Lindsay Boyd's Trip Reports

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Section 10b - Loch Eil to Glen Shiel

Loch Quoich
Loch Quoich
Gulvain and Streap
Gulvain and Streap
Loch Arkaig
Loch Arkaig
Loch Beoraid
Loch Beoraid

This section refers to the hills and mountains from Loch Eil to Glen Shiel and include Knoydart, Glen Dessarry, Loch Quoich, South Cluanie Ridge and The Saddle. They cover theCorbetts, Grahams and Munros that I have climbed in this area since 2003 and includes a walk from Glenfinnan through to Strathan in Glen Dessarry. The Sub 2000 Marilyns climbed in this area can be viewed here while the Humps are located here.


Section 10b - Index

Corbetts Grahams Munros
Beinn Bhan An Stac Aonach air Chrith
Beinn Bhuidhe Aodann Chleireig Beinn Sgritheall
Beinn Loinne Beinn a'Chapuill Creag a'Mhaim
Beinn na Caillich Beinn Clachach Creag nan Damh
Beinn na h-Eaglaise Biod an Fhithich Druim Shionnach
Beinn nan Caorach Druim Fada Gairich
Ben Aden Glas-charn Garrbh Chioch Mhor
Ben Tee Meall Blair Gleouraich
Bidean a'Chabair Meall nan Eun Gulvain
Braigh nan Uamhachan Meall Onfhaidh Ladhar Bheinn
Buidhe Bheinn Meith Bheinn Luinne Bheinn
Carn Mor Mullach Coire nan Geur-oirean Maol Chinn-dearg
Fraoch Bheinn Sgurr Choinich Meall Buidhe
Geal Charn Slat Bheinn Meall na Teanga
Meall a'Phubuill Stob a'Ghrianain Sgurr a'Mhaoraich
Meall Dubh   Sgurr an Doire Leathan
Meall na h-Eilde   Sgurr an Lochain
Sgurr a'Bhac Chaolais   Sgurr Mor
Sgurr a'Choire-bheithe   Sgurr na Ciche
Sgurr an Fhuarain   Sgurr nan Coireachan - Glen Dessarry
Sgurr an Utha   Sgurr nan Coireachan - Glen Finnan
Sgurr Coire Choinnichean   Sgurr na Sgine
Sgurr Cos na Breachd-laoigh   Sgurr Thuilm
Sgurr Mhic Bharraich   Spidean Mialach
Sgurr Mhurlagain   Sron a'Choire Ghairbh
Sgurr nan Eugallt   The Saddle
Streap    


Section 10b - Trip Reports

Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach

3 October 2015

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Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 7.5 hours. Distance - 17 kilometres. Ascent - 1390 metres.

The Munros, Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach, are located between the South Cluanie Ridge and Glen Quoich and to reach the start involved driving along the single track road from the A87 at Loch Garry. A new hydro power station has been constructed on the east side of the bridge over the Allt Coire Peitireach with the parking area to the west still in existence. On my arrival two cars were already parked there and a few minutes later a couple of camper vans arrived.

A few Highland cattle were wandering around and while getting geared up they decided to stop and feed on the vegetation immediately opposite the parking area, the starting point for the route to Gleouraich. They were a bit nervous as I moved them onto the road then I walked through the rhododendrons and climbed the path up the side of the Allt Coire Peitireach. On the opposite side a rough vehicle track led to a new hydro dam. There were views across Loch Quoich to Gairich and west towards Ben Aden and Sgurr na Ciche.

The path, an old stalker’s route, zigzagged onto Druim Seileach’s South Ridge where I stopped for a while listening to the roar of the stags, the rut being in full swing. Afterwards I continued along the path below Druim Seileach and saw that a number of small hydro schemes were under construction around Alltbeithe in Glen Quoich. The stalker’s path swung east then came to an end at a butt, a good observation point for the deer in Coire Peitireach where several stags could be heard roaring. A walker’s path led more steeply onto Gleouraich’s West Ridge and into the low cloud which had been floating around the tops on my approach. I then continued to Gleouraich’s summit cairn.

With no views I descended east then made the short ascent to the Munro Top, Creag Coire na Fiar Bhealaich. There was then a fairly long descent south-east emerging from the cloud for a while before returning into the gloom on the steady climb of Spidean Mialach. There were two cairns and I passed a couple going in the opposite direction, as I headed for the higher easterly one.

It was probably a mistake to include the Graham Top, Glac Raineach as it was a further 2.5 kilometres to the east and heading away from my car. I descended south-east then east on a long descent which later became quite rocky and here it started to drizzle. On reaching the col with the Graham Top I commenced the ascent of the undulating rocky west ridge as the drizzle became heavier. The summit of Glac Raineach was reached although I did visit a few potential high points.

I stopped here for a late lunch before returning to the col with Spidean Mialach as the drizzle ceased and the cloud began to lift with views across to the South Cluanie Ridge. My plan was to partially re-ascend Spidean Mialach and cut across Coire Glas but I changed my mind and descended south-west and round Coire an t-Seasgaich with areas of slab rock to avoid. A bank of cloud hung around here and in the mist I spotted several hinds but they quickly ran off. However I was a bit concerned that I was amongst the roaring stags that were obviously close-by. Lower down I came out of the cloud then aimed for and reached the dam at Loch Quoich. This was followed by a road walk of over four kilometres to reach my car as the weather was brightening in the west.

previous ascent

Gleouraich Munro sixth ascent 1035 metres
Spidean Mialach Munro sixth ascent 996 metres

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Sron a'Choire Ghairbh and Meall na Teanga

24 July 2015

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Map - OS Landranger 34. Time taken - 9 hours. Distance - 25 kilometres. Ascent - 1620 metres.

We parked in the Chia-aig Falls car park at the west end of the Mile Dorcha on the road leading to Loch Arkaig. The path up Gleann Cia-aig on the east side of the Abhainn Chia-aig was still closed for work on the hydro dam further up the glen, in fact on the date of this visit it didn’t exist due to construction work. The alternative route meant walking east along the Mile Dorcha for 600 metres to the start of the vehicle track which was also used by construction traffic. The gates were open and there were numerous signs for walkers and workers.

The track initially headed north-east through the forest but at a junction the left turn led us back towards Gleann Cia-aig. A number of portable buildings and some very large construction vehicles were passed as the wide track continued up the glen to the point where a crane was in position for the building of the dam. Beyond the old track took us through the trees and to a stile which we crossed, encountering the first shower of the day.

A wet path along the side of the Abhainn Chia-aig took us to a footbridge and once across it two of the group headed for the Corbetts, Meall na h-Eilde and Geal Charn, while myself and a friend’s aim were the Munros to the east. Initially there was a wet path but it soon disappeared amongst a mixture of long vegetation and wet and marshy ground. Some old fence posts could be used as a guide in poor visibility. There were a few more showers before we reached and crossed the stream that came in from the north then more rough ground on the north side of Allt Cam Bhealaich. A short climb took us onto a little used path that led to Cam Bhealach.

From here the zigzag path made for a quick ascent towards the Munro, Sron a’Choire Ghairbh although I made a short diversion to take in its East Top before rejoining my companion at the cairn marking the summit of Sron a’Choire Ghairbh. Thereafter we returned to Cam Bhealach and commenced the ascent of Meall na Teanga but after a bit of height gain I left this path and climbed to the summit of the Corbett Top, Meall Dubh. This would have been a good viewpoint to look up and down Loch Lochy and the Great Glen but unfortunately as I approached the hill was engulfed in cloud.

I returned to the path for the Munro, Meall na Teanga, then climbed to its summit cairn to join my fellow Munro Bagger. I stopped here for a quick snack before we descended south-west then climbed through some rocky sections to reach the summit of the Corbett Top, Meall Coire Lochain. The route continued round Coire Odhar Beag, over Meall Odhar then round Coire Odhar Mor before descending relatively easily through mixed vegetation to the stile in Gleann Cia-aig. Here we met the Corbett Baggers then walked back down the glen to our cars.

previous ascent

Sron a'Choire Ghairbh Munro sixth ascent 937 metres
Meall na Teanga Munro sixth ascent 918 metres

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Sgurr Mhurlagain

21 July 2015

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Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 5.5 hours. Distance - 10.25 kilometres. Ascent - 865 metres.

The folks I was staying with near Fort William were planning on climbing the Corbett, Sgurr Mhurlagain, so I decided to join them. The drive along the normally quiet narrow single track undulating road on the north side of Loch Arkaig was quite arduous due to the number of work vehicles using the road and the passing places being occupied by parked cars. There were also lorries removing timber from beyond the west end of the Loch.

Eventually we reached the end of the loch and left my vehicle in the car park, which was new to me, at the end of the public road. Once geared up we set off in the rain along the vehicle track towards Glen Dessarry meeting one of the loaded logging lorries leaving the glen. Immediately beyond the Dearg Allt a ‘Right of Way’ sign indicated the route up the west side of this stream to Tomdoun eighteen miles away. This was contrary to my map which showed the path on the east side but it wasn’t visible and I had used the one of the west side of the stream before to climb this Corbett.

This vehicle track was wet and muddy and ran north to the lower slopes of the Corbett, Fraoch Bheinn, before turning east and crossing a wet and boggy area as we returned to the Dearg Allt which we crossed. The vehicle track was now more of a wet quad vehicle trail so rather than follow it to the col we soon left it and crossed wet vegetation to gain the south-west ridge of Sgurr Mhurlagain. We climbed this ridge to the summit cairn where it was windy but we had a view despite the earlier low cloud.

After a few minutes at the top we descended the south-west ridge but rather than use the ascent route we continued down the ridge. Lower down the ground steepened as we headed south through long vegetation, including bracken, avoiding the rocky outcrops, to reach the public road just east of the car park.

previous ascent

Sgurr Mhurlagain Corbett thrid ascent 880 metres

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Gulvain

19 July 2015

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Map - OS Landranger 40/41. Time taken - 8 hours. Distance - 20 kilometres. Ascent - 1290 metres.

Staying at Banavie near Fort William meant a reasonably short drive along the A830 to Gleann Fionnlighe located just beyond the west end of Loch Eil. We parked on an old section of road at the entrance to the glen which was also the start of the Right of Way to Strathan 10 miles away. Once geared up we walked north up the glen on a vehicle track later crossing the Fionn Lighe using the road bridge. The condition of the track gradually deteriorated as we passed through a couple of deer gates then further on there were pools of water and a stream to cross.

On reaching and crossing the Allt a'Choire Reidh the Right of Way continued north while we headed north-east to commence the ascent of Gulvain. Initially the obvious path was in places wet, boggy and eroded before the ridge steepened and it was a stiff climb to the 855 metre knoll where the gradient eased then it was onto Gulvain’s South Top.

We then lost some height as we descended to the col before heading for the summit of Gulvain which was in cloud at this time. This low cloud had been floating about during the morning so we sat at the summit while it lifted and then had views of the surrounding mountains including west to Glen Dessarry and Knoydart.

The return was by the upward route.

previous ascent

Gulvain Munro sixth ascent 987 metres

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Ben Tee

21 March 2015

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Map - OS Landranger 34. Time taken - 4.25 hours. Distance - 9.75 kilometres. Ascent - 865 metres.

I had been staying in Plockton with a group of friends so while they headed home I drove to Kilfinnan, on the west side of Loch Lochy to climb the Corbett, Ben Tee, accessed along a single track road from the A82 at the south end of Loch Oich. At the road end there was parking for several vehicles although it appeared that in wet conditions the area would be quite muddy.

Immediately to the west of this parking area an animal track, or possibly an old stalker’s path, headed up the grassy bank on the north side of the Killfinnan Burn. Various tracks then led onto the heathery hillside where the path either came to an end or I lost its line. I wandered through the heather, crossed a stock fence, and headed to the deer fence. The stile here was broken but the gate had collapsed so there was no problem getting to the other side.

The ground beyond the deer fence was rather marshy with frogs active in the pools. The gradient increased as I climbed onto Ben Tee’s East Ridge then walked towards its top. High up the gradient increased again and there were patches of snow but I was able to avoid most of them to gain the summit cairn.

I sat here for around half an hour taking in the views of the snow capped hills then returned to the gap in the deer fence by a more direct route. Below the snow patches there were traces of a walker’s path but it later disappeared. I met a chap sitting enjoying the sun and the views. He advised me that this was his first visit to the Highlands and he had set out from Invergarry. Beyond the deer fence the heather was re-crossed and various trails took me back to my car.

previous ascent

Ben Tee Corbett third ascent 901 metres

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Beinn nan Caorach and Beinn na h-Eaglaise

16 March 2015

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Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 6.25 hours. Distance - 12.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1090 metres.

On day two of our weeks stay in Plockton we decided to climb the Corbetts, Beinn nan Caorach and Beinn na h-Eaglaise from Glen Arnisdale. This firstly entailed a scenic drive across the Bealach Ratagain, through the hamlets of Glenelg and Arnisdale, to the road end at Corran where there was a small car park.

Once geared up we walked back along the tarred road for around two hundred metres then followed the vehicle track on the north side of the River Arnisdale where the crofter was feeding his Highland cattle. Prior to reaching the bridge over the River Arnisdale we crossed a field then a rusty footbridge to join the estate track on the east side of the Allt Utha. The track then zigzagged to above the Eas na Cuingid (waterfall) where we crossed the stream and commenced the ascent of Beinn nan Caorach. It was a steady climb with a few rocks to avoid and as height was gained more snow capped hills came into view.

The summit cairn was reached where there was a cool breeze so after taking a few photographs we descended north over some rocky ground before heading north-west to the Bealach Dhruim nam Bo. We then wandered round the head of Coire Dhruim nam Bo, avoiding the summit of Druim nam Bo ,to reach the col below Beinn na h-Eaglaise. It was another steady climb this time following the line of old metal fence posts to reach Beinn na h-Eaglaise’s summit cairn. While taking in the views we spotted a white tailed eagle, unfortunately I was unable to photograph it.

We descended south-east to Beinn Bhuidhe then more steeply south to re-join the vehicle track west of the bridge over the River Arnisdale. The track was then followed back to the start passing the feeding Highland cattle.

previous ascent

Beinn nan Caorach Corbett third ascent 774 metres
Beinn na h-Eaglaise Corbett third ascent 805 metres

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Biod an Fhithich

19 February 2015

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Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 3.25 hours. Distance - 6.5 kilometres. Ascent - 600 metres.

The weather forecast for the Isle of Skye was only slightly better than the previous day when a storm kept us off the hills so we headed across to the mainland to climb the easy Graham, Biod an Fhithich.

I parked in the lay–by on the A87 just south of the old Achnagart Quarry where I spotted a path on the opposite of the road which we used. This wet path followed the edge of a deer fence and there were a few pools of water to cross. Not a route I would recommend better walking the hundred metres along the side of the main road which we did on our return. On that alternative route we disturbed a stag which went crashing into the fence before disappearing.

The gate in the deer fence was reached and passed through to join the stalker’s path on the other side. This path wound its way south-west as a rain shower turned to sleet. Here another stag quickly ran off. As this was the main route for accessing the Forcan Ridge and the Munro, The Saddle, it was well worn making easy access despite areas of running water. The path then headed north-west below Meallan Odhar. With height the sleet changed to snow but didn’t last and it was dry as we crossed an area of old soft snow prior to reaching the Bealach na Craoibhe.

Here we stopped briefly to take a few photos of the Forcan Ridge and The Saddle before continuing the ascent of Biod an Fhithich where the south ridge had a light covering of snow. In places there were traces of a path but the going was relative easy with a slight increase in gradient just prior to reaching the summit cairn. As well as the Forcan Ridge and The Saddle there were good views north to Sgurr Mhic Bharraich, Loch Duich and Sgurr an Airgid. On the opposite side of Glen Shiel were the Five Sisters.

After a break at the summit we commenced our descent by the upward route as the snow started and lasted until we were well down the stalker’s path. It was dry until just before we reached the car when it rained again. Probably a good choice of hill for a mixed weather day.

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Biod an Fhithich Graham third ascent 644 metres

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Meall na h-Eilde and Geal Charn

21 September 2014

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Map - OS Landranger 34. Time taken - 6.5 hours. Distance - 17.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1160 metres.

I met Norman several years ago when doing a bit of guiding and he was bagging the Munros. Since then we have kept in touch and a couple of months ago he invited me to his final Corbett. I was surprised to learn that he had climbed the majority of these 2,500 – 3000 feet hills in three years.

He was a member of Nevis Hill Walking Club and this week’s club walk included his final Corbett, Meall na h-Eilde, located north-east of Loch Arkaig in Lochaber. I was uplifted by Norman in Spean Bridge and he drove to Mile Dorche, east of Achnacarry, on the B8005, and parked at the mouth of the vehicle track leading to Gleann Cia-aig. There were various signs regarding the on-going construction of a hydro electric scheme in the glen including ‘no parking signs.’ However it was a Sunday and presumed to be a rest day for the work force. The nearest parking area was beside the Eas Chia-aig waterfall but the track up the side of the Abhainn Cia-aig was closed due to the above works, the alternative being the track we used.

We set off through a gate and up a gravel track that wound its way to Gleann Cia-aig. En-route a vehicle stopped for us and when Norman spoke to the driver he was unconcerned about the parked cars. On reaching the glen it was a total mess with trees cut down and on-going construction work although as guessed Sunday was a rest day. Good progress was made along this wide track and eventually we reached the end of the works. Here we joined the original track as it ran through what remained of the forest and led to a stile in the deer fence.

Once over this fence and the footbridge across the Abhainn Cia-aig the ascent of Meall na h-Eilde commenced to the west of the Allt Bealach an Easain with folks finding their own route up the hillside. Unfortunately despite the brightness the views were spoilt by a haze. On Norman’s arrival at the summit he was congratulated on his achievement whereupon he produced a bottle of whisky labelled ‘The Famous Corbetts’.

After the celebrations and photographs we descended to the Bealach Choire a’Ghuirein although one of the club members, a true bagger, ran out to include a nearby sub Graham Top. At the bealach some of the walkers opted to walk round the south side of Meall Coire nan Saobhaidh, while others including Norman and myself ascended this Corbett Top. We met up again at the Bealach Carn na h-Urchaire before ascending Geal Charn where we had lunch.

A south-easterly descent across some rough vegetation took us to the muddy track on the east side of the Allt Dubh. This track was followed south but on approaching the road on the north side of Loch Arkaig work had commenced on upgrading the track for a hydro electric scheme using the waters of the Allt Dubh.

On our arrival at the road west of Achnasaul, a car had been left so the drivers headed off to collect their vehicles while the rest of the party walked east along the road until uplifted. We then set off for the Glen Nevis Caravan site in Fort William and Norman’s caravan where his wife had prepared a fine buffet.

previous ascent

Meall na h-Eilde Corbett fourth ascent 838 metres
Geal Charn Corbett fourth ascent 804 metres

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Beinn na Caillich

5 September 2014

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Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 7 hours. Distance - 15.25 kilometres. Ascent - 1035 metres.

This was our final day on Knoydart and the plan was to climb the Corbett, Beinn na Caillich, from Loch Hourn then descend to Inverie. The boat took us from Doune, through the Sound of Sleat, into Loch Hourn and to just south-east of Eilean a’Mhuineil where we were taken ashore by dingy.

The ascent commenced up the north side of the Allt na Leth-bheinn through long bracken, a gate then more bracken. Once some height was gained the vegetation was shorter with the ground rockier as we gradually headed away from the stream and onto the undulating east ridge of Meall Gruamach. As well as several ups and downs there were a few rocky outcrops to avoid before leaving this ridge to cross boggy ground to gain the foot of Beinn na Caillich. A heathery and in places stony gully was climbed to reach the summit of this Corbett.

We spent a while at the top taking in the fine views before descending its east ridge where occasionally there were traces of a path. This took us to below Mam Li and to the path on the west side of the Allt Mam Li. This path led to the Abhainn Bheag which was easily crossed to continue our descent on the east side of this stream later passing a couple of fine waterfalls.

At the Allt Coire Torr an Asgaill the water was low so rather than walk upstream to the bridge we utilised the exposed boulders to cross and thereafter joined the vehicle track in Gleann na Guiserein. This took us to Folach Gate then the track to Mam Uidhe and Inverie. Here we were picked up by minibus and conveyed along the only road on the Knoydart Peninsula to above Doune. Finally it was a three quarter of a mile walk downhill to our accommodation.

previous ascent

Beinn na Caillich Corbett third ascent 785 metres

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Ben Aden

4 September 2014

slide show boat Doune to Camusrory

slide show ascent Ben Aden

Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 8.5 hours. Distance - 21 kilometres. Ascent - 1235 metres.

The previous day we were on board the Gripper 11 at Doune on the Knoydart Peninsula, waiting for it to set sail for Camusrory at the head of Loch Nevis, so that we could climb Ben Aden when we were advised that the trip was cancelled due to stalking. However we were assured that the trip would go ahead the next day when stalking was taking place elsewhere.

So after another substantial breakfast we boarded Gripper 11and set off for Camusrory. The sail up Loch Nevis passed Inverie and Tarbet before going through the narrows at Kylesknoydart to the pier at Torr Cruinn, west of Camusrory. It was a nice start to the walk with some fantastic views. Prior to reaching the pier, which was private, we all had to sign a disclaimer.

On disembarking we walked along a rough vehicle track to Camusrory. Here a signed route for ‘walkers’ took us round the north side of the property on a rough and in places wet path before rejoining the vehicle track. It was followed passed the footbridge over the River Carnach, the ruins at Carnoch, and to the ford where the track split. We opted to remain on the north side but the condition of the track deteriorated and near its end came across two quad vehicles which we had seen earlier. A couple of chaps wearing wet suits were in the pools possibly looking for fish as there was a harpoon gun in the back of one of the vehicles.

The vehicle track was replaced by a path and prior to the Allt Achadh a’Ghlinne we crossed the River Carnach dry shod as the water was fairly low. We walked passed some ruins then up the south side of the Allt Achadh a’Ghlinne where there were traces of a path, or it may have been animal trails, in the rough terrain. Prior to reaching the Bealach na h-Eangair we climbed north through some rocky ground and onto Ben Aden’s east ridge.

We walked along this undulating ridge trying to avoid as little height loss as possible, although not very successfully, to reach the col between the 717 Point and Ben Aden. From here we climbed over some slab rocks, up the grassy gully and onto the north-east ridge before making the final approach to Ben Aden’s summit cairn. Nearby rocks were obviously slightly higher. Unfortunately the sunny periods had disappeared, replaced by cloud which was above the tops.

Once I took a few photos we returned to the boat by the upward route, latterly in drizzle. I did make a slight diversion to include the 717 Point, a Graham Top. The boat was waiting, in fact had been for a while as we were rather late, and conveyed us back to Doune where we had a late but lovely evening meal.

previous ascent

Ben Aden Corbett third ascent 887 metres

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Sgurr Coire Choinnichean

3 September 2014

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Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 5 hours. Distance - 9.75 kilometres. Ascent - 870 metres.

The initial plan was to climb Ben Aden and we were on board the boat about to leave for Camusrory when we were advised that stalking was taking place on our planned route. Therefore at short notice we had to make alternative plan and three of the company, who hadn’t climbed Ladhar Bheinn earlier in the week, settled for an ascent of this Munro, while myself and two others decided to climb the Corbett, Sgurr Coire Choinnichean.

We were conveyed by boat to Inverie then both groups walked along the track behind the village and once clear of the forest parted company. We headed east initially following the edge of the forest. The going was rough with some long vegetation hiding hollows and here we encountered some keds. The gully, Slochd a’Mhogha, was reached and we walked round its head now on a path.

This led onto the south-west ridge of Sgurr Coire Choinnichean where the gradient increased and the ridge narrowed. The West Top was gained then a short walk and climb took us to the Corbett’s highest point marked by a cairn. We sat here for a while taking in the surrounding views before returning to Inverie by the upward route.

Here we were collected by minibus and later dropped off on the only road on the peninsula at a point east of Doune. A three quarter of a mile walk down hill took us back to our accommodation.

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Sgurr Coire Choinnichean Corbett fourth ascent 796 metres

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Beinn Bhuidhe

2 September 2014

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Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 7.25 hours. Distance - 19 kilometres. Ascent - 1300 metres.

Tuesday was a re-stocking day at Doune as well as a transfer day for those on a shorter break. Two of the group decided on a rest day so accompanied by a couple of friends I took the mini-bus to Inverie although this firstly involved a three quarter of a mile uphill walk to the only road on the Knoydart peninsula.

We were dropped off at the south-east end of Inverie then set off along the track which initially climbed north-east before descending south-east towards the Inverie River. Prior to the monument we left this track and took the one that crossed the river via a bridge and led to a small power station. The going up the east side of the Allt Dubh was pathless and rather difficult with long vegetation hiding small hollows making for slow progress. Higher up boulders blocked our route but we located a small gulley where the underfoot conditions improved but here we encountered a large number of irritating keds.

The gradient eased and prior to reaching Loch Bhraomisaig we turned east and entered low cloud and Coire nan Gobhar before climbing north-east onto Sgurr Coire nan Gobhar. From this hill we descended to Bealach Buidhe then continued east over the 786 knoll to the trig point marking the summit of Beinn Bhuidhe. With poor visibility there was little point in hanging around so after a short easterly descent we climbed over the 802 knoll to an area of cliffs. With limited views a slightly tricky descent took us through some boulders just to the south then an easier drop led to Mam Uchd.

On this outing I had hoped to include Meall Bhasiter then head to Mam Meadail but we were running out of time so descended north from Mam Uchd, out of the cloud, and into Gleann Meadail. The Allt Gleann Meadail was easily crossed to reach the path on its north side which was followed to the track beside the Inverie River then the outward route back to Inverie arriving there a few minutes before our lift did.

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Beinn Bhuidhe Corbett third ascent 855 metres

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Luinne Bheinn and Meall Buidhe

1 Spetember 2014

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Map - OS Landranger 33. Time - 8 hours. Distance - 22 kilometres. Ascent - 1605 metres.

Our second day on Knoydart involved a return journey to Loch Hourn this time to just east of Barrisdale Bay. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t as fine as the previous day.

Once transferred by dingy to the landing site we walked along the vehicle track passed Barrisdale House and the Bothy, then across the bridge over the River Barrisdale. At the junction of the path for Gleann Unndalain a couple of the group left to ascend the Corbett, Sgurr a’Choire-bheithe, while the rest of us climbed the path to Mam Barrisdale.

At this pass we headed south-east along a muddy and in places eroded path which later followed old metal fence posts as we gradually gained height and entered the low cloud. Later we left this path and ascended more steeply to re-join the path high up and make the final approach to the summit of the Munro, Luinne Bheinn. It was then only a short walk to its East Top, a Munro Top, where just beyond its summit we located the path that descended its south-east ridge to the Bealach a’Choire Odhair with a few breaks in the cloud to assist in navigation.

The path then ascended Meall Coire na Gaoithe’n Ear before crossing its west shoulder and descending to the Bealach Ile Coire. From here in low cloud we ascended Meall Buidhe’s South-East Top, a Munro Top, before walking out to its highest point, the Munro.

It was then a long descent west in low cloud with a slight diversion to take in the summit of the Corbett Top, An t-Uirollach. We were well down the ridge before escaping from the cloud and at its far end there was a rather steep descent of Druim Righeanaich where the muddy path with pools of water zigzagged through the rocks. Beyond, a fairly level section of very boggy ground was crossed to reach a bridge over the Inverie River to join the track to Inverie. Here the boat was waiting to take us back to our accommodation.

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Luinne Bheinn Munro sixth ascent 939 metres
Meall Buidhe Munro sixth ascent 946 metres

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Ladhar Bheinn

31 August 2014

slide show boat Mallaig to Knoydart

slide show boat Doune to Loch Hourn

slide show Ladhar Bheinn

Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 7.25 hours. Distance - 14.25 kilometres. Ascent - 1210 metres.

The previous day, accompanied by a group of friends, I left Mallaig by boat for Doune on Knoydart where we were residing for a week. The departure time had been put back by a couple of hours due to the tide and sea conditions which were a wee bit rough.

The following day we were back on board the boat, Gripper 11, for a ninety minute journey to Loch Hourn, joined by three members of the Grampian Sub-Aqua Club, who were also staying at Doune for a week. We were then transferred by dingy to the south shore line just west of Barrisdale Bay and to the east of a deer fence. (GR NG859051) It was then a stiff climb through long vegetation and round some rocks to join the stalker’s path which led towards Corrie Dhorrcail.

We left this path as it came close to the Allt Coire Dhorrcail, crossed this stream and made the long ascent over rough ground, occasionally coming across a walker’s path, onto the Druim a’Choire Odhair ridge. Here there was a definite path which was followed as we made the steep ascent to the Munro Top, Stob a’Choire Odhair.

Beyond, the ridge narrowed to Ceum na Leth-coise and finally another steep climb to Ladhar Bheinn’s South-East Cairn then a short walk onto the highest point of this Munro which was also marked by a cairn. Despite a breeze we stopped here for lunch before continuing to the trig point then down its WNW Ridge to An Diollaid. From here we descended into Coire Garbh where we lost the path but continued through long vegetation aiming for the east side of the woods at Folach.

Just beyond the ruin at Folach we crossed the bridge over the Allt Coire Torr an Asgaill then followed the vehicle track, initially along Gleann na Guiserein, before it headed through the forest to Folach Gate. Here we joined another vehicle track which led south over Mam Uidhe to Inverie.

We were collected by minibus and conveyed from Inverie along the only road on the peninsula, narrow and single track, to a point above our accommodation. There being no road to Doune it was then a three quarters of a mile trek downhill on a peaty path.

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Ladhar Bheinn Munro sixth ascent 1020 metres

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Glas-charn

22 March 2014

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 40. Time taken - 5.5.hours. Distance - 10 kilometres. Ascent - 580 metres.

Overnight snow was lying at road level as I parked in the lay-by on the A830 west of the bridge over the Allt an Utha and Glenfinnan. I walked east along the road as far as the entrance to the track that headed north through the forest, passed through a snibbed gate, the padlock not being in use, then made the short climb through the trees. On reaching the open hillside the gradient eased and a stag was spotted and further along on the west face of Druim na Brein-choille some hinds.

On reaching a junction of tracks, where the main estate track turned east, I continued north across a snow covered wooden bridge and tried to follow the path on the east side of the Allt Feith a’Chatha. This wasn’t easy as in places the path was concealed by snow so at times I was wandering across snow covered heather or bog. The underfoot conditions slowed me down and I was a bit behind schedule as I approached the path’s highest point where more hinds were spotted.

Here I ascended west keeping to the north of a tributary of the Allt Feith a’Chatha. The soft fresh snow which varied from ankle to knee deep made it hard work as I avoided lots of rocky outcrops. There was no grip on the snow covered boulders but the walking poles helped to locate them and avoided too many slips. Eventually I reached the east ridge of Glas-charn where there was a line of old metal fence posts. Some of the drifts were well above knee height and on a couple of occasions I was forced to retreat and look for an alternative route. There were also a few areas with very little snow cover due to the wind.

The final climb was through drifting snow and round some rocks to gain the summit cairn. After taking several photographs I found a bit of shelter for lunch. My plan was to include a few tops on the return route but as the ascent had taken considerably longer than planned and with more deep soft snow to contend with I abandoned that idea and returned by the upward route. Lower down some of the snow had melted and the path was a bit of a quagmire.

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Glas-charn Graham second ascent 633 metres

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Meall Dubh

9 November 2013

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 34. Time taken - 4.75 hours. Distance - 12.5 kilometres. Ascent - 760 metres.

The plan was to climb the Corbett, Meall Dubh, located east of Loch Cluanie and south-east of the A87 Fort William road with its junction with the A887 road to Inverness. I was interested to test out the route from the north as a large locked gate had prevented access since the construction of wind turbines on the east side of the hill but this issue had apparently been resolved with the installation of a pedestrian gate.

We drove to Glen Moriston then parked in the lay-by (NH254116) opposite the road leading to the wind turbines and once geared up crossed the A887 to the locked gate. It was secured by five padlocks but I was pleased to see the new pedestrian gate on the east side and this afforded us access to the vehicle track. The track was followed as it worked its way uphill then through the forest. The vehicle track had been extended to the Allt an Eoin but this involved a slight descent so just after the high point we left the track and crossed some rough heathery ground to reach the stream a bit higher up.

Not long after this crossing I left the group as I intended to include the Graham Top, Beinn an Eoin, in this outing. I crossed more rough heathery ground and soon reached the snow line. The snow highlighted what appeared to be deer tracks and I followed them where possible as I made my way towards the col between Beinn an Eoin and Meall Dubh. The cloud lowered and reduced visibility so I made my way onto Beinn an Eoin’s south-east ridge. I was a bit surprised at the volume of snow which had an icy crust but unfortunately not firm enough to hold my weight. After some hard work I made it to the summit of Beinn an Eoin marked by a few stones and a metal pole.

With no views I headed to the col I was aiming for earlier and then commenced the ascent of Meall Dubh. Here the snow occasionally held my weight with a few icy sections which I avoided. The summit was marked by two cairns. I visited the small cairn then crossed over to the larger one although I couldn’t tell the highest point. I was surprised that there were no boot prints around so found shelter behind the large cairn to await my friend’s arrival. Again there were no views but occasionally there was a threat the cloud would clear but then I was back into the gloom.

Around ten minutes later they appeared through the cloud and joined me for lunch. We returned by their approach route following boot-prints in the snow along the east ridge then into Coire an Eoin and out of the cloud before rejoining the track which led us back to the start.

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Meall Dubh Corbett third ascent 788 metres

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Meall na h-Eilde and Geal Charn

29 September 2013

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 34. Time taken - 6.75 hours. Distance - 16.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1225 metres.

I met a couple of friends at the Eas Chiag Car Park, just east of Loch Arkaig, on what was a sunny morning, with the intention of climbing the Corbetts, Meall na h-Eilde and Geal Charn. A notice stated that the track up Gleann Cia-aig was closed for forestry operations but as it was a Sunday we decided to continue.

Immediately beyond the waterfall we were confronted by some trees that had fallen and blocked the path, possibly intentionally, and this meant a bit of scrambling to get across them. Beyond, the path was covered in brash with a few boggy sections which made for some unpleasant walking. The path then joined a new vehicle track, a bit wider than the usual forest tracks, and it was then we realised that the temporary route using this track started on the Mile Dorcha Road east of the car park. I’m unsure whether access would be permitted during tree felling operations or when the timber was being removed by lorries.

The track gained, then lost some height before we joined the old rough and muddy track which continued through the forest where the trees hadn’t yet been cut down. Eventually we came to a stile across the deer fence then followed the east side of the Abhainn Chia-aig until reaching the footbridge across this stream. Once on the other side we followed a walker’s path up the side of the Allt Bealach an Easain, initially on the west side, but soon we crossed to the opposite side and followed a line slightly away from the stream as the path had disappeared.

Higher up I left my companions to re-cross the stream and make a direct ascent of Meall na h-Eilde while I climbed north-east over grassy vegetation, avoiding some rocks, to the summit of Meall an Tagraidh, a Graham Top, which was marked by a few stones. There were good views of the nearby Munros, Sron a’Choire Ghairbh and Meall na Teanga. Ben Nevis was visible although later in the day a blanket of cloud floated over it and its nearby tops. The stags were roaring nearby although I never saw them.

After a few minutes at the summit I descended west to the Bealach an Easain then made the steady climb, following old metal fence posts, to the summit of Meall na h-Eilde where I re-joined my companions who were having lunch trying to shelter from a breeze. We spent time attempting to identify the mountains to the west from Sgurr na Ciche round to Kintail.

The descent to the Bealach Choire a’Ghuirein didn’t take long and while my friends worked their way below Meall Coire nan Saobhaidh to the Bealach Carn na h-Urchaire I climbed over this Corbett Top, and we met up again at the bealach. From here we climbed the rockier Geal Charn where the views west were still terrific despite a little bit of high cloud.

We descended south-east off Geal Charn over a mixture of vegetation, with the occasional quad vehicle track, to reach the path in the Glen of the Allt Dubh. The going here was quite rough and lower down it was wet, boggy and had been churned up by cattle and vehicles. This meant a bit of wandering around searching for the driest and least muddy areas, not always successfully. The track led to the road on the north side of Loch Arkaig, just east of the Allt Dubh, where a car had been left saving us a road walk of around 2.5 kilometres.

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Meall na h-Eilde Corbett third ascent 838 metres
Geal Charn Corbett third ascent 804 metres

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Sgurr Mhic Bharraich

14 June 2013

slide show from photographs taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 7 hours. Distance - 14 kilometres. Ascent - 1250 metres.

I was returning to Inverness after a few days walking in the west but with a reasonable weather forecast I decided to climb the Corbett, Sgurr Mhic Bharraich first. I parked in the large area of ground outside the Shiel Bridge camp site then walked along a short section of old roadway. Once through a gate I followed the path that ran along the east side of the Allt Undalain. Initially sections of the path were rough and muddy but soon improved. I passed through a small wooded area, crossed a footbridge and entered the open hillside of Glen Undalain. Marker posts indicated that this route was part of the Loch Alsh Trail which would appear to run from Shiel Bridge to Glen More.

It was an easy walk up this glen and I made good progress. As the path turned and headed west it steepened then zigzagged before reaching Loch Coire nan Crogachan and the bealach beyond. From here the path descended west to Glen More. I climbed south-west and away from Sgurr Mhic Bharraich as I planned to include the Graham Tops on the North-West Ridge of The Saddle.

Altogether there were five Tops all named Sgurr a’Gharg Gharaidh. Firstly I visited the Far North Top before continuing to the North Top then the centre and highest one where a large overhang afforded me shelter from a passing shower. I had lunch here waiting for the rain to clear then proceeded to the South Top and the Far South Top. The latter was the most impressive as it was surrounded on two sides by cliffs which meant wandering round until I located a suitable ascent route.

After visiting all five summits I traversed round the east side of these tops avoiding as much re-ascent as possible before returning to the bealach above Glen Undalain. From here I climbed steeply up the west side of the Allt a Ghleannain and onto the east ridge of Sgurr Mhic Bharraich followed by a short walk to its summit cairn.

With all the ups and downs involved to bag the tops I arrived at this summit later than expected so after a brief stop to take some photographs I headed down the north-east ridge. There were views of Loch Duich with Eilean Donan Castle at its far end, the Isle of Skye, Strath Croe and the Five Sisters. On this descent there were a few rocky areas to avoid before reaching lower ground. Here I crossed a stream then walked through some rough vegetation to the track in Glen Undalain beside the bridge. It was then a short walk back to my car.

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Sgurr Mhic Bharraich Corbett third ascent 779 metres

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Druim Fada

11 June 2013

slide show from photographs taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 8.5 hours. Distance - 13 kilometres. Ascent - 910 metres.

The previous day I received an invite from a couple of friends to join them on an ascent of the Graham, Druim Fada. As I was staying in Inverness getting to the meeting point, the Kintail Lodge Hotel, would only take me around seventy five minutes. On rendezvousing there the next morning we headed over the Bealach Ratagain, through Glenelg to the car park near the road end at Corran.

Once ready we walked back along the road before heading east on the Glen Arnisdale vehicle track crossing the River Arnisdale by a bridge with a sign saying no horses. The bridge was used by estate vehicles so I don’t why there was a ban on horses crossing. Anyway it didn’t affect us so we continued east along the south side of the river where we spotted sand martins emerging from holes in the sand banks at the edge of the track. I tried to photograph them but they were far too quick for me.

A couple of sections of the track were quite steep and led to the bridge over the Eigin Allt which was located just prior to the short descent to the Dubh Lochains. Once across this bridge we left the track and headed briefly up the side of the stream before following traces of a path on a wide rather steep grassy rake. This took us onto a ridge with a mixture of rock and vegetation and any difficulties were easily avoided. It took us a while to gain the west ridge of Druim Fada where we headed east to reach the two summit cairns. It wasn’t possible to say which one marked the highest point. The earlier brightness had disappeared and was replaced by cloud with a few spots of rain which was the weather for the remainder of the walk. However we still had reasonable views looking up Loch Hourn towards Kinloch Hourn and across the loch to the Graham, Meall nan Eun.

After lunch near the summit we headed west on the undulating and rocky Druim Fada Ridge passing a couple of idyllic lochans. I was intent on ensuring that I took in the summits of all three Graham Tops as I may have missed a couple on a previous ascent of this hill. The summit of the first one Sgurr Mor wasn’t as obvious as the map indicated neither was the second, Druim Fhada Point 614 metres, which was a few metres further west, so I took in the high points. Across Loch Hourn, Barrisdale Bay and Ladhar Bheinn weren’t very clear although you could still see the outline of the mountain.

The final Graham Top we visited, Sgurr Mor West Top, was obvious as it was marked by a fractured trig point lying on its side. We then continued along the ridge and to the next knoll with views down Loch Hourn and across to the Isle of Skye although due to the cloud all we saw of Skye was its outline. Once beyond this knoll we left the ridge and descended north over some rough ground and across a couple of old stock fences. Lower down there were deer tracks to follow and this led to a small area of woodland which we wandered through to reach the track beside the bridge over the River Arnisdale. On the walk back to the car we came across a herd of deer that crossed the stream them some seemed to have been spooked as they returned and ran off uphill.

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Druim Fada Graham second ascent 713 metres

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Beinn Loinne

9 February 2013

slide show from photographs taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 33 & 34 Time taken 6.75 hours. Distance - 16.75 kilometres. Ascent - 640 metres.

The group decision was to climb the Corbett, Beinn Loinne, which was located around midway along the south shore of Loch Cluanie, in Kintail, approaching from the west. We parked just east of the Cluanie Inn at the start of the private road to Cluanie Lodge and in low cloud set off on foot along the road towards the Lodge. This was also the old road to Tomdoun prior to the flooding of Loch Loyne.

We made steady progress along the tarred road to the road junction for the Cluanie Lodge where we continued along the Loch Loyne Road passing round a barrier blocking vehicular access. Beyond there were quite a lot of deer around as the estate had put out mineral licks for them. Due to the poor visibility there wasn’t anything else to see.

As we progressed along the road it became snow covered and by the time we reached its high point there was probably around a couple of inches lying. Here we left the road and headed east towards Beinn Loinne. I knew from a previous visit that the ground for the next couple of kilometres was wet and boggy, the snow just made it a bit more awkward. Where possible we walked over areas where the heather protruded through the snow. Unfortunately one of the party went into the bog and required assistance to get out. A few wet feet!

After two kilometres of bog trotting the gradient increased and we ascended a couple of snow filled wide gullies. The trig point was reached but apparently the highest point was twenty metres to the west which was marked by a few stones. After some lunch sheltering from a cool wind and with no views we returned by the ascent route. The cloud base had lifted slightly but it was still rather dull.

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Beinn Loinne Corbett third ascent 790 metres

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Beinn Sgritheall

11 June 2011

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 6.5 hours. Distance - 6.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1030 metres.

I had been invited to join Fraser and Shona on their final Munro, Beinn Sgritheall, the start reached from Shiel Bridge, over the Bealach Ratagan, through Glenelg and on towards the hamlet of Arnisdale. Their plan was to ascent by the west ridge but unfortunately there was only limited parking at the start of this route. The car passengers were dropped off and commenced the ascent, while the drivers, including myself, moved cars to suitable parking areas, including Corran at the end of the public road. By the time we returned the single parking area was occupied so I had to park further west.

We walked back along the road for around ten minutes to the cairn marking the start of the path through Collie Mhialairigh. This path was wet and boggy in places and passed through areas of heather and silver birch trees. It was warm work so we stopped a few times which gave us the opportunity to take in the views of Loch Hourn, Ladhar Bheinn and across to Skye, and in the distance Rum and Eigg. Once we crossed a stile more open ground was reached and the path led to the Bealach Rarsaidh. Here some of the early starts had been enjoying an extended break.

The ascent of the west ridge commenced and I opted to take up the rear to ensure we didn’t loose anyone. Visibility was good but it wasn’t possible to keep count as we were well spread out and there were other walkers making this ascent. I bet they wished they had selected a quieter day! Higher up, the ridge was rockier but no problems were encountered.

Near the summit the group of twenty four gathered and were joined by a chap who had left earlier and climbed the nearby Corbetts, Beinn na h-Eaglaise and Beinn nan Caorach. Fraser and Shona had to walk through a ‘guard of honour’, raised walking poles, before reaching the summit cairn and its broken trig point. There was a brief hail shower but it didn’t put a damper on the party at the top. Some of the group presented the Munroists with ‘T’ shirts embossed thereon with the mountain name and date.

Once the party and lunch were over we continued east. The ridge narrowed briefly and there was a rocky step to contend with before continuing to Beinn Sgritheall’s East Top, which is a Corbett Top. From here it was a steep descent down an eroded path and it took some time before we reached the Bealach Arnisdale. The path, still steep in places, followed the Allt a’Mhuilinn, and onto the finish at Arnisdale, just as the rain started.

Cars were recovered from their parking areas and we headed for the Kintail Lodge Hotel where we had an enjoyable evening with a meal and entertainment organised by Fraser and Shona, whom I would like to thank for inviting me. Unfortunately, some may say fortunately, over the previous few days I had developed a sore throat and by the evening I had lost my voice.

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Beinn Sgritheall Munro sixth ascent 974 metres

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Beinn Clachach

2 March 2011

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 5.25 hours. Distance - 14 kilometres. Ascent - 845 metres.

The start for this walk was the car park outside the hamlet of Corran which is located at the end of the public road running south from Glenelg and round the north shore of Loch Hourn.

Once geared up we walked the short distance back along the public road before taking the vehicle track to Glen Arnisdale, passing Glenfield Cottage where there were several stags in the field. Beyond this cottage the track descended to and followed the north bank of the River Arnisdale.

Prior to reaching the bridge over the River Arnisdale we cut across a field to the footbridge over the Allt Utha. Nearby workmen were constructing a new deer fence which shouldn’t affect this route. A few tracks now led to and joined the main vehicle track that zig zagged towards the Eas na Cuingid.

Beyond this waterfall we left the vehicle track and commenced the ascent of Beinn Clachach’s West Top. Initially the ground was mainly of grasses and heather but higher up it became craggy. The route selected through the crags appeared easier slightly south of a direct line. The gradient later eased as we followed some rakes to the summit of the West Top which was marked by a cairn. This summit was a Graham Top as Beinn Clachach’s highest point was still around a kilometre to the east.

The forecast had been for winds gusting to 80 miles per hour but these strong winds never materialised and in fact the wind had little affect on us. Rain was forecasted for mid morning so we headed east loosing a bit of height as we wandered round the rocks before working our way through more crags to the summit of Beinn Clachach.

We had lunch at the summit sheltering from a cool breeze. Not long after this we had our first shower of the day but it wasn’t heavy and was less of a problem than expected. The descent from Beinn Clachach was down its north ridge to Coire Chorsalain where we followed a wet and muddy track to Eas na Cuingid. From this point we followed the outward route back to Corran.

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Beinn Clachach Graham second ascent 643 metres

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Beinn Sgritheall

18 July 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 5.25 hours. Distance - 12 kilometres. Ascent - 1325 metres.

On my previous ascents of the Munro, Beinn Sgritheall, I have climbed it via Bealach Arnasdail so on this occasion I had considered an approach from the north. However it would be a long day and the weather forecast wasn’t ideal. On studying the map, and my copy of ‘The Relative Hills of Britain’, I discovered there was a Sub 2000 Marilyn, Beinn Mhialairigh to the west. The only problem appeared to be the route through Collie Mhialairigh, where there was a path, but apparently it was difficult to locate.

I drove from Glenelg towards Arnisdale on the single track road along the north shore of Loch Hourn. Opposite Eilean a’Chuilinn I located the cairn marking the start of the path to Bealach Rarsaidh. (NG818119) Just to the west of this cairn there was a passing place where a single vehicle can be parked off road.

Waterproofs were donned before I set off up the path which was initially like a wee stream as water was running down it. The path was quite eroded, muddy in places, steep in sections and at times difficult to follow as it wound its way through bracken and silver birch trees which were growing close together. I was glad of the waterproofs as I pushed my way through this wet vegetation.

It was hard work but on looking back I had views up Loch Hourn to Barrisdale Bay. Eventually I came to a deer fence where there was a stile (NG817124) and after a bit more climbing reached Bealach Rarsaidh and its lochan of the same name. Low cloud was floating around and it was a bit windy, however I found some shelter for a coffee break.

A small cairn marked the start of the path up the west ridge of Beinn Sgritheall. The walking was relatively easy, although I was being buffeted by the wind, and there were no views due to low cloud. Higher up the path was steeper and stonier and I was a bit more exposed to the wind. There were also a couple of easy rock steps to scramble over before I reached piles of stones and a broken trig point. Due to the weather there was no point in remaining at the summit so I returned to the Bealach Rarsaidh. As I descended the cloud base rose and I had some views.

On the west side of Lochan Bealach Rarsaidh I crossed the deer fence by another stile and commenced the ascent of the west ridge of Beinn Mhialairigh, firstly climbing over Creag an Taghain where a couple of grouse took off. Beyond this small rise it was a relatively easy walk, although the deer fence had to be re-crossed on this occasion without the assistance of a stile. As I approached the summit of Beinn Mhialairigh the cloud unfortunately lowered again and the summit was engulfed.

At the summit cairn I had lunch hoping that the cloud would lift again. There were a few breaks but not for very long. This hill would be a great vantage point on a fine day especially for the views down the Sound of Sleet and across to the Isle of Skye.

I eventually gave up and returned down the west ridge to Bealach Rarsaidh followed by a descent of the path through Collie Mhialairigh to my car.

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Beinn Sgritheall Munro fifth ascent 974 metres

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Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach

26 June 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 5.5 hours. Distance - 10.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1165 metres.

I drove along the single track road that runs from the A87 Invergarry to Bun Loyne Road, through Glen Quoich, to its road end at Kinloch Hourn. The road passed along the north shore of Loch Quoich and west of the bridge over the Allt Coire Peitireach there is a very rough area of ground which is used for parking and takes several cars.

Two other vehicles were already parked there when I arrived. Once booted up I set off across the road, passed an estate information sign regarding stalking, and followed a path through some flowering rhododendrons and up the west side of the above named stream. The path was in good nick as the estate organises annual voluntary work parties to do some maintenance work.

It was a steady climb with views back over Loch Quoich to Gairich and west to Sgurr na Ciche and Ben Aden. Although cloudy it was quite warm on this ascent and I welcomed the breeze as I made my way from Sron a’Chuilinn towards Druim Seileach with its steep drop to the west. On reaching Druim Seileach there was a short descent as the path crossed above Fraoch Choire before the final ascent to the summit of Gleouraich. From this summit cairn I had views of the Knoydart mountains, the South Cluanie Ridge and beyond to the Affric Hills.

At the cairn I spoke briefly to a couple whom I had followed to the summit. I then descended to the col with Creag Coire na Fiar Bhealaich before climbing this Munro Top. From here it was a steep descent down a path of loose stones and rocks to Fiar Bhealach followed by a steady climb to the summit of the second Munro of the day, Spidean Mialach. Here my views included the east end of the South Cluanie Ridge and Lochs Loyne and Garry. At the summit I met another couple who departed while I finished my lunch.

I later followed the couple down a path above Coire Glas to the Allt a’Mheil, where there was some boggy ground to traverse. The path then continued to the Allt Uaine, which was crossed, before descending to the road and a short walk back to my car.

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Gleouraich Munro fifth ascent 1035 metres
Spidean Mialach Munro fifth 996 metres

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Ladhar Bheinn and Sgurr Coire Choinnichean

29 April 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 10.75 hours. Distance - 22 kilometres. Ascent - 1735 metres.

This was the final day on the Knoydart peninsula and the plan was to climb the Munro, Ladhar Bheinn and possibly the Corbett, Sgurr Coire Choinnichean, which is part of Ladhar Bheinn’s many ridges.

Once again it was an early start and I was surprised to see workmen at Inverie pier unloading building materials from a small boat. From the pier the track through the forest was followed onto Mam Uidhe and Folach Gate. This is a junction of tracks, one leads to Folach, but there was no evidence of a gate.

The Folach track was walked to Gleann na Guiserein and along the south bank of the Abhainn Inbhir Ghuiserein, which was fairly high, passing the Easan Buidhe Waterfall. Beyond the confluence with the Abhainn Bheag we crossed the Allt Coire Torr an Asgaill, by a bridge and encountered some wet and boggy ground. We soon reached the house at Folach, which is a ruin and roofless, and then the edge of a small plantation.

We were now on pathless terrain and as the cloud was well down the hillside we took a bearing and once into the cloud some of the group practiced using their compasses. On reaching the west ridge of Ladhar Bheinn we found some shelter on its north side, from the wind, for a snack and during this break the cloud lifted to reveal Coire na Diollaide and Beinn Sgritheall.

The cloud came in again and after our break we climbed the grassy west ridge which later narrowed with some snow patches on its north side. The trig point was reached but this was not the highest point so we continued along the ridge to the actual summit. After a group photo we commenced the descent of the south-east ridge of Ladhar Bheinn, which involved some scrambling or down climbing.

On this descent the cloud broke occasionally with views of Coire Dhorrcail, Barrisdale Bay and Loch Hourn. At the Bealach Coire Dhorrcail we stopped for lunch before ascending Aonach Sgoilte where we met four other walkers en-route to Ladhar Bheinn.

At Aonach Sgoilte’s cairn we changed direction and followed a path down its south-west ridge, which was rocky and slightly narrow in sections. There were a few undulations and knolls to cross before we reached the peat hags of Mam Suidheig. Here one of the group decided to descend to Gleann an Dubh-Lochain and return to the accommodation.

The peat hags didn’t cause any real problems and once beyond them it was a steady climb onto the summit of Sgurr Coire Choinnichean, bypassing Stob an Uillt-fhearna to the south. The south-east top of Sgurr Coire Choinnichean looked higher but this wasn’t the case which was obvious once we reached its top. The low cloud had lifted during the afternoon although it never cleared the summit of Ladhar Bheinn. However from the Corbett we had good views of Inverie Bay, Loch Ness and out to the Island of Eigg.

We decided to descent directly back to our accommodation so retraced our steps to the col between the two tops where the ground was initially a mixture of grass and rocks and although steep there were no problems. Lower down, where we had spotted lots of deer, the ground was a bit wet and boggy. However the last few hundred metres were a nightmare with tussocky grass, hollows and brambles. Eventually we reached the track and returned to our accommodation.

previous ascent Ladhar Bheinn

previous ascent Sgurr Coire Choinnichean

Ladhar Bheinn Munro fifth ascent 1020 metres
Sgurr Coire Choinnichean Corbett third ascent 796 metres

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Meall Buidhe and Luinne Bheinn

27 April 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 10.5 hours. Distance - 25.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1740 metres.

The previous day, together with a group of friends, I crossed Loch Nevis from Mallaig to Inverie on the Knoydart peninsula, on board theMV Western Isles. We were booked into the Old Byre, Inverie, a 15 minute walk from the pier.

Four of the group, including myself, wanted to climb the Munros, Meall Buidhe and Luinne Bheinn, although only one of the group hadn’t bagged these two Munros before. The forecast was for wet weather later in the day so we decided to set off early, departing from our accommodation before 7am.

Leaving Inverie by a vehicle track, a Right of Way to Barrisdale, we passed below the Brocket Memorial before reaching a junction of tracks where there were several Highland cows and a few calves, a couple only a few days old. We took the right hand track which soon became a path, the Right of Way to Strathan.

The path crossed the Inverie River, via a bridge, before passing Druim Bothy, which was unoccupied. Here I heard the first cuckoo of the year. The path entered a small gorge before crossing the Allt Gleann Meadail, again via a footbridge. Not long after crossing this bridge we commenced a diagonal ascent towards the Druim Righeannaich ridge, west of An t-Uirollach, stopping en-route for a second breakfast. Until now it had been dry with the cloud above the summits but the rain commenced although it was a bit intermittent.

Once on the ridge we climbed onto An t-Uirollach, a Corbett Top, then descended to the Bealach an Torc-choire before ascending to the summit cairn of the Munro, Meall Buidhe. Here we had views across to Beinn Bhuidhe, Sgurr na Ciche and Ben Aden. A short walk took as to Meall Buidhe’s East Top, classed as a Munro Top, before descending a narrower ridge, where there were a couple of snow patches, to the Bealach Ile Coire. A slight deviation from the path saw us climbing another Corbett Top, Druim Leac a’Shith.

Thereafter we returned to the path and with more ups and downs crossed Meall Coire na Gaoithe n’Ear and a couple of knolls before another descent to below Coire Odhar. It was then a steady climb of Luinne Bheinn’s East Top, a Munro Top, as the cloud lowered. On reaching this Munro Top it was shrouded in cloud but we did get brief views of the true summit, and Ben Aden. From the East Top we made a short descent before the final climb to Luinne Bheinn. There were no views from this cairn and as it was rather windy so we set off down its north-west ridge towards Mam Barrisdale, stopping en-route for lunch.

On reaching Mam Barrisdale we followed the path down Gleann an Dubh-Lochain to Loch an Dubh-Lochain where at the derelict building Torcuileainn a vehicle track was joined and followed back to Inverie, spotting a few deer and again passing the Highland beasts.

previous ascent

Meall Buidhe Munro fifth ascent 946 metres
Luinne Bheinn Munro fifth ascent 939 metres

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Meall a'Phubuill, Meall Onfhaidh and Aodann Chleireig

10 - 11 April 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 40 & 41 Time taken -
Day One - 1.25 hours.
Day Two - 7.75 hours.
Distance -
Day One - 5 kilometres
Day Two - 15 kilometres
Ascent -
Day One - 175 metres.
Day Two - 1270 metres.

Earlier in the day I had climbed the Munros, Beinn a'Chaorainn and Beinn Teallach in Glen Spean and after stocking up with food in Fort William I headed west on the A830 Mallaig Road to the turn off for Fassfern. I drove along this single track road to just west of the bridge over the An Suileag where a car park had been created by Fassfern Estate who welcome walkers to the marked trails in the area.

Once packed I set off back across the bridge over the An Suileag before walking up the vehicle track on the east side of the stream. The track was marked Glen Loy and is a 'Right of Way'. It was a pleasant stroll through the forest with the birds singing in the evening sun. After a couple of kilometres the track headed uphill to join another track before continuing through the forest and onto the heathery hillside. The track eventually returned to the An Suileag at a bridge. However I stayed on the east bank before crossing the stream further up and heading to the bothy, where I had seen a figure wandering around outside.

I spoke to the chap in the bothy, who was on his third night there, before I pitched my tent nearby and cooked my evening meal. It was getting dark by this time and my neighbour had retired for the night as did I.

The next morning the sun was already out and shinning on the nearby hill tops as I ate breakfast watching my neighbour perform his morning exercises. Once the tent was dismantled and my gear packed I climbed to the track that headed uphill towards Meall a'Phubuill. Although shown on the map as a path it is in fact a vehicle track that goes further than the map shows, possibly across to Glen Mallie. It was already quite warm walking up this track and at the bridge over the Allt Fionn Doire I dispensed with the pack and climbed onto the south ridge of Meall a'Phubuill. It was a steady plod and higher up the gradient increased. There was a ewe and its newish lamb feeding on the hillside and neither spotted me for a while. I think it is normally May before hill sheep lamb so this one was early. There were several pools of frogs and spawn on the ascent as was the case on the rest of the walk. On occasions I could hear the frogs making a purring croak and there were several dead frogs, possibly females, drowned by the males being over exuberant during mating.

On reaching the summit cairn I had views across to Gulvain and beyond to the Loch Quoich and Kintail mountains. Although Ben Nevis was easily seen, it was a bit hazy in that direction. After a few minutes taking in the views I returned to the Allt Fionn Doire and re-claimed my rucksack but before heading off made a brew whilst seated on the bridge. Afterwards I followed an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) track that headed west and then north-west into the corrie below Meall Onfhaidh. The ATV track was wet and boggy in places and I left it and climbed onto the the south-east ridge of the Graham, through some rocks. It was then a relatively easy walk along this ridge to the summit cairn of Meall Onfhaidh, where I had views of the rocky mountains to the west, including Streap.

My route continued west from the cairn before swinging south-west on a steep descent to a fairly boggy col with Aodann Chleireig. It was then another steady climb onto the ridge of this second Graham and out to its summit cairn which was set back from a line of old fence posts. I took a short break here with views to the south of the Callop Hills and beyond Loch Shiel to Beinn Odhar Mhor and Beinn Odhar Bheag.

The decent initially followed the line of fence posts on the Druim Beag ridge with views to Loch Eil, Corpach, Carn Mor Dearg and Ben Nevis. Lower down I spotted a gate in the deer fence, which surrounded the forest, and headed for it. The gate was relatively new and there was a large gouge on the hillside above it. I passed through the gate and entered the forest where trees had been cut down. I followed a soft and slippery track surrounded by cut timber as it descended to a second track which was not on my map. A couple of fallen fir trees had to circumvented before I reached the 'map track' which led me through the forest to the car park and the start of my journey home.

previous ascent Meall a'Phubuill

previous ascent Meall Onfhaidh and Aodann Chleireig

Meall a'Phubuill Corbett third ascent 774 metres
Meall Onfhaidh Graham second ascent 681 metres
Aodann Chleireig Graham second ascent 663 metres

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Biod an Fhithich

1 February 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 4 hours. Distance - 6.5 kilometres. Ascent - 600 metres.

I was staying with friends in Plockton and as the weather forecast was for snow around lunchtime with strong winds and whiteout conditions we were looking for a short day and decided upon this Graham.

We parked in the lay-by just south-east of the old Achnagart Quarry and once geared up walked further up the road to a gate on the west side. Beyond this gate we followed a snow covered path that rose to the Bealach na Craoibhe located between Meallan Odhar and Biod an Fhithich. This is the normal route for the Forcan Ridge and The Saddle. As height was gained the snow became deeper until at times it was knee deep. The snow started to fall earlier than predicted but at least there wasn't the strong wind, except at the bealach.

It had taken about ninety minutes to reach this point but that was basically down to the underfoot conditions. From the Bealach na Craoibhe we headed up the south ridge of Biod an Fhithich but here the snow was almost waist deep in places. The light also made it difficult to see the snowdrifts. Snow concealed some of the rocks which were coated in ice but the summit cairn was eventually reached and we had lunch in the falling snow. It wasn’t that cold nor had the predicted strong wind arrived so it was quite pleasant at the summit as we were well wrapped up.

The return was by the upward route but it was a lot easier wading through the deep snow on the descent.

previous ascent

Biod an Fhithich Graham second ascent 644 metres

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Meall na Teanga and Sron a’Choire Ghairbh

15 November 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 34. Time taken – 6 hours. Distance - 18.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1265 metres.

I had thought of climbing these two Munros from Mile Dorcha, the Dark Mile, on the road leading to Loch Arkaig but due to the recent wet weather I realised that this approach would involve some wet and boggy ground so I changed my plans and set off for Kilfinnan Farm. This farm was reached from the A82 Fort William to Inverness Road at the north end of Loch Lochy. There are a few parking spots just before the end of the tarred road. Previously the local farmer tried to charge for parking at the edge of the public road but the Police and local council thankfully have put an end to this practice.

From the end of the public road the Great Glen Way was followed south passed a couple of holiday parks until the vehicle track split. The lower one was the continuation of the Great Glen Way while my route took me along the upper track marked ‘Hill Path to Munros’. The track gradually gained height as it continued through the forest but unfortunately it lost some of that height before I reached the start of the stalker’s path to Cam Bhealach. A few stones marked the start of this path which initially climbed steeply through the forest until easing off as it reached the open hillside.

It had been a dry with some sun but as I alighted from the forest there was the first evidence of a shower. The path which was badly worn in places also had a couple of landslides. Higher up some deer spotted me and walked off up the hillside.

On reaching the top of the Cam Bealach it was another short steep climb followed by a more level boggy stretch as I followed a walker’s path round the west side of Meall Dubh to the col below Meall na Teanga. The path continued onto the north ridge of Meall na Teanga and on reaching this ridge the cloud lowered and it started to rain again. A couple of marker cairns were passed as I made my way to the summit cairn.

This was my 1,500th Munro so I had hoped for better weather and some views but despite hanging around for a while this didn’t materialise. I therefore returned to the top of Cam Bealach and out of the cloud and rain. From the bealach I headed north following numerous switchbacks which made for easy climbing. The path ceased just below the col east of Sron a’Choire Ghairbh. As with Meal na Teanga I was engulfed by cloud and it started to rain on my approach to this col. From here I walked round the rim of the corrie to the summit of Sron a’Choire Ghairbh where it was very windy with some sleet stinging my face.

I had thought of walking back along the ridge above Loch Lochy but due to the weather returned to Cam Bealach and to the start by the outward route. I was surprised, it being a Sunday, that I hadn't seen another walker all day especially as I was climbing Munros.

previous ascent

Meall na Teanga Munro fifth ascent 917 metres
Sron a'Choire Ghairbh Munro fifth ascent 935 metres

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Mullach Coire nan Geur-oirean

10/11 October 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 41. Time:
Day 1 - 1.25 hours.
Day 2 - 7.75 hours.
Distance:
Day 1 - 5 kilometres.
Day 2 - 22 kilometres.
Ascent:
Day 1 - 100 metres.
Day 2 - 770 metres.

The Graham, Mullach Coire nan Geur-oirean, involves a long walk in and out, unless you use a mountain bike for part of the route. While doing some planning I discovered that the building at Inver Mallie, on the south shore of Loch Arkaig, was in fact a bothy maintained by the Mountain Bothies Association. This gave me an idea that I could walk to the bothy late on on the Saturday afternoon, avoiding the stalking, and be free to climb the mountain on the Sunday, when stalking doesn't take place.

Day One

I drove north from Gairlochy on the B8005 then west along the Mile Dorche, (the Dark Mile) to the Eas Chia-aig car park where I left my vehicle. I then walked the short distance west to Loch Arkaig where I followed the private road round the east side of the loch and over the River Arkaig. At a junction of tracks I took a right and followed an undulating track along the south shore of Loch Arkaig through lots of trees.

In the semi-dark I eventually came to an unoccupied house and more open ground. I could see my night’s accommodation, Inver Mallie Bothy however I couldn't find the path to the bothy as the track on my map had been re-routed. As I approached some trees, where I thought the burn was, I left the track and headed towards the bothy. Unfortunately the underfoot conditions were rather wet with long grasses to make my way through.

I arrived at the bothy, which was in good condition, with the roaring stags on the other side of the river. They sounded very close but due to the darkness there was no chance of seeing them. The bothy was deserted so I had several rooms to choose from. The place was very tidy except some individual had left a dirty pan and spoon on the table and an empty tin in the fireplace. I fail to understand those lazy and untidy individuals. They obviously hope that someone else will tidy up after them.

After my evening meal it was time for bed. During the night I heard loud noises outside but no one entered the bothy so I presumed that it was the deer. I later had to make a trip outside and discovered that it was in fact three ponies that were making the noise. Their eyes lit up in the torchlight and in the morning they expected to be fed.

Day Two

Once daylight came in it was time to rise, partake of some breakfast, and set out for Mullach Coire nan Geur-oirean. There was a touch of rain when I left the bothy and for the rest of the day there were some short lived showers and numerous rainbows. In the daylight I saw where the old bridge stood and also a route to the new track just beyond the point where I left it the previous evening. There was also a new bridge across the River Mallie.

The vehicle track up Glen Mallie had been re-constructed further away from the river and could easily be cycled. I had a view of Coire Bhotrais on Beinn Bhan as I searched for the roaring stags. I had decided on a point where I would leave the vehicle track and climb onto the Druim na Giubhsaich ridge but just before reaching this point I observed an ATV track heading north. This was at grid reference NN0979187628. Although the ATV track was a bit wet and boggy in my opinion it made for easier height gain than the nearby rough ground. The track took me onto the ridge a bit further east than planned but on arriving there I had views across Loch Arkaig to the Grahams Sgurr Choinich and Meall Blair, the Munro Gairich, which was in the cloud at this time, and some of the Glen Dessarry Corbetts.

Druim na Giubhsaich is a long ridge with easy walking although higher up there are several peat hags which meant a bit of wandering to get round them. I could see the Loch Quoich dam and occasionally the cloud cleared from the top of Gairich. After what seemed a long time I was approaching the summit when I came across a stag. I tried to stalk him to get a close up photo but overshot him and was spotted and he ran off which was disappointing. The small summit cairn was reached where there was a cold wind blowing. It was cloudy over Glen Dessarry but the mountains around Glen Pean were clear as was Gulvain and Meall a'Phubuill.

I found a bit of shelter for lunch before making a traversing descent into Glen Mallie. It was quite steep in places but my interest was mainly on the deer. I disturbed quite a few and got very close to a hind but pressed the wrong button on my camera and the noise alerted the hind and she ran off. There were several small gullies which I crossed as I descended and in one I was only a few feet from a hind and its young when we spotted each other. The mother was panicked and I’ve never seen a hind move so fast. Within a few minutes it was across the River Mallie and half way up the hill on the other side. Its young was away up the hill on my side of the Glen. I was really enjoying myself getting so close to these wild animals but I obviously wouldn't make a stalker.

The track in Glen Mallie was reached and it was in poor condition as I followed it down the north side of the River Mallie to the ruin at Glenmallie. Here there was some fencing and a lean-to obviously used by the ponies when they are kept further up the Glen. The track improved from here on and I followed it back to the bothy where I packed up my gear and walked out to my car. I found the old vehicle track which was rather wet and according to a notice in the bothy the area gets flooded as does the bothy, so be aware. Another warning is that there are fleas in the bothy as I had several bites when I returned home.

Mullach Coire nan Geur-oirean Graham first ascent 727 metres

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Gairich, Sgurr an Fhuarain and Sgurr Mor

24 August 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 12.5 hours. Distance - 30.5 kilometres. Ascent - 2050 metres.

It was early as I drove south from Inverness on the A82 Fort William road as far as Invergarry where I had arranged to meet a number of my walking friends. At least at that time of day the road was quiet as the tourists were still in their accommodation and I just had to contend with a few HGVs. On meeting my friends we drove west on the A87 to Loch Garry then along the unclassified single track road that led to Kinloch Hourn. At Loch Quoich dam we parked in an area just beyond the buildings where there is space for several cars.

As we prepared to set off on what was to be a long day the midges had a free breakfast. We walked back along the road to the dam, crossed a locked gate and the dam to a path on the other side. This path was very wet and boggy and has been in this condition for many years. At the edge of the Glen Kingie forest we followed the stalker's path up the Druim na Geid Salaich ridge where the walking was easy and led passed the south side of Bac nam Foid to the foot of the rocks on the east side of Gairich. Some very easy scrambling took us to the summit cairn where we had good views of the Glen Dessarry Corbetts, cloud free Ben Nevis, Loch Garry, Gleouraich, Spidean Mialach, South Glenshiel Ridge and the Rough Bounds of Knoydart.

The descent was by the south-west ridge, avoiding the crags to the north, before crossing Gairich Beag and onto an old stalker’s path which descended west to the wide pass, A’Mhaingir. From here we continued west across some rough ground to pick up another stalker’s path that headed south onto the east ridge of the Corbett, Sgurr an Fhuarain, stopping en-route for lunch. Once on the east ridge of Sgurr an Fhuarain we had the first short shower of the day. It was a steady climb, mainly on grassy vegetation to Sgurr an Fhuarain’s summit trig point where we had some more good views of the mountains and lochs already mentioned.

An easy descent of Sgurr an Fhuarain’s west ridge took us to a grassy col and the start of the climb of Sgurr Mor. On this ascent we met a couple who were descending this Munro and heading back to Glen Dessarry. They were from Ilkley in Yorkshire and I met and last saw them in June 2006 when they were doing the Fisherfield Munros. They only had the three Knoydart Munros left to complete their round of Munros. After a chat with this couple we continued up the ridge and onto the summit cairn where despite some rain clouds we had excellent views including Sgurr nan Eugallt, Ben Aden, Ladhar Bheinn, Luinne Bheinn, Sgurr na Ciche and to the Islands of Eigg, Rum and Skye.

The return was to the col where a discussion took place as to the best route into Glen Kingie. In the end it was decided to re-ascend Sgurr an Fhurain, descend its east ridge and pick up the vehicle track at the bridge over the Allt a’Choire Ghlais. Once over this stream we followed the track east and saw some deer beside the River Kingie, the only wildlife we saw all day. The track led into the forest where the rain started and for a while was quite steady. Around 600 metres beyond the derelict house at Lochan we followed a rather wet and boggy path north to the edge of the Glen Kingie forest where we joined the path we had used earlier in the day and followed it back to the Loch Quoich dam arriving their as dusk was falling.

previous ascent Sgurr an Fhuarain and Sgurr Mor

Gairich Munro fifth ascent 919 metres
Sgurr an Fhuarain Corbett third ascent 901 metres
Sgurr Mor Munro fifth ascent 1003 metres

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Druim Fada

5 July 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 6 hours. Distance - 13 kilometres. Ascent - 900 metres.

The weather was predicted to be reasonable so I decided to head for Corran, south of Glenelg, and climb the rocky and rather wild Graham, Druim Fada. To reach the start of this mountain I drove to Shiel Bridge, on the A87 Invermoriston to Kyle of Lochalsh Road before taking the single track road over the Bealach Ratagain to Corran, passing through Glenelg and Arnisdale en-route. On the descent towards Arnisdale I saw what I think was a Pine Martin on the road in front of me but it quickly disappeared. I am a bit uncertain about its identity as it was more black than the pictures I have managed to find on the internet.

I parked in the public car park just outside the hamlet of Corran and walked back along the road before taking the vehicle track to Glen Arnisdale. I passed a well kept white house and not far beyond there was a field of stags. A few moved but others just stayed put. I walked up the glen with some Highland cattle feeding nearby. At the bridge over the River Arnisdale a sign said "Cross Bridge at Own Risk. Strictly No Horses". The bridge was in reasonable condition and obviously took vehicles but I couldn't see why horses weren't allowed.

The vehicle track now followed the south side of the River Arnisdale and some improvement work had recently been carried out including drainage. It was also sandy in places and I saw an area where sand martins were nesting. The vehicle track later climbed quite steeply through a series of zig zags and it was here I encountered my only cleg of the day, which is now deceased. There were a few flies but not as bad as recent days.

Prior to the track descending to the Dubh Lochain I left the track and commenced the ascent of Druim Fada. It was quite a steep climb, initially through long vegetation which was wet from an earlier shower. In places I had to cross some rock but by this time it was dry with a good grip. As height was gained I had views of the Dubh Lochain, Beinn Sgritheal, The Saddle and Sgurr na Sgine. The view back down Glen Arnisdale now extended to include Loch Hourn, the Sound of Sleet and across to the Skye Cuillin. The Red Cuillin were cloud free but the tops of the Black Cuillin were in cloud.

Eventually I was approaching the summit of Druim Fada but a lot of rock had still to be worked round before I could see the summit cairn. On arrival here I observed another cairn further east and as I didn’t know which was the highest one I walked across to it. I later read that the easterly cairn was apparently the highest point. On the summit ravens were making a bit of a noise.

From the summit I had awesome views, of the mountains already mentioned as well as Ladhar Bheinn, Luinne Bheinn, Meall Buidhe and Beinn na Caillich on the Knoydart peninsula and various other mountains, too many to name here although I should include Sgurr Mhaoraich as it stood out on my view up Loch Hourn to Kinloch Hourn. I could also see the Island of Rum and earlier I had seen the Island of Eigg. I think I would include this in my top ten hills for summit views.

I took some time off at the summit to relax and have some food while identifying all the nearby mountains, most of them I had climbed at least twice. After the break I set off along the west ridge of Druim Fada and not far from the summit spotted a mountain hare which sneaked off behind some rocks. The going along the west ridge was quite time consuming and tiring as there was lots of ups and downs and working round rock faces and lochans, one or two of the lochans being quite idyllic. Anyone walking this ridge should leave it for a clear day as navigation would be quite tricky and would need to be broken down into very short sections, adding to the time taken to walk the ridge.

As I headed west I had views down into Barrisdale Bay and to the houses at Barrisdale where I had stayed a few times. There were also good views of Coire Dhorrcail on Ladhar Bheinn. I reached the shattered trig point at the 614 knoll before continuing west then descending on mainly vegetation to the bridge over the River Arnisdale. At the start of the descent I came across a couple of dragonflies which appeared unable to fly away. The descent latterly involved going through a corpse of trees but they weren't really a problem. On reaching the bridge the Highland cattle were feeding close by, a couple were cooling off in the river, while two young calves were having a siesta (see photo). From the bridge I followed the morning’s route back to the car park at Corran. A very interesting Graham.

Druim Fada Graham first ascent 713 metres

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Glas-charn

29 June 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 40. Time taken - 3.5 hours. Distance - 9.5 kilometres. Ascent - 580 metres.

The Graham Glas-charn had been on my radar for some time and I had hoped to combine it with an ascent of the Corbett Sgurr an Utha when I was there in February this year but the snow conditions made this impracticable. The starting point was the same but the gate into the forest was no longer locked and was in a state of collapse as it had come off one of its hinges,so care was required when opening and closing the gate.

A steep climb on a vehicle track took me out of the forest and a short distance further on, where the track turned eastwards, I continued north for a few metres to a bridge over the Allt an Utha. Once over the bridge there was a path, as shown on my map, up the east side of the Allt Feith a’Chatha. It was quite humid with a few spots of rain when I left my car and the flies and clegs were annoying especially the cleg bites.

The path was boggy in places, overgrown in stretches, but was relatively easy to follow. A newt disappeared off the path and was lost in the grass. I continued to near the highest point on the path before commencing the ascent of Glas-charn. The going was rough and rocky and the higher I climbed the more rock I encountered but there was no real problems as it was easily avoided. From the side of a large rock I took a photo of the summit of Glas-charn. The noise of the camera obviously alerting a deer hind which darted out from behind the rock face and ran off.

A few minutes later I arrived on the summit. The distant mountains and islands were covered in a haze but despite the cloud, I had views of Arisaig, the north and south Morar peninsulas, the Graham, Meith Bhenn, which I had climbed in April, the Corryhully Munros, Glenfinnan and the groups of Corbetts on the south side of the Fort William to Mallaig road. By walking slightly north I could see down to Loch Beoraid.

There was a breeze on the summit and I sat in it to avoid the flies and clegs and had an early lunch. Afterwards I made a more direct descent over some rough terrain to the path at the side of the Allt Feith a'Chatha, just north of the track that headed towards Sgurr an Utha. I then returned to my car as the sun was trying to break through the high cloud. Fortunately it hadn't happened earlier as the heat might have been unbearable.

Glas-charn Graham first ascent 633 metres

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Meith Bheinn

20 – 21 April 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 40. Time taken:
Day One – 5.5 hours.
Day Two – 1.75 hours.
Distance:
Day One - 10 kilometres.
Day Two - 4.5 kilometres.
Ascent:
Day One - 1000 metres.
Day Two - 260 metres.

Meith Bheinn is located in South Morar and because of its location I fancied climbing it with an overnight camp. The start of the walk was the A830 Fort William to Mallaig Road at Arieniskill around two kilometres east of Lochailort where there is a railway halt if anyone wants to take the Fort William to Mallaig train instead of driving. At the start of the path, which is a Right Of Way to Meoble, there is house called Craiglea which does Bed and Breakfast.

I parked on an old section of road beside Craiglea and walked to the railway underpass where a sign indicated the dangers of underground caves on my intended route. The path followed the west side of the Allt na Criche and as I gained height I saw deer to my left, some took off but others just watched my passing. The path wasn’t in the best of condition and near its highest point it was quite boggy and difficult to follow. Maybe I was a bit distracted by the views along Loch Beoraid towards the Corryhully Munros and over North Morar to Knoydart.

I took several photos from the high point and then went in search of the path heading north through the tress. There was a deep moss and boulder strewn area where the hidden caves obviously were. The map indicated Prince Charlie’s Cave but there were dozens to choose from. After several minutes I found a route into the gully, well what I thought was a route as it wasn’t obvious although there was an occasional bootprint but lots of deer hoof marks. The deer had also caused some erosion.

Once at the foot of the gully there again was no sign of the path but on the other side of the stream that ran through the gully I could see a wee ledge so I crossed the stream and climbed up onto this ledge which in fact was part of the path. I followed this path out of the gully and across some boggy ground as it descended to a small hydro electric station at the west end of Loch Beoraid. For such a remote area it was rather noisy here caused by the turbine. The first wooden bridge didn’t look that safe but I decided to make the crossing in any case and this took me to the turbine building where there was a new more substantial bridge for the next water crossing.

It was now time to find somewhere to camp as I followed the vehicle track along the east side of the River Meoble. I needed to be far enough away from the turbine noise and not too close to the habitation at Meoble although I didn’t know if anyone stayed there as access is by boat. I found a suitable location beside the River Meoble and behind a small knoll which cut out the noise.

Once the tent was pitched and I had re-packed my gear I set off to climb Meith Bheinn. It was a fairly steep climb on the north side of a small stream and required me to work my way round lots of rock. I disturbed a couple of stags that I had unwearyingly got quite close to. After a while the gradient eased and I saw more deer disappear over the horizon. The rest of the ascent was more undulating with lots of rock until a small lochan was reached and then the final climb to the summit trig point of Meith Bheinn. Here I had some good views especially of Streap, which was in the sun, and north-west to Lochs Morar and Nevis and the Knoydart peninsula. I also saw An Stac which could be combined with an ascent of Meith Bheinn making for a very long day. Thankfully I had climbed it from Glen Pean last year so all that was required was a return to my tent.

The descent was virtually by the upward route and although I saw in the distance the houses at Meoble there was no sign of activity. It was well after eight when I arrived back at the tent so it was time to cook the pasta for tea. It was mild and still dry so I was able to sit outside eating my meal as dusk fell watching the fish jumping in the river. Once it was dark there were a few spots of rain so time for some sleep.

It rained during the night and it was still raining in the morning. After breakfast I packed up and headed back to my car. The return was by the route I had used the previous afternoon although it was now wet and slippery so more care was needed in and around the gorge. Even knowing where the path was I still lost it occasionally. The deer I had seen the previous day were still watching me as I headed down to the Arieniskill and the end of another trip to the west coast.

Meith Bheinn Graham first ascent 710 metres

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Stob a’Ghrianain (aka Druim Fada)

20 April 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 41. Time taken – 3 hours. Distance - 6 kilometres. Ascent - 650 metres.

It was a bit hazy as I drove west up Glen Loy, which is accessed from the B8004 Banavie (west of Fort William) to Gairlochy Road. Just before the end of the public road I parked on the grass verge just east of the bridge leading to the property at Puiteachan. Nearby was a small stall with pebbles for sale and advertising free range eggs.

I crossed the bridge and was immediately confronted with a sign ‘acquired’ from the Forestry Commission stating ‘No unauthorised persons allowed beyond this point’. Nearby was another sign indicating the route to a stile and path for Stob a’Ghrianain, Coire Dubh and Coire Odhar. There was a stile which I crossed but no path although initially the underfoot conditions were quite pleasant as I walked through an old Caledonian Pine Forest. However progress soon became awkward due to knee deep heather, overgrown vegetation and some fallen trees.

Once at the top end of the forest there was a deer fence but this time no stile so I had to climb over it. I then crossed more heather before I came to a second and newer deer fence which again necessitated a climb. Beyond this second fence the walking was easier and I headed for the ridge between Coire Dubh and Coire Odhar. The gradient increased but after the walk through the forest this was an easy ascent.

I reached a large cairn which was obviously not the summit and walked to a few stones located above Coire Dubh which apparently is the cairn marking the highest point, although it wasn’t obvious looking at my surroundings. I walked south to another knoll where I had a coffee looking across in hazy conditions to Ben Nevis, Fort William, Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil, and watching the deer feeding on the moorland below.

The return was initially by the ascent route but I wasn’t going back through the forest so I headed to its west side climbing over the new deer fence. Here I was confronted by another new lower fence which appeared to be electrified although there were no signs indicating this. Two barbed wire strands below the electric wire made it impossible to crawl underneath without damaging clothes and skin so I opted to follow the east side of the electric fence. Lower down I joined some vehicle tracks which took me to animal pens and then along more vehicle tracks to Puiteachan. However a locked 7 – 8 foot gate stopped my progress so I had to climb over the adjacent deer fence to access the track from Puiteachan back to the public road in Glen Loy and the end of this short but restrictive walk.

I have since notified the Access Officer for the Lochaber Area (Highland Council) of the misleading sign and the access restrictions. A copy was sent to the Access Officer for the Mountaineering Council of Scotland for information.

Stob a'Ghrianain Graham second ascent 744 metres

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Garbh Chioch Mhor, Sgurr nan Coireachan and Sgurr Cos na Breachd-laoigh

18 – 19 April 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 33/40. Time taken:
Day One – 3.5hours.
Day Two – 8.5 hours.
Distance:
Day One - 10 kilometres.
Day Two - 13.5 kilometres.
Ascent:
Day One - 670 metres.
Day Two - 1070 metres.

My walking companion was delayed in arriving in Fort William so we were late driving along the west shore of Loch Arkaig This narrow, winding and twisting road is an extension of the B8005 road that runs north from Gairlochy, a small hamlet beside the Caledonian Canal.

On arrival at the end of the public road there were lots of cars and a people carrier parked in and around the verges as there are no parking facilities here. Once packed, we set off along the vehicle track to Upper Glen Dessarry, passing the old hamlet of Strathan and the ugly modern Glendessarry Lodge. It was a pleasant stroll along Glen Dessarry in the sun passing some stags and Highland Cattle. A couple of mountain bikers were headed down the glen.

The property at Upper Glendessarry is occupied again and the occupant is obviously a friendly chap as he gave us a wave as we headed along the Right of Way above his house. Several groups of walkers, some looking a bit wearied, were headed back to their cars but they still had a while to go as we continued west along the path. The initial plan had been to try and reach the ridge to get a view of the sunset but this was no longer possible so a time was set for our overnight stop. We climbed to an area above Coire na Ciche where we found suitable bivy areas with views down to Loch Nevis. Pasta was cooked and eaten as dusk fell and then it was time for some sleep.

During the night I could see thousands of stars and although it was frosty I was quite warm in my down sleeping bag. The bivy bag was white with the frost when I rose in the morning and we had breakfast on a sun shrouded small knoll looking down onto the cloud covered Glen Dessarry.

After breakfast it was a short walk to the foot of the gully leading to the col, Feadan na Ciche. The route up the gully is now fairly eroded so it meant crossing and re-crossing the Allt Coire na Ciche searching out the easiest ascent. Near the top of the gully I spotted a couple of ptarmigan.

On reaching the col, Feadan na Ciche, we headed east mainly following an old stone dyke, except when avoiding the rocks, to the summit of Garbh Chioch Mhor. There were still patches of frost in sheltered areas despite the sun. We headed along the east ridge of Garbh Chioch Mhor before stopping for coffee. Here a lone backpacker, who was also going in same direction, passed us. He had camped near the col mentioned above, but we never saw his tent.

Once the coffee break was over we climbed the Munro Top, Garbh Chioch Bheag before the descent to its col with Sgurr nan Coireachan. This was followed by a steady climb to the small summit cairn on Sgurr nan Coireachan. Here there were more good views including that of Sgurr Mor, which I thought of including in this walk but there was insufficient time. The next target was An Eag, a Corbett Top, where we stopped for lunch. From the summit we saw a paraglider floating about above the east corrie of Sgurr nan Coireachan. The descent of An Eag was by its south ridge and then it was onto the Corbett, Sgurr Cos na Breachd-laoigh, which was the real reason for being back in Glen Dessarry, as we both needed to bag this last Glen Dessarry Corbett.

The descent from Sgurr Cos na Breachd-laoigh was along its east ridge to the summit of another Corbett Top, Druim a’Chuirn, before the gradual descent to the path beside the Allt na Feithe. From here we used the path to reach the vehicle track used the previous day at a point east of Glendessarry Lodge and a walk back along this track to the car, parked at the head of Loch Arkaig.

previous ascent Garbh Chioch Mhor and Sgurr nan Coireachan

Garbh Chioch Mhor Munro fifth ascent 1013 metres
Sgurr nan Coireachan Munro fifth ascent 953 metres
Sgurr Cos na Breachd-laoigh Corbett second ascent 835 metres

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Sgurr an Utha

8 February 2009

photos taken on walk

Map- OS Landranger 40. Time taken - 6.25 hours. Distance - 11.7 kilometres. Ascent - 817 metres.

The Corbett, Sgurr an Utha is located to the north-west of the hamlet of Glenfinnan, on the A830 Fort William to Mallaig Road. Although it is possible to ascend Sgurr na Utha from Glenfinnan in my opinion it is easier to start further west as there is a vehicle track to follow which is not shown on the map. Parking is available in a lay-by on the A830, west of the bridge over the Allt Feith a’Chatha.

We walked back along the main road, for around 300 metres, to east of the bridge over the Allt Feith a’Chatha where a track entered the forest. Access was restricted by a six foot high padlocked gate, which is probably breaching the terms of the Land Reform Scotland Act 2003, but it is possible to climb through between the spars, if you take your rucksack off. Beyond the gate the track climbed fairly steeply through the forest and onto the open hillside towards the Allt an Utha.

Prior to reaching this stream a track headed north-east well above the south side of the Allt an Utha. This track, which was covered in powdery snow, climbed steeply up the corrie with evidence of deer in the area. We later spotted a couple running off. Higher up, the track took a sharp right, going south onto the ridge Druim na Brein-choille where it came to an end. A mineral block left here by the estate was obviously attracting the deer.

The ridge, which was covered in lots of powdery snow, was climbed trying to avoid the old snow patches. We now had views south to the Rois-Bheinn, Loch Shiel and Callop Corbetts, including Sgorr Craobh a’Chaorainn, which we had climbed the previous day. This ridge was actually taking us away from our target, Sgurr an Utha but it soon turned to head north towards Fraoch-bheinn, Sgurr an Utha's lower summit by six metres. We now looked out over Loch Eil to Ben Nevis.

There were loads of drifting snow on the ridge and on reaching the summit of Fraoch-bheinn, as well as the mountains already mentioned we had views of the Corryully Munros, Sgurr an Coireachan and Sgurr Thuilm and the Corbett, Streap. The short descent from Fraoch-bheinn meant avoiding some rocks and old snow patches. There was evidence of fellow walkers having climbed Sgurr an Utha in the last few days as there were a few bootprints in the snow. The final climb looked liked it might be a bit awkward through the snow and rock but in the end there was no real problem. The summit cairn was perched above the steep north ridge. As hoped there were awesome views across Moidart and Loch Beoraid to the Islands of Eigg and Rum and also the snow covered Skye Cuillin.

On my previous ascent I had descended south-west off of Sgurr an Utha but the snow conditions were too unstable to use that route so we returned by the route of ascent. I had hoped to include the Graham, Glas-charn, to the west of the Allt Feith a’Chatha but the wintry conditions underfoot took longer than planned, so I’ll need to return to this area, which isn't bad thing.

previous ascent

Sgurr an Utha Corbett second ascent 796 metres

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Meall a'Phubuill

1 February 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 41. Time taken - 5.5 hours. Distance - 18.2 kilometres. Ascent - 735 metres.

My previous ascent of this Corbett was from the hamlet of Fassfern, on the north shore of Loch Eil, and up Gleann Suileag, so on this occasion I was keen for an alternative route and Glen Loy, accessed from the B8004 Banavie to Gairlochy, fitted into this plan. We drove to the end of the public road at Achnanellan where parking was limited.

It was a pleasant walk up the Glen as far as a scattering of trees at Brian Choille where we left the track and traversed across the hillside to the col west of Druim Gleann Laoigh. The Munro, Gulvain was now visible beyond our target hill. A stone dyke was followed to the un-named top at Point 747, crossing a few snow patches, before descending steeply over a few rocks to the col east of Meall a'Phubuill. It was then a relatively easy ascent to the small cairn marking its summit.

I took a few photos from the top but a cold wind was blowing so we didn't linger here and returned to the col before dropping down the gully to find shelter for lunch. I was also on the lookout for some evidence of volcanic activity but never saw anything. However it appears that a water-slide which I avoided due to patches of snow, is an agglomerate of a volcanic vent, a rare phenomenon in the Western Highlands.

Once lunch was concluded we traversed across the hillside and rejoined the track west of the trees at Brian Choille and followed the track back to the start.

previous ascent

Meall a'Phubuill Corbett second ascent 774 metres

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Beinn a'Chapuill

24 November 2008

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 6.5 hours. Distance - 11.7 kilometres. Ascent - 800 metres.

This was the final day of our long weekend staying at Plockton so it was my turn to decide where to go. I selected this Graham as I hadn't climbed it before and neither had the rest of the party. From Shiel Bridge, on the A87 Inervermoriston to Kyle of Lochalsh Road, we drove across the Bealach Ratagain, through Glenelg, up Gleann Beag and passed the Brochs to the end of the public road at Balvraid. Here we sought permission from the local farmer as to where we could park. He was appreciative of being asked and told us we could drive further up the Glen if we so wished but the condition of this private road was rather rough so we parked beside some sheep pens.

We walked east up Gleann Beag to just before Srath a'Chomair where we crossed a footbridge and then a deer fence by means of a stile. From here it was just a steady walk up the east ridge of Beinn a'Chapuill with views across to the Corbett, Beinn na h-Eaglaise, and the Munro, Beinn Sgritheall, as well as down into Gleann Beag. While standing at the edge of the ridge a buzzard soared out of the Glen and circled above us.

Higher up we came onto some snow and Edith spotted a mountain hare concealed between some rocks. It stayed motionless for us to take a few photographs before running off. Thereafter it was only a short walk to the summit which was supposed to be a knoll south-east of a small lochan, not as shown on the map. This knoll was marked by a cairn and it did appear to be the highest point in an extensive area of knolls and lochans.

We continued further west to find some shelter for lunch and to get better views of Ladhar Bheinn and Beinn na Callich on Knoydart, the Island of Skye, the Sound of Sleet, Isleornsay and the Cuillin Ridge. After lunch the area around Kyle Rhea became rather cloudy so we set off back to Gleann Beag by the route of ascent with views of the snow capped peaks of the Kintail mountains, including The Saddle and the Five Sisters.

Beinn a'Chapuill Graham first ascent 759 metres

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Beinn Bhan

31 August 2008

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 41. Time taken - 4 hours. Distance - 8 kilometres. Ascent - 780 metres.

My plan was to climb the Corbett, Meall a'Phubuill, from the top end of Glen Loy but as I drove from Banavie, on the outskirts of Fort William, along the B8004 towards Gairlochy, the rain was rather incessant. I therefore decided to climb the Corbett, Beinn Bhan instead as it was a shorter walk. The starting point was sill Glen Loy but at the bridge over the River Loy beside the access road to Inverskilavuiln.

On my arrival at this location I observed that Inverskilavuiln was no longer an old ruin, as was the case on my last visit, but a new white house. I walked up the access road to this property looking for a suitable route to avoid this new house and was pleasantly surprised to find a marked path round the property which consisted of a couple of houses and some chalets, obviously holiday homes. The marked path kept me on the west side of the stream flowing out of Coire Mhuilinn, just where I wanted to be. Beyond the marked path I followed tracks, probably animal ones, through wet vegetation, including bracken which was starting to die off.

The rain was now more showery but with very little wind it was warm work as I climbed my way round Coire Mhuilinn in low cloud. Some deer were spotted through the mist walking across the hillside. A couple of cairns were reached as I headed round the top of the Coire and out to the trig point marking the summit of Beinn Bhan. Some old fence posts aided navigation.

I took a short break here before descending the east side of Coire Mhuilinn and out of the cloud which was starting to lift a bit. I had view down to Glen Loy and the holiday homes at Inverskilavuiln and I could also see the mountain that had been my original destination, Meall a'Phubuill. Lower down I worked my way through the bracken before reaching a fence and a sign indicating my route back to the road. A couple of small foot bridges had been installed to make things easier to cross some boggy ground and I eventually joined the route round the property used earlier in the day and the short walk back to the car.

This was my second ascent of Beinn Bhan and I have yet to get a view from the top.

previous ascent

Beinn Bhan Corbett second ascent 796 metres

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An Stac and Carn Mor

16 - 17 August 2008

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 40. Time taken:
Day One - 7 hours
Day Two - 6.5 hours
Distance:
Day One: - 16.5 kilometres.
Day Two: - 12.5 kilometres.
Ascent:
Day One: - 990 metres.
Day Two: - 900 metres.

The Graham, An Stac and the Corbett, Carn Mor are fairly remote mountains to the east of Loch Morar. I decided to climb them on a backpacking trip from the west end of Loch Arkaig. A narrow single track road, presently under repair, runs along the north shore of Loch Arkaig and ends a short distance from Strathan where there is limited parking. This road is accessed from Gairlochy near Spean Bridge.

I set off along the private road to Strathan and through the forest in Glen Pean. Initially the vehicle track was in reasonable condition but it later became quite boggy with tree branches laid across it, obviously to assist vehicle movement. At the west end of the forest an alternative route for walkers was marked through the tress, I presume to avoid the degrading condition of the track. This alternative route took me to Glen Pean bothy where I sat outside and had lunch.

I later continued my hike west along the north side of the River Pean following a path which was a bit overgrown and boggy in places. There were lots of butterflies flying around. On reaching Lochan Leum an t-Sagairt the map showed that the path was non-existent on the north side of the Lochan, which was due to a landslide several years ago. I found a route above the south side of the Lochan but it was quite narrow in places and required care. This took me beyond the Lochan and to a more grassy and boggy section where the path wasn't obvious.

A small weed covered lochan was reached and here there had been another landslip. Again I stayed above this area, to the south, and reached a stalker's path which I was going to use to gain height to climb An Stac. Firstly I wanted to find a camp site, which I did next to the path. The site was exposed to the strong wind, which was the intention, as better the wind than the midges.

Once I had pitched my tent and sorted out my gear I headed up this stalker's path, which was a bit rough and boggy, crossing and re-crossing a few streams. I later left the stalker's path and followed a stream that flowed from the west before ascending the rocky An Stac. I arrived at the summit around ninety minutes after leaving my camp site and had views of the Graham, Meath Bheinn, Lochs Morar, Nevis and Arkaig, the Islands of Rum and Skye, the Corbetts, Carn Mor and Bidean a'Chabair and the Munro Sgurr nan Coireachan. Time was getting on so after a short break at the summit I headed back to my tent by the upward route and was spotted by a few deer.

It was then time to cook my meal and while doing so I spotted a couple just below me and there was me thinking I had the area to myself. However after a short break they continued west towards Loch Morar although by this time the sun was setting. Fortunately there was still a breeze so the midges weren't a problem and it was pleasant sitting outside watching the mountains change colour.

It had been a fine day and evening despite the forecast so I wasn't surprised that around seven the next day it started to rain. However it wasn't too heavy so I later rose and had breakfast before packing up and commencing the ascent of Carn Mor. The previous day I had seen a grassy rake that I could use to gain access to this mountain but I was immediately confronted with the problem of crossing the debris from the landslip. It was horrendous, massive boulders, some covered in moss, with deep gouges made progress very slow searching for a route across. It took me around twenty five minutes to find a route through this maze of boulders and trees. Once clear I crossed over to the grassy rake and climbed it until I reached a wide grassy area where a hind and its calf were resting and higher up a fully developed stag.

Higher up I came across more rock as the cloud level varied sometimes to engulf me other times to give me a brief view of the route ahead. I came to Meall na Each's east ridge where there was a line of old metal fence posts which I followed. The route dropped slightly before I climbed to a small lochan and shortly thereafter a small cairn. I was in the cloud at this time but it lifted very briefly so that I could get another view of Loch Morar. There was no point in hanging around so I descended Carn Mor's east ridge, got out of the cloud and into Coire an Eich. I thereafter followed the Allt Coire an Eich over some rough ground and when the gorge became rather awkward to negotiate I cut across to A'Chuil bothy where I sat outside and enjoyed lunch.

The final section of the walk entailed following the vehicle track through Glen Dessarry forest back to Strathan my car.

previous ascent of Carn Mor

An Stac Graham first ascent 718 metres
Carn Mor Corbett second ascent 829 metres

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Sgurr Choinich

5 July 2008

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 34. Time taken – 3.5 hours. Distance - 8.5 kilometres. Climbed - 700 metres.

The Graham Sgurr Choinich is located between Loch Arkaig to the south and Loch Garry in the north with the Loch Arkaig approach being the shorter, although maybe not the easiest.

The single track road that runs along the north shore of Loch Arkaig was again under repair which was badly needed as it must have been one of the worst maintained roads in the Highlands, albeit it is mainly used by walkers and estate staff. Last year they upgraded a section of the road so they are now working on another bit. However don’t expect to make faster progress as the continuous bends and dips will still be there, just a few less pot holes.

Parking was available at a small picnic area just east of the Allt Mhuic. I walked west along the road for a short distance before reaching a couple of gates, one locked, the other for access on foot. A notice indicated that cattle were summer grazing in the field to reduce the length of the grasses and bracken. I followed a marked path but soon lost it in the bracken which was almost shoulder high. The cattle weren’t doing a very good job!

I worked my way through the bracken and onto more wet ground where there was plenty of bog myrtle but it was easier to walk through than the bracken. I passed some young Highland cattle but they only showed a passing interest before I reached a forest track which had been constructed to link the adjoining forests as they were obviously removing timber from the westerly forest, the lochside road probably being unsuitable for this purpose.

Further north I came across a deer fence which I had to clamber over before reaching the open hillside which was covered in bog cotton. I followed the side of a stream, this seemed easier than the hummocky grass. As height was gained the going became easier and the views of the Corryhully Munros and the Glen Dessarry mountains continued to improve in the clear fine weather.

On nearing the top I was aware of deer and disturbed a young deer calf which ran off with its mother down the north side of the hill. I was disappointed that I hadn’t spotted it earlier and that I only saw it briefly. However as I continued to the summit I couldn’t decide if it was a stone or a deer calf so I slowly walked towards it with the camera ready and spotted it’s ears. It obviously heard me and was startled and ran off before slowly trotting back in my direction occasionally stopping to stamp its leg. I managed to get a few photographs but it was one of nature’s great experiences. Where was Kate Humble? I was being watched closely by hinds, some of whom had young alongside, but as I left this deer calf and headed for the summit they all ran off.

On my arrival at the summit cairn, in addition to the mountains already mentioned, I had views of the Kintail, Loch Quoich, Knoydart and Loch Lochy mountains. I found a suitable spot to relax and eat my lunch considering how lucky I had been to spot the deer calf and to get so close to it.

After an extended break I left the summit and returned to the start, generally by my ascent route. There was no trace of the deer calf so I presumed it had joined its mother. Lower down I saw a fellow walker headed towards Sgurr Choinich but we were a bit apart so our paths never crossed. Maybe Graham bagging is becoming more popular?

Sgurr Choinich Graham first ascent 749 metres

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Sgurr nan Eugallt and Slat Bheinn

17 – 18 May 2008

photos taken on walk

Map OS Landranger 33 Time:
Day One - 3.25 hours.
Day Two - 6.25 hours.
Distance:
Day One - 7 kilometres.
Day Two - 10 kilometres
Ascent
Day One - 880 metres
Day Two - 1060metres.

Slat Bheinn is a rather awkward mountain to access located in the Barrisdale Forest between the Corbetts Sgurr nan Eugallt and Sgurr a’Choire-bheithe. I looked at this Graham when I ascended Sgurr nan Eugallt and the Graham Meall nan Eun whilst staying at The Stable, Barrisdale but the weather was poor and it would have made for an excessively long day.

I decided that the easiest way to climb Slat Bheinn was probably from the unclassified road that runs from the A87 Invergarry to Kyle of Lochalsh Road to Kinloch Hourn. I was also aware that a good stalker’s path left the ruined building at Coireshubh and headed almost to the north-east ridge of Sgurr nan Eugallt at 660 metres and I decided to use this route to reach Slat Bheinn. Parking around Coireshubh was a bit difficult as the road gets narrower here and twists and turns before a steep descent to the hamlet of Kinloch Hourn. However I managed to find a bit of grass verge where I could leave my vehicle.

It was a sunny evening as I set off up the stalker’s path towards Sgurr nan Eugallt. The path was in reasonable condition as it had been fairly dry recently but I would suspect it could be a bit boggy in sections in wet weather. As height was gained I had increasing views of Loch Quoich, which I drove along earlier that day, also across to Buidhe Bheinn which I was on only a couple of weeks ago, and The Saddle and Sgurr na Sgine.

The path twisted and turned as it passed through gorges and round crags before it headed below Sgurr Dubh. Thereafter it did become slightly indistinct but the path did go to within a few metres of the bealach south of Sgurr Dubh. The ridge is marked by some old metal fence posts but they do not go all the way to the summit of Sgurr nan Eugallt but bypass it to the east before heading towards Sgurr a’Chlaidheimh.

I climbed the north-east ridge of Sgurr nan Eugallt in a cold northerly wind following traces of a walker’s path. Higher up the ridge narrowed and became a bit more rocky with some easy scrambling before reaching the summit trig point. I recalled that the highest point was further north-west so I headed out there although the height difference wasn't obvious. Great views were had of the the Knoydart Mountains, Loch Hourn and across the sea to Eigg, Rum and Skye all in the evening sun. I also had a view east to Ben Nevis. Well worth the effort. This was my third ascent of Sgurr nan Eugallt and the first time I had a view so that was great.

I returned to the trig point and descended Sgurr nan Eugallt's south ridge following the old fence posts again. However as the ridge swung slightly more towards the east I continued south and descended steeply as I worked my way down grassy gullies to I avoided numerous crags, not shown on my map. Several lone deer ran off and after some effort I reached the path at the head of Glen Barrisdale. From there it was only a short walk to Loch an Lagain Aintheich which was my intended camping spot. Although probably a bit boggy when wet I was able to pitch my tent at the north-east end looking over this idyllic loch. It was a bit cold and windy here but the tent gave me shelter while I cooked and ate a late tea looking out over the Loch and to Slat Bheinn.

The next morning it was a calm, sunny but cold as I ate breakfast, again overlooking the Loch and to my intended destination Slat Bheinn. While there a snipe landed briefly in front on my tent but quickly flew off when it spotted me. After breakfast I commenced the ascent of Slat Bheinn by its east ridge. There were lots of undulations and crags but gassy ledges allowed me to bypass the crags. The summit cairn was reached with views again of the Knoydart mountains, Skye and Eigg as well as Beinn Sgritheall. A cool wind was blowing but the awesome views made up for the slight discomfort.

The return to Loch an Lagain Aintheich was back along the east ridge before dropping down a grassy gully to the west end of the Loch. It was then time for a second meal before taking down my tent and packing away my gear before a reascent of Sgurr nan Eugallt. I had noticed that further to the east meant less crags so that was the route I took onto its south- east ridge. It was a steady climb to a point higher than the Graham I had ascended earlier. Once on the ridge I followed the fence posts which bypassed the summit of Sgurr nan Eugallt and down its north-east ridge to the stalker’s path used the previous evening and the return to Coireshubh.

previous ascent Sgurr nan Eugallt

Sgurr nan Eugallt Corbett third ascent 894 metres
Slate Bheinn Graham first ascent 700 metres

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Sgurr Mhic Bharraich and Biod an Fhithrich

5 May 2008

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 33 Time taken - 7.5 hours. Distance - 15.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1400 metres.

This was to be a shorter day as one of us needed to return home that afternoon so it was decided that the Corbett, Sgurr Mhic Bharraich fitted into the time scale available. The starting point was Shiel Bridge where there is a reasonable sized car parking area behind the shop and filling station and just outside the camp site.

We walked round the perimeter of the camp site and followed the path up the side of the Allt Undalain. It was a bright sunny morning and there were already a few walkers out and about compared to the previous two days when we only saw other walkers at the end of the second day.

It was warm walking up the glen and we heard our second cuckoo of the season. At the junction of streams and where there was evidence of old habitation the path turned to the west and we started to climb towards Loch Coire nan Crogahan with the snow fields of The Saddle to our left.

The loch was eventually reached before we left the path and climbed up the south side of Sgurr Mhic Bharraich avoiding rocky outcrops. We came onto a plateau and it was then just a short climb to the summit cairn of Sgurr Mhic Bharraich. We had a 360 degree panoramic view including Rum, Skye, Applecross, Torridon, Five Sisters and The Saddle. A short walk to a knoll further west gave additional views of Loch Duich and Glenelg.

A break was taken at the summit looking out west before we commenced the descent on the east side of Sgurr Mhic Bharraich. Once well down and in sight of the path used earlier that day we parted company. I headed down to the junction of streams and the old habitation we had passed earlier that day. Here I crossed the Allt a’Coire Uaine and followed the Allt a’Choire Chaoil towards the corrie below the Forcan Ridge disturbing a large herd of deer.

Once higher up I climbed onto the south ridge of Biod an Fhithrich with a great view down onto the main road running through Glen Shiel. On reaching the summit cairn of Biod an Fhithrich I had a late lunch sitting looking across to the Forcan Ridge and the Five Sisters.

I could have remained there resting and bathing in the sun but I still had a long undulating ridge to traverse before I could return to my car. I set off down the A’Mhuing Ridge with some rocky sections which required avoiding and lots of ups and down before it changed direction and headed north with loads of twists and turns to find the most suitable line of descent. At an old stone dyke I followed it until I joined up with the path I had used that morning at the bridge over the Allt Undalain. Thereafter it was a short walk back to the start of the walk.

previous ascent of Sgurr Mhic Bharraich

Sgurr Mhic Bharraich Corbett second ascent 779 metres
Biod an Fhithich Graham first ascent 644 metres

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Beinn nan Caorach and Beinn na h-Eaglaise

4 May 2008

photos taken on walk

Map – OS Landranger 33. Time taken – 5.75 hours. Distance - 11 kilometres. Ascent - 1100 metres

To reach the start of this walk it was necessary to drive over the Bealach Ratagan, from Shiel Bridge on the A87, with its fantastic views over Loch Duich to the Five Sisters, through Glenelg to Arnisdale all on single track roads. Just south of Arnisdale House a track headed east along the north side of the River Arnisdale and this was the starting point of the walk. Neither vehicle access nor parking were permitted along this track and the nearest suitable parking area was further south at the end of the public road at Corran.

The track was followed passed a house, not named on my map but which had recently been redeveloped, towards the bridge over the River Arnisdale. The map then showed a path which headed round the north side of a building named as Achadh a’Ghlinne, which looked like a storage area. However the path was not obvious but there was a rusty bridge west of Achadh a’Ghlinne to assist in the crossing of the Allt Utha if the stream was in spate. Highland cattle were resting nearby.

It was rather warm as a steady climb on a zigzag path commenced. A few deer were spotted but on the whole they saw us first and were on the move. The path continued towards Coire Chorsalain but once beyond the Allt Utha waterfall and gorge we left the path, crossed the stream coming down from the Coire, and commenced the climb of Beinn nan Caorach. It was a steady climb avoiding stones and higher up some rocks but as height was gained it became rather windy and the rain started. A ptarmigan flew off into the wind.

The summit was reached but it was too windy to hang around although the cloud was still clear of the mountain although higher tops were cloud covered. We descended the north ridge of Beinn nan Caorach which if necessary had a few metal fence posts to assist with navigation. The rain had ceased and the wind dropped as we worked our way round the head of Coire Dhruim nam Bo and onto Druim nan Bo. The metal fence posts were still in evidence and the steep ascent of Beinn na h-Eaglaise commenced as the rain and wind returned. Higher up the ridge some rock had to be avoided before the ridge narrowed and the summit of Beinn na h-Eaglaise was achieved.

It was very windy here so we didn't stop but headed down the south-east ridge which was still marked by fence posts. Lower down we found some shelter for lunch in the rain. Thereafter we continued the descent to Beinn Bhuidhe and the persistent rain became light showers and we had views of Loch Hourn and across to Skye. The descent then became more entertaining as we avoided lots of rocks and dropped down gullies disturbing loads of deer. Despite the clear weather it was still necessary to stop frequently to check our route to ensure that we were able to clear the many rocky outcrops.

Eventually we reached the track in Glen Arnisdale that we had used in the morning and saw a large group of walkers, the only walkers we had seen in two days. It was then a short walk back to the start.

previous ascent

Beinn nan Caorach Corbett second ascent 774 metres
Beinn na h-Eaglaise Corbett second ascent 805 metres

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Sgurr a’Bhac Chaolais and Buidhe Bheinn

3 May 2008

photos taken on walk

Map – OS Landranger 33. Time taken – 8 hours. Distance - 14 kilometres. Ascent - 1350 metres.

The original plan for this weekend was to head for Rum and climb the Rum Cuillin but the forecast for the weekend was for wet and windy weather so that idea was abandoned and replaced with the ascent of a few of the Kintail Corbetts.

Heading west on the A87 Invermoriston to Kyle of Lochalsh Road I could see that the tops of the Glen Shiel mountains were cloud covered. However by the time I met my client at the Cluanie Inn and driven to the start of the day’s walk the cloud had lifted clear of the summits.

The start of this walk was the lay-by east of the Allt Mhalagain on the A87. A short walk west took us to the start of the Right of Way to Kinloch Hourn and Loch Quoich. We followed this path up the side of the Allt Mhalagain and to the Bealach Duibh Leac. At points higher up the path wasn’t obvious but I have used it on several occasions so I was aware of where it twisted and turned to avoid slab rock. This path is often used by those descending after completing the seven Munros of the South Glenshiel ridge.

At the Bealach Duibh Leac it was a short climb following an old stone dyke and latterly metal fence posts to the summit of Sgurr a’Bhac Chaolais. Here there were views of Sgurr na Sgine, The Saddle and its Forcan Ridge, the Five Sisters, The Brothers and back along the ridge we had walked to the westerly Munros of the South Glenshiel Ridge. The Corbett Sgurr a'Bhac Chaolais has the same height as Buidhe Bheinn a couple of kilometres further south but the drop on the intervening ridge does not meet the stipulated 500 feet and therefore they are classed as twins (some say Siamese twins) and not two separate Corbetts. This of course causes a dilemma for Corbett baggers on how to approach these two mountains and whether it is necessary to climb both.

My opinion is that both mountains must be climbed to claim this one Corbett so we returned along the east ridge of Sgurr a’Bhac Chaolais for a short distance and then followed the old stone dyke along the undulating ridge towards Buidhe Bheinn. There were lots of twists and turns and several knolls to clamber over giving the impression that these two mountains deserved to be classed as individual Corbetts. The stone dyke did not continue all the way to Buidhe Bheinn where the latter section of the ascent of Buidhe Bheinn was rocky and a bit exposed to a strong wind that was blowing up through some of the corries.

The summit of Buidhe Bheinn was eventually reached, a knoll north-east of what was shown on the OS Map. Here we sought some shelter for a late lunch looking west over towards The Saddle, Skye and Rum. After lunch we walked out to the 879 top which gave even better views which included Loch Hourn and Ladhar Bheinn.

Once we had taken a few photographs we commenced the long return to Glen Shiel by the outward route although we didn’t have to go back to the actual summit of Sgurr a’Bhac Chaolais. During this adventure we never saw or met any other walkers despite it being a holiday weekend so maybe they had been put off by the poor weather forecast. However other than a few occasional spots of rain and it being a bit windy at times the weather was reasonable and the mountains remained clear of cloud. There was also a lack of wild life although we did hear the first cuckoo of the year.

previous ascent Sgurr a'Bhac Chaolais

previous ascent Buidhe Bheinn

Sgurra a'Bhac Chaolais Corbett third ascent 885 metres
Buidhe Bheinn Corbett second ascent 885 metres

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Sgurr na Ciche, Ben Aden and Bidean a'Chabair

19/20 April 2008

photos taken on walk

Day One: Time taken - 10.5 hours Distance - 21 kilometres Ascent - 1520 metres
Day Two: Time taken - 9.75 hours Distance - 21 kilometres Ascent - 1130 metres

I had climbed Ben Aden in October 2004 and didn't fancy a repeat of the long walk along the north shore of Loch Quoich. We had considered climbing it from Inverie on our visit there in April 2005 but abandoned that idea due the weather. An attempt was made in March 2006 whilst staying in Barrisdale but we were beaten back by bad weather and a swollen stream having got as far as the east end of Lochan nam Breac. So a new plan had been devised to climb Ben Aden during a backpacking trip in May 2008 starting from Glen Dessarry. However the weather in the west of Scotland was to remain fine although a bit windy so it was decided to bring the trip forward.

We set off from the end of the public road at the west end of Loch Arkaig and followed the vehicle track passed Strathan and Glendessarry Lodge to Upper Glendessarry where the vehicle track ended. From here a path, which is a Right of Way, led to Sourlies and Inverie and is normally wet and boggy in places. Fortunately due to the recent dry spell it wasn't too bad. On approaching the highest point on this path we left it and followed a stream flowing from below Garbh Chioch Mhor. The route is now obvious from miles away as the estate has scarred the hillside with the construction of a vehicle track.

On reaching the foot of the gully between Sgurr na Ciche and Garbh Chioch Mhor we ascended the gully through some wet and in places deep snow hiding the gaps between the boulders. We talked about this ascent as being rather challenging but in hindsight it wasn't compared to later in the day. Once at the bealach between Sgurr na Ciche and Garbh Chioch Mhor the plan was to traverse round to the north ridge of Sgurr na Ciche. Unfortunately the north face of Sgurr na Ciche and Garbh Chioch Mhor were full of snow and too dangerous to contemplate such a crossing.

We therefore climbed Sgurr na Ciche through some snow patches, which concealed the walker's path to the summit, where it was very windy but with good views all round including the Knoydart mountains, Loch Nevis and our intended destination, Ben Aden. An old stone wall descended the north ridge of Sgurr na Ciche so we walked back along the east ridge to it and followed this wall down the snow covered ridge. The snow, which was mainly soft, concealed the gaps between the boulders but we kept as close to the wall as possible other than when we had to descend round some rocky outcrops. A knoll was crossed before some more rough walking but at least here the snow had become a bit more patchy.

The ridge became rather twisted as we frequently had to deviate around rocky outcrops so even with good visibility care was required to ensure that we were still on the ridge and headed in the correct direction. A feeding stag was surprised by our appearance. Rather than climb Meall a'Choire Dhuibh we were able to cross to its west ridge and descend to the lochans from where we commenced the ascent of Ben Aden. Again not a straight forward climb due to the rocky nature of the terrain but we eventually arrived at the summit cairn over eight hours after we set out from the west end of Loch Arkaig. It was less windy here with views of the mountains of Knoydart and Kintail and of Lochs Hourn, Nevis and Quoich.

It would have been nice to linger a while longer on the summit but we needed to get lower to find a suitable camp site so returned down Ben Aden's east ridge to the lochans before a steep descent to the Beallach na h-Eangair. There were no suitable camping spots here so we continued down the glen to shielings beside the River Carnoch arriving there just as it was getting dark. A suitable spot was found but there was a strong smell of rotten flesh and I found two dead stags behind one of walls. To my knowledge finding two dead stags together is rather unusual so I presume they perished in a storm. The tents were moved to another location where we were able to utilise one of the old houses as a kitchen with shelter from the wind.

The following morning we set off down the east side of the River Carnoch where there were traces of All Terrain Vehicle tracks. The ground was relatively dry until lower down where there were some bog to divert round. The map showed a path on the opposite side of the river but I never saw any evidence of it but we were happy enough where we were. Some sheep and lambs were feeding on the plains at the head of Loch Nevis but there was a lot of unsightly plastic lying about having been washed up by the tide and blown around. Not much scope for a clean up in this area. The tide was in and this necessitated a clamber round some rocks before walking along the shingle beach to Sourlies bothy. It was sheltered and sunny here and what an idyllic location. There were a couple campers packing up to return to Loch Arkaig and a group, who had slept in the bothy, were off to Inverie. We stopped here for a brew up and a seat outside the bothy in the sun.

It was a bit of a wrench to leave this tranquil area but the plan was to try and climb another remote Corbett on our return to Loch Arkaig. We walked round the head of Loch Nevis as the tide was quickly retreating, passed some ruined houses and commenced the steady climb up Coire Dubh keeping to the west of the gullies and higher up, rock. This led to the bealach between Sgurr nam Meirleach and Sgurr na h-Aide where we had views of Lochs Nevis and Morar, Rum, Eigg, Ardnamurchan, Rois-bheinn Corbetts and the Corryhully Munros.

The west ridge of Sgurr na h-Aide was climbed still with these fantastic sea and mountain views but this wasn't our intended destination. It was further east and eight metres higher according to the map. The drop from Sgurr na h-Aide involved some easy down climbing and snow patches to cross before the ascent of the rocky summit of Bidean a'Chabair where we had a break sheltered from the breeze looking out over Lochs Morar and Nevis to Rum and Eigg. In addition we had also had views of the snow clad Cullin mountains on Skye, Torridon to the east Ben Nevis. You need to be high up to see Ben Nevis and Loch Nevis from the same location.

Once lunch was over the long descent to Loch Arkaig commenced. An awkward rocky section containing a touch of wet snow had to be down climbed first and then various snow fields crossed as we walked down the ever twisting north-east ridge of Bidean a'Chabair over the knoll Meall na Sroine and onto the Right of Way to Inverie. On the descent I saw a ptarmigan, which had lost its winter colours, a ring ouzel, a wagtail and several wheatears.

The Right of Way was followed back to Loch Arkaig and the end of two long and rather challenging days but with some awesome views and idyllic settings.

The daily distances shown are taken off a map and are the minimum walked. A couple of kilometres should be added due to the deviations made for the terrain and twisting ridges.

previous ascent Sgurr na Ciche

previous ascent Ben Aden

previous ascent Bidean a'Chabair

Sgurr na Ciche Munro sixth ascent 1040 metres
Ben Aden Corbett second ascent 887 metres
Bidean a'Chabair Corbett second ascent 867 metres

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Glens Dessarry and Kingie Backpack

15 - 16 March 2008

photos taken on walk

Day One: Time taken - 7 hours. Distance - 12 kilometres. Ascent - 1310 metres.
Day Two: Time taken - 7 hours. Distance - 14 kilometres. Ascent - 1085 metres.

The start of this backpacking trip was the end of the public road that runs along the north shore of Loch Arkaig reached from Gairlochy west of Spean Bridge on the A82 Fort William to Inverness road. As said before this is a narrow undulating single track road and in sections is in poor condition. At the end of the public road there is a small turning circle at a gate with limited parking facilities. There were already several vehicles parked along the roadside on my arrival.

Once I had gathered and packed all my gear for an overnight camp I set off west along the vehicle track passed the holiday accommodation at Strathan to the sign indicating the Right of Way north to Tomdoun. I followed this Right of Way up the side of the Dearg Allt although it is now mainly a wet and boggy All Terrain Vehicle track. On the ascent of this track I came across a couple of mating frogs so spring had obviously arrived although the weather wasn't that spring like with a cold northerly wind blowing. However the frogs were out in force in several pools and evidence of frog spawn not always in water.

On approaching the water shed I left my rucksack and headed onto the south-west ridge of Sgurr Mhurlagain. There was a bit of snow on this Corbett but mainly on the north side so I was able to avoid most of the snow fields. My first golden plover of the year sounded its alarm call as I headed towards the summit cairn. From the summit I had views south across Loch Arkaig to Gulvain, Streap, Sgurr Thuilm and Sgurr nan Coireachan, three of these mountains I had climbed last month. To the west were the Knoydart mountains and my next hill, Fraoch Bheinn. To the north was Sgurr Mor, tomorrow's mountain, the mountains of Loch Quoich and beyond them some of the Kintail hills. Ben Nevis, the Aonachs and Grey Corries were some of the mountains I could see to the east.

It was rather cold on the summit so I returned by the ascent route back to collect my rucksack and headed to the foot of Fraoch Bheinn. The west side of this Corbett was a bit steeper than Sgurr Mhurlagain and as I headed up into a gully the snow was very sugary and there was evidence of some avalanche debris. Eventually I came onto the south ridge of Froach Bheinn before winding my way through some rocks to the summit cairn. Here the views were still clear and to the west included the Islands of Skye, Rum and Eigg.

I continued to the north top of Froach Bheinn and descended its north-east ridge. It became quite tricky as it narrowed considerably with lots of snow and I couldn't be sure that once I was beyond this narrow section that it was possible to descend into Glen Kingie where I had planned to set up camp. I retreated to the north top and then attempted the north-west ridge which was easier with snow fields to descend making walking easier. Lower down some rocky outcrops had to be avoided before I dropped into Glen Kingie.

It was now almost dark so I had to find somewhere to pitch my tent. The ground was fairly wet and boggy but I did find somewhere to put the tent up albeit not the best camp site I have found. Once the tent was up it was time for tea and a rest before the next day's mountains.

After a good night's sleep it was a bit of a wrench to get up and venture into a cold wind. The cloud was also a bit lower, occasionally covering the higher tops. I walked down to the River Kingie which was relatively easy to cross, and commenced the steady climb to the bealach between Sgurr Mor and Sgurr an Fhuarain, watched by deer. Higher up there were some snow fields which I couldn't avoid and once at the bealach the angle eased for the climb to the circular trig point marking the summit of Sgurr an Fhuarain. There were good views down into Loch Quoich and its surrounding mountains and towards Knoydart.

I returned to the bealach and climbed Sgurr Mor. Higher up there were snow fields to traverse with some icy patches. From the summit I could see Lochan nam Breac and Ben Aden, a Corbett planned for later in the year.

It would have been interesting to continue to Sgurr Beag but the shorter route was back to the bealach and drop down to my tent. Once I had re-packed it was a steady climb over wet and in places boggy ground to the bealach between Fraoch Bheinn and Sgurr Cos na Breachd-laoidh where there was a path. It was very rough, wet and boggy at times, and I followed it down the west side of the Allt na Feithe to the vehicle track at Glendessarry Lodge. From here it was only 2.5 kilometres back to my vehicle and the end of a successful two days bagging Corbetts and a Munro.

previous ascent Sgurr Mhurlagain and Fraoch Bheinn

Sgurr Mhurlagain Corbett second ascent 880 metres
Fraoch Bheinn Corbett second ascent 858 metres
Sgurr an Fhuarain Corbett second ascent 901 metres
Sgurr Mor Munro fourth ascent 1003 metres

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Gulvain

17 February 2008

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 9 hours Distance - 20 kilometres Ascent - 1290 metres.

It was back along the A830 Fort William to Mallaig Road, but only as far as the junction with the A861 road to Strontian. On the opposite side of this juction are a few cottages and to their east an old bridge. There is limited parking at the east side of this bridge.

We walked north up Gleann Fionnlighe on a rough vehicle track initially on the east side of the Fionn Lighe but after around two kilometres the track crossed this very clear and sparkling stream via a bridge. However we still had another 4 kilometres to walk before reaching the bridge over the Allt a'Choire Reidh at Na Socachan, which I think refers to a ruin. Beyond here the track degenerated into a peaty path but fortunately due to the lack of rain in the past week or so it wasn't that wet.

A walker's path continued up the south ridge of Gulvain on an unrelenting ascent for around 700 metres to the 855 metre knoll. This was followed by a very short descent crossing a patch of snow before a further 60 metres of climbing to the South Top of Gulvain.

I had expected that the next section of the walk would require crampons but fortunately there were only a few small patches of snow which we could cross with care without their use. The route was narrow compared to the ascent of the South Top but with no real problems. The cloud was variable, sometimes just above the mountain tops and at other times engulfing the tops.

The bealach between the two tops was reached after a descent of around 60 metres which meant a re-ascent of almost 90 metres to reach the true summit of Gulvain. Views weren't that great from the summit but we had some views of Meall a'Phubuill, Meall Onfhaidh, Aodann Chleireig, Braigh nan Uamhachan, Streap and of Sgurr Thuilm, which we climbed the previous day, as we climbed and descended from the South Top.

The return was by the ascent route. On previous occasions I have by-passed the South Top on my return but on this occasion this wasn't possible due to a build up of snow on its east side. On the descent of the South Top rays of sunlight could be seen above Loch Shiel.

We were back to our vehicles before dusk and then the long road home after a successful weekend on the west coast, particularly for the Munro Baggers.

previous ascent

Gulvain Munro fifth ascent 987 metres

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Sgurr nan Coireachan and Sgurr Thuilm

16 February 2008

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 10.25 hours. Distance - 21 kilometres. Ascent - 1625 metres.

We were staying the weekend at Chase the Wild Goose Hostel at Banavie, Fort William, which was a convenient location to access these two Munros. In the morning it was only a 15 mile drive west along the A830 to Glenfinnan. There is a large parking area on the north side of the main road just before the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

We walked north, below the Viaduct and up the tarred road towards Glenfinnan Lodge. Just before the Lodge we took the rough vehicle track passed Corryhully Bothy and over the Allt a'Choire Charnaig. Around 250 metres beyond this stream we left the vehicle track and followed the stalker's path that climbed towards the south-east ridge of Sgurr nan Coireachan.

It was a rather cloudy morning with the cloud base just below the mountain tops so the views weren't as clear as they had been on my previous couple of days on the hills.

The group, although fairly large, were mainly experienced walkers and kept together well which made things a bit easier for me. We climbed Sgurr a'Choire Riabhaich before a slight descent and onto the summit of Sgurr nan Coireachan.

There were no views here but it was time for lunch. I had a quick look at the route off Sgurr nan Coireachan and was pleased to see patches of hard packed snow as I had insisted that everyone carry their axe and crampons despite the poor snow cover.

Once lunch was over and crampons fitted we descended from Sgurr nan Coireachan down the ridge which had several snow patches and I think everyone was pleased that they had carried their axe and crampons. The route between Sgurr nan Coireachan and Sgurr Thuilm, although mainly in cloud, was relatively easy to follow due to a line of metal fence posts. The route went over Meall an Tarmachain and Beinn Gharbh and onto the south ridge of Sgurr Thuilm.

The fence posts don't go all the way to the summit of Sgurr Thuilm so when we reached the south ridge we turned left and headed to the summit cairn of Sgurr Thuilm. It was cold and windy here so we didn't linger and headed down the south ridge onto Druim Coire a'Bheithe and out of the cloud. A walker's path led to the vehicle track which was followed to the point where we had left it earlier that day.

It was then the case of returning to the start down the tarred road in the semi-dark and the end of a longish day. For several of the group this was their first ascent of these Munros.

previous ascent

Sgurr nan Coireachan Munro fifth ascent 956 metres
Sgurr Thuilm Munro fifth ascent 963 metres

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Meall Blair

15 February 2008

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 3 hours Distance - 9 kilometres Ascent - 610 metres

Meall Blair is located between Loch Quoich in the north and Loch Arkaig to the south. The shorter approach to this Graham was from the south, so as I was due in Fort William later that day, I decided on that approach.

On the north side of Loch Arkaig is a narrow single track road, which has recently had a section re-surfaced, but it is still a twisting undulating road that cannot be approached at speed unless you wish to damage the underside of your car. Access to Loch Arkaig is from Gairlochy on the Caledonian Canal, a few miles west of the A82 at the Commando Memorial.

The Glen was engulfed in cloud and the temperature was around freezing as I negotiated this road. Around 500 metres west of the white house at Caonich I found a parking area at the edge of a passing place and set off uphill following an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) track. I was fortunate that this normally wet and boggy track was relatively firm due to overnight frost, however visibility was poor.

The ATV track had been improved in places and height was gained relatively quickly. After around 200 metres of height gain I cleared the cloud and had views of an unnamed hill to the west and looking back I could see Gulvain, Streap and the Corryhully Horseshoe, which was the next day’s target. I had read a guide book that said Meall Blair was an un-interesting hill but I didn’t consider that to be the case but maybe that was because I was in the sun and had some grand views.

Loch Blair came into view and an ATV track headed round its south-west edge. However Meall Blair was to the north-east and I could see that another ATV track headed up onto its south-west ridge. I followed this track which was still firm from the frost and it took me easily up onto the ridge. Here I now had views of Sgurr Mhurlagain, Sgurr Mhor and Gulvain.

I eventually left the track and headed towards the summit, crossing a couple of false summits and disturbing a couple of deer feeding in a hollow. I reached the summit trig point of Meall Blair where in addition to the hills already mentioned I could see Sgurr Mhaoraich, Gleouraich, Spidean Mialach, Loch Quoich, the South Cluanie Ridge, Ben Tee, Sron a'Choire Ghairbh, Meall na Teanga, Grey Corries, Aonach Mor, Carn Mor Dearg and Ben Nevis.

There was a cool breeze at the summit so I sought shelter for a bite to eat and heard several shots down in Glen Kingie. Stalking of the hinds was obviously taking place, it being the final day of the season.

My return was by the upward route although I did take a more direct line and lower down disturbed some hinds which wouldn’t have seen me earlier due to the low cloud. There was also some lovely reflections of the hills in Loch Arkaig.

Meal Blair Graham first ascent 656 metres

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Meall na h-Eilde and Geal Charn

12 January 2008

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 8 hours. Distance - 18 kilometres. Ascent - 1220 metres.

It was a cold and frosty morning when I left Inverness and headed south on the A82 along the west shore of Loch Ness. The forecast was for fine weather so I was looking forward to the day's walking on some snow clad Corbetts. Further south as the sun rose the mountain peaks to the west of Loch Lochy were lit up by the sun shinning on the snow. However not long afterwards I came into mist in Glen Albyn.

I met up with my walking partner for the day in Spean Bridge before heading to the start of the walk which was the car park beside the Eas Chia-aig Waterfall on the B8006 road than runs north from Gairlochy towards Glen Dessarry. The car park is located at the end of what is called the Mile Dorcha, the Dark Mile.

We set off along the upgraded path that headed fairly steeply northwards up the east side of the Abhainn Chia-aig. We soon joined a vehicle track and continued along Gleann Cia-aig through the forest and out of the low cloud. Walking here was relatively easy but after a couple of kilometres the condition of the path deteriorated and progress was slow as there was lots of ice on the path.

After around 4.5 kilometres we exited from the forest with its new fencing and stile making crossing the deer fence easy. Further on a small wooden bridge, which was covered in frost, was used to cross the Abhainn Chia-aig. Thereafter we left the path and commenced the climb towards the snowline and the Bealach an Easain, between Meall an Tagraidh and Meall na h-Eilde. Several deer were feeding on the lower reaches of Meall an Tagraidh.

It was surprisingly warm on this ascent with views east to Sron a'Choire Ghairbh and Meall na Teanga and back to Beinn Bhan. Before reaching the Bealach an Easain we cut across and commenced the ascent of Meall na h-Eilde trying to locate the most suitable ascent route through the snow. The early sunshine was now rather hazy as high cloud approached from the south but it gave the sky an orange glow.

On arriving at the summit of Meall na h-Eilde we had tremendous views. Ben Nevis, The Aonachs, Grey Corries, Mamores, Creag Meagaidh, Loch Ness, Ben Wyvis, Glen Garry, Kintail, Loch Quoich and Glen Dessarry mountains in addition to the ones already mentioned were easily recognised.

A line of fence posts led towards the Bealach Choire a'Ghuirein and on towards the summit of Meall Coire nan Saobhaidh. En-route we stopped for a late lunch while taking in the views to the east and south. After lunch it was a short climb to the summit cairn of Meall Coire nan Saobhaidh with finer views of the Kintail and Glen Dessarry mountains and also of Loch Quoich.

We descended the south-west ridge of Meall Coire nan Saobhaidh towards the Beallach Carn na h-Urchaire still following the fence posts. Approaching the bealach the snow was almost knee deep in places and it was slow going. There was no sign of the small lochan which was obviously buried under the snow. The next section of the walk was probably the hardest section of the day as we climbed steeply up the north-west ridge of Geal Charn through knee deep snow. The gradient later eased and we arrived at the summit trig point as dusk was approaching. We stopped here for a few minutes taking more photos of Loch Quoich, the mountains to the west and of Glen Dessarry with its cloud inversion.

The descent was down the south-east ridge of Geal Charn and I was hoping to make the path before it got dark but the going was a bit tough in the deep soft snow. However we reached the path on the east side of the Allt Dubh where we took a short break to get the head torches organised and a quick bite to eat.

The path down the Allt Dubh was in poor condition and icy in places so we soon had to use the head torches to avoid falling on the ice. It took a long time to descend the four kilometres to the road alongside Loch Arkaig which was complicated by the fact that we lost the path in the dark and mist at the junction of some deer fences. It wasn't a major problem as we weren't far from the road and just needed to continue downhill. The only obstacles were the long boggy vegetation which fortunately was frozen and a deer fence topped with barbed wire.

The minor road was reached just west of Achnasaul and was followed by a 2.5 kilometres walk along the icy road to the car park at the Eas Chia-aig Waterfall and the end of an interesting and exciting winter walk.

Meall na h-Eilde Corbett second ascent 838 metres
Geal Charn Corbett second ascent 804 metres

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Ben Tee

2 November 2007

Time taken - 4.25 hours. Distance - 9.5 kilometres. Ascent - 880 metres.

The start of this walk was the road to Kilfinnan Farm accessed from the A82 Spean Bridge to Invergarry Road just north of Laggan Swing Bridge. North of the farm at a cattle grid opposite the forest I found an off road parking space.

I climbed the steep hillside through bracken keeping to the south of the small forest plantation which was shrouded in cloud. Beyond the forest a few knolls were crossed and a couple of fences. The deer fence had a style but the wooden gate was in poor condition and had collapsed.

Beyond the deer fence the ground was wet and boggy with only a gentle rise for around 1.5 kilometres. Fortunately the earlier low cloud lifted substantially although the showers continued.

The walking became slightly easier as the ground became a bit steeper as I climbed Ben Tee’s east ridge. Higher up I entered the cloud again and the wind was now strong. The gradient increased but here there was a walker’s path to follow. The summit cairn was reached with a bit of difficulty due to the strong wind. Just prior to that a lone ptarmigan, in its partial winter coat of white, was darting about amongst the rocks.

The return was by the ascent route assisted by a strong tail wind although the later section of the walk was once again affected by low cloud.

There was actually an old stalker’s path, now mainly used by sheep that ran from near the Kilfinnan Burn up through slopes of grass and bracken and towards the top end of the forest. Using this path would be more suitable than wading through the bracken mentioned earlier.

Ben Tee Corbett second ascent 901 metres

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Beinn Loinne

30 October 2007

Time taken - 4.75hours. Distance - 17.5 kilometres. Ascent - 710 metres.

This Corbett summit is not actually named on the map but uses the name Beinn Loinne from a hill two kilometres to the east and 14 metres lower. The name Druim nan Cnamh has also been used but refers to its east ridge. Whatever name you wish to use it is located midway along the south shore of Loch Cluanie in Kintail on the opposite side of the Loch from the main A87 which runs through the glen.

On my previous visit to this hill I climbed it from the east so on this occasion I settled for a westerly approach. Just east of the Cluanie Inn the old road to Tomdoun left the A87 where there is some limited parking.

I followed this tarred road passed fixed notices about a deer cull in progress but the signs weren’t specific and are obviously there throughout the stalking season which lasts from July till February. However another sign asked walkers to keep to paths and ridges and out of the corries.

After around an hour or so of walking in wind and rain I reached what appeared to be the highest point of the road and this was where I planned to leave it. I was a bit reluctant to do so as the terrain was wet and boggy with lots of water but I had no option so I set off across the moorland trying to avoid the water and bog. This stretch of boggy moorland lasted for around two kilometres until the gradient increased and the underfoot conditions improved slightly. At this point I spotted a stag and around four hinds running off northwards.

The wind was now very strong so I tried to find the lee side of the hill for a bit of shelter but was unsuccessful. Several times I had to correct my balance as the wind caught me. It was a bit of a battle with the wind to reach the trig point marking the summit of the west top of Beinn Loinne.

There were no views and it was too windy to hang around so I descended as quickly as possible using the route of ascent back to the start. The streams were now in spate with lots of water rushing off the hillsides.

Beinn Loinne Corbett second ascent 789 metres

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Corryhully Horseshoe

20 August 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 7.75 hours including 35 mins cycling. Distance - 20.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1430 metres.

A few days before this walk I made enquiries with Glenfinnan Estate to clarify access as it was the main stag stalking season and I was given clearance and they wished me well on my walk.

I set off from the car park just off the A830 Fort William to Mallaig road at the start of the private road up Glen Finnan. I cycled up the glen passing under the Glen Finnan Viaduct, used in the Harry Potter movie. For some reason I found the short 20 minutes cycle quite hard going despite the road being tarred.

On reaching the Corryhully Bothy I left my cycle there and continued up the now rough track to the signpost that marked the start of the stalker's path leading to Sgurr nan Coireachan. Although the start of the path was also marked by a cairn it was good of the Estate to provide some signage. The earlier cloud covering the mountain tops had stared to clear.

The path led to the south ridge of Sgurr nan Coireachan where I had views back to the viaduct. A steep and in places rocky ascent took me to the Corbett Top, Sgurr a'Choire Riabhaich. The path thereafter wound it's way round some rocks before the final ascent of Sgurr nan Coireachan where I disturbed a mountain hare. From the summit I had views of the Rois-Bheinn Corbetts, the Small Isles and Loch Morar.

It was a bit chilly on the summit so I set off down Sgurr nan Coireachan's east ridge which was a bit rocky in places and continued east over the Corbett Tops, Meall an Tarmachain and Beinn Gharbh on a fairly undulating ridge. On the upside were the views in all directions so I had to stop several times to take a few more photographs. On the ascent of Sgurr Thuilm a hind and its young had obviously spotted me and ran off.

The summit of Sgurr Thuilm was bathed in sunshine and although there was a bit of a cool breeze I found an ideal location for my lunch, sitting looking down Loch Morar to the Island of Rum. After lunch I descended the Druim Coire a'Bheithe ridge. Lower down the path was rather wet and boggy before it reached the vehicle track to Corryhully Bothy. There was another sign indicating the route to Sgurr Thuilm at the point where I joined the track.

Once back at the bothy it was a fifteen minutes cycle down Glen Finnan and the return to my car.

Sgurr nan Coireachan Munro fourth ascent 956 metres
Sgurr Thuilm Munro fourth ascent 963 metres

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Sgurr na Ciche

19 August 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken – 11 hours. Distance - 23 kilometres. Ascent - 1250 metres.

Frances contacted me a few weeks ago as she was in the final stages of completing the Munros and was looking for some help. She only had five left to climb, one of them being Sgurr na Ciche.

It was August and the start of the main stag stalking season which ends on 20 October so it was decided that we would tackle this Munro on a Sunday as stalking isn’t normally permitted that day. A rest day for the stags.We also planned to stay at the Independent Hostel at Station Lodge, Tulloch which was conveniently situated for access to the remote Glen Dessarry. In fact another Hostel resident was also headed for the Munros in Glen Dessarry that Sunday morning.

It was a cloudy morning as we drove west along the northern shores of Loch Arkaig. The road is probably one of the worst maintained roads in the Highlands of Scotland although at the time of this visit there were some repairs being carried out. The road is a narrow single track road, with sharp undulations, twists and turns for around 18 miles or so. The road suddenly ends at a gate where there is a turning area and very limited parking.

At the gate was a bucket containing some disinfectant with a request to dip our boots due to the Foot and Mouth outbreak in the south-east of England. Once we had duly complied we walked along the private vehicle track passed the new Glendessarry Lodge, which is a bit of an eyesore having been built higher up on the hill than the old lodge that was burnt down.

Beyond Glendessarry Lodge we passed close to some Highland cattle and saw deer down at the side of the River Dessarry. On reaching Upper Glendessarry, which appeared vacant, we followed the marked path behind the house and along the north side of the forest. The path was wet and muddy and in particular the area around the watershed.

This was the point where we left the Right of Way to Inverie and headed uphill sometimes on a walker’s path and at other times on an All Terrain Vehicle Track, which in places had been gouged out of the hill. Eventually we were above Coire na Ciche and here we had views out to the Islands of Eigg and Rum as well as Loch Nevis and towards the hamlet of Inverie.

A short walk took us to below a gully which was full of loose rocks. We ascended the gully looking for the best route and on occasions had to cross and re-cross the stream or even walk up it for short stretches until we reached the bealach between Sgurr na Ciche and Garbh Chioch Mhor, known as Fedan na Ciche. From the bealach we commenced the climb to the summit of Sgurr na Ciche on an eroded path and across some boulders. During the ascent a rescue helicopter passed overhead.

The path led to the ridge east of the summit cairn and here we saw the rescue helicopter operating high up on the south side of Ben Aden. We continued to the summit of Sgurr na Ciche with views across to Eigg, Rum and the Knoydat Munros. There was some cloud floating about and the summit of Beinn Sgritheall was cloud covered. We sat and had another lunch break looking out over the islands and mountains with the rescue helicopter operating in the glen between us and Ben Aden.

We eventually left the summit and commenced the descent to Fedan na Ciche. En-route we met several walkers who having climbed Sgurr nan Coireachan and Garbh Chioch Mhor were en-route to their third Munro of the day. Included in the group was our fellow hosteller.

The descent from Fedan na Ciche was by the ascent route back along Glen Dessarry and the long walk out but it was uneventful. Frances was glad that it was over as she had been suffering from the cold and laryngitis.

previous ascent

Sgurr na Ciche Munro fifth ascent 1040 metres.

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The Saddle and Sgurr na Sgine

16 May 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 8.5 hours. Distance - 13 kilometres. Ascent - 1310 metres.

The weather wasn’t too promising but not as bad as the forecast a few days earlier, especially in relation to the wind strength, had predicted so we set off from the A87 Glen Shiel Road, just east of the Achnagart Quarry where there is a small lay-by on the north side of the road.

A short walk east along the A87 took us to a path that headed south to an old military road. We followed this path which then headed to the bealach between Biod an Fhithich and Meallan Odhar. It was rather cold at the bealach, where we met another group of walkers. We continued along a path below Meallan Odhar and to the foot of the Forcan Ridge. It had started to snow as we approached the ridge which would have made it rather awkward to climb so the decision was to by-pass it. This was the same decision taken by the other group of walkers.

We followed the old wall towards the Bealach Coire Mhalagain where a weasel was seen running amongst the boulders. Some deer were also spotted just below the bealach. From the here we headed to the summit of The Saddle where there is a trig point at the height of 1010 metres. However Sue was of the opinion that the true summit was some 100 metres to the east so we walked, well scrambled in sections across to this cairn. I’m not sure if it made much difference as the map showed both the cairn and trig point as 1010 metres.

It was a bit cloudy on the summit with some light snow falling so we descended back to the Bealach Coire Mhalagain where we took a break. Afterwards we climbed to the North West Top of Sgurr na Sgine and out to its summit where it was rather cloudy. We returned along the ridge and climbed Faochag before descending its north-east ridge by a rough path. On the descent we saw some ptarmigan and found a wheatear’s nest containing three eggs. The nest was virtually under a section of path so it was not in the best of locations.

The lower section of the ridge had some rocky and wet sections to descend before the crossing of the Allt Mhalagain by a foot bridge. The final section of the walk was across some bog passing a bit a of rubbish dump where we saw three voles.

Despite the disappointment of not getting up the Forcan Ridge, in two days, Sue had added nine Munros to her tally.

previous ascent

The Saddle Munro ninth ascent 1010 metres
Sgurr na Sgine Munro eighth ascent 946 metres

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South Glen Shiel Ridge

15 May 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken – 11.25 hours. Distance - 25 kilometres. Ascent - 1750 metres.

This walked was booked by Sue as most of her fellow Munro Baggers had already completed these seven Munros, which was obviously to my benefit.

Sue parked her car in the lay-by on the south side of the A87 Glen Shiel Road just east of the bridge over the Allt Mhalagain and I drove her to the start of the walk, which was the private road to Cluanie Lodge just east of the Cluanie Inn.

We set off along the tarred private road, which was the old route to Tomdoun before the damming of Loch Loyne. As we gained height the freshly snow covered mountains of Glen Affric came into view, while the closer mountains were virtually devoid of snow. The road was followed for around six kilometres to just west of the bridge over the Allt Giubhais where a small cairn marked the start of a stalker’s path. This path soon split and we took the right hand one which led to the summit of the first Munro, Creag a’Mhaim.

There was a cool breeze at times but the weather on the whole was very favourable with some sunny spells with any cloud well above the summits. After a short break we continued along the ridge which later narrowed before reaching the summit of Druim Shionnach.

Beyond Druim Shionnach we crossed its West Top and climbed to the summit of the third Munro of the day, Aonach air Chrith. The walk continued westwards down a narrowing ridge and onto Maol Chinn-dearg and then Sgurr an Doire Leathain, bypassing the top, Sgurr Coire na Feinne.

The penultimate Munro was Sgurr an Lochain before we continued below Sgurr Beag and onto the final Munro, Creag nan Damh. The descent of its west ridge, firstly involved a short easy scramble, before heading for the Bealach Duibh Leac. At this bealach we descended a path, which was eroded and boggy in places, and eventually took us to the A87 just west of where we had left Sue's car.

previous ascent

Creag a'Mhaim Munro sixth ascent 947 metres
Druim Shionnach Munro sixth ascent 987 metres
Aonach air Chrith Munro sixth ascent 1021 metres
Maol Chinn-dearg Munro sixth ascent 981 metres
Sgurr an Doire Leathain Munro sixth ascent 1010 metres
Sgurr an Lochain Munro sixth ascent 1004 metres
Creag nan Damh Munro sixth ascent 918 metres

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The Saddle via The Forcan Ridge and Sgurr na Sgine

25 October 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 8 hours. Distance - 13 kilometres. Ascent - 1400 metres.

This was Norman's final day walking in the Kintail area, well at least for this month, and The Saddle and Sgurr na Sgine was on his 'to do' list.

We parked in the parking area on the north-east side of the A87 just south-east of the old quarry at Achnagart and walked a short distance south-east along the A87 to a gate that led to a stalker's path. We followed this path which ended on the bealach between Biod an Fhitich and Meallan Odhar.

From here a walker's path led below Meallan Odhar to the foot of the Forcan Ridge. At this point we had a discussion on the merits of taking in the Forcan Ridge en-route to the summit of The Saddle as this would be Norman's first real taste of some easy scrambling, although there is a couple of awkward points on the ridge.

The decision was made and we commenced the climb of the Forcan Ridge which started on some slab rock. Thereafter it was initially fairly easy until higher up where scrambling was required along with a head for heights at a couple of narrow sections. The earlier cloud had lifted a slightly but the rocks were still a bit slippery especially on the north side. After around ninety minutes on the ridge we reached the summit of The Saddle where we sought some shelter for something to eat.

After our break we descended to the Bealach Coire Mhalagain and commenced the ascent of Sgurr na Sgine and into the cloud with a cold breeze. We took in Sgurr na Sgine's North-West Top before heading to its true summit perched above some cliffs. There were no views due to the low cloud so we returned to the North-West Top and set off down the north-east ridge, over the summit of Faochag.

The descent was down a path which was a bit eroded and lower down wet and boggy but it led to the Allt Mhalagain which was easy to cross as the water level was relatively low. This was followed by a short walk to the A87 and another short stroll along the road to our vehicles and the end of a satisfactory three days for Norman.

previous ascent

The Saddle Munro eighth ascent 1010 metres.
Sgurr an Sgine Munro seventh ascent 946 metres.

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The South Cluanie Ridge

24 October 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 9.75 hours. Distance - 25 kilometres. Ascent - 1750 metres.

The South Cluanie Ridge, also known as The South Glenshiel Ridge, is another classic hill walk and this was today’s choice from my client, Norman. Initially he thought of doing half the ridge but with two cars available it made more sense to tackle all seven Munros.

The starting point of the walk was the A87 just east of the Cluanie Inn at the beginning of the old road that ran from Cluanie to Tomdoun prior to the area being flooded for a dam. Here there is a small parking area with signs indicating that vehicles are not permitted beyond this point.

We set off along this old road, which is tarmacadamised, and Norman set a fair pace. He was using his GPS and was recording our speed at around 5.7 kilometres an hour. It was a dull morning with outbreaks of rain but after 6 kilometres we reached the stalker’s path, which was just before an old bridge, either a Telford or a Wade, at the crossing of the Allt Giubhais.

The earlier pace slowed somewhat as we commenced the climb up the stalker’s path taking the right hand path at a junction marked by a cairn. It was wet and windy as we ascended the south-east ridge of Creag a’Mhaim but the ascent was made easier as the stalker’s path led to the summit cairn.

The second Munro on the ridge, Druim Shionnach, was only a short distance away but it did involve a couple of narrow sections before we reached the summit but we were making good progress despite the low cloud and the rain.

The next summit was Druim Shionnach’s West Top, classed as a Munro Top and beyond that was the third Munro, Aonach air Chrith which required a bit more effort and height gain to reach its summit. However the earlier rain was now showery although it was still windy in places.

There was a reasonable path along the length of the ridge and this made for reasonably progress despite the poor visibility. The next Munro on the ridge was Maol Chinn-dearg and here was the final opportunity for Norman to leave the ridge and return to the start but it was obvious that this was no longer in his plans.

From Maol Chinn-dearg we continued to Sgurr an Doire Leathain, our fifth Munro, by by-passing the Corbett Top, Sgurr Coire an Feinne and onto the sixth Munro, Sgurr an Lochain.

The seventh and final Munro was a couple of kilometres further west but we took the easier route by using the path below the Corbett Top, Sgurr Beag. Although the cloud was now breaking up and we had started to dry out, the summit of the final Munro, Creag nan Damh was still covered in cloud but as we left its summit the cloud lifted.

Just west of Creag nan Damh there is a wee rocky knoll to cross which involved some simple scrambling and thereafter it was a gradual descent to Bealach Duibh Leac. From this point a path, wet, boggy and eroded in places took us back into Glen Shiel and to the A87 at the crossing of the Allt Mhalagain where our other vehicle had been left.

previous ascent

Creag a'Mhaim Munro fifth ascent 947 metres
Druim Shionnach Munro fifth ascent 987 metres
Aonach air Chrith Munro fifth ascent 1021 metres
Maol Chinn-dearg Munro fifth ascent 981 metres
Sgurr an Doire Leathain Munro fifth ascent 1010 metres
Sgurr an Lochain Munro fifth ascent 1004 metres
Creag nan Damh Munro fifth ascent 918 metres

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The Saddle by the Forcan Ridge & Sgurr na Sgine

8 September 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken: 9.25 hours. Distance: 13 kilometres. Ascent: 1400 metres.

This walk involved clients and staff from a large legal firm based in Edinburgh. I met them in Shiel Bridge before we drove the few miles to the start of the walk in Glen Shiel, just east of the old quarry at Achnagart.

It was a sunny morning after a chilly start but the midges were still out and annoying us as we geared up for the ascent of The Saddle by the Forcan Ridge.

A good stalker's path was followed to the bealach between Biod an Fhithich and Meallan Odhar where we had a good view of the intended route on the Forcan Ridge. A walker's path continued below Meallan Odhar to the foot of the Forcan Ridge.

The ascent of the narrow rocky ridge commenced and the scrambling was a new experience for a couple of my clients, while one was in his element bouncing up the ridge. However with the exception of a couple of minor problems we successfully climbed the ridge and reached the summit trig point on The Saddle. Here we had fantastic views in all directions of numerous mountains together with the Islands of Eigg, Rum and Skye.

We had lunch on the summit taking in these views and then headed down to the Bealach Coire Mhalagain before climbing to Sgurr na Sgine's North West Top and onto its true summit a short distance further east. By this time it was the end of the normal working day and one of my client's was now able to enjoy his outing rather than spending a lot of time making and receiving urgent business calls.

We had some more good views from this summit before we returned along part of the ascent route and headed onto Foachag. From here it was a steep descent by its north-east ridge to the Allt Mhalagain, which we crossed with ease. Thereafter it was just a short walk to the main road and to the lay by where our cars were parked.

previous ascent

The Saddle Munro seventh ascent 1010 metres
Sgurr na Sgine Munro sixth ascent 946 metres

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Meall Dubh

21 July 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 3.5 hours. Distance - 9 kilometres. Ascent - 650 metres.

The plan was for an early start to climb this Corbett from the A887 in Glen Moriston. However on my arrival at the starting point I found a "Keep Out" sign "Construction Site" on the gate. There were several cows and calves in the field bellowing at the workmen who were seated in their vehicles before starting work. I don't know what was under construction due to the low cloud but the cattle put me off taking this route and I went to search for an alternative way up the hill.

I drove round to the A87 as far as the Loch Loyne dam as access to the hill before that wasn't possible due to forestation. I set off from the main road in misty and damp conditions but found that the forest had been extended. It was still possible to get through this new plantation so I crossed the deer fence and waded my way through the long wet vegetation until I reached the top fence. Once over this fence the grasses etc were a lot shorter and I made better progress as I aimed for Clach Criche.

On reaching the large cairn of Clach Criche I walked along its north-east ridge towards Meall Dubh. It was very undulating with lots of small lochans many not shown on the map, although it was impossible to tell the shape and size of the lochans due to the mist. I disturbed a couple of ptarmigan families. The first group flew off immediately they were aware of my presence but the second group the young were still very small and the parents waited till their young had taken flight as the adults tried to distract me before flying off.

Eventually I reached the final climb to the large summit cairn of Meall Dubh, took a bearing and headed for the forest. Once below 600 metres the cloud began to break up and I had views of Glen Doe and Loch Cluanie. Lower down the terrain consisted of peat hags and here I saw some deer but they quickly disappeared. I reached the edge of the old forest and went between the old and the new plantations where there was a small gap but it still entailed crossing a deer fence before getting back onto the A87 and the drive to my second hill of the day.

previous ascent

Meall Dubh Corbett second ascent 788 metres

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Glen Dessarry Munros

22 June 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 12 hours. Distance - 24 kilometres. Ascent - 1460 metres.

The start of this walk was the end of the public road along the north shore of Loch Arkaig, just east of Strathan. There is limited parking here but it wasn't a problem this morning as there were only two other cars already parked there.

We set off along the vehicle track to Upper Glendessarry passing en-route a new lodge constructed on the hillside above the old Glendessarry (Farmhouse) which was burnt down several years ago. The ground where the farmhouse previously stood now consists of several estate buildings with 'keep out' signs.

By the time we reached Upper Glendessarry the rain had ceased and the cloud was rising and breaking up. This area has new cattle grids and fencing and once over the stiles we were onto the wet and boggy path that leads towards Loch Nevis. Here we met a chap who had given up the attempt on the three Munros due to the underfoot conditions.

We used the dilapidated bridge to cross the swollen Allt Coier nan Uth and then commenced the climb of the south ridge of Sgurr nan Coireachan following a path. Eventually we reached the summit cairn where we had some good views before descending to its bealach with Garbh Chioch Bheag where we stopped for lunch.

Once lunch was over we climbed the east ridge of Garbh Chioch Bheag as it started to rain and the cloud base lowered so we were soon engulfed in the cloud with limited views. An old dry stone dyke runs the length of this ridge. We reached the summit of Garbh Chioch Bheag which was followed by a short descent before the climb onto the second Munro of the day, Garbh Chioch Mhor.

We had a short stop here, with no views, before the descent to the bealach with Sgurr na Ciche, known as Feadan na Ciche. The cloud lifted for a few minutes to allow us views down to Loch Quoich and the lower part of Sgurr na Ciche.

A wet path led from the bealach up onto Sgurr na Ciche before it became rocky but it led to the south-east ridge and a short walk to the summit cairn. There was no point in hanging about here as the cloud was unlikely to clear and we had a long walk back to the start.

We returned to Fedan na Ciche and descended a narrow and rock filled gully, often having to walk through the stream as it appears rock falls occur, blocking passage in places. Although the rain had stopped large droplets of water fell from the rock faces. At the bottom of the gully we headed to the Bealach an Lagain Duibh and out of the cloud. The Estate had gouged a track towards Coir na Ciche so we used it in places. From the Bealach Lagain Duibh it was a long walk down Glen Dessarry back to the start. En route we met two different couples who were headed for an overnight stay at Sourlies bothy. We also spotted some stags and hinds and walked through the fenced off area containing Highland cows and their calves.

Sgurr nan Coireachan Munro fourth ascent 953 metres
Garbh Chioch Mhor Munro fourth ascent 1013 metres
Sgurr na Ciche Munro fourth ascent 1040 metres

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Glen Finnan and Gleann Cuirnran

18 May 2006

photos taken on walk

This was the second day for my client from the London Ramblers and the plan was to walk from Glenfinnan, through Glen Finnan and Gleann Cuirnran to Strathan in Glen Dessary where we would be met and taken back to Fort William.

I met my client in Fort William and we took the train to Glenfinnan. It had rained heavily throughout the night and it was still raining when we set off from Glenfinnan Station towards Glen Finnan. However the forecast indicated that the rain should turn to showers during the morning and as we set off the rain wasn't as heavy.

The tarred road up Glen Finnan first past under the Glen Finnan Viaduct, which has been made famous by the Harry Potter film and even at this time in the morning tourists were out taking photographs. The River Finnan was in spate after the overnight rain and I was wondering what the streams were like further north.

It was an easy walk on the tarred road as far as the bridge just south of Glenfinnan Lodge where we followed the rough track to Corryhully Bothy. Here we took shelter from the now showery rain. This is the only bothy where I have found electricity in use with an honesty box to cover the costs. There is even an electric kettle so I hope users are placing money in the honesty box so that the electricity is not cut off. The Estate, who own and maintain the bothy, have even left some wood outside.

We had an extended break at the Bothy before setting off again as another shower started and a short distance along the track we came to the Allt a'Choire Charnaig with its small waterfall before it crossed the track. It was in spate so my client had the decision whether to cross it or not so she decided to wade the river and continue the walk.

The track then crossed another bridge and wound its way up Glen Finnan between Streap and Sgurr Thuilm. It also crossed the swollen stream four times before the track came to an end just before the bealach. From here on the path was wet and muddy as it crossed the bealach and headed into Gleann Cuirnean. Here my client found the walking rather difficult as her normal walking was done in the New Forest so progress was very slow as we descended north.

We took a break for lunch and continued the slow descent which was also hampered by landfalls which either required us to climb round them or cross beside the swollen Allt Cuirnean.

The final obstacle of the day, well I thought it was, was the crossing of the Allt Cuirnean. There was no bridge so there was only one option and that was to wade the stream which was knee deep. Once on the opposite side we were able to cross the deep and swollen River Pean, which would have been impossible to ford.

On reaching the north side of the river we entered the forest where the track is horrendous, wet and boggy churned up by Estate vehicles, so it took a while to negotiate. Once onto the vehicle track it was an easy walk to Strathan where we were met and driven back to Fort William.

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Barrisdale Trip

27 - 31 March 2006

photos taken on walk

Day One: Time taken - 4.75 hours. Distance - 9 kilometres. Ascent - 920 metres.
Day Two: Time taken - 7.75 hours. Distance - 16 kilometres. Ascent - 1090 metres.

A 22 mile drive along a single track road ended at the hamlet of Kinloch Hourn, where the car was parked and we prepared for the walk to the isolated houses at Barrisdale. There is actually only one house permanently occupied there, the other two are rented out to walkers and the third is occupied by the Estate owners when they visit the area. There is also a bothy, part of the same building as one of the rented houses, and an area for some rough camping, both of which incur a small charge. Access to this area is either by boat or by foot. We elected to walk although my client soon regretted this idea and wished she had opted for the boat.

The track along the south side of Loch Hourn is very undulating rising on several occasions from sea level before returning to the shore line. With the extra weight of food for the four days, sleeping bags and our winter gear it took some time to negotiate this seven mile section of path but we eventually reached Barrisdale Bay.

I had pre-booked the accommodation at The Stables, where the south end of a building has been converted into bunkhouse type accommodation with a coal fire which heated the room and the adjoining bathroom together with supplying us with hot water. The accommodation at least afforded us some shelter from the weather and a place to dry out in the evening rather than being wet and cold all week.

The next morning we left The Stables and headed towards Gleann Unndalain before climbing onto the north-west ridge of Sgurr a'Choire-bheithe. The cloud base was around 700 metres and we had to cope initially with some light rain which soon got heavier and later changed to sleet and then snow. It had also become very windy. We eventually reached the summit cairn but due to the poor weather returned to Barrisdale by the ascent route.

The following day we had planned to climb the remote Corbett, Ben Aden. It was windy but dry when we set out from Barrisdale and followed the stalker's path up Gleann Unndalain. However it didn't stay dry for long as we soon had our first prolonged shower. Higher up these showers changed to sleet and then snow and at Mam Unndalain the area was white. Here we disturbed some deer sheltering from the snow and windy.

Once over Mam Unndalain we descended, still on a stalker's path, towards Lochan nam Breac disturbing some more deer en route. We also had to cross several streams which were in spate and it was a bit of a concern as the rain and snow continued. More of a concern was a sudden lightening flash followed by a clap of thunder as we were very exposed where we were especially carrying walking polls. The nearest shelter was some three hours away at Barrisdale but fortunately this storm passed over quickly.

We eventually reached the east end of Lochan nam Breac after around 3.5 hours walking. The stream flowing into this lochan was in spate and more like a river and it would have been very difficult to cross if not impossible. Even in dry conditions it appeared that wet feet was inevitable. Before reaching this stream I had actually decided that this was as far as I was prepared to go in these condition as I was concerned that we could possibly get cut off by the rising streams. My client was obviously disappointed but safety had to come first.

The return was by the outward route with the long climb back up to Mam Unndalain but the drop down to Barrisdale was pleasant enough despite the weather.

The final day bagging hills in the area was up Glen Barrisdale to below the bealach between Meall nan Eun and Sgurr Sgiath Airigh and climbing fairly steeply onto the bealach. From the bealach the ascent of Sgurr nan Eugalit commenced but higher up we returned to winter conditions with poor visibility, light snow and a cold wind. There was also fair bit of lying snow. We reached the so called summit, which was marked by a few stones and navigated to the Trig Point before returning to the summit and onto Sgurr Sgiath Airigh before dropping back to the bealach.

From here it was onto Meall nan Eun before a very steep and rocky descent back to Glen Barrisdale and the return to our accommodation.

The next morning we packed up and in rain and wind returned along Loch Hourn to the car at Kinloch Hourn after a very eventful few days although not as successful as planned.

previous ascent Sgurr nan Eugallt

Sgurr a'Choire-bheithe Corbett second ascent 913 metres
Sgurr nan Eugallt Corbett second ascent 894 metres
Meall nan Eun Graham first ascent 667 metres

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Beinn Sgritheall

21 March 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 7.75 hours. Distance 8 kilometres. Ascent - 1040 metres.

The start of this walk was the hamlet of Arnisdale, on the north shore of Loch Hourn and was reached by driving over Mam Ratagan and through the village of Glenelg. A roadside sign indicated the route which started from sea level, passed the side of a croft and headed up the side of a stream that flowed down from Creag an Fhithich. A short distance up the stream side the path turned east to cross another couple of minor streams before it headed towards Bealach Arnisdail. The path became fairly steep as it followed an old fence and we spotted several deer feeding in the area.

A bitterly cold wind was blowing and with the exertion of the climb it was difficult to know whether to keep the hat and gloves on but at the bealach itself they were definitely required. We took the path that followed the old fence posts that led from the bealach towards the East Top of Beinn Sgritheall but this path later headed into a snow filled gully. We avoided the gully and took to the steep rocky terrain on its south side but higher up we were forced to cross over some hard packed snow before we reached the summit of the East Top.

There was some good views from this Top but it was still very cold and the descent to the bealach was covered in wind swept snow so we stopped to put on crampons. It was then a pleasant descent to the bealach followed by an easy climb towards the summit of Beinn Sgritheall. The ridge narrows significantly with some snow build up followed by a short rock scramble so care was required on this section before the final climb to the summit trig point. In fact the trig point is now in two sections.

We found some shelter from the wind to eat lunch looking down to the sun sparkled Loch Hourn and out to the Sound of Sleet.

The return was to the East Top but rather than try and descend the snow filled gully or take the route of ascent which was fairly steep on the upper reaches we walked down the snow covered north ridge before traversing under the East Top to the Bealach Arnasdail and followed the path back to the start.

Beinn Sgritheall Munro fourth ascent 974 metres

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The Saddle, Sgurr na Sgine & Sgurr a'Bhac Chaolais

20 March 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 10.25 hours. Distance - 14 kilometres. Ascent - 1460 metres.

We were staying at the Youth Hostel at Ratagan, on the shores of Loch Duich, so it was only a short drive to the start of this walk, just east of Achnagart Farm and the old quarry.

A stalkers path leads to the bealach south of the Graham, Biod an Fhithich, which wasn't on the agenda as my client had already climbed this, unlike myself.

A path, which was snow covered in places, led along the west side of Meallan Odhar to below the Forcan Ridge, which we decided to avoid as higher up there appeared to be a lot of snow on the Ridge. We took the route round the south side of the Forcan Ridge, following initially an old stone dyke. The snow that had built up in drifts was very soft and collapsed pretty readily so it was slow going on this section.

Once above Bealach Coire Mhalagain we gradually climbed to just below The Saddle. Here there was plenty of snow and it was hard packed so crampons were a necessity. It was a steady climb with some slightly steeper sections to negotiate and near the summit large sections of drifting snow was partially hiding hollows. However we eventually reached the summit cairn and on looking at the ridge between The Saddle and Sgurr na Forcan realised that due to the volume of hanging snow we wouldn't have reached the summit by that route, well at least without climbing techniques and being roped up.

Once the obligatory photographs were taken we descended to the Bealach Coire Mhalagain, removing our crampons en-route. We climbed onto the west ridge of Faochag managing to avoid most of the patches of snow and then commenced the climb of Sgurr na Sgine. Crampons were required before we reached the North West Top and to the true summit of Sgurr na Sgine. We had been fortunate with the weather. Although being a bit cloudy, it was above the summits and allowed us some good views. As the day progressed we even managed a little bit of sun now and again.

The descent east from Sgurr na Sgine is not a direct route as cliffs, not shown clearly on the map, prevent a direct descent. Previously I had descended a steep gully but on this occasion I decided to go further south before descending over the lip of a small cornice. A short distance below the south ridge we followed another old stone dyke which took us to the bealach between Sgurr na Sgine and Sgurr a'Bhac Chaolais before climbing this Corbett. Although there were some bare patches at the bealach we still needed crampons.

The descent from Sgurr a'Bhac Chaolais went east to the Bealach Dubh Leac over a few small knolls on the ridge following another stone dyke where the snow was built up. At the bealach we descended, still with crampons, down a snow filled gully to find the path that led to the Allt Coire Toiteil, where a number of deer were feeding, but they didn't seem too worried about our presence.

Once across this stream we followed the path down its west side until we reached the Allt Mhalagain, crossed it and headed for the main road and the short walk back to the car as dusk was falling.

The Saddle Munro sixth ascent 1010 metres
Sgurr na Sgine Munro fifth ascent 946 metres
Sgurr a'Bhac Chaolais Corbett second ascent 885 metres

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Gleouraich & Spidean Mialach

19 March 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 8 hours. Distance - 10.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1205 metres.

I met my client for the next few days at Invergarry and we drove along the northern shore of Loch Quoich to east of Glen Quoich. Here a stalker's path beside the Allt Coire Peitireach led through the rhododendron bushes and onto the open hillside.

It was a steady but reasonably easy climb as we gained height above Glen Quoich with views back down to Loch Quoich and the mountains of Glen Dessary. However there were some snow flakes blowing in the wind and the cloud base on Gleouraich was lowering. Around 650 metres banks of snow covered the path but we were able to avoid these snow fields as there was sufficient bare patches.

On reaching the 850 metre point we were now within the low cloud and at this point the patches of snow could not be avoided and the route ahead had cornices on our left. Further up the snow was more hard packed so crampons were required to reach the summit of Gleoraich.

There were no views so we followed the ridge east, descending slightly before climbing the Munro Top, Creag Coire na Fiar Bhealaich then dropping to a bealach where we were able to remove the crampons, at least for a while, as the terrain here was snow free.

This was followed by a steady climb towards the west top of Spidean Mialach where once again crampons were required. The earlier low cloud was now starting to break up and we were now getting a few decent views of the surrounding mountains and lochs and of the ridge walk we had completed.

We finally reached the summit of Spidean Mialach where several photos were taken before descending in a south-westerly direction towards another stalker's path near the Allt a'Mheil. Initially the snow was hard packed but lower down it was soft and we frequently sank up to our knees in it. Due to the snow we only saw the path intermittently until we were on the west side of the Allt a'Mheil. Here we followed the path down to the road on the north shore of Loch Quoich a short distance east of where we started.

Gleouraich Munro fourth ascent 1035 metres
Spidean Mialach Munro fourth ascent 996 metres

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Braigh nan Uamhachan

5 March 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 7.75 hours. Distance - 16.5 kilometres. Ascent - 980 metres.

I had previously climbed this mountain from Gleann Dubh Lighe to the west so on this occasion I planned to climb it from Gleann Fionnlighe in the east. This glen is the normal approach to the Munro, Gulvain.

I left my car in what appears to be old section of the A830 Fort William to Mallaig road at the start of the Right of Way up Gleann Fionnlighe and followed the track up the Glen as far as the derelict house at Wauchan with its 'Sky' dish positioned on a nearby tree.

I then climbed up through some birch trees and higher up some conifers roughly following the line of a stream. It was fairly bright and sunny and was warm work in the shelter of the trees.

Once out of the trees I was onto the south-west ridge of Na h-Uamhachan where it was a bit more exposed and colder. This ridge has lots of knolls, spurs and re-entrants to navigate between but I soon reached its summit. Beyond this point there was some old fence posts marking the line of the ridge before an old stone dyke was reached. This stone dyke continued over the summit of Sron Liath, down to the next bealach and continued towards the summit of Braigh nan Uamhachan but stopped short of the summit.

The weather conditions started to change as I ascended Sron Liath with low cloud, frequent snow showers and a strong wind. However the fence posts and the stone dyke assisted navigation but the dyke caused deep snow drifts to build up at the sides making walking rather difficult at times.

On reaching the summit of Braigh nan Uamhachan there was very little to see due to the next snow shower arriving so I returned to the bealach between Braigh nan Uamhachan and Sron Liath before descending towards the track in Gleann Fionnlighe disturbing numerous deer as I did so.

The walk back down the Glen was in fairly good conditions and I just reached my car as another snow shower commenced.

previous ascent

Braigh nan Uamhachan Corbett second ascent 765 metres

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Loch Quoich Munro

31 July 2005

photos taken on walk

Today's clients hadn't climbed the Munro Sgurr a'Mhaoraich on the northern shores of Loch Quoich so this was the aim.

It was a fairly long drive from Invergarry along the single track road that leads to the remote hamlet of Kinloch Hourn, which is at the road end and is an access point for those walking to Barisdale on the Knoydart peninsula.

The starting point was about a kilometre beyond the access road to the now abandoned farm at Alltbeithe. Here a stalker's path leads up onto Bac nan Canaichean. The lower reaches of this path has had some maintenance work carried out.

The path allows good progress so we were soon taking a break looking over to Gleouraich and the South Cluanie ridge. There were clear views back over Loch Quoich to Gairich.

The walk continued along the path on the south side of Sgurr Coire nan Eiricheallach before reaching a narrow ridge with several traces of old stone dykes. A lot of work must have been put into their construction but at least it gave employment to those who resided in the glen probably over a hundred years ago.

A final steep climb led to the summit cairn of Sgurr a'Mhaoraich. Here we had tremendous views of Loch Hourn, the mountains of Knoydart and Glen Dessary together with the Islands of Eigg, Rum and Skye and possibly the Paps of Jura. The Black Cuillin was cloud covered but the Red Cuillin was clear. Beyond Skye the Western isles were visible. The views to the west and south as said were fantastic so we sat and had lunch but the midges were a bit of a nuisance. The mountains to the north and east were cloud covered so we had selected the right area for today's walk.

After lunch we descended Sgurr a'Mhaoraich's south ridge to the Kinloch Hourn road. Underfoot conditions were fairly dry but this wouldn't be the case in wet conditions as I suspect the lower section was fairly soft and boggy.

The final stretch of the walk was along the road to the start and for my clients their journey home.

Sgurr a'Mhaoraich Munro fifth ascent 1027 metres

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Knoydart Corbett Weekend

15 - 18 April 2005

On the Friday afternoon we took the "Western Isles" ferry from Mallaig to Inverie on the Knoydart peninsula for a weekend's Corbett bagging.

Accommodation had been arranged at the Old Dairy and after settling in we set off for our first Corbett of the weekend.

The start involved a walk back through the hamlet of Inverie and up the Mam Uidhe track to the edge of the forest. On reaching open ground we headed uphill to above Coire na Cloiche and round the head of this corrie disturbing some sheep, one with a very young lamb.

From this point we climbed up onto the south-west ridge of Sgurr Coire Choinnichean and up the narrow ridge onto its twin summits. There were traces of snow higher up on the ridge where a cold wind was blowing. Here we had views of Rum, Eigg, Skye and some of the Islands that make up the Western Isles.

The return was via the upward route and back to the track to Inverie spotting several deer. Once back at our accommodation it was time for a late meal.

The following day we again headed up the Mam Uidhe track but continued to Gleann na Guiserein. Here we crossed the Allt Coire Torr an Asgaill and the Abhainn Bheag before climbing to the ridge north-east of Meall Coire an t-Searraich. Here again we saw some newly born lambs and deer. We had views of Ardnamurchan, Rum, Eigg, Cannan and Skye as well as the Western Isles.

We continued along the ridge and climbed to the summit of Beinn na Caillich where, despite the cold wind we sat for a while taking in the views. The descent was down the east ridge which is fairly steep and rocky to the Mam Li path. This path was followed back to the Allt Coire Torr an Asgaill and the outward route to Inverie.

The final Corbett of this weekend was Beinn Buidhe. So we set off from Inverie up the Gleann an Dubh-Lochan track to the Monument where we crossed the Inverie River. Here we found a relatively easy route up the steep hillside to Loch Bhraomisaig. From this point we climbed steeply up onto the west ridge of Beinn Bhuidhe. The only problem was the ferocity of the wind which brought us to a halt on several occasions and threatened to blow us over.

It appeared at this point that the wind would prevent us from reaching the summit but we climbed out of a gully onto the ridge. The earlier views of the Skye and Rum Cuillin had disappeared hidden by cloud as were the mountains to the east. We walked along the windy ridge over Point 787, down to Bealach Buidhe, over Point 786 to the summit trig point of Beinn Bhuidhe itself where very light snow started to fall but thankfully it didn't get any worse.

My client decided that due to the strong wind she didn't want to continue to the Mam Meadail so we returned along the ridge by its ascent route. We then dropped into Coire nan Gobhar and back to Loch Bhraomisaig. I didn't find the exact route of ascent from the Inverie River so our descent was steeper and more difficult but with care we soon reached the bridge over the River.

The last section of the walk caused my client the second biggest headache of the day, after me. It was a herd of Highland cattle, some with calves, who were using the track towards Inverie. As I walked through this herd of cows my client was hiding behind me or had disappeared up into the woods to avoid any confrontation. She thought she had successfully negotiated them all when we came across some more beside a bridge. The client was more scared of the cattle than she was when she was on the narrower sections of the windy ridge. However she was pleased when we went through the gate and down into Inverie and the end of the walk.

The next ferry was at 11am on the Monday so we had plenty time to relax and recover from the adventures on the Knoydart Corbetts.

previous ascent

Sgurr Coire Choinnichean Corbett second ascent 796 metres
Beinn na Caillich Corbett second ascent 785 metres
Beinn Buidhe Corbett second ascent 855 metres

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Streap

4 December 2004

On the evening prior to this walk I met up with Jan, Janice, Dougie and Donald at the Corran Bunkhouse, which is located at Nether Lochaber, Onich, south of Fort William.

This was my first visit to this bunkhouse which was unusual in the fact that the beds were divans, the rooms had en-suite facilities and were fitted out with televisions.

The walk required an early start so we were up at 6am and set off for Glenfinnan an hour later. It was turning light as I parked the car at the foot of Gleann Dubh Lighe on the A830 Fort William to Mallaig road.

It was raining lightly so we donned our rain gear before setting off through the forest. The rain increased as we headed past the Dubh Lighe bothy and out of the forest. Once beyond the forest the track was a lot softer and muddy in places. We crossed the bridge and walked along the side of the wet and boggy track before heading to below the south ridge of Streap Comhlaidh.

The climb of this steep ridge commenced but unfortunately Dougie wasn't feeling too well so the rest of us were happy that he wasn't rushing off up the ridge as usual and that the pace was a sedate walk. The weather deteriorated on this climb with the rain getting heavier and the wind picking up and blowing us about. We tried to find shelter on the lee side of the ridge but this wasn't always possible.

On reaching the summit of Streap Comhlaidh a steep and rocky descent took us to the bealach before the final climb to the summit cairn of Streap.

There were no views from the summit due to the low cloud and we decided to head off down the south ridge. Jan was a bit concerned about being blown off the ridge as she had read about a knife edge ridge. However the ridge wasn't that narrow but care was still required due to the strong wind which buffeted us about.

On reaching the bealach the ridge was slightly wider as we climbed over Stob Coire nan Cearc and down to Bealach Coire nan Cearc. From here we followed the corrie down to the bridge we had used earlier, stopping for a short time to partake of lunch in the rain, but at least in the corrie we were sheltered from the wind.

Once across the bridge we followed the track back to the forest and looked in past the Dubh Lighe bothy. The final walk out through the forest was wet but at least we were sheltered from the wind.

On returning to the car we removed our wet gear and headed back to the Corran Bunkhouse for a well deserved hot shower, some food and rest before the next day's outing.

previous ascent

Streap Corbett second ascent 909 metres

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Ben Aden

31 October 2004

This Corbett, in a remote and rugged part of Scotland, had been a target of mine for most of 2004. I had looked at climbing it from the south over Sgurr na Ciche or from the west coming in from either Barrisdale or Inverie. However all the approaches involve a long day. In the end I decided to approach Ben Aden from the north.

The previous afternoon I headed west to reside overnight at Invergarry Lodge Self Catering Hostel, which I was surprised to discover, was a large modern detached bungalow, well maintained and with good facilities. Here I met up with my walking companion for the following days' walk, or should I say marathon.

The clocks went back that night so it was actually 5 a.m. when we rose and ate breakfast. By 6am we were driving west on the single track road towards Kinloch Hourn along the north shore of Loch Quoich. In the dark it was difficult to find the starting point, which was a stream flowing into the Loch.

Once we located this point, and in semi-darkness, Donald and I set off for Ben Aden. Firstly we had to cross the stream which was fairly low and reasonably easy to cross despite the poor light. We decided, rather than walk round the shore of Loch Quoich, to climb over the shoulder of Sron Lice na Fearna, watched from the ridge by a few deer. Once on the ridge we orientated ourselves before descending towards the Abhainn Chosaidh, which was one of my main concerns, as reports indicated that this burn could be difficult to cross, if not impossible, at times.

On reaching the Abhainn Chosaidh I was pleased to see the water level was low and the crossing was easy. Further west we came across a quad bike which had obviously been left by stalker's who access this area by boat. We picked up a little used track, which was a bit wet and boggy in places, and followed it to the two small dams at the west end of Loch Quoich. It had taken us three hours to reach this point and we hadn't even gained any height.

From the end of the Loch we followed a stalker's path south towards Coire nan Gall and then located traces of an old stalker's path that led up towards Meall a'Choire Dhuibh. At the end of this path we had to negotiate our way through large outcrops of rock as we entered the cloud base and headed up the east ridge. Once into the cloud we had some light drizzle to contend with.

The 740 metre point of Meall a'Choire Dhuibh was difficult to locate as there were several rocky knolls which all appeared to be of a similar height, this being confirmed by an altimeter. It was necessary to re-locate and head for the first of three small lochans, which was our guide to the next section of the route. The lochans were found, all being at different levels, and the 717 metre point was reached before changing direction once again to descend to a small bealach.

From the bealach it was reported that the final climb onto Ben Aden required some scrambling but despite the poor visibility we managed to find a route through most of the rocky outcrops. After nearly six and a half hours we reached the summit cairn in windy and damp conditions.

On confirming we had reached the highest point we retraced our steps down the east ridge to find some shelter for a late lunch. It was now around 2pm with only about three hours of daylight left so the lunch stop was very short before we continued in a similar direction finding the easiest descent route beside the Allt Coire na Cruaiche. Once below 500 metres we emerged from the cloud with views of Loch Quoich and the long walk back. Lower down we picked up another stalker's path that came in from Barrisdale and we followed this path to Loch Quoich.

We then retraced our route along the shore of Loch Quoich and once over the Abhainn Chosaidh we remained close to the shore line where there was a trace of a path, which was wet and boggy in places. As it got dark it was very difficult to find the path even with head torches. At the east end of this promontory we picked up what appeared to be a very old track which only lasted for about half a mile. I think it was part of an old track prior to the Loch been flooded and on later studying the map it probably linked the stalker's paths shown at either side of the Loch.

The last half hour or so of the walk, north-west along the shore of the Loch, was very difficult trying to distinguish the water's edge and the muddy bank of the numerous inlets which had to be avoided. Eventually we heard the noise of running water and found the stream. We crossed it and after nearly twelve hours we reached the car and the end of an eventful day on one of the hardest Corbetts I have climbed.

Ben Aden Corbett first ascent 887 metres

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Inverie weekend

27 - 30 August 2004

On the Friday, Donald and I arrived in stormy Mallaig to catch the ferry to Inverie on the Knoydart peninsula. The crossing was a bit rough and on our arrival at Inverie pier the ferry was unable to berth due to the sea swell and headed west to Glaschoille where we were transferred to a small motor boat for the trip ashore. It took four trips for the supplies, baggage and passengers to be taken ashore.

We were staying at the Knoydart Foundation Bunkhouse, so once we had settled in, Donald and I set off through the village and up the Mam Uidhe track to the north end of the forest before climbing up onto Sgurr Coire Choinnichean. Once round the corrie we climbed onto to the ridge where it was very windy. The summit was in the cloud so on reaching the top we had a debate about which was the highest point as there were two cairns with a slight drop between them. In fact on checking reference books I find they don't agree as they give different grid references for the summit so I would suggest you visit both cairns.

To avoid the strong wind we descended the east side of the mountain but lower down the vegetation was very thick and long and hid numerous holes. This slowed progress until we reached the Gleann an Dubh-Lochain track which took us back to the Bunkhouse.

The following day we set off again through the hamlet of Inverie and up Mam Uidhe but continued to the second section of forest where we descended to Gleann na Guiserein before crossing the river and climbing to the summit of Beinn na Caillich. It wasn't as windy as the previous day and the showers were less frequent. We also had views of Skye and the mountains to the north so we lingered for a while on the summit.

The descent was to the Mam Li and down the stalker's path to join up with the upward route.

The next day it was wet and windy. We left the Bunkhouse and climbed up the side of the Allt Dubh to Loch Bhraomisaig and into Coire na Gobhar before climbing onto the west ridge of Beinn Bhuidhe. It wasn't as windy on the fairly wide ridge but at this point we had no views. We continued over the summit and headed east and on approaching Mam Meadhail the rain stopped and the cloud broke up for a short time. This allowed us views down to the head of Loch Nevis and to the Glen Dessary Munros. However the return down Mam Meadhail was wet and windy all the way back to the Bunkhouse.

On the Monday we were ready to return to Mallaig and although the wind had dropped we still encountered a rain shower.

Sgurr Coire Choinnichean Corbett first ascent 796 metres
Beinn na Caillich Corbett first ascent 785 metres
Beinn Bhuidhe Corbett first ascent 855 metres

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Gleann Dubh Lighe Corbett

1 August 2004

On a sunny and warm morning a lady and I set off from the A830 Fort William to Mallaig road up the track at the side of the Dubh Lighe, passed the bothy, and out of the forest. We climbed the hillside through some rough vegetation and small rocky outcrops disturbing the midges. It was now very warm and calm and frequent stops were made to take on some liquid. Clegs were prevalent and took a real liking to the client.

Once on the ridge there was a very pleasant wind and we continued to Sron Liath where we had lunch taking in the views including Streap, Gulvain, Ben Nevis and the Ardgour and Moidart Corbetts.

A slight descent and a climb along the walled ridge took us to the summit of Braigh nan Uamhachan, slope of the aves.

The descent was by the outward route but the lady was feeling the effects of a tough walk the previous day and was tiring. It required a bit of coaxing and conversation to take her mind off the long walk back. It was later than predicted when we returned to our parked vehicle and the drive home.

Braigh nan Uamhachan Corbett first ascent 765 metres

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Arnisdale Hills

17 July 2004

An early start from our overnight accommodation at Ratagan, saw my fellow Munroist, Donald Sutherland and I heading over the beautiful Bealach Ratagan, passed Glenelg and down to the small hamlet of Arnisdale.

We parked just before Corran and walked up the track towards Glen Arnisdale. After about a kilometre we took the path that led steeply up towards Coire Chorsalain. Higher up we split up as I also wanted to take in the Graham, Beinn Clachach, stony hill, but Donald doesn't at this stage want to bag Grahams. He may regret this in years to come as he has already had to return to a Corbett that he avoided when Munro bagging.

I climbed up over rough ground and through rocks to the 618 point of Beinn Clachach. From here I headed over to its true summit and surprised numerous groups of deer who were feeding in the sheltered areas of this ridge.

From this summit I descended the north ridge to the bealach before climbing the Corbett Beinn nan Caorach, hill of the rowan berries. Donald who had climbed up its south ridge was waiting for my arrival and together we walked round the Coire Dhruim nan Bo and commenced the climb to our second Corbett of the day, Beinn na h-Eaglaise, hill of the church. This is a pleasant walk but we were aware of the cloud spreading across the hillside and were engulfed in it prior to reaching the summit.

It rained heavily and we took a bearing heading towards Arnisdale. Once lower down the rain stopped and the cloud cleared to give us good views out over Loch Hourn as we walked back to the car.

I didn't return over the Bealach Ratagan but took the Glenelg ferry to Kylerhea on the Island of Skye. The crossing which only takes a few minutes was very pleasant in the afternoon sun.

Beinn Clachach Graham first ascent 643 metres
Beinn nan Caorach Corbett first ascent 773 metres
Beinn na h-Eaglaise Corbett first ascent 804 metres

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Streap

11 July 2004

Accompanied by a young lady I headed for Streap,climbing hill, one of the highest Corbetts in the area. The starting point was the A830 Fort William to Mallaig road at Gleann Dubh Lighe with a walk up the wooded glen. Just before the Dubh Lighe bothy we took the left fork and headed onto the open hillside. This was initially difficult to traverse due to the thick high bracken but higher up the ground became more rocky and walking was a bit easier, although we had to go round some rocky outcrops.

We reached the first top of the day Beinn an Tuim but the summit was in cloud. A rocky descent took us to a col where we spotted a fellow walker taking the shorter approach round the south-east side of this top. However on speaking to him later he found the terrain on this shorter approach fairly hard going.

We continued along the ridge over Meall an Uillt Chaoil, down to Beallach Coire nan Cearc and up onto Stob Coire nan Cearc. Here we were very fortunate as the cloud started to break up and we had views of Streap and its rocky outcrops. As we approached this ridge the views improved and we were able to see several of the surrounding mountains including the Corryhully Horseshoe.

The ridge is a pleasant walk and there is absolutely no problem on the rocky sections unless of course you are climbing the Corbett in winter conditions. My lady companion was happy to reach the summit and we were later joined by two males walking the route in the opposite direction.

After a short conversation with these men and some photographs we headed along another narrow ridge and climbed up to Streap Comhlaidh. We descended back to Gleann Dubh Lighe stopping en-route to take in the views. We also stopped at the Dubh Lighe bothy but it is very basic but at least it appears to be watertight. We then continued back down the glen to the start of the day's walk.

This mountain should be climbed on a good day taking in all the tops rather than the short cuts.

I found climbing Streap to be a very pleasant and entertaining day and I think my companion thought likewise.

Streap Corbett first ascent 909 metres

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Weekend in Kintail

2 - 4 July 2004

I had a day off on the Friday but had to move my base from Crianlarich to Ratagan, so I only had a half day to collect another Corbett. I settled on my final Corbett in Glen Elchaig, Sguman Coinntich, mossy peak.

I left my car in the car park near the turn off for Camas-luinne and walked up the tarred road to Killilan. The start of the path up the north side of the Allt a'Choire Mhoir was very difficult to find due to the height of the bracken, which in places was about five feet high. I went through the wood and joined the track higher up. The OS Map shows this as a path but it is in fact a track and climbs to near the Bealach Mhic Bheathan.

Once higher up I left this track and climbed to the summit of Sguman Coinntich, avoiding several rocky outcrops. I found some shelter on the north side of this hill to have a late lunch and enjoy the views. To the west, the tops of the Cuillins were in cloud but to the north the Lurg Mhor Munros, the Strathfarrar Four, An Socach, An Riabhachan and the other two Glen Elchaig Corbetts were clear of cloud. To the east the Glen Affric Munros, including Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan and the Munros on the north side of Glen Shiel were all visible.

I would have liked to stay longer but the cloud in the west was threatening to head in my direction so I set off down the south ridge back to the track I used on the upward route. I was hoping that for once this summer I would have a dry day but I did get some spots of rain before reaching the track.

I found the path down to Killilan but it was very overgrown and in places difficult to follow so no wonder I had a problem at the start.

The next day I was out with Laila, who is a Munro Bagger, and wanted to be guided along the South Glen Shiel Ridge which would boost her tally of Munros by seven.

Laila doesn't drive so she had travelled by bus from Edinburgh to Shiel Bridge and I collected her from her overnight accommodation. We drove to the finish of the walk where I parked my car and we waited for the Portree to Glasgow bus, which took us up the glen to the Cluanie Inn.

From the Cluanie Inn we walked along the tarred road, which led to Tomdoun before Loch Loyne was created for Hydro Electric power. We disturbed three hinds who were now in their summer coats but they didn't run far so I suspect they had young nearby.

Once beyond the highest point on the road we took the stalker's path up Creag a' Mhaim, crag of the large rounded hill. We had donned waterproofs earlier due to some rain but the climb up to this Munro was very warm and the sun even tried to appear so I had to remove them. However on reaching this summit a cold wind was blowing and another rain shower was spreading in.

The next Munro, Druim Shionnach, the ridge of the foxes, was soon reached as was its South Top. Beyond it we found some shelter for lunch before climbing Aonach air-Chrith, the shacking height, and we met four males who were only doing the eastern section of the ridge as they were late in starting due to a drinking session the previous evening. They were anxious to get back to the Cluanie Inn for a pint.

The descent from Aonach air-Chrith is rocky and narrow in places and met members of the RAF Mountain Rescue Team who were on a weekend training exercise. They were walking the ridge in the opposite direction. The next and fourth Munro was Maol Chinn-dearg, the bald redheaded hill, followed by Sgurr an Doire Leathain, the peak of the broad thicket.

We had been reasonably fortunate with the weather as the cloud and showers quickly passed through. However on reaching the sixth Munro, Sgurr an Lochain, the peak of the little loch, the cloud was down and it was starting to rain. This rain got heavier and heavier until it was bouncing off our gear. The path was like a minor stream as we climbed the seventh and final Munro of the day, Creag nan Damh, the rock of the stag.

From here we continued west to the Bealach Duibh Leac. En-route a family of ptarmigan was perched on a rock and took flight as we approached. A couple, the male was in his shorts, passed us and they were also soaked. These were the only people we met walking the ridge in the same direction as ourselves. On a Saturday in July you would expect the ridge to be busy but walkers were obviously put off by the poor weather we are experiencing this summer.

I was a bit concerned about the amount of rain that had fallen as we had two rivers to cross prior to getting back to the car. The descent from this bealach was along a twisting path which was very wet and slippery and extreme care was required. The Allt Coire Toiteil was reached but thankfully the crossing wasn't too difficult although the stepping stones were submerged. The path continued down the east side of the stream which becomes the Allt Mhalagain. However at the junction of this stream and the Allt Coire Mhalagain we had to cross the former. Laila was a bit apprehensive due to a bad experience at a river crossing. However we stuck together and crossed the river without removing any of our gear as we were already wet although it depends on your definition of wet as we were absolutely soaked after the river crossing.

Once across the river it was a matter of metres to the main road and the car. It had taken us 11.5 hours to complete the walk but well done Laila for completing the ridge in one outing. Reference books indicate that it is only possible for fit walkers to do all seven Munros in a day.

The next day Laila wanted to climb A'Chralaig, the creel, and Mullach Fraoch-choire, the top of the heather corrie, on the north side of Glen Shiel, so once again I collected her from her accommodation and we drove to east of the Cluanie Inn beside the An Caorann Mor. From there we climbed steeply up onto the south-east ridge of A'Chralaig and to its large summit cairn. As we ascended the low cloud started to rise and from the cairn we had some views.

The next part of the walk took us along the north ridge to the Munro Top, Stob Coire na Cralaig, and we met a chap who had come up from the Alltbeithe Youth Hostel where he had spent a couple of nights. We then walked along the narrowing ridge between this Top and south ridge of Mullach Fraoch-choire. The climb of this south ridge involves some careful footwork on the narrow paths that by-pass the pinnacles, some of which are collapsing.

On reaching the summit of Mullach Fraoch-choire good views were had while we ate our lunch. We returned along the narrow path and came across a Ring Ouzel (mountain blackbird). It was obviously a bit concerned about our presence and wouldn't fly off, so I can only presume it had a nest nearby.

On returning to the Munro Top, Stob Coire na Cralaig, we descended its west ridge to reach the wet and boggy path that runs through to the Youth Hostel. This track was followed southwards back to the start of the day's walk.

Laila was very tired after the previous day's effort but was determined to finish. She has now climbed 179 Munros and hopes to finish them in 18 months or so when she becomes 65. Well done Laila and I hope you are successful.

Sguman Coinntich Corbett first ascent 879 metres
Creag a'Mhaim Munro fourth ascent 947 metres
Druim Shionnach Munro fourth ascent 987 metres
Aonach air Chrith Munro fourth ascent 1021 metres
Maol Chinn-dearg Munro fourth ascent 981 metres
Sgurr an Doire Leathain Munro fourth ascent 1010 metres
Sgurr an Lochain Munro fourth ascent 1004 metres
Creag nan Damh Munro fourth ascent 918 metres
A'Chralaig Munro fourth ascent 1120 metres
Mullach Fraoch-choire Munro fourth ascent 1102 metres

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Kintail

20 June 2004

The previous day I had a very hard outing in north Torridon so I was looking for an easier day and also hoping for better weather. I settled for Sgurr Mhic Bharraich, a Corbett above Ratagan, and set off from beside the camp site at Shiel Bridge.

I followed the path up to Loch Coire nan Crogachan. The weather was warmer with only a few light showers. As I was climbing up to this lochan I heard a Cuckoo and spotted it on a branch. As I got nearer it flew further up the glen before returning to its perch as I gained height.

From the lochan I climbed to the summit of Sgurr Mhic Bharraich but unfortunately just as I arrived the cloud came in and it rained heavily for about ten minutes.

As I descended the east ridge the rain stopped and it began to clear. I saw my first fawn of the season running with its mother. Further down I saw another fawn and mother. The mother on detecting me ran off but she didn't go far as the fawn was still stumbling about on the hillside. The mother returned, barked a warning to the fawn who dropped down into the heather, and the mother disappeared. I headed to where I saw this fawn and as I did so another older fawn rolled out of its hiding place and ran off. I found the concealed fawn, whose only movement was its twitching ears. I watched the fawn for a few moments, took a photograph, and headed off downhill. The hinds were feeding on the other side of the small rise and would no doubt return to their young later in the day. This encounter with nature cheered up my weekend and made up for the bad weather I had encountered.

On reaching the path used on my outward route I returned to Shiel Bridge and the end of a short but exciting day.

Sgurr Mhic Bharraich Corbett first ascent 779 metres

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Kinloch Hourn

3 June 2004

I was en-route to Station Lodge, Tulloch but firstly I drove to Kinloch Hourn to climb a couple of Corbetts.

I parked my car beside the dilapidated building at Coireshubh and walked up the stalker's path onto the north ridge of Sgurr nan Eugallt. It was wet and windy on the ascent with even stronger winds when I got onto the ridge.

I followed the ridge to the trig point, which apparently isn't the highest point on the mountain, but this was not obvious in the low cloud so I continued the short distance to the summit cairn.

Once I had confirmed my position I returned along the ridge and down the stalker's path. As I approached my car the cloud began to clear and the sun tried to come out.

I drove into the hamlet of Kinloch Hourn, which unfortunately is at sea level, parked my car, and headed up the 'Right of Way' to Arnisdale. It was a very steep climb but higher up I left this path and followed a stalker's path which took me towards the ridge of Buidhe Bheinn and back into the clouds.

I climbed onto and along the ridge of Buidhe Bheinn to a cairn, which I initially thought was the summit as shown on the Ordnance Survey map. However on closer scrutiny the map is incorrect as the highest point is some 700 metres north-east. This involved a short steep descent before the final climb to the true summit.

It was windy with poor visibility on the summit so I about turned and re-traced my route back to Kinloch Hourn.

Buidhe Bheinn is given the same height as its neighbour Sgurr a'Bhac Chaolais. There is insufficient drop between these two mountains for them to be considered as separate Corbetts so they are therefore classed as twins. I unfortunately wasn't aware of this when I climbed Sgurr a'Bhac Chaolais hence the reason for this visit.

Sgurr nan Eugallt Corbett first ascent 894 metres
Buidhe Bheinn Corbett first ascent 885 metres

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Callander Girl's Final Munros

28 - 31 May 2004

On the Friday afternoon, on board the MV Western Isles, outward bound to Inverie on the Knoydart peninsula I met Janice, Jean, Joyce and Phil.

The crossing of Loch Nevis, from Mallaig to Inverie, took about forty five minutes and on our arrival we were met by Rodger the owner of the Torrie Bunkhouse who conveyed the ladies and our luggage to the Hostel, while Phil and I walked.

The following morning Phil and Joyce set off to climb Beinn na Caillich. Janice, Jean and I walked up Gleann an Dubh-Lochain to Mam Barrisdale with frequent stops while Janice and Jean chatted. On approaching the summit of the pass at Mam Barrisdale we experience a heavy shower and this was repeated several times till mid afternoon.

From Mam Barrisdale we climbed up onto the summit of Luinne Bheinn passing three ladies, one of whom was ascending her final Munro. This was Janice's 282nd Munro and Jean's 276th.

A short walk took us onto Luinne Bheinn's East Top before, in low cloud, navigating onto the route for Meall Buidhe. This undulating ridge was very busy with fellow Munro Baggers, including a large contingent from a Glasgow Hill-walking Club who were en-route to Luinne Bheinn to join the lady celebrating the ascent of her final Munro.

On our arrival at the summit of Meall Buidhe it was shrouded in cloud so we didn't stay long and headed down the west ridge towards Inverie. The cloud cleared, the sun shone and we had terrific views of Inverie Bay and Loch Nevis. The ladies even allowed me to do a spot of sunbathing.

The only downside of this route was the boggy ground at the foot of this ridge. Next time it would be prudent to leave the ridge earlier and join the Gleann Meadail path.

After eleven hours we returned to our base at Inverie to find everyone else had returned hours earlier but Janice and Jean like to get the most out of their day in the hills!!!

In the evening the bunkhouse resident's had a very amenable and enjoyable evening with some interesting stories, in particular from a retired doctor.

The next day we were back on the Mam Barrisdale track but on this special occasion we were joined by Phil and Joyce. On reaching the Loch an Dubh Lochain we climbed up onto Mam Suidheig and traversed to Point 849, with some good views, although at this time the summit of Ladhar Bheinn was covered in cloud.

Once again frequent stops were made while the ladies told their stories. Phil and myself were obliged to listen and occasionally participate but of course we were outnumbered.

From the Point 849 we now traversed Ladhar Bheinn's south-east ridge involving several ups and downs and a few scrambles. I was put in my place by Janice who instructed me to stay at the rear but I didn't complain, I just brought the matter up later. The final ascent was led by Phil with Jean trying to sing "The Final Countdown". I was allowed to move to the front so that Janice could walk under raised walking poles as she approached the summit of her final Munro. However she had obviously devised a plan to avoid this welcoming party and started walking back down the ridge. She did relent and walked back up the ridge under the raised poles before reaching the summit of her final Munro

Janice received our congratulations and we had a small party on the summit including the obligatory bottle of champagne. The cloud broke to allow some good views and once the celebrations were over and the photographs taken we continued along the ridge before dropping to Folach and the track back to Inverie.

In the evening Janice took us all to the Pier House for a celebratory meal which was very enjoyable and a pleasant evening was had by all. The celebrations continued back at the bunkhouse and Janice was a bit embarrassed by the reception she received from the fellow residents.

On the Monday it was a lovely still sunny morning and everyone was reluctant to pack up and head to the pier to await the morning ferry. With ideal sailing conditions and fantastic views it was a sad but enjoyable trip back to Mallaig.

Congratulations again Janice and thanks again for such an enjoyable weekend.

Luinne Bheinn Munro fourth ascent 939 metres
Meall Buidhe Munro fourth ascent 946 metres
Ladhar Bheinn Munro fourth ascent 1020 metres

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Sgurr an Utha

16 May 2004

En route back from the Island of Rum I stopped off to climb this Corbett.

From the A830 Fort William to Mallaig road at the Allt Feith a'Chatha I followed a track north on the east side of this stream but after about a kilometre the track turned east and climbed steeply up onto Druim na Brein-choille. This section of the track is not shown on the map, but made access to the hill easier.

At the termination of the track I followed the ridge round to the summit of Fraoch-bheinn and onto the summit cairn of Sgurr an Utha. The cloud base was above the summits but blankets of cloud frequently drifted across the summits. However I did manage a view west over Loch Beoraid.

The descent was down the south side of the hill, picking up the path used on the ascent route and returning to the main road.

Sgurr an Utha Corbett first ascent 796 metres

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Glen Dessarry Corbetts

7 - 9 April 2004

From Strathan at the head of Loch Arkaig and at the end of the public road a walk through Glen Dessarry forest took us to A'Chuil bothy. The bothy has recently been renovated and is wind and water tight. It has fires in both rooms with a plentiful supply of fallen timber in the nearby forest.

The following day the track was followed through another section of forest but became very wet and boggy at its north-west end.

At the end of the forest a climb up to Meall na Sroine and into the low cloud took us onto the main ridge over its many undulations and lochans. The final climb through deep wet snow saw us very close to the summit of Bidean a'Chabair. However the final few metres caused the biggest problem of the day. In poor visibility we were initially unable to reach the summit due to wet slippery snow covering slab rock. Despite several attempts we gave up and looked for another route of approach and fortunately found an easier ascent on the opposite side of the hill which allowed us to reach the summit cairn.

The return was back along the ridge descending steeply to the west end of the forest and a track back to the bothy for a well earned rest.

The next morning the climbing started immediately we left the bothy as the route for the day's walking went steeply up the side of the forest and onto an undulating ridge. This area is obviously very popular with the local deer population as we disturbed several groups feeding or resting on this ridge. At the west end of the ridge there was a short descent before the final climb onto the summit of Carn Mor. In misty and drizzly weather we found the summit cairn amongst several rocky tops.

To get out of the cold wind we descended to the Allt Coire an t-Searraich and the track to the bothy.

On collecting together our gear we left the bothy for the final time and walked out to Strathan. The road was littered with parked cars but where were their occupants as we hadn't met anyone on the hills for two days?

Bidean a'Chabair Corbett first ascent 867 metres
Carn Mor Corbett first ascent 829 metres

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Beinn Bhan

26 March 2004

From Inverskillavulin in Glen Loy I climbed steeply up to the plateau round Corrie Mhuilinn but unfortunately once I was above 400 metres visibility was limited due to low cloud so I didn't see anything. Once I reached the cairn it was just the sake of heading back to the start, although I did stop for lunch when I got below the cloud level. As I returned to my car the cloud started to lift and I could see the surrounding mountains for the first time that day.

Beinn Bhan Corbett first ascent 796 metres

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Loch Arkaig

24 March 2004

At the end of the public road at the west end of Loch Arkaig I followed the Estate Road to Strathan before climbing up a wet and boggy track to the bealach between Sgurr Mhurlagain and Fraoch Bheinn. I climbed onto the summit of Sgurr Mhurlagain, the cairn being located above the northern cliff face. Here I had good views of the Glen Dessary and Knoydart hills before the snow showers set in.

A return to the bealach followed by a steep climb through wet and slippery snow took me to the rocky summit of Fraoch Bheinn which was in cloud. A descent by the south ridge took me back to Strathan and the start of the day's walk.

Sgurr Mhurlagain Corbett first ascent 880 metres
Fraoch Bheinn Corbett first ascent 858 metres

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Loch Lochy

23 March 2004

Frances’s Munro Bagging saw us on the mountains to the west of Loch Lochy. From the end of the public road at Kilfinnan Farm we walked down the west side of the loch before we climbed up Cam Bhealach to the highest point between Meall na Teanga and Sron a'Choire Ghairbh. Going to Meall na Teanga first we walked round the side of Meall Dubh before taking a slight diversion to avoid the cornices on the north face. Soon we were on the wind blown summit but the views were restricted by bands of cloud.

A return to the bealach, followed by a climb up a stalker’s path took us to the summit of Sron a’Choire Ghairbh where we were bombarded by spin drift. Although we had difficulty staying upright the spindrift maintained our interest as some were shooting out from under the cornices and heading skywards while others were in the formation of a tornado.

The return was back to the bealach again, down to Loch Lochy and back along the side of the loch which is part of the Great Glen Way.

Meall na Teanga Munro fourth ascent 918 metres
Sron a'Choire Ghairbh Munro fourth ascent 937 metres

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Glen Moriston

14 March 2004

The wind was howling round the house and it took a bit of effort to get up and prepare to go out to the hills but the forecast is not always correct so I headed to Glen Moriston west of Loch Ness.

I found a track, not marked on the map, but referred to on a web programme. I followed this track which took me above the forest and into the cloud. I crossed rough and boggy ground to a bealach before following a stream which led to near the summit of Meall Dubh. The summit was rather windy but the route taken had been sheltered from the wind. I returned to my vehicle by the ascent route but prior to getting back it started to rain heavily. I was glad to be back to my vehicle but also pleased that I hadn’t been put off by the weather forecast.

Meall Dubh Corbett first ascent 789 metres

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Gleann Suileag

29 June 2003

On the Sunday it was a hot and sunny day, rather unusual for the Fort William area, so I headed for the Corbett Meall a’Phubuill in Gleann Suileag. According to reference books Bonnie Prince Charlie walked this way so I was following in his footsteps. The climb up to Meal a’Phubuill was hard going in the heat but the views were terrific. On the return journey I took in a couple of lower hills but they were by no means easy in the heat. As the day progressed even the cloud on Ben Nevis began to clear.

Meall a'Phubuill Corbett first ascent 774 metres
Meall Onfhaidh Graham first ascent 681 metres
Aodann Chleireig Graham first ascent 663 metres

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Gulvain

28 June 2003

I met, Jean, in Fort William and headed out the Mallaig road to the starting point for the Munro Gulvain. We put on our walking gear as the midges tried to get a free breakfast and headed up Gleann Fionnlighe to the foot of the steep climb to the South Top. I had been informed by a walking companion of Jean’s (who wishes to remain anonymous) that Jean liked to speak and I wasn’t disappointed. Her conversation continued even on the steep climb so obviously she is a very fit lady. In fact I think she only stopped speaking when she left me in Fort William to drive home alone. However it was an enjoyable day and warm, despite the low cloud. Another tick for the book Jean.

Gulvain Munro fourth ascent 987 metres

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