M135 | 1001 m. | 33 ft.
Translation: Middle hill
Pronuncation: oenach vain

A weekend in October 2012 served as Frank’s and my getaway from work in Germany. But unfortunately the three days in the area north of Glen Shiel were both somewhat rainy and stricken by the mishap of a broken-down car. The malfunctioning of the Ford Focus necessitated a trip to Inverness to pick up a replacement car and meant one day less of hillwalking. What can you do?

So our second and last day in the hills was to be the tour of the eastern three Munros of the North Glen Shiel ridge: Saileag, Sgurr a´’Bhealaich Dheirg and Aonach Mheadhoin. As seven years before when we had done the Five Sisters of Kintail we left our car at the parking where the steep path up to the Bealach an Lapain starts. The path had not changed much since 2005: Well-defined, zigzaggy and steep through grass on the lower slopes. More rocky and eroded further up. But nonetheless a good and straight-forward way to cover the 500m or so to the ridge. We got there after about one hour and turned due east, climbed the grassy ridge to Saileag and touched the cairn.

Clouds clung to the craggy ridges and flanks of Sgurr nan Spainteach and the closest three of the Five Sisters. Rain kept coming and going all the time. A somewhat wild feeling of being alone on this remarkable mountain range. I was satisfied with having completed the North Glen Shiel ridge by bagging Saileag. I was also sick that weekend and decided to return to the glen and the car right away by way of the ascent taken. Not very romantic but probably the best solution for me.

Frank, however, still had Sgurr a’Bhealaich Dheirg and Aonach Mheadhoin to bag. So we split up our little party of two at Saileag’s summit. I was back at the car 2 hour and 45 minutes after the start of our walk. Frank carried on to the east over the two other Munros. On Sgurr a’Bhealaich Dheirg he was disoriented in the mist and almost descended towards Gleann Lichd. Fortunately he realized his error early enough. From Aonach Mheadhoin Frank descended via Meall a’Charra and the steep southern flank of this side ridge. This got him back to the A 87 4 km west of the Cluanie Inn where I was waiting for him in the warm car. I had used the time I waited well: Two mugs of excellent coffee at the Inn looking out at the rainy day. That was a good alternative to being outside believe me.

With us re-united we had a last look at the ridges around us and then made our way back to the cottage at Camas-luinie at the end of Loch Long. Three Munros bagged, not many views but that’s the way it is sometimes. You have to take it as it comes. 😉

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Total distance: 11761 m
Max elevation: 1038 m
Min elevation: 174 m
Total climbing: 1308 m
Total descent: -1223 m
Total time: 05:06:53

1997 Fine winter day with poor visibility due to snow later on. Ascent from A87 into Coire na Cadha then over Sgurr an Fhuarail to Aonach Meadhoin. Beautiful views and fascinating reflections in the drifting snow. Continuation on the ridge to Sgurr a’ Bhealaich Dheirg through deep snow in places. Slight route finding problems on way back due to very bad visibility. Return to Coire na Cadha by step snow descent east of Meall a’ Charra.

Description These three mountains form a ridge on the north side of Glen Shiel which is the eastward continuation of the Five Sisters of Kintail and is sometimes called the North Glen Shiel Ridge. Aonach Meadhoin and its slightly lower top Sgurr an Fhuarail are at the east end of this group, and from them a narrow ridge drops to a col at about 820 metres. Beyond there the ridge rises to Sgurr a' Bhealaich Dheirg, whose summit is a short distance along the narrow north-east spur. 1½ kilometres further west, Saileag is a rather modest hill with a rise of less than 100 metres, and beyond it a grassy ridge drops to the Bealach an Lapain. Along the southern sides of these hills steep grassy slopes drop to the forests in Glen Shiel, but on their north sides, particularly to the north of Sgurr a' Bhealaich Dheirg, there are some wild rocky corries.The traverse of the three hills may be started from the A87 road in Glen Shiel 2 kilometres west of Cluanie Inn. Go north into Coire na Cadha and climb the steep south ridge of Aonach Meadhoin. Descend west along a narrow ridge and climb to the level crest which might appear in misty conditions to be the top of Sgurr a' Bhealaich Dheirg. The summit cairn, however, is about 70 metres along the narrow north-east spur. Continue to Saileag and down a broad grassy ridge to the Bealach an Lapain, from where a path leads steeply down to the A87 road 6 kilometres from the starting point.