walkhighlands

A slice of the South Glen Shiel Ridge

Munros: Creag nan Dàmh, Maol chinn-dearg, Sgùrr an Doire Leathain, Sgùrr an Lochain

Date walked: 29/08/2021

Stats (according to my Garmin):
Day 1 (pitch at lochan and out and back along the west side of the ridge):
Distance 11.77 m / Ascent 6046ft / Descent 3986
Day 2 (descent back to the glen):
Distance 2.64 m / Ascent 137ft / Descent 2247ft

Over the last few years I have revisited 14 Munros and only bagged five fresh summits, keeping me hovering around the halfway mark on my first round. Having to travel up from the North East of England creates a logistical issue. Add in some very poor luck with the weather when new summits were on the cards and there we have it - a frustrated me.

However, for the last few weeks I have been working remotely and spending time with family, back home at my folks place in Aberdeenshire. While home I’ve managed to tick off a Corbett and go on two excellent multi-day trips with a good friend, Mark. But I’ll be heading back south of the border soon and with my time back home drawing to a close I knew I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t manage to tick off a few new Munros. The weekend weather was looking ideal, and having an English employer, I had the advantage of a bank holiday on the 30th. This weekend had to be it.

The thought of a solo trip somewhere high with a possible night in the tent had me happily perusing my Munro map. As I glanced over it the South Glen Shiel Ridge stared at me, and I stared back. After pondering how feasible the ridge would be as a solo day trip, I concluded the >six hour round drive from Aberdeenshire and back was probably pushing it. And the obstacle of the possible trudge along the A87 had me a little irritated. A compromise presented itself once I saw a potentially ideal spot to pitch by a lochan, north east of the summit of Maol Chinn-dearg. I shared my thoughts with the afore mentioned fellow happy camper, Mark, who proclaimed he’d camped in that spot himself. He sent through some photos from his camp that sealed the deal – that was where I was going to pitch.

Of course the downside of opting for a wild camp was the thought of carrying all the additional weight along the ridge. And the thought of a walk along the A87 continued to killed any desire to do the ridge in one outing. So after a bit of pondering I decided to commit to an out and back along the west side of the ridge, taking in Maol Chinn-dearg, Sgurr an Doire Leathan, Sgurr an Lochain, and Creag nan Damh before doing an about-turn and heading back along the ridge to the pitch by the lochan. Same effort as the whole ridge but with three less Munros – erm, perfect?!

I parked up in a layby off the A87 at 09:30 on the Sunday and after some general faffery and popping back to check I’d definitely locked Morag, my trusty car, and check that the handbrake was definitely on, I started off on my solo adventure. As I followed the good track that leads to the summit of Maol Chinn-dearg the cloud that was hanging around the highest points on the ridge was clearing as forecast and I started to wonder whether I’d remembered to pack some sunscreen. After pitching the tent by the lochan and dumping the camping weight, I found my sunscreen and cracked on applying some. And then off I went to Maol Chinn-dearg. Bliss and some serious thigh burn awaited.

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Heading up to the ridge

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Tent pitched



And what a day for it! Views to die for. I think I must have exclaimed “wow”, “my god”, “I’m in heaven”, “this is excellent” to myself to excess throughout the day. Though a few of those “wows” and “my gods” were probably uttered while heading back up Sgurr an Lochain on the return leg. That was the point where I noticed that my thighs and glutes were having a good workout. But I didn’t much care, I was having an excellent time – I got to appreciate the western side of the ridge in both directions, I stopped and chatted away with various friendly fellow ridge walkers, and got to stay hello to two gorgeous dogs.

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Once I had returned to the summit of Maol Chinn-dearg I sat down and pondered adding on an out and back to Aonach air Chrith – turning four ticks into five. But the tent and its contents of food, a hip flask with a couple of drams worth of single malt and a comfy(ish) place to have a relax for the rest of the afternoon called to me. So off I went back to the tent.

The breeze was minimal and the weather still fine. I sat outside the tent as I boiled up some water for my tea, all the while with a stonking view of Aonach air Chrith, whose summit came in and out of view as cloud intermittently passed through. My heart was saying “ooo, go on, once you’ve had yer tea just go get her”, but my head and my thighs declined. AaC would have to wait for another day.

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After some noodles, three vegan chocolate and beetroot cookies (yes, three, don’t judge me) and a dram I wandered back onto the ridge for a final glance towards the Loch Quoich Munros who had put on a fine display all day. The tops were draped in cloud, a sight that made me think I too should probably tuck myself in for the night - so sauntered on back for my second dram and to do just that.

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The tent at night


The following morning was a clag-fest, but calm and thus fine for breaking camp. As I dropped back to the glen, and to my faithful Morag, the sun burst through, highlighting the Cluanie Inn, like a beacon or an oasis - a thought I am sure has passed through the minds of many over the years.

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Heading back to the glen


I got back to Morag, who seemed to have survived her night by the A87 unscathed, pleased with my adventure and pondering exactly how I will tick off those last three on the ridge.

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Comments: 4



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SMRussell


User avatar
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
Occupation: Postdoctoral Research Associate
Interests: Hill/fell running, endurance running, hiking, "thru-hiking" with wild camping, trad and sport climbing, lead climbing, and bouldering.
Mountain: Impossible to choose
Place: Assynt
Gear: Ice Axe
Member: Clubs:
British Mountaineering Council
Northumbrian Mountaineering Club

Meet-up Groups
Northern Hills
Scottish Hillwalking & Activities Group
Ideal day out: Either a crisp, sunny autumnal day involving a long hike or hill run with a satisfying bit of scrambling or a proper winters day. A ridge is always a bonus.

Munros: 163
Corbetts: 13
Grahams: 5
Donalds: 18
Wainwrights: 81
Hewitts: 104
Sub 2000: 18
Islands: 8
Long Distance routes: St Cuthbert's Way   



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Statistics

2021

Trips: 1
Munros: 4

2014

Trips: 11
Distance: 81.6 km
Ascent: 4903m
Munros: 20
Corbetts: 1
Hewitts: 15
Wainwrights 20

2013

Trips: 12
Distance: 152.62 km
Ascent: 10433m
Munros: 17
Corbetts: 1
Grahams: 3
Donalds: 3
Sub2000s: 2

2012

Trips: 24
Distance: 439.1 km
Ascent: 28311m
Munros: 41
Corbetts: 4
Sub2000s: 2
Hewitts: 7
Wainwrights 8

2011

Trips: 20
Distance: 261.44 km
Ascent: 16651m
Munros: 44
Sub2000s: 2

2010

Trips: 2
Distance: 14.5 km
Ascent: 534m

2009

Trips: 4
Distance: 25.85 km
Ascent: 2200m
Sub2000s: 1


Joined: Aug 08, 2011
Last visited: Sep 27, 2021
Total posts: 524 | Search posts