Munros: Aonach Meadhoin, Saileag, Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg, Sgurr Fhuaran, Sgurr na Carnach, Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe
Date walked: 13/10/2014
Time taken: 10.5 hours
Don’t ask me why, but I set my alarm for 0500. When I awoke to it, I re-set it for half past and got up just before 0600.
When I emerged from the tent the moon and stars shone brightly down in Glen Shiel and my car was covered with a layer of hard frost.
How on earth did I manage to stay warm in my tent I hear you ask?
Well, I have my Mountain Equipment Sleeping bag, laid out on my camping mat, which is rolled out on my waterproof picnic blanket. I grabbed a bag from the house which appeared to contain a duvet. When I opened it inside the tent, a feather pillow popped out of a thick double duvet along with a thin single one! I was snug in my cosy long johns, woolly socks, new Sherpa base layer, Rab Jacket, hat and gloves!! Crazy, I know, but a girl needs to keep warm.
I had a half frozen banana for breakfast and decided it was too early to go anywhere so climbed back into my cosy bed for a further 40 winks.
By 0730 I was parked up by the forest and river (approx. 1 mile West of the Cluanie Inn) gearing up for the day. It looked like it was going to be a good day. The path was quite good to start with before it crossed a bit of bog past a shieling and pretty much disappeared. Stags bellowed up the hill to my left and upon the right and a few hinds sprung out of the undergrowth and bounded up the mountain.
I bumbled up the hill through the thick clumps of grass alongside the river before turning West and up the shoulder through some slidy rocks before making a bee-line for the summit of Aonach Mheadhoin. The cloud descended just as I ascended! Having been on this mountain before, sadly there was no tick to be had.
I whacked on a layer as there was a chill in the air and had a quick snack before taking out the map to check the direction in which I should be travelling but to be honest the path was pretty obvious and it was an enjoyable walk to Sgurr a Bhealaich Dheirg which has a surprising little spur with a dyke running along the top that leads to a well-built cairn.
The cloud was coming and going revealing little snippits of glens and yonder mountains and the ridge. It was really lovely and for once I wasn’t the target for wind and rain!
Onwards to Saileag, another nice little hill where I met 3 sets of people all doing the Brothers Ridge in the opposite direction. They would be the only people I would meet on the hills all day. Up onto Saileag, no time to stop, I’m on my way to the Five Sisters.
At the Bealach an Lapan, I take a quick glance at the small cairn indicating the descent path and press on. The weather seems to be better the further West I travel.
At this stage I am conscious of the time but I don’t want to start ‘clock-watching’. The section between the bealach and the first Munro on the Five Sisters Ridge seems to take an eternity: the first cairn is reached but it doesn’t mark anything significant. On again and another cairn – this one marks Sgurr nan Spainteach. It’s a really lovely ridge which meanders in and around the top of some steep gullies.
Just before Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe is reached there’s a steep down climb, which I take my time on. A fall here would be lethal! The path doesn’t exactly follow ‘the ridge’ here but goes around a hollow and curves around through the boulders to the large summit cairn. Exclaiming out loud about the view, I’m enjoying the solitude. Typically just as I get my camera out the cloud rolls in so I opt to get warm and have a sandwich until it clears and it doesn’t take long for it to dissipate.
As a few of you may be aware I love singing and I have always wanted to sing from the top of a mountain at the top of my voice. I can see two figures in the distance on Sgurr na Carnach, but there’s no-one else around. A Scottish tune seems rather appropriate so I sing Wild Mountain Thyme and John Anderson my Joe amongst others. I loved it!!
It is 2pm and I reckon that it is going to take me a further 4 hours to climb the last two Munro’s and get down to the road. I’m not far wrong.
More pictures and I am off descending Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe. This would be a good scramble if heading in the opposite direction, but as I am heading down it it’s a bit trickier, bag bashing off rocks, etc.
Up onto Sgurr na Carnach soaking up the fresh air and sun-rays and then dropping again for last steep climb up onto Sgurr Fhuaran and another song on the summit. Truly stunning: the last Munro was a bit of an effort, but I made it. I wish I had the energy and the time to climb the Fifth Sister but I need to get down to the road in daylight if I am to stand any chance of getting a lift back up the road. This is my real worry now…. Having to walk all the way back….?!
I took the wrong line of descent of course and ended up traversing the side of Sgurr Fhuaran shoulder when I should have really gone down the ridge. I’m about mid-way between the ridge and the deep gorge and the walking is slippy and much care is required. A large rock disappears beneath my foot and tears off down the hill and drops into the gully. Oooooft!
I make it to the ridge, strip off a few layers and trip, lunge, run and fumble my way down to the river. I didn’t really know where I was going and all I could think about was getting to the road, but I should have followed the track that runs back towards Achnangart. Instead I headed straight for the large white house, hastily deciding to trudge through the river which meant I was soaked. Squelching my way through the field I realised I was being eye-balled by 4 lovely Grey’s (horses that is!) who decided to follow me.
Through the fence I sneaked, where the road was finally met, but it was quiet…. Really quiet!
Thumbing a lift is not something I have done for about 11 years and not something I particularly like doing, nor recommend, but would you want to walk it? Eh nope… didn’t think so!
Please, please, please someone give me a lift……
It has taken me 10.5 hours to reach this point and I walk for a good few miles before a car comes back for me. To the lovely couple from Stoke on Trent who were up on Skye for a couple of days and stashed me in their boot – Thank you so Much!!
It was just getting dark when they stopped and my chances of a lift were diminishing – the walk in total (road alone) I think is around 8 miles, so I would have faced a walk of around 2 hours at least, all uphill.
An absolutely cracker of a day! And a good haul of 5 new Munro’s. Well chuffed! Followed by another night in the tent and Stags bellowing by my tent
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Date walked: 05/04/2013
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Date walked: 20/10/2012
- Location: Dunblane
- Activity: Munro compleatist
- Mountain: Beinn a Bheithir
- Place: Glencoe
- Gear: ME Jacket
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- Distance: 29 km
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