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Half way point on Grahams: Druim na Sgriodain

Half way point on Grahams: Druim na Sgriodain

Postby BlackPanther » Thu May 30, 2019 9:32 pm

Route description: Sgùrr na h-Eachainne & Druim na Sgriodain

Fionas included on this walk: Druim na Sgriodain

Date walked: 06/05/2019

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 14.65 km

Ascent: 823m

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We couldn't have picked a better hill to celebrate 50% on Grahams. Hence we will probably never finish them, the half way point seemed like a very important step in our Graham journey. Having already passed that threshold on both Munros and Corbetts, we were glad to do the same on the 2500-footers list. It took us over 10 years to get here, but we never concentrated on Grahams, picking the more interesting ones first, leaving some of them for short winter days. At the moment, the ambition is to do all Grahams within reasonable driving distance from home, so we should be able to add another 20-25 summits to our list easily, the rest will be a matter of long summer holidays, if we ever bother...
I know that technically, 50% of 219 is 109.5, so should we celebrate half way up Druim na Sgriodain??? :lol: :lol: :lol:

Now to the walk itself. We picked it because it was recommended as a superb viewpoint (more the lower top, Sgurr na h-Eachainne, than the summit) and also, we wanted to visit the amazing Ardgour, have a closer look at the wild landscape of the far west.

It didn't start good for me, though. As we drove down from Inverness, I suffered badly from travel sickness. I struggled to stomach even a small sandwich Kevin forced me to eat (saying, I had to have some fuel in my guts, or I won't be able to climb even ten meters!). The road along the north side of Loch Linnhe was narrow and twisty, which didn't help either...

WH walk description suggests anticlockwise approach, starting from the main road near the Corran ferry. walking along the road for some distance and then climbing Sgurr na h-Eachainne first. We found a slightly better option, avoiding the walk along A861 and preferred to go clockwise, leaving Sgurr na h-Eachainne as the final viewpoint of the day. We also descended back to Coire Dubh which saved us some distance. Overall, no matter how you do this hill, it's not one you will easily forget!

Track_DRUIM NA SGRIODAIN 06-05-19.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

We parked close to the start of the minor road to Clovullin (there is room for a few cars in an old quarry, also some space just off the road). The morning looked beautiful...
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 002.JPG

...but I was still feeling too sickly to appreciate it. I really wanted to do it, it was going to be our half way point, I didn't want to spoil it by returning my breakfast all over the mountain!
Sickly Panther in the forest :shock:
Image2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 006 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
We took the minor road through Clovullin, turning left onto access track to Ardgour House. Here, we discovered a new path, neatly marked and signposted, saying "path to the mast and the viewpoint" or something like that. Now we just followed the suggested way up to the mast below MacLean's Towels waterfalls...
(I'm going to skip the bit about being sick in the bushes)
...and from now on, we were on the wild slopes of "our" target hill.
The morning was cold but sunny, we kept fingers crossed for the weather to hold...
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 011.JPG

...but even from the early stages of this circuit, we knew we were in for a fantastic day with superb vistas!
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 018.JPG

The Corran ferry in action:
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 020.JPG

As soon as we hit the steeper slopes and intense workout was necessary, my body shifted to the highest possible gear and the sickly feeling subsided. Suddenly, I had enough energy to overtake Kevin on the steep climb along the waterfalls. Generally, this is not as bad as some descriptions suggest, would be slippery when wet but we had no problem finding our way up the grass between rocks and flat slabs. Higher up, there is a faint path.
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 022.JPG

The falls were not much of a distraction today, hardly any water in the stream :( Soon we reached the edge of Coire Dubh:
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 037.JPG

Kevin ordered a short break for hydration, refilling bottles and a snack. I couldn't even think about eating anything sandwich-shaped, just swallowed a whole bar of chocolate to give my muscles enough sugar to take me up to the summit. Usually, after a couple of hours of intense exercise, my body returns to normal and I can have a normal lunch.
It was easy to forget about any tummy upsets just by looking at the view across the loch!
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 031.JPG

To reach the main ridge of the Graham, we decided to ascend this top:
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 041.JPG

Some patchy cloud still lingered over western Scotland but it was high enough to float above the mountain summits and we could admire the peaks of the mainland tops, like the mighty Bidean nam Bian in Glen Coe:
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 047.JPG

No, no worries. The way up does not involve scrambling up this face. It can easily be bypassed to the left:
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 206.JPG

Clovullin and Corran from above:
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 049.JPG

We continued to climb up the shoulder of An t-Socach, still steep but we hardly noticed that, there was so much to see and so much to photograph, we took our time and savoured every minute!
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 209.JPG

Looking south along Loch Linnhe:
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 061.JPG

Panoramic version of the view, including mountains from Ben Nevis (left) to Beinn a'Bheithir (right):
Image2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 065 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Ben Nevis to the north-east:
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 045.JPG

This wee cairn is situated at the end of the long shoulder, leading to the wide summit area. Views still second to none:
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 071.JPG

The ridge to the summit:
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 075.JPG

Kevin speechless... What is he looking at?
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 224.JPG

He admires the rocky ridge of Garbh Bheinn, of course! This mighty mountain, combined with the two neighbouring Grahams, Beinn Bheag and Sgorr Mhic Eacharna, offers a grand day out. Something we are longing to do as soon as time and weather allow us.
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 076.JPG

Zoomed Grabh Bheinn. Quoting Kevin "Can you hear it calling us?"
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 080.JPG

But before we aim for Garbh Bheinn, we still have another, if smaller, fish to fry. Druim na Sgriodain, here we come!
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 081.JPG

The ground on the final walk along the ridge is wet in places, but we reached the summit with big smiles. It was hard NOT to grin, when looking around, at this wild, wild world of mountains, most of which we hadn't yet climbed.
Just below the summit, there is a tiny lochan:
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 090.JPG

Actually, there are multiple lochans on the summit ridge, scattered all over the place:
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 093.JPG

...but THIS panorama is something special. So many new hills to visit, I can still feel the excitement I felt in that very moment, gazing in the distance and counting the peaks, still waiting to be discovered!
Image2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 087 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Kevin must have felt the same way, he stood by the summit cairn for a long time, just gawking :lol:
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 252.JPG

Half way point! Officially, 50% of Grahams done! (Lucy marked her 84th Graham):
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 110.JPG

One more celebratory pose on the summit of Druim na Sgriodain, with views to the inaccessible Glen Gour behind:
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 116.JPG

We didn't bring any champagne to celebrate, just a flask with hot tea and a box of sandwiches. By now, after three hours of strenuous exercise with next to nothing in my stomach (the chocolate bar got digested at extra speed) I devoured the content of the box, leaving Kevin so amused he couldn't stop giggling.
Now to the views. I can hardly find words to describe. Every direction you look, there are countless mountain tops, long glens, small lochans, all framed by the blue & white sky. This was a perfect way to mark the half way point :D
A few summit panoramas from Kevin's camera. No description needed...
Image2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 126 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Image2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 127 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Image2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 128 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Image2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 129 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
And I read somewhere that "Druim na Sgriodain is an inferior viewpoint to the lower top, Sgurr na h-Eachainne."
If THAT was "inferior" then what was yet to come??? :lol:
Leaving the summit, we traversed east through the labyrinth of lochans and small rocky bluffs, towards the final top of the day. From the main ridge, Sgurr na h-Eachainne does not look that impressive at all:
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 133.JPG

Panoramic view across Loch Linnhe:
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 132.JPG

I simply had to vent out the extra steam and anger. I was frustrated that my body fought against me, making the start of nearly every walk miserable. Maybe if I move that stone, I'll feel better!
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 145.JPG

Of course, the stone didn't even budge, but the mountain-destruction therapy worked :lol: :lol:
Now, we had only a short climb up grassy slopes to the supposed excellent viewpoint:
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 149.JPG

...but first, we stopped for another photo session by Lochan a Choire Dhuibh:
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 154.JPG

Druim na Sgriodain and Lochan a Choire Dhuibh from the slopes of Sgurr na h-Eachainne:
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 157.JPG

Shame that this top doesn't have enough reascent to make it a Graham, but even as a top, it is still worth adding to the circular walk. We spent nearly half an hour here, sitting on a large rock and simply digesting the views along Loch Linnhe.
Kevin's first impression... WOW!
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 280.JPG

North along the loch:
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 168.JPG

2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 174.JPG

Across the water to Loch Leven and surrounding mountains:
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 186.JPG

Back to Garbh Bheinn:
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 176.JPG

Panther bewildered:
Image2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 182 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
The Corran ferry from above:
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 192.JPG

The Corran Point lighthouse:
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 193.JPG

This is simply one of the best viewpoints I've ever been to. Having said that, nothing should be taken away from the very summit of Druim na Sgriodain which gives more detailed vistas into the wild interior of Ardgour, whereas Sgurr na h-Eachainne is all about the edge between land and sea, the mosaic of mountains and water. The whole high walk is a breathtaking experience, should definitely be kept for a dry, sunny day!
No wonder he's grinning. He took so many photos, I'll struggle forever to pick the best ones for my report!
Image2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 288 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
To return to the starting point, we retraced our steps to the col above Lochan a Choire Dhuibh and then dropped into Coire Dubh on easy, grassy slopes, returning to the edge of the "hanging valley" above the waterfalls:
Image2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 196 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
The final descent to the mast was on steeper section but as the day was dry, we really didn't have any problems with it. And we kept the superb views until reaching the mast itself:
2019-05-06 druim na sgrodain 200.JPG

What a day it was. Even with the sickly incident, I can still classify it as one of the best days this year so far and a fantastic one to pick for our half way point. Now, the next "target" is to reach 130 Grahams at some point in our mountain career, but as most of them are further and further away from home, this is beginning to look logistically awkward :lol: Besides, we'd love to concentrate on Munros in summertime, the very 28 we have left to do at the moment of writing this report :lol:
We did indeed concentrate on Munros during our May holidays. My next TR will tell the story of Ben Lui and how we answered the call of the brother!
Last edited by BlackPanther on Mon Oct 28, 2019 10:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Half way point on Grahams: Druim na Sgriodain

Postby Sgurr » Thu May 30, 2019 10:48 pm

I agree that this view point is one of the best of any mountain in any category. Lovely photos. We were lucky enough to get a good day for this as well, but not the wonderful visibility that you got. ..but "never finish the Grahams" there are still some fantastic ones you have to do, though living further north than us, you have managed to pick many of the plums. I have just had a look at your map and you still have some fabulous ones to do. All the Skye ones for a start with those views of the Cuillin. Sometimes the best views of the high hills are from lower down, as this report shows.
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Re: Half way point on Grahams: Druim na Sgriodain

Postby malky_c » Fri May 31, 2019 10:38 pm

Great hill this - have been up a couple of times and would go again quite happily. The waterfalls and slabs in the corrie on the way up are also great :) . Oh well, looks like you'll just have to finish the Grahams now... :wink:
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Re: Half way point on Grahams: Druim na Sgriodain

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Jun 03, 2019 4:24 pm

I'm not saying finishing the Grahams is impossible, it's just highly unlikely. It's the whole bunch of them down south, the islands and the far east... Besides, we are not avid list-tickers, we would like to finish the Munros (with 90% done it would be a shame not to compleat) but we're not fussy about Corbetts and Grahams. There are still some good ones on our to-do list. I'm looking forward to more Ardgour peaks, we had just scratched the surface here :D
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