morning in Argyll (he had started in Campbeltown); plus we were amazed to hear that he has been to both the Arctic and the Antarctic. Wherever you are John, best of luck and many thanks !
Last but not least, thanks to the lady owner at the Kintail Lodge Hotel who rustled up some excellent ham and cheese toasties for us at 10pm ish at night after the kitchen had closed. A much better advert for Scottish hospitality and my pint of shandy did not hit the sides. The gpx file is from my Suunto Ambit3 Peak - must say this beats any of my previous gizmos, was able to put the route onto the watch as well (albeit not to the level of accuracy you would need in zero visibility).
I have photos that I would like to stick up, any advice on getting them off my iphone so that they are sized OK for this website ?
by MountainTrail » Sun Jul 05, 2015 11:55 pm
by dogplodder » Mon Jul 06, 2015 9:58 am
by Alteknacker » Tue Jul 07, 2015 12:09 am
Pictures: I load them on to Flikr, and then use the edit facility to size them for WH report maximum size. It's pretty straightforward (it must be if I can do it!!!).
I'd love to see the pics to go with the report, so I hope you do add them
by jamesb63 » Sat Jul 11, 2015 10:03 pm
Can you tell me is the bypass of the Forcan ok for dogs
I do all my walks with my Lab and would like to do this route
by scotdavid63 » Sun Jul 12, 2015 8:32 pm
by M_K_Hubbert » Mon Nov 09, 2015 11:58 pm
It should be possible to upload pics directly to the hosting site from the iPhone but I prefer to use a PC as an intermediate step as the drag and drop facility works well from the PC. Using a PC also avoids the issue I experience with Dropbox whereby upload keeps pausing every time the iPhone screen lock kicks in.