This was a day when the mountains played with us, false summits, changeable weather, disappearing paths, it seemed like they knew we were being cautious, expecting a tough day and they just wanted to keep us guessing about what lay ahead .
We followed the Walkhighlands route but tackled the horseshoe in reverse order with a stiff ascent up Sgurr nan Coireachan and a much easier descent from Sgurr Thuillm.
We made an early start, but having seen how crowded and chaotic the parking around Glenfinnan is at the weekends we decided to pay our £2:00 and park at the visitors centre. The day was looking very promising as we set out at 7:45, perhaps the weather would be better than expected
We soon reached the Glenfinnan Viaduct, an impressive sight, especially as we were the only tourists there. We tried sitting on our trekking poles to see if they possessed the magical qualities of broomsticks. Unfortunately not, a pity as a little help ascending Sgurr Nan Coireachan would have been very nice.
The walk through Glen Finnan, along the track, in the morning sunshine was very pleasant and the only cloud to be seen was sitting on top of Sgurr Thuilm.
We chose to walk past the path leading up to Sgurr nan Coireachan to check the footbridge was in place at the foot of Sgurr Thuilm, thereby avoiding any nasty surprises later in the day. It was, so we headed back to Sgurr nan Coireachan and took a line straight up the steep grass slopes until we joined the path.
We had been walking for about an hour when we reached some easier ground with a summit not to far away, 'oh look it must be Sgurr a'Choire Riabhaich' said a hopeful voice. 'Hmm, very unlikely, we have already proved the treking poles don't have magical powers.' Time to check the satnav, nope, we are only at about 400m, a way to go yet I fear.
It was an interesting ascent, wandering around knowles and craglets.
The map shows the path as ending at around 350m, but despite becoming less distinct, it continued most of the way to the summit. Inevitablely though, we lost the path and took a short detour up very steep grass, followed by a vertical slippery grass groove, not my finest moment and as we topped out on a small hill the path was there in front of us.
There is a fine ridge leading up to Sgurr a'Choire Riabhaich and our planned route followed this to its summit, but by now we were wedded to the path and realised too late that it misses out the ridge, we were too lazy to backtrack so we missed the ridge as well.
Just when it seemed that we would miss this summit out completely the path turned sharply and became rocky with a few granny stoppers as it climbed steeply upwards.
On top of Sgurr a'Choire Riabhaich the sun was still shining and the visibility excellent in all directions.
It felt a wild and lonely landscape as we continued on our way to Sgurr nan Coireachan despite several other walkers catching up with us.
One walker walked with us a while, it was nice to have company but I do not think he was overly impressed with our route finding or slow pace as after a few slippery gullies he went his own way.
The weather was changing and as we reached the first Munro summit we were in the clouds.
By the time we had finished our brew up it had started to drizzle, and there no sign of the weather clearing. As we were making our way down from Sgurr nan Coireachan it was becoming clear that there was only one way we could stop it raining, we put on waterproofs. It worked a treat, but the cloud was determined to stay around enhancing the otherworldliness of the ridge. Up and down and in and out we went weaving our way through cragletts, knolls, lochans and bogs, with tantalising glimpses of far away places and shafts of sunlight as the cloud gradually lifted. It was absolutely wonderful
The path and a line of old fence posts aided our navigation and after we passed the final minor summit we had another break and a brew before making our way to Sgurr Thuilm.
The cloud had closed in once more, so we checked the map and took a bearing but again the path and fence posts marked the way with a cairn at the obvious junction up to Sgurr Thuilm. The final ascent of this final summit easy going on a pleasantly shallow slope . Fed up with the lack of summit photo opportunities Jeremy Jetboil refused to come out of the rucksack and we had to make do with just a sip of cold water prior to our descent.
Sgurr Thuilm was grassy and considerably less steep than Sgurr nan Coireachan, making for a much easier descent when you are tired. The bog near the bottom was not as horrendous as I had feared and amazingly neither of us sat in it.
Once at the bottom it was time for a final cup of tea and a slow wander back along the track to the visitors centre. 22:00 and still the only car in the carpark,
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