Ring of Steall (scrambling via NE ridge of Sgurr a'Mhaim)

Route: The Ring of Steall, Mamores

Munros: Am Bodach, An Gearanach, Sgurr a'Mhaim, Stob Coire a'Chairn

Date walked: 23/09/2020

Distance: 16km

Somehow I had never done the Ring of Steall which was a bit of a silly error which needed correcting. And while I had done Sgurr a'Mhaim I needed to do the remaining three Munros of this round. So when I spotted another bit of late summer/early autumn weather - beautiful with very light wind - I swung into planning action....

... and the planning left me slightly unhappy at the standard route since it involves an unsatisfying bit of road walking in Glen Nevis and that it wasn't a totally satisfyingly purist 'ring' (albeit the most realistic one for most and hence why the always excellent WalkHighlands publish it), ie starting and finishing at Steall meadows. So consulting my scrambling in Lochaber guide led me to a better option (albeit one for those happy with bit of scrambling action): an anti-clockwise round starting at finishing at Steall meadows - in/out via the gorge - with a cunning route to access the NE ridge of Sgurr a'Mhaim.

The forecast was spot on.
Glen Nevis in the morning mist

So parked at the head of Glen Nevis car park (no having to schlepp up here from lower down for me!) and up Steall Gorge to the meadows. Across the wire bridge to the hut and then forge off right up a steep burn through birch woodlands to reach the start of a shallow bealach at about 420m alt. Beautiful views back over Steall meadows and the falls.
The cunning route - looking back over Steall meadows and falls

Then cut left traversing across fairly easy ground with a faint path (whether fellow intrepid scramblers or merely deer or sheep I don't know!). Up an obvious rake. And then scrambling up an exposed nose towards a flattening in the ridge. Which, given that it was all just a bit wet from the previous day's rain, all felt a bit nervy!
Scramble route - basically up to the flattening on the ridge above the tallest tree in foreground

The end result of this cunning route was access to secluded and rarely visited Coire nan Cnamh (the corrie of the bones!). The eeriness of the name enhanced by the booming roar of stags rutting. The coire also contains an amazing bit of folded rock - you can see the result of immense forces having bent the rock.
Folded rocks!

And this coire then gave access via a bit more scrambling to the excellent NE ridge of Sgurr a'Mhaim. One 'Bad Step' up a gendarme on the ridge and then some lovely ridge walking to the summit. At 1099m it would be fair to say I was feeling it in the legs already.

From Sgurr a'Mhaim across the Devil's Ridge to Sgor an Iubhair (right) and Am Bodach (left)

Then across the Devil's Ridge - fairly tame in summer if you have a good head for heights. But I wouldn't want to trip there!

Stob Ban from the Devil's Ridge

Up Sgurr/Sgor nan Iubhair - was briefly a Munro too which only emphasises that this Ring involves a lot more than 'just' 4 Munros; in fact there are really something like 7 or 8 summits to go over!
And then continuing over Am Bodach (The Old Man!), and Stob Coire a'Chairn - some steep scrambly descents.

Finally leaving An Garbhanach and An Gearanach (The Complainer - I imagine you would if you had to ascend it from Steall, that would be a slog and you would be complaining!). And the best was saved for last because the scramble up and summit ridge of An Garbhanach is excellent - fairly 'airy' scrambling across a ridge of excellent rock.

An Garbhanach ridge looking N to An Gearanach and the Ben

And then descending down on tired legs back to Steall - thankfully mostly on excellent stalker's paths which do a great job of zig-zagging!

The descent looking down to Steall

Navigate the very very boggy ground before the Falls, cross the funky wire bridge again and then down the beautiful gorge with a sense of satisfaction that the Ring was in the bag.

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Comments: 6

Udlaidhs of fun - cracking winter pair, fantastic viewpoints

Corbetts: Beinn Bhreac-liath, Beinn Udlaidh
Date walked: 01/03/2017
Distance: 12km
Ascent: 900m
Views: 871

Tidying up on a cracking day - The Right Way Round!

Attachment(s) Munros: Meall nan Eun, Stob Coir an Albannaich
Date walked: 05/09/2015
Distance: 18km
Ascent: 1350m
Comments: 7
Views: 2516

Ben Challum - a better way?!

Attachment(s) Munros: Ben Challum
Date walked: 24/05/2013
Distance: 13km
Ascent: 900m
Views: 2579


Location: Helensburgh
Interests: Mountains, anything to do with mountains Sailing
Activity: Stravaiging
Pub: The Clachaig in 90s ;-)
Mountain: Sgurr nan Gillean
Place: Camasunary
Gear: Haglofs - lanky fit
Member: JMCS Glasgow section
Camera: Sony NEX-5R
Ideal day out: Epic ridge with scrambling/mountaineering.
Ambition: climb Zero or 0.5 Gullies

Munros: 166
Corbetts: 19
Grahams: 6
Sub 2000: 1

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Trips: 1
Distance: 16 km
Munros: 4


Trips: 1
Distance: 12 km
Ascent: 900m
Corbetts: 2


Trips: 1
Distance: 18 km
Ascent: 1350m
Munros: 2


Trips: 1
Distance: 13 km
Ascent: 900m
Munros: 1

Joined: Feb 02, 2012
Last visited: Nov 03, 2020
Total posts: 10 | Search posts