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North Loch Quoich and the South Shiel ridge on a long day!

North Loch Quoich and the South Shiel ridge on a long day!


Postby goingforawii » Sun Aug 18, 2019 2:53 pm

Munros included on this walk: Aonach Air Chrith, Creag a'Mhaim, Creag nan Damh, Druim Shionnach, Gleouraich, Maol chinn-dearg, Sgurr a'Mhaoraich, Sgurr an Doire Leathain, Sgurr an Lochain, Sgurr na Sgine, Spidean Mialach, The Saddle

Date walked: 02/07/2019

Time taken: 16 hours

Distance: 50.1 km

Ascent: 5218m

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I was hoping to do the Mullardoch round on the weekend following this, so I thought I'd better have a bit of a warm-up :D I was looking at doing the full South Shiel ridge, but figured getting onto it from Loch Quoich and adding in the three peaks here was a real possibility - and would certainly be a good challenge - a few miles less than the Mullardoch round but a few hundred metres more ascent - would certainly make for an interesting outing!

I was planning to stay in Invergarry at the excellent Saddle Mountain Hostel, so getting to the planned start on the north banks of Loch Quoich would be easy.

So, after a long drive up from Birmingham the night before, I checked into the hostel with just a couple of minutes to spare before they shut up for the night. A big bowl of pasta and a couple of chill out beers later... and it was soon midnight and time to hit the hay. Luckily I was the only person in the room, so as the alarm went off 4, there was no need for any creeping around. A bit of a slow rise... but by just after 5am I was at the start of the walk 8)

There's parking for five or so cars at 'the pole' to take you up Gleouraich, which was also to be the first stop on my route:

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the drive to the start around Loch Quoich

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the start of the walk

The path is initially quite boggy running alongside Allt Coire Peitireach through some bushes, but soon opens up and the views down Loch Quoich to Kinloch Hourn and Knoydart are splendid:

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views down Loch Quoich

There's a well defined path all the way to the top:

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heading up Gleouraich

And although a bit misty at this time in the morning, the views were still extensive:

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Gleouraich summit with views to Spidean Mialach

From the summit, the well defined path continues to Creag Core na Fiar Bhealach and onto Spidean Mialach summit:

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Creag Core na Fiar Bhealach

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heading up Spidean Mialach

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Spidean Mialach summit with views down Loch Loyne

Now for a fun bit and the drop down into Glen Loyne to 280m. After an initial very loose and slippy scree slope for 60m or so, it become less steep and more grassy which made the descent much easier:

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view across to the South Shiel ridge from Spidean Mialach

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the descent route of Spidean Mialach into Glen Loyne

Once quite a bit down, the view back up to Spidean Mialach gives it a much grander feel from here:

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view up to Spidean Mialach from Glen Loyne

Once down in Glen Loyne, there's a relatively simple crossing of the River Loyne to make - and the further down the river you go, the easier the crossing is:

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River Loyne crossing

Once across you meet up with the path which you follow and join up with the Crape Wrath trail ever so briefly. There is the option to stay on this path for a little bit longer and go up the path, marked on maps, up the SE slope of Creag a' Mhaim - but once the peak of Creag a' Mhaim came into view, I went up the SW slope - and although there was no defined path, it was a simple route up to the summit:

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as soon as I saw this view I just headed up the SW slope (mid-left of the picture)

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summit of Creag a' Mhaim views to Loch Cluanie

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summit of Creag a' Mhaim with views along the South Shiel ridge

I was about 4 hours 30 minutes into the walk now - and it was about 9:30am... so a quick spot of tea and a biccy and then onwards to tackle the rest of the ridge. The route onto Druim Shionnach was straightforward:

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heading towards Druim Shionnach

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the view back to Creag a' Mhiam

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Druim Shionnach summit

So far today, the clouds had stayed away and although I'd seen rain in the distance, it had stayed off - but the journey onto Aonach air Chrith brought in a rather heavy passing shower:

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Aonach air Chrith summit

But once the descent down and then up to Maol Chinn-Dearg was underway, this shower had passed and the views started to open up again - and even a bit of blue sky started to show! 8)

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descending Aonach air Chrith with a nice view to Maol Chinn-Dearg

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view back to Aonach air Chrith

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Maol Chinn-Dearg summit - view back to Aonach air Chrith

The path was still very easy to follow and well defined, so it really was a case of just plodding along taking in the wonderful sites of this ridge:

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heading to Sgurr an Doire Leathain

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approaching the summit of Sgurr an Doire Leathain

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the view back to Maol Chinn-Dearg

There's a very short out-and-back section to reach the summit of Sgurr an Dore Leathain. The summit cairn is almost non-existent, but from here, the views onto Sgurr an Lochan are very striking:

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remember to do the out and back...

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Sgurr an Dore Leathain summit

A quick break at the top and carry on the descent and re-ascent up to Sgurr an Lochain. On the way up, I realised I had a good view back to Loch Quoich head and across to Am Bathaich and Sgurr a' Mhaoraich... and that seemed a long, long way off...... :shock:

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heading up Sgurr an Lochain

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views across to Sgurr a' Mhaoraich and Loch Quoich

I reached the summit of Sgurr an Lochain and had my first glimpse of some other folk - I was beginning to think I wouldn't see anybody all day...

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Sgurr an Lochain summit

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view back to Sgurr an Dore Leathain

I stopped for a bit of a chat with the two folks on the way down from Sgurr an Lochain. They were doing the classic 7 peaks ridge walk and, like so many before them I'm sure, were hping to be able to hitch a lift along the A87 back to their car :)

The route from Sgurr an Lochain to Creag nan Damh splits in two - and make sure you take the left path. The right path takes you down to the A87 - or, will let you climb Sgurr Beag, if you really wanted to... The path alongside Sgurr Beag is really good and a gentle descent to about 720m so nice for a bit of a jog - and soon you're at the base of Creag nan Damh and ready to start climbing again:

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base of Creag nan Damh

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the route back to Sgurr an Lochain - you can just make out the path that runs around Sgurr Beag (in the foreground)

The ascent up Creag nan Damh is simple and you're on the summit quite quickly:

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Creag nan Damh summit with views back to Sgurr an Lochain

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summit selfie... :roll:

From here, the views are extensive and eyes are drawn to The Saddle and Forcan Ridge in the distance. Before then is the rather energy sapping route onto Sgurr na Sgine. It doesn't look that bad on a map, but this is a constant up and down plod up to Sgurr a Bhac Chaolais:

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view from Sgurr a Bhac Chaolais back to Creag nan Damh

The defined path down from Sgurr a Bhac Chaolais onto Sgurr na Signe is also probably not the easiest descent and instead I found there's quite a straight grassy slope down from it... but on the descent, the fantastically steep rock face of Sgurr na Signe comes into view in all its glory with the Forcan ridge popping up above it:

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There are a few ways to get up Sgurr na Signe from this side and the most logical is to head off SW around the base and then up the SW slope, which would definitely be the way I would come back... but for a bit of variety, I went up the scree slope and the carved gully, which can be seen just to the left of the summit:

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I think in any weather other than what was now a pleasant and sunny day, this would be very tricky. Just below the summit there is a large boulder blocking the route. Shorter/smaller people would be able to squeeze through the gap to the left of the boulder - but I had to opt for a very short but very tricky bit of scrambling - all part of the fun. Once up the scramble, you meet up with the path that comes up the SW slope and onto the summit:

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Sgurr na Signe summit looking back along the ridge

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Sgurr na Signe summit cairn

The weather was glorious now and lots of clear blue patches were forming :D So a glorious time of the day to be heading to The Saddle:

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view to The Saddle while descending Sgurr na Signe

The plan was to going along the Forcan Ridge and come back down the bypass route, but I'd been at it for just under 10 hours now and knowing I still had The Saddle, Sgurr na Signe again, Sgurr a Bhac Chaolais again and then the final stretch to Sgurr a' Mhaoraich still to come... I opted to take the much easier option of the bypass path both up and down :roll: and I'll leave the Forcan Ridge to another day...

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Heading up the bypass path looking across to the ridge :(

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The Saddle summit area

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The Saddle summit

I met two more people at the top and as it was such a glorious day now - very hot in the sun, I think a well earned rest and a bite to eat - and a bit of a chat.

I was getting a bit too comfortable, so headed off after 15 minutes or so - back down the bypass path and back towards the climb up Sgurr na Signe, but my - I will definitely be back to do the Forcan Ridge...

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walkers on the ridge

The plod up Sgurr na Signe was much easy from this side and this time I definitely did come down the SW slope and work my round. From this side the view up Sgurr a' Bhac Chaolais also meant I cold see where the defined path was taking a slightly odd route and so was able to just head up the grassy slope. At the peak here, there are fence posts running off through a demolished wall away from the ridge walk (and the way I came up) - which show the route towards Cadha nam Bo Ruadha - and probably a route that carries on towards the Corbett Buidhe Bheinn... Still having one last climb to go, I decided to not do this :lol: and just get to finishing this long day already! :D

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fenceposts to Cadha nam Bo Ruadha

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rock on with views onto Sgurr a Mhaoraich

So there was just one final descent down to about 530m with a steady climb from there up to Sgurr Thionail, Am Bathaich (although I didn't summit this - just skirted round it) and then finally on up to Sgurr a Mhaoraich:

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Sgurr a Mhaoraich summit

But, after finally hitting the 12th Munro of the day, it was time for a quick rest and then a nice gentle jog down back to the road down the excellent path. Once at the road - it was about a 1.5 mile jog back to the car and the end of a long day! :D
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Re: North Loch Quoich and the South Shiel ridge on a long da

Postby malky_c » Thu Aug 22, 2019 10:43 pm

Can't believe you missed Buidhe Bheinn out :lol: :lol: .

I remember you mentioning this at the Kintail meet, but it looks even more ridiculous in reality - I hadn't realised you'd been all the way out to the Saddle as well! On the other hand it is quite a natural looking round that hadn't even occurred to me before. Nice one 8)
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Re: North Loch Quoich and the South Shiel ridge on a long da

Postby weaselmaster » Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:12 pm

I've often wondered about the combination of the North Quoich hills with the Glenshiel ones - and been put off by the amount of descent/re-ascent. That's an immense day out. :D
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Re: North Loch Quoich and the South Shiel ridge on a long da

Postby spiderwebb » Mon Aug 26, 2019 10:52 am

Wow, that's some round !! Well done :clap: :clap:
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Re: North Loch Quoich and the South Shiel ridge on a long da

Postby goingforawii » Wed Aug 28, 2019 10:51 pm

malky_c wrote:Can't believe you missed Buidhe Bheinn out :lol: :lol: .

I remember you mentioning this at the Kintail meet, but it looks even more ridiculous in reality - I hadn't realised you'd been all the way out to the Saddle as well! On the other hand it is quite a natural looking round that hadn't even occurred to me before. Nice one 8)


Cheers Malky - shame I couldn't make it up the Forcan ridge... I think that would have finished me off and at the time, the thought of going up Buidhe Bheinn nearly did... There's plenty of wonderful camping spots to turn this into a steady two day hike for sure.

weaselmaster wrote:I've often wondered about the combination of the North Quoich hills with the Glenshiel ones - and been put off by the amount of descent/re-ascent. That's an immense day out. :D


Well worth a bash if you fancy it weaselmaster :wink:

spiderwebb wrote:Wow, that's some round !! Well done :clap: :clap:


Cheers spiderwebb - was definitely a few beers to be had afterwards :D
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Re: North Loch Quoich and the South Shiel ridge on a long da

Postby Alteknacker » Thu Aug 29, 2019 11:23 pm

I remember that descent off Sgurr na Signe well - I came more or less straight down the front of the cliffs!

That's a really big round - I think these are all getting a bit minor for you. I think it'll have to be the Charlie Ramsey round pretty soon, eh???
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Re: North Loch Quoich and the South Shiel ridge on a long da

Postby gammy leg walker » Fri Aug 30, 2019 4:18 pm

Jings that's a route and a half,I'm in awe,just one small point tho.

Beyond this the ridge leads over a minor top to ridge the summit of the Saddle, at 1010 metres. The trig point is slightly further along the ridge.

The trig is not the true summit
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Re: North Loch Quoich and the South Shiel ridge on a long da

Postby jimbell21 » Sat Aug 31, 2019 8:57 am

That is a hell of a day out! Massive kudos, your legs must have been feeling that on the return leg. Fantastic route, well done.
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Re: North Loch Quoich and the South Shiel ridge on a long da

Postby goingforawii » Wed Sep 04, 2019 10:51 pm

gammy leg walker wrote:Jings that's a route and a half,I'm in awe,just one small point tho.

Beyond this the ridge leads over a minor top to ridge the summit of the Saddle, at 1010 metres. The trig point is slightly further along the ridge.

The trig is not the true summit


Cheers GLW - I had a good wander around the summit, so made sure I reached the top :wink: I always like a photo of a trig though

Alteknacker wrote:I remember that descent off Sgurr na Signe well - I came more or less straight down the front of the cliffs!

That's a really big round - I think these are all getting a bit minor for you. I think it'll have to be the Charlie Ramsey round pretty soon, eh???


Coming off the front of the cliffs would have been fun... :shock: Maybe next summer I'll build up to a Ramsay round...

jimbell21 wrote:That is a hell of a day out! Massive kudos, your legs must have been feeling that on the return leg. Fantastic route, well done.


Cheers jimbell - legs were definitely gone before the last summit - but the beer calling my name pulled me home :wink:
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