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'Se7en': the South Glen Shiel Trudge W to E in dodgy weather

'Se7en': the South Glen Shiel Trudge W to E in dodgy weather


Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Mon Jul 13, 2015 10:51 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

Date walked: 11/07/2015

Time taken: 11 hours

Distance: 26.75 km

Ascent: 1810m

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Okay, so 'Se7en' may be a fanciful title - this wasn't actually a horror story involving the seven deadly sins as such, although a few of them did arguably put in an appearance, and the weather was certainly horrific enough at times :lol: ... It's a cracking walk this though, and it's very probably the only time in my life that I'm ever likely to clock up seven Munros in a day :D .
Tom & myself had identified the 11th of July some time ago as a rare free weekend for both of us, and we thought we might plan something a tad more ambitious this time and have a look at the famous South Shiel Ridge. Tom's wife Clare wondered if she might give it a go too it the weather was half decent, so two rooms at the Cluanie Inn were duly booked for the Friday 10th July... However, getting nearer the date, the mwis weather forecast wasn't looking too great, and until a couple of days beforehand we weren't convinced that it was going to be feasible :? . Needless to say though, by the time the Friday dawned and the final forecast was looking marginally better than earlier in the week (although still wet and windy), we all decided to drive up the road to the Cluanie after work on the Friday night and give it a go.
We'd initially hoped to get an early start, but I suppose this is where Gluttony puts in an appearance: although the Cluanie Inn offer an early cold buffet breakfast for walkers, their Full Bhoona Highland Cooked Breakfast doesn't start until 08:00. After about eight seconds of hot debate over a beer on the Friday night, we decided to wait for the Full Highland, so we didn't start walking until 9 a.m.
The other topic of hot debate on the Friday evening was whether to walk east-to-west (the conventional way) or west-to-east so we wouldn't be walking into the wind (given that the forecast was for a fairly strong southwesterly to westerly breeze all day). Eventually, the west-to-east option won out, rightly or wrongly. We had taken two cars, so we drove along to the lay-by at the bottom of the Allt Mhalagain where the west end of the route starts, and set off. It was a scenic enough start, and the rain didn't set in for, oh, at least eight minutes or so :lol: .
RWR1 - Tom and Clare.jpg

The fairly well maintained path up to the Bealach Duibh Leac (which is signposted as a Public Right of Way from the A87) gave a gentle enough start until the point where it crossed the Allt Coire Toiteil (which is the westwards of the two main tributaries of the Allt Mhalagain). This hadn't looked much of a burn on the map, but after all our lovely Alternative Scottish Summer weather, it was almost in spate today, and trickier than we'd expected to cross. We managed it with a bit of boulder-hopping, however.
RWR2 - Clare approaching river crossing.jpg

Once across the river, however, the ascent up to the Bealach Duibh Leac got significantly steeper, and the rain got significantly heavier ... at this point, Clare very sensibly decided that bagging seven Munros in a day in the p***ing rain maybe wasn't that tempting a prospect after all, and bailed out to head back down to the car. Tom and myself pressed on however, and soon we were up at the bealach, where the route turns left beside a drystone dyke to make a gentler ascent to the summit of Munro Number One, Creag nan Damh. On the way up, some breaks started to develop in the cloud, and we got a grand view across Glen Quoich to Sgurr Thionail, which is a minor top of Sgurr a'Mhaoraich, with a wee lochan on its shoulder. According to the OS map, this lochan goes by the grand name of Loch Bealach Coire Sgoireadail, which is an awfully big name for a wee lochan :lol: !
RWR3 - View south over Glen Quoich to lochan.jpg

It wasn't much further now to Creag nan Damh summit. Although this one only just makes Munro height, it is very much a western outlier of the other six, and there's a fair height drop between it and the rest of the group. Indeed, it is one of only three of these 7 Munros that make the relative-height requirements to qualify as Marilyns. For anyone who's interested, the other two Marilyns are Sgurr an Doire Leathain (which has Sgurr an Lochain as a 'sub-peak'), and Aonach air Crith (which has Maol Chinn-Dearg, Druim Shaonnach and Creag a'Mhaim all as 'sub-peaks'!). Anyway, it was Munro number 140 for Tom, which meant that the next one along should be his Half Way Point: 141 out of 282!
RWR4 - Creag nan Damh summit - Tom.jpg

As we bypassed the minor top of Sgurr Beag, the cloud lifted again and we got a fine view southwards, with Loch Cuaich just visible in the distance.
RWR5 - South from S-a-L ascent with Loch Quoich in distance.jpg

Soon afterwards, the fantastic shark's-fin summit of Sgurr an Lochain reared up impressively:
RWR6 - Sgurr an Lochain shark-fin.jpg

A quick slog up this, and Tom was celebrating what will hopefully be the Half Way Point of his Munros round, with some justifiable Pride!
RWR7 - Sgurr an Lochain summit with Tom halfway.jpg

My ninety-third Munro, and not such a significant milestone, but I was still chuffed to have made it...
RWR9 - Sgurr an Lochain summit KD.jpg

Thankfully, it isn't too much further along to the next Munro, Sgurr an Doire Leathain, which was hazily visible through the cloud.
RWR8 - Hazy view of SaDL.jpg

We got some more fine scenery on the way along, with a good view down to the corrie lochan that gives Sgurr an Lochain its name:
RWR10 - The Lochan of the Sgurr.jpg

A nice wee rocky bit:
RWR11 - KD and rock with Doire Leathain in background.jpg

And a grand view back west to Sgurr an Lochain:
RWR12 - Nice view back to SaL with lochan.jpg

At the summit of Sgurr an Doire Leathain now, with some last hazy views before the Clag descended with a vengeance:
RWR13 - Sgurr an Doire Leathain summit - KD.jpg
RWR14 - Sgurr an Doire Leathain summit - Tom.jpg

To be honest, I found it a long trudge across to the next Munro, with a fair bit of height having to be lost and regained, and another minor top to be bypassed - Sgurr Coire na Feinne. By the time we reached Maol Chinn-Dearg, 'The Bald Red Dome' and Munro Number Four, it was raining quite heavily and I was starting to wonder whether I really had it in me to do another three Munros :? . I guess that this was my Sloth Moment :lol: ! Anyway, we decided to press on for the time being and consider our options.
Tom at Maol Chinn-Dearg summit:
RWR15 - Maol Chin-Dearg summit - Tom.jpg

Fortunately we did find a reasonably sheltered spot to stop for lunch, down at the bealach where on a better day there would doubtless have been a fine view down into Coire nan Eirecheanach :roll: . We set off reinvigorated towards Aonach air Crith, Munro Number Five and the highest of the seven. Another brief gap in the cloud gave us a wee view down to the north, with what presumably must be Loch Cluanie in the distance:
RWR16 - View down to a loch somewhere on AaC approach - check map.jpg

There was an enjoyable wee scrambly bit just before the summit, although I was glad to be tackling this on ascent rather than on descent! Soon enough, we were at the cairn, and my spirits were lifting - only two more to go now; surely I might just manage it?
RWR18 - Aonach air Crith summit - KD.jpg
RWR17 - Aonach air Crith summit - Tom.jpg

However, it proved to be a long, long slog along to Number Six, Druim Shionnach, and there was more heavy rain and a steady breeze along the way. At one point, there was even a snowfield to be traversed around: not really what I'd expected in July...
RWR19 - Path disappearing under snow.jpg

We came to a cairn and I got decidedly over-optimistic, only to learn that it was just Druim Shionnach's minor west top, Point 938 :( . However, we got another brief break in the clouds, with some scenery to lift the spirits:
RWR20 - Nice view north down corrie - A82 in background.jpg
RWR21 - Tom approaching Druim Shionnach.jpg

Up at the summit of Druim Shionnach at last, where we met the Invisible Man and took his picture :lol: ...
RWR22 - Druim Shionnach summit - cairn only.jpg

Druim Shionnach is 'the Ridge of Trembling'... well, my knees were certainly trembling by now, if that's what they mean :lol: . It had another nice wee scrambly bit just to the east of the summit, at the start of the descent to the next bealach.
One more to go, and it didn't look that much further on the map either :D ! Just as well, as the weather turned truly horrible at this point, with a steady drenching rain and strengthening wind. We weren't for giving up now though, and trudged on undeterred. Soon enough, we had made it - Munro Number Seven, Creag a'Mhaim - I couldn't quite believe that I'd managed it to be honest!
RWR24 - Creag a Mhaim summit - KD.jpg
RWR23 - Creag a Mhaim summit - Tom.jpg

Now all that remained was the trivial matter of plodding down the tortuous and seemingly never-ending stalker's-path-cum-Mountain-Stream through the fine Heilan' Downpour to reach the track that then led back a mere five kilometres to join the A87 just east of the Cluanie Inn, then a wee lift from Clare back along the road to retrieve my car, then just the three-and-a-half hour drive back down to Glasgow. A walk in the park, really :lol: .
I would have to admit that in today's dodgy weather, this walk was pretty much at the limits of my capabilities, but it was a fantastic day's walking all the same :D .
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bobble_hat_kenny
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Re: 'Se7en': the South Glen Shiel Trudge W to E in dodgy wea

Postby basscadet » Tue Jul 14, 2015 10:53 am

Some determination required to do that on such a day :clap:
At least it wasn't a complete clag-out :)
Keep on meaning to get back to a few of these from Loch Quoich...
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Re: 'Se7en': the South Glen Shiel Trudge W to E in dodgy wea

Postby ancancha » Tue Jul 14, 2015 12:05 pm

Such a shame the weather this year :(
Bagging the Munros is achieving, but views and nice weather puts smiles on our dials :D
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Re: 'Se7en': the South Glen Shiel Trudge W to E in dodgy wea

Postby roscoT » Tue Jul 14, 2015 5:13 pm

Well done Kenny - great going in that weather :clap: and you still managed to get some nice pics. bet you were burst afterwards?!

Was in Kintail myself over the weekend in that weather and managed a grand total of......1 corbett!!! :lol: Looking to go back in a month or so and try this - would you say which way you walk it should be dependent entirely on wind direction, or are there any other considerations?
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Re: 'Se7en': the South Glen Shiel Trudge W to E in dodgy wea

Postby stillcud » Tue Jul 14, 2015 10:14 pm

Nice report Kenny - the photos of course are of the best weather moments - so perhaps minimise the true extent of the drenching we got! By the way the view of the loch thro the clouds is I think looking south at loch Quoich.
Tom
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Re: 'Se7en': the South Glen Shiel Trudge W to E in dodgy wea

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Fri Jul 17, 2015 7:55 pm

roscoT wrote:Well done Kenny - great going in that weather :clap: and you still managed to get some nice pics. bet you were burst afterwards?!

Was in Kintail myself over the weekend in that weather and managed a grand total of......1 corbett!!! :lol: Looking to go back in a month or so and try this - would you say which way you walk it should be dependent entirely on wind direction, or are there any other considerations?

Thanks! On the which-direction question, well as ever there's no "right answer", with both ways having their Pros & Cons - one of the things I love about hillwalking in Scotland to be honest, where there are usually several different possible routes for any hill... In a nutshell though, east-to-west probably best in good weather, cos the views are slightly better. However, in dodgy weather, west-to-east avoids the arduous descent and re-ascent to the outlier of Creag nan Damh when you are knackered at the end of a long day, and places Aonach air Crith (the high point of the ridge) as Number Five just when one is in need of some motivation... So, this summer, west-to-east may be the one to go for :lol: !
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Re: 'Se7en': the South Glen Shiel Trudge W to E in dodgy wea

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Fri Jul 17, 2015 7:56 pm

stillcud wrote:Nice report Kenny - the photos of course are of the best weather moments - so perhaps minimise the true extent of the drenching we got! By the way the view of the loch thro the clouds is I think looking south at loch Quoich.
Tom

Ah, that makes sense! It was all a bit of a blur for me by that stage :lol: ...
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Re: 'Se7en': the South Glen Shiel Trudge W to E in dodgy wea

Postby Alteknacker » Fri Jul 17, 2015 8:37 pm

Res-pect, res-pect! It's a great route, and a pity you didn't have better weather.

I was surprised you didn't make a stop at that establishment of cultural, historical and architectural interest - also known as the Cluanie Inn....
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Re: 'Se7en': the South Glen Shiel Trudge W to E in dodgy wea

Postby Silverhill » Fri Jul 17, 2015 9:53 pm

Well done for sticking with it in that weather. Congratulations to Tom for reaching half way, and you yourself are not too far away from 100 now! :thumbup:
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Re: 'Se7en': the South Glen Shiel Trudge W to E in dodgy wea

Postby dogplodder » Sat Jul 18, 2015 1:51 pm

A great ridge. Shame about the weather but you did well to keep going! :wink:
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Re: 'Se7en': the South Glen Shiel Trudge W to E in dodgy wea

Postby Iris Ronayne » Sun Jul 19, 2015 11:10 pm

My first post. 8)
I read your report with great interest. The conditions were hard. Congratulations for following through!
I am planning to do the South Glen Shiel Ridge in August after the Oban Ball (Argyll Games and Gathering) and was interested in how much time it took you. If you started at 9am, when did you get to your car on the other side?
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Re: 'Se7en': the South Glen Shiel Trudge W to E in dodgy wea

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Tue Aug 04, 2015 7:44 pm

Iris Ronayne wrote:My first post. 8)
I read your report with great interest. The conditions were hard. Congratulations for following through!
I am planning to do the South Glen Shiel Ridge in August after the Oban Ball (Argyll Games and Gathering) and was interested in how much time it took you. If you started at 9am, when did you get to your car on the other side?

Apologies for the late reply, Iris :oops: . We started at 9 a.m. sharp, and we were back at Tom's car at the other end by exactly 8 p.m. - I'm not the quickest walker, and the final trudge up the track in the rain took me a while :lol: . It was about twenty past eight before Clare dropped me off at my own car (which we'd left at the start) and about quarter past midnight before I was back home in Glasgow. A long day then, but well worth it :D !
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