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Loch Arkaig wanders part 3: down to the waterline

Loch Arkaig wanders part 3: down to the waterline


Postby BlackPanther » Tue Jun 26, 2018 7:40 pm

Route description: Sgurr Mor and Sgurr an Fhuarain, Loch Arkaig

Munros included on this walk: Sgurr Mor (Loch Quoich)

Corbetts included on this walk: Sgurr an Fhuarain

Date walked: 08/06/2018

Time taken: 9.5 hours

Distance: 23 km

Ascent: 1419m

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Frantic Friday has arrived, weather was good if not very good. But as it was our 6th continuous day of walking and climbing, my knees were not in the best shape. I was a bit concerned about tackling a big route with close to 1500m of ascent, but Kevin encouraged me, saying that we'd do it slowly and take frequent breaks if my sore knee caps needed a rest.
The route we had in mind was Sgurr Mor, one of the remotest Munros in the west of Scotland. Well, Sgurr na Ciche group and Ladhar Bheinn trio are even more remote, but Sgurr Mor requires climbing over a pass to Glen Kingie (up to 350m then down to the waterline :wink: ) and then returning over the very same col. Additional ascent at the very end of a long day, when legs are tired and knees scream: no more, please, sounded pretty scary to me, but I'm not easily beaten. Might cry, shout, throw a few tantrums, but I'll grit my teeth and get there in the end :lol: :lol:
We had been to the top of the col a few days earlier, when returning from an easier circuit, over the ridge of Sgurr Cos na Breachd-laoigh, so we knew that there was a reasonable path to start with. Available route descriptions say the pass is peat-haggy and usually wet, but under current circumstances, we expected reasonable underfoot conditions.
Our route crosses Glen Kingie and climbs both Sgurr Mor and the sidekick Corbett, Sgurr an Fhuarain. We didn't bother with the extra top, Sgurr Beag, simply because my knees voted against it, returning the way we came instead. It was still a long day, but a very satisfying one :D

Track_SGURR MOR 08-06-18.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


From the car park, we walked down the road into Glen Dessary (or "Glen Disarray" as I call it sometimes) and just before the lodge, we turned onto the path leading up the pass. It's a bit overgrown with bracken to start with but later, it offers easy going.
First ascent of the day, Sgurr Cos na Breachd-laoigh and Glendessary Lodge to the left:
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Because the day was warm and humid, we took no less than 3 bottles of water each and drank every time we felt thirsty. Getting dehydrated and weak on the top of a remote mountain was the last thing we desired! The wee river, Allt na Feithe, was reduced to only a few drips of water but we hoped we'd be able to refill later from River Kingie:
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From the top of the col, we came face to face with our target ridge and it looked... hmmm.... ehmmm... rather intimidating!
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A quick check on the map and we were happy to notice that we would only lose 120m of ascent when dropping into Glen Kingie. "Let's go down to the waterline". :lol: :lol: :lol:
Studying the ridge:
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River Kingie was barely a river, thankfully there was enough water in it to refill our bottles:
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It's 500m of stiff climb up the steep slopes and no amount of sugarcoating could make it easier :lol:
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... but on close inspection, the angle is not too drastic, yes, steep but manageable, even with a pair of dodgy knees. We clambered up on grass and through occasional bracken. We knew that once on the ridge it would be much easier. Or at least we convinced ourselves it would be. Whichever way it was, it worked and we kept on going.
Not as bad as it looks:
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Upper Glen Kingie and Sgurr Cos na Breachd-laoigh from higher up the slope:
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The pass we'd have to reclimb on our way back:
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I was glad that the slope was soft and grassy, as it made walking on fragile knees so much easier. The grass had a good "bounce", a little bit like walking on an air bed :D And the summit of the Corbett was now in sight:
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Once on the ridge, we felt a bit relieved, it would be easier going from now on. It was time for a short break, before deciding which hill comes first. We agreed to go up Sgurr an Fhuarain first, to leave ourselves a choice of descent route from Sgurr Mor.
Might be a tough day but Panther still smiles!
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It didn't take long to reach the summit of the Corbett. We were now in the middle of nowhere, miles away from the nearest road, and of course nobody was in sight. Sgurr an Fhuarain is often climbed together with Sgurr Mor, the kind of "let's tick it off if we're already here" mountain, but it's an amazing viewpoint in all directions.
The connecting ridge and Sgurr Mor:
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Loch Quoich and mountains beyond:
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Lucy on the summit trig, her 74th Corbett:
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Summit cairn and Gairich:
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Western pano - the rough bounds of Knoydart:
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Northern panorama with a nice addition :wink:
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Zoom to Sgurr na Ciche:
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View south, the Arkaig Corbetts in the foreground:
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Eastern pano, lower Glen Kingie, Gairich and Sgurr Mhurlagain:
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We had something to eat and drink, before setting off for Sgurr Mor. It's 250m of steepish re-ascent from the col to the summit, but a reasonable path can be followed. We took time, stopping for photos and studying the interesting shape of Coire Buidhe to the north.
Coire Buidhe from above:
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Sgurr an Fhuarain from near the top of Sgurr Mor:
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I expected a painful slog, but the climb to the summit was actually quite pleasant, as long as I didn't try galloping up the slope :lol: I was relieved that my knees were somehow coping with the pressure, but on the other hand I didn't want to overdo it. After emerging on the summit area, a short, almost level walk of 300m or so, brought us to the summit cairn. Sgurr Mor defeated! Munro no. 232! (75 for wee Lucy):
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After I caught my breath, I had a good look around and I was mesmerized by the beauty of the surrounding landscape. We didn't see anything from Sgurr Cos na Breachd-laoigh due to cloud, and Sgurr Mhurlagain is situated a bit too far east to be a good vantage point into Knoydart, so this was the first time I was so close to the Rough Bounds and... I couldn't take my eyes of those magnificent, unattainable peaks, still waiting to be discovered by the meowing one :D
A few panos first, west:
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North-east:
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South-east:
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South-west:
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"The Sanctuary" around Lochan nam Breac:
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Zoomed:
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There was some suspicious cloud coming from the south but it didn't look as dark and scary as we experienced two days earlier on Glenlochay Munros. Not much likely to turn into a storm, Kevin said, we can stay here a bit longer, well, unless you want to continue to Sgurr Beag?
We took a vote. Kevin said yes, I said I didn't mind, but both my knees shouted no, no way! so we got outvoted :lol: and the decision was taken to return the way we came. This would save us some distance and ascent. If I had been on fresh legs, we'd have continued to Sgurr Beag, but the sixth day in a row walking, I'd rather skip the unnecessary.
The not-so-suspicious cloud coming from the south:
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Sgurr na Ciche:
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A fellow walker arrived from the direction of Sgurr Beag and after exchanging a few pleasantries, he kindly took a photo of us together. So here we are, on the summit of Sgurr Mor, a fine finale to our first explorations of Loch Arkaig and thereabouts:
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The descent was easier than I expected, especially for my knees. The ground below the col might be steep, but on the soft, bouncy grass and moss, going was mostly painless. My knees said a big thank you when we reached River Kingie again and as a reward, we managed to photograph a nice dragonfly, probably a common hawker:
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So we were down to the waterline again and we still had the final 120m of climbing up to the pass, but at least the ground was dry :lol: I envy people who undertake this route in wet weather! Not only would the ground be saturated and squelchy, River Kingie may be a problem to cross as well. So this is probably a route to keep for dry times (no shortage of dry days this year so far!).
From the top of the col, looking down south to Glen Dessary:
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What a fantastic day it was. And another point ticked on the list of the big routes planned for this year. Hopefully, in July, we will get the chance to return to this wonderful wild area for more Munros and Corbetts :D

So Frantic Friday was not frantic after all! We took a day off on Saturday, because the weatherman told us about widespread thunderstorms over northern Scotland. Plus my knees needed recovery. On Marvelous Sunday, we had a superb day on one of the best ridge walks in NW Scotland. Druim Fada, as the name suggests, is a very long and a very entertaining ridge! TR to come soon :D
User avatar
BlackPanther
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 3171
Munros:260   Corbetts:163
Grahams:112   
Sub 2000:40   
Joined: Nov 2, 2010
Location: Beauly, Inverness-shire

Re: Loch Arkaig wanders part 3: down to the waterline

Postby Coop » Tue Jun 26, 2018 8:06 pm

Great report and pics - Hopefully get on these in July.
What's the " infamous road " really like

Cheers
Coop
Walker
 
Posts: 852
Munros:259   Corbetts:85
Grahams:25   Donalds:33
Sub 2000:2   
Joined: Jun 5, 2016

Re: Loch Arkaig wanders part 3: down to the waterline

Postby BlackPanther » Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:47 am

Coop wrote:Great report and pics - Hopefully get on these in July.
What's the " infamous road " really like
Cheers


Thanks :D The road is overrated :lol: :lol: :lol: It's not as bad as some say, surprisingly. Just very slow driving. Many turns and little ups/downs so it takes up to an hour to get to the western end of Loch Arkaig. Depending how many cars you meet coming from the other side and if they are kind enough to let you pass first. But it's not bad surface. Just patience needed.
User avatar
BlackPanther
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 3171
Munros:260   Corbetts:163
Grahams:112   
Sub 2000:40   
Joined: Nov 2, 2010
Location: Beauly, Inverness-shire

Re: Loch Arkaig wanders part 3: down to the waterline

Postby Coop » Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:16 pm

Cheers BP I'll hopefully get a decent day or two out on some of these next month.
I was on Sgurr nan Coireachan (glenfinnan one) today and got a good view of the whole area. ( hard work and took my time in the heat-and drinking lots!!)
I'll be giving your reports another read before I go up.
Cheers again
Coop
Walker
 
Posts: 852
Munros:259   Corbetts:85
Grahams:25   Donalds:33
Sub 2000:2   
Joined: Jun 5, 2016

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