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Ring of Steall Revisited

Ring of Steall Revisited


Postby jupe1407 » Wed Jun 22, 2016 11:24 pm

Route description: The Ring of Steall, Mamores

Munros included on this walk: Am Bodach, An Gearanach, Sgurr a'Mhaim, Stob Coire a'Chairn

Date walked: 18/06/2016

Time taken: 9.5 hours

Distance: 12.2 km

Ascent: 1656m

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The Ring of Steall is without doubt one of the classics. I first walked it in Autumn 2013, in dismal visibility for the most part, with my main memories of it being the brutally steep slog up Am Bodach, Sgurr a'Mhaim being my 50th munro and the descent back to Polldubh being absolutely awful. Nevertheless, it was in many ways a hugely enjoyable day, and a walk I fancied doing again in good conditions.

Last weekend's forecast was terrific so five of us, Rob, Karl, Luke and Kirsty decided to head through and give it a go. Having the luxury of multiple vehicles, we could leave a car at the end of the walk, thereby saving the spirit-crushing mile-and-a-bit walk back to the upper car park. We set off around 9am on an already scorchingly hot morning, passing the somewhat foreboding "Danger of Death" sign that marks the start of the Nevis Gorge walk.

Before long we were at the wire bridge. I'd crossed this last time, absolutely bricking it because I had the good camera with me, and no drybags :lol: Luckily this time the water was lower, so it was easy enough to cross on stepping stones nearby. A couple of us braved the bridge however.

The Wire Bridge
ImageRing of Steall-2 by John-Paul Bell, on Flickr

After the crossing, the walk passes Steall Hut, before the next river crossing, under Steall Falls. Unfortunately my overconfidence at river crossings, having never fallen in before (and also karma having laughed at my other half falling into the river through Glen Lochsie a couple of weeks back) meant I stood on what looked like a stable boulder which of course resulted in my going arse over elbow into the water :lol: Still, at least I'd dry out quickly.

Steall Hut
ImageRing of Steall-3 by John-Paul Bell, on Flickr

Steall Falls looked pretty cool though.

Steall Falls
ImageRing of Steall-2 by John-Paul Bell, on Flickr

We worked our way through the low-lying boggy section before picking up the excellent stalkers path which nicely zig-zags it's way up the corrie. The views started to open out across to Ben Nevis and CMD and visibility was superb.

Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg
ImageRing of Steall-3 by John-Paul Bell, on Flickr

Aonach Beag, Sgurr a'Bhuic and the Grey Corries
ImageRing of Steall-4 by John-Paul Bell, on Flickr

We soon emerged from the Corrie at approximately 620m and had a quick bite to eat beside the quartzite cairn, before making a move up the steeper section that eventually took us onto the ridge itself. There was little if any breeze, and in the scorching sunshine, it was fairly hard work.

Across to Sgurr a'Mhaim
ImageRing of Steall-6 by John-Paul Bell, on Flickr

Nevis, CMD and the Aonachs Zoomed
ImageRing of Steall-5 by John-Paul Bell, on Flickr

Glen Nevis with the Corries left and Binnein Beag on the right
ImageRing of Steall-7 by John-Paul Bell, on Flickr

The final section of ridge is a lovely and fairly easy walk, with one brief pull up to the summit itself. We stopped for a much needed refuel and rest for a good 20 minutes. There was no rush and the views were absolutely awesome. I especially enjoyed them as I'd seen nothing apart from clag the first time round. We also got a view of the fine An Garbhanach scrambly arete.

An Gearanach Summit
ImageRing of Steall-8 by John-Paul Bell, on Flickr

Coire a'Mhail
ImageRing of Steall-6 by John-Paul Bell, on Flickr

We also chatted to another couple of walkers who summitted shortly afterwards, none other than David Main. Eventually it was time to move on, and we walked along to the wee scramble. It's pretty reasonable stuff, with the option of easy scrambling, or a bypass path.

Scrambling An Garbhanach
ImageRing of Steall-9 by John-Paul Bell, on Flickr

We were soon at the bealach, and beginning the ascent of the second munro of the day, Stob Coire a'Chairn. This is a reasonably straightforward, if steep in places ascent but it didn't take us long and were soon at the summit.

Final stretch to Summit 2
ImageRing of Steall-12 by John-Paul Bell, on Flickr

The remainder of the route
ImageRing of Steall-10 by John-Paul Bell, on Flickr

Looking back to An Gearanach and the scrambly section
ImageRing of Steall-11 by John-Paul Bell, on Flickr

Sitting at the top and looking at the rest of the round, I again recalled the ascent of Am Bodach. First time round, in wet and slippery conditions, it had felt utterly punishing, and on a hot day I have to confess I wasn't hugely looking forward to it.

After a straightforward walk to the base of the ascent, my heart sank as I realised my memory wasn't playing tricks on me, and it IS in fact dreadfully steep :lol:

Wonderful
ImageRing of Steall-13 by John-Paul Bell, on Flickr

It was a bit of a slog to say the least, but I'd much rather be going up this than coming down it. We met a couple who were descending and it looked far from fun. As the summit nears there's a couple of momentary scrambles. I had a quick look back at the ascent route before one of them

I think David Main and Jim are down there
ImageRing of Steall-4 by John-Paul Bell, on Flickr

So yeah, it's fairly steep :lol:

Thankfully the summit wasn't far away and we again had an extended break at the top taking in the glorious views all around. Blackwater Reservoir, Loch Leven and the Glencoe hills were all now in view, although I seem to have somehow forgotten to take a photo of them :lol:

Sgurr an Lubhair
ImageRing of Steall-14 by John-Paul Bell, on Flickr

We set off towards our next target, the ex-munro of Sgurr an Lubhair, now a mere top, from which we would access the potentially wonderful Devil's Ridge, probably the part of the walk I was most looking forward to 8)

The Devil's Ridge looms....
ImageRing of Steall-15 by John-Paul Bell, on Flickr

As we got nearer, the Ridge looked magnificent, with the backdrop of Sgurr a'Mhaim and we were all looking forward to getting onto it. We also had a great view of the sensational Stob Ban, which Rob and myself had climbed a few weeks previously.

Stob Ban
ImageRing of Steall-16 by John-Paul Bell, on Flickr

Eventually we got onto the ridge proper. Ooft.

Devils Ridge and Sgurr 'Mhaim
ImageRing of Steall-17 by John-Paul Bell, on Flickr

The exposure isn't too bad at all and it's little more than than an earthen path with a steepish drop off each side. Always worth making sure your shoelaces are tied properly before walking it mind you :lol:

Descending Stob Choire 'Mhail
ImageRing of Steall-5 by John-Paul Bell, on Flickr

After an all-too short time, we arrived at the short scramble. There were a group in front negotiating it, one of whom wasn't particularly liking it. She was even less pleased at her companion when she saw us ambling down the bypass and up the easy bit :lol:

The rest of the ridge is easy, with a slightly awkward step down a slabby section before the ascent of the day's final, but most impressive munro begins. We soon gained height which made for some wonderful views of the Devil's Ridge and the landscape behind. What a sensational place!

The Ridge, Sgurr an Lubhair and Am Bodach
ImageRing of Steall-18 by John-Paul Bell, on Flickr

Ascending Sgurr a'Mhaim
ImageRing of Steall-19 by John-Paul Bell, on Flickr

After a bit of a slow plod up the last of the day's ascent, we soon reached the impressive summit cairn, once again affording glorious views. I also had the cheek to phone my fiancee (who was decorating the living room) that not only were we all sunbathing on top of a munro, but also persuaded her to purchase me some beer and pizza. Incredibly I actually got away with this. :lol: This made up my mind as to whether I'd camp overnight and do something else tomorrow, as the misery of a 3 hour drive home was more than evened out by the thought of pizza and beer. This may also explain why the descent wasn't as dreadful as I had expected :lol:

Sgurr a'Mhaim Summit with Nevis in the Background
ImageRing of Steall-21 by John-Paul Bell, on Flickr

Don't get me wrong, it's still an utterly punishing descent, as you have to lose around 1000m in only 1.75 miles of distance. This had been my biggest worry beforehand, so for some bizarre reason I elected not to bother with poles, which even more bizarrely seemed to help and I suffered no ill effects from it, other than being shattered.

We got back at the car around 9.5 hours after starting, not bad considering the number of lengthy breaks taken. It was also a huge relief not having to walk back to the upper car park this time, and indeed I gave one of the group who had been in front of us on the Devil's Ridge a lift up to his car.

After this I headed home to annihilate the aforementioned beer and pizza before crashing out. A couple of the others camped at Glencoe to spend the night being destroyed by particularly voracious midges. I think i made the right decision :lol:

Big thanks to Rob, Karl, Luke and Kirsty for an excellent day out. :D


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jupe1407
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Re: Ring of Steall Revisited

Postby Borderhugh » Thu Jun 23, 2016 4:50 am

Nice one JP. I did these plus the westerly 2 on the same day as you. Perfect conditions. This is a walk that's needs to be saved for a good weather day. :clap:
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Re: Ring of Steall Revisited

Postby jupe1407 » Thu Jun 23, 2016 7:34 am

Borderhugh wrote:Nice one JP. I did these plus the westerly 2 on the same day as you. Perfect conditions. This is a walk that's needs to be saved for a good weather day. :clap:


Thanks Hugh. Conditions were indeed superb. The western two are fine hills, especially Stob Ban, well done on tagging them on :D
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Re: Ring of Steall Revisited

Postby David-Main » Thu Jun 23, 2016 6:11 pm

Nice to meet you guys JP, Great day had by all. Happy to see that your on the mend :clap:
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Re: Ring of Steall Revisited

Postby jupe1407 » Sat Jun 25, 2016 10:09 am

David-Main wrote:Nice to meet you guys JP, Great day had by all. Happy to see that your on the mend :clap:


Cheers David. It was good to see you guys as well!
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Re: Ring of Steall Revisited

Postby wilkiemurray » Sat Jun 25, 2016 1:08 pm

Great phots and report as always - looked like a cracker of day:)
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Re: Ring of Steall Revisited

Postby dav2930 » Sat Jun 25, 2016 6:25 pm

Definitely a walk to do more than once. I did it for the second time in March this year and was glad I did, despite some murky weather from Devil's Ridge on. What a cracking day you had for it - exceptionally clear atmosphere, and really stunning photos to match! :clap:
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Re: Ring of Steall Revisited

Postby Gordie12 » Sat Jun 25, 2016 9:19 pm

That just looked so good.

I regularly make that call - mind you, I haven't left the other half decorating :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Ring of Steall Revisited

Postby teaandpies » Sat Jun 25, 2016 10:07 pm

I'm hoping for some decent weather soon to get this walk done.

Does anybody think Sgurr an Lubhair will ever get promoted bck to Munro status?
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Re: Ring of Steall Revisited

Postby jupe1407 » Sun Jun 26, 2016 8:30 am

wilkiemurray wrote:Great phots and report as always - looked like a cracker of day:)


Thanks :D It was one of the best days out I've had, easily in my top 5

dav2930 wrote:Definitely a walk to do more than once. I did it for the second time in March this year and was glad I did, despite some murky weather from Devil's Ridge on. What a cracking day you had for it - exceptionally clear atmosphere, and really stunning photos to match! :clap:


Cheers Dav. I'm pleased I did it again as i saw virtually nothing first time round. The views from every summit are superb and it was nice to get a proper look along the Devil's Ridge :D

Gordie12 wrote:That just looked so good.
I regularly make that call - mind you, I haven't left the other half decorating :lol: :lol: :lol:


It was her idea. And she got to choose the colour :lol:

teaandpies wrote:I'm hoping for some decent weather soon to get this walk done.
Does anybody think Sgurr an Lubhair will ever get promoted bck to Munro status?


I doubt it to be honest. I'm sure it was only a Munro for ten years or so. The drop, re-ascent and distance from Am Bodach don't feel like they merit it being a separate munro, although the only truly definite number that matters is height.
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