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I guess that's why they call it Long Ridge!

I guess that's why they call it Long Ridge!

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Jun 28, 2018 10:46 pm

Grahams included on this walk: Druim Fada (Loch Hourn)

Date walked: 10/06/2018

Time taken: 7.5 hours

Distance: 13.7 km

Ascent: 868m

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The northern side of Loch Hourn is known to hill baggers mainly for one very steep Munro, Beinn Sgritheall. Some folks return for the two neighbouring Corbetts, but the three Grahams are completely overlooked. And it's a huge shame because they offer some of the best ridgewalking I've ever done. Well, they don't live up to AE or Cuillin ridge of course, it's a different league, but as single Grahams, they are superb outings.
Earlier this year we visited Arnisdale to climb one of the local Grahams. Because there was still a large amount of snow on higher ground, we decided to climb the easier of the two, Beinn Clachach (my TR here). Later, during Easter Holidays, we explored the ridge of Beinn a'Chapuilll. Both very entertaining hills, but we saved the best for last. Druim Fada means "long ridge", but the name doesn't describe how much fun one can have on this traverse.
When seen from the higher hills above Arnisdale, the Long Ridge proudly presents its best profile and one simply can't resist thinking - oh how nice a ridgewalk it must be!
Druim Fada (in the foreground) from Beinn na h-Eaiglaise, April 2015:
We had been told this was a superb walk and the traverse exceeded our expectations. It's as good as any Graham could be. The ridge goes on and on forever, with lots of wee pockets of scrambling (all optional), many interesting rocky outcrops and views to kill for in all directions, especially to the massive bulk of Ladhar Bheinn across Loch Hourn. On the negative side, the climb to the ridge is steep and relentless. The descent is a bit less painful but there are steep sections which my knees didn't appreciate. Plus the hill is very "ticky" - we flicked dozens of the little b***ers off our clothes. If you go for it, wear long trousers.
Regardless of the steepness and the tick army, this was still one of the best walks this year and we took time, certainly with such amazing views it would be stupid to run the ridge too quickly and not explore it properly!
If I can give any advice to future visitors to Druim Fada, it is better to do the traverse east to west (clockwise). This way, you'll be tackling the steepest sections in ascent and will be descending towards the wonderful views of Loch Hourn and the Cuillin Ridge on the horizon.

Track_DRUIM FADA 10-06-18.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

We arrived in Arnisdale at half past nine. This is not a giant walk and even at slower pace, one should be able to finish in 7 - 8 hours. Having parked in the public car park in Corran and walked along the road for a short distance. Weather was shaping up nicely, high cloud but dry and low winds:
Image2018-06-10 druim fada 006 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
The Mighty Cuillin:
2018-06-10 druim fada 008.JPG

A good track runs along Glen Arnisdale for about 4km, all the way to Dubh Lochain. There are multiple attractions en route, like this one: a cow-bear cross breed...
2018-06-10 druim fada 016.JPG

... bridges with strictly-no-horses ban:
2018-06-10 druim fada 026.JPG

...and tremendous views to more distant places:
2018-06-10 druim fada 038.JPG

The additional attraction presented itself in the shape of hundreds of hungry midges, chasing us in swarms until we sprayed ourselves with enough deet to poison the whole western Scotland :lol: :lol:
The track gains roughly 100m before evening out, it leads into a deep "sanctuary" in the upper Glen Arnisdale. We were now close to the point where we'd have to leave the track and start climbing but it all looked vertical to me and I was scratching my head, thinking...
Where the hell is the route up???
2018-06-10 druim fada 042.JPG

All vertical around us...
2018-06-10 druim fada 046.JPG

We reached the point where the track takes a slight turn, and according to our map there should be a stream here, called Eigin Allt. But to our surprise, the stream was no more. Just a bed of eroded grey stones marking the line where the stream used to be. Maybe it fills with water in wet times.
Kevin had a good look around and he suggested we climbed up the dry stream bed a bit, then strike off to the left and ascend the grassy ledges between vertical rocks. The photo may suggest it's all vertical, but there is actually a way up there without any scrambling required, just steep and overgrown with bracken.
2018-06-10 druim fada 049.JPG

Up the dry bed of Eigin Allt. We were fortunate that it's been so dry recently. In rainy conditions this slope would be dangerous to climb, very slippery on wet grass.
Image2018-06-10 druim fada 056 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Ehmmmm, steep... We stumbled across a few animal tracks which can be used to gain height.
2018-06-10 druim fada 061.JPG

The Eigin Allt carved a deep ravine into the mountain side, looks impressive:
2018-06-10 druim fada 065.JPG

As we clambered up the steep slopes, I met a young local - a juvenile palmate newt, who agreed to pose for a few photos... It was then gently released into the grass:
2018-06-10 druim fada 068.JPG

After the first 50m of steep climbing, we joined the NW "shoulder" of the ridge which (according to the description in SMC guide) can be followed with little difficulty all the way to the summit. The initial slope, as far as we could see, looked manageable:
2018-06-10 druim fada 074.JPG

From where we stood, we had a good view down to Gleann Dubh Lochain and the lochs inside the glen:
2018-06-10 druim fada 079.JPG

Looking back west along Glen Arnisdale, the track used on approach visible to the left hand side:
2018-06-10 druim fada 080.JPG

Enjoying the climb :D There are rocky sections but it is possible to follow the grassy ground, skirting around the rocks, we didn't bother, just aimed straight up. A few very easy scrambling sections just raised the entertainment factor to five stars :D
2018-06-10 druim fada 087.JPG

The upper ravine of the Eigin Allt. The way up to the summit ridge climbs up the slope to the left hand side of the gorge:
2018-06-10 druim fada 089.JPG

More optional scrambling or just steep marching up the grass, the choice is yours...
2018-06-10 druim fada 103.JPG

Glen Arnisdale from above. I was surprised how green it was despite the prolonged dry season...
2018-06-10 druim fada 106.JPG

Yes, it might be steep, it might be tiring, but this was just the beginning of the day and the best was yet to come! I kept glancing towards the line of the ridge above me, long and rocky, and I couldn't wait to finally get there. A lot of good ridgewalking was waiting for us up above and my smile says it all: Panther found her way to mountain heaven!
2018-06-10 druim fada 111.JPG

The views behind (and below) us were already splendid, but I guess, not for someone with vertigo... I was pleasantly surprised that the exposure on this particular slope didn't bother me at all.
2018-06-10 druim fada 117.JPG

The final meters before reaching the summit:
2018-06-10 druim fada 125.JPG

The summit of Druim Fada has two tops, the easternmost one is the highest. As we walked past the first top, we spotted something small, cute and fluffy, sitting on the rock nearby:
2018-06-10 druim fada 139.JPG

Five steps further on, mummy ptarmigan showed up :D I had a good look around but there was only one chick, which was strange. usually we meet ptarmigan hens with a whole bunch of wee ones.
2018-06-10 druim fada 140.JPG

We left the ptarmigan family to fend for themselves and continued to the second top, which is topped with a small cairn. Graham no. 102 for us, no. 69 for our little companion:
2018-06-10 druim fada 173.JPG

We spent a long time on the summit, taking photos and panoramas. Just to make this TR reasonable, I have to restrict myself to posting only the best ones (overall, we took more than 400 photos that day).
Of course, the best views are to the south and south-east, to upper Loch Hourn and the mountains beyond. The rough bounds in their full glory, including Ladhair Bheinn at its best.
Image2018-06-10 druim fada 177 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Image2018-06-10 druim fada 176 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Ladhar Bheinn and the ridge yet to come:
ImageDSCF0835 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Arnisdale hills including Beinn Sgritheall:
ImageDSCF0836 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
South Glen Shiel Ridge and The Saddle:
ImageDSCF0837 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Panther feels like flying!
2018-06-10 druim fada 180.JPG

Men are strange creatures and not easy to satisfy, but I think I know the recipe how to make my man smile!
ImageDSCF0841 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
We had a quick lunch and set off to conquer the Long Ridge. We had plenty of time and the long succession of rocky outcrops to walk over looked very inviting. It was time for fun and games!
2018-06-10 druim fada 185.JPG

Hills of Knoydart and Barrisdale Bay:
2018-06-10 druim fada 189.JPG

Just a word of warning. If you think that by now all the hard work is done, you're wrong. There's another 150m of ascent and 250m of descent to do just from the summit to the final eastern top (the one with trig point marked on the map). So be ready for more up and down. Mind you, in such surroundings you will quickly forget all the pain in your muscles. It's a ridge for connoisseurs. Long, rocky and entertaining :D
2018-06-10 druim fada 195.JPG

You can make the traverse as easy or as hard as you wish. I opted for the harder option, enjoying mild scrambling whenever it was possible:
2018-06-10 druim fada 190.JPG

Descending to the two lochans, situated about 600m west from the summit:
Image2018-06-10 druim fada 207 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
We spent some time scrambling down this section:
2018-06-10 druim fada 208.JPG

Kevin bewildered:

One of the two lochans, they ave no names on any maps:
2018-06-10 druim fada 220.JPG

If you fancy harder scrambling, this is the place you want to be!
ImageDSCF0851 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Looking for the easiest way down:
2018-06-10 druim fada 224.JPG

The western half of the ridge looked mouthwatering!
ImageDSCF0856 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Looking back to the eastern half - the true summit is hidden behind a lower top in front:
2018-06-10 druim fada 235.JPG

I know it ain't Aonach Eagach but this simply has to be one of the best, if not THE BEST Graham we have ever done. And it is virtually unknown, one of the least climbed Grahams! I know that the popularity of this hill suffers badly from the close proximity of Beinn Sgritheall, Beinn na h-Eaglaise and Beinn nan Caorach (all of them fine mountains as they are), but this little Gem of Arnisdale should get a bit more publicity, really. Just proves that sometimes less is more!
Still smiling like a Cheshire Cat (the Cheshire Panther???):
2018-06-10 druim fada 233.JPG

One more panorama:
Image2018-06-10 druim fada 239 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
The next stage, let the fun begin!

More easy scrambling:
Image2018-06-10 druim fada 241 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
She means business! Beware rocky mountains, there is a Panther on the loose!
Image2018-06-10 druim fada 246 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
View along upper Loch Hourn:
2018-06-10 druim fada 249.JPG

Kevin means business, too:

One of the middle tops is called Sgurr Mor. From here, we could see the remaining ridge to walk:
2018-06-10 druim fada 253.JPG

Panther and Barridsale Bay:
2018-06-10 druim fada 256.JPG

Panorama north from Sgurr Mor:
ImageDSCF0871 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Looking back east to the summit:
ImageDSCF0872 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
View west with Panther on a rock:
Image2018-06-10 druim fada 282 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
What a ridge. Everywhere we turned, every step we took, there was a different view to photograph, a different aspect of the same top/rocky outcrop/glen or loch in the background. No wonder over 400 photos were taken!
Looking back at the ridge we walked:
Image2018-06-10 druim fada 288 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
The last top, the one which should have a trig point on the summit:

Kevin investigating:
ImageDSCF0885 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
A sneak peek into upper Glen Arnisdale:
Image2018-06-10 druim fada 301 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Image2018-06-10 druim fada 307 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
It takes a true mountain to leave Kevin speechless, but this time he couldn't find the words to express himself other than "This ridge is... stupendous!"
ImageDSCF0891 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
A couple of additional panoramic snaps:
ImageDSCF0893 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
ImageDSCF0894 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
I climbed the final top first, looking for the trig point, but we quickly discovered that it had been shattered and is now lying broken into pieces:
ImageDSCF0896 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
It was getting late but we couldn't resist another break for even more photographs and explorations, especially gazing across Loch Hourn to our Nemezis Ladhar Bheinn. It is on the list "to-do", maybe this year if weather smiles:
Image2018-06-10 druim fada 323 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
From the top with the broken trigpoint, we descended to a high col with two wee lochans, to climb another bump in the ground. We were now heading down the ridge, over the whole succession of rocky outcrops, and with superb views down to the lower Loch Hourn and the outline of the Cuillin on the horizon:
Image2018-06-10 druim fada 326 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
The last look at Druim Lada, The Long Ridge. Worth every minute we spent walking, exploring, admiring. The magic world of thousand surprises :D
Image2018-06-10 druim fada 324 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
The descent route:
Image2018-06-10 druim fada 331 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
A man who wouldn't stop grinning!
ImageDSCF0909 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Upper Loch Hourn from the lower slopes of Druim Fada. Lower down, the slopes are a bit steeper in places but overgrown with grass. At some point, we came across a faint path which we followed carefully:
Image2018-06-10 druim fada 357 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Corran and the car park in sight:
Image2018-06-10 druim fada 362 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
The path took us all the way down to the edge of the forest just above the village, where it disappeared in the trees. We dived into the woods and soon discovered that this was more a deer track than a human path. The proof was in the shape of a large deer carcass, half decomposed and stinkifying the whole neighbourhood. Yuuuck. :sick:
We avoided the dead deer and clambered down through the forest to the track we could see just below us. There must be a better way of finding your way down the final meters of the descent, we probably missed a more obvious path?
The "path" through the forest:
ImageDSC02316 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Despite this little incident, we returned to the car as two very happy bunnies. We spent the next 15 minutes picking ticks off each other but even that didn't darken our moods. We had a fantastic day on a tremendous wee mountain and nothing could spoil that!
This was the last day of our June holidays. Now, with July Hols coming and weather looking good, I'm looking forward to even more mountain exploring :D
As for Druim Fada, well, having walked the full length of this Graham, now I know why they call it Long Ridge :D
Last edited by BlackPanther on Wed Nov 06, 2019 11:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I guess that's why they call it Long Ridge!

Postby Mal Grey » Fri Jun 29, 2018 10:35 pm

That looks abs-o-lute-ly fabulous! What a place to wander over a multi-topped, rugged ridge, studded with occasional lochans, all the while looking out over the most fabulous wild landscape of loch and hill.

Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm for this hill, I'm totally sold on it! My sort of place.

Mind you, when the weather looks like that, the canoeist in me is also looking at that stunning, glass-like calm water below...
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Re: I guess that's why they call it Long Ridge!

Postby malky_c » Fri Jun 29, 2018 11:07 pm

Brilliant - glad you enjoyed it. Must do this one again as it was a favourite for me as well 8)

As you say, the amount of ascent on the ridge is not to be underestimated :lol:
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