Sgurr Choinnich Mor

Roughly four years after Frank had bagged Sgurr Choinnich Mor in one go with Sgurr Ban and the Grey Corries, June 2016 saw us return to Glen Nevis so that I could bag the Big Mossy Peak as well. It was a damp and overcast day with massive clouds clinging to the Munros all the time, so when we set off from the parking at the Nevis Gorge we did not expect to enjoy panoramic views from the summit of Sgurr Choinnich Mor.

The approach path to the hill of the day was of course well-known to Frank and me since we had been there at least four or five times before. Nonetheless it is always worth the while to come back to this beautiful spot after a few years and to see the gorge and the hills again. As usual we made good progress and soon reached the flats where the Water of Nevis meanders. The Falls of Steall boasted quite some water since there had been no real shortage of rainfall the days before. Very white and very beautiful. We pressed onwards and soon reached Steall ruin where the path towards Carn More Dearg and Aonach Beag branches of to the left.

Now we made the first steps on new terrain but the path continued onwards in a steady fashion: Well-engineered, mostly dry and very easily angled. After another two kilometres on the path we headed for the hill walking on a faint grassy path that clung to a stream coming down the hill from the environs of the col between Stob Coire Beallaich and Sgurr Choinnich Beag. We gained height very steadily. Soon we had to make a decision as to whether we wanted to include Sgurr Choinnich Beag in the hike or head for the col between that hill and Sgurr Choinnich […]

2017-09-19T14:14:57+00:00June 16th, 2016|2012, 2016, 2017 - 2010, Loch Linnhe to Loch Ericht|

Gulvain

June 2016 saw us climb some very nice hills. Our cottage was located more or less centrally in Roy Bridge and we bagged what was left to be done for us in the Grey Corries, in Kintail, by Lochs Arkaig and Eil. 15 June was the day for Gulvain, a solitary hill well hidden from roadside views: Even on fortunate days which boast clear skies and sunshine. A privilege we definitely did not enjoy since the weather was rather – how am I going to put it – adverse. We parked our car in the vicinity of the A830/A 861 junction. The A 861 had been one of our connections to civilization in 1998 when we had spent three (!) marvellous (!) weeks in Glenborrodale in Ardnamurchan. There our plan to climb all the Munros had first taken shape during a sunny and warm September holiday, by the way.

No such gentle conditions today: All raingear went on at street level. There was a stiff wind and the occasional blustery shower that had to be braved. Our hike to Gulvainís foot took us for about 6 km along the Landrover track up Gleann Fionnlinghe. The lower reaches of the glen are wooded and quite nice. You pass Wauchan cottage, then leave the forest two kilometres onwards and continue on the rough track for maybe another two kilometres to Gulvain. The path up the uniformly steep and grassy southwest ridge (see photo) is obvious and well-trodden, if a bit squishy at the start. The more height is gained the more the grass disappears and gives way to stones, gravel, sand and rocks. But the way ahead is always obvious and route-finding is no problem even in the thickest of clouds which, incidentally, we had the expected pleasure of encountering on the higher slopes of the hill.

Even […]

2017-09-19T14:14:57+00:00June 15th, 2016|2016, 2017 - 2010, Loch Eil to Glen Shiel|

Sgurr na Sgine

On 14 June 2016 we had something very special on the agenda. Special because the tour included the first Munro I had ever climbed: The Saddle, in 1993. And special, too, as the day would see us climb Sgurr na Sgine the only Munro that had seen me turn back from it twice, both times in driving snow in winter 1997/1998. So I was utterly determined to finally bag the Hill of the Knife 18 years on.

We started the hike at the layby on the A87 in Glen Shiel and followed the path leading to the foot of the steep north-east ridge of Faochag. Once we had crossed the Allt Mhàlagain we turned right and headed towards the path leading up to Meallan Odhar. I admit that was a somewhat spontaneous approach but we had been too bloody stupid to pick the old military road earlier on. Ok, no harm done. Once we had reached the Meallan Odhar path it was a steady plod up this hikers’ highway until finally the shoulder between Biod an Fhitich and Meallan Odhar invited us to have a break and to drink some water. The view towards the Forcan Ridge and the Saddle was to die for. But dying was not high on our list of things to do. So instead we continued on the path bypassing Meallan Odhar’s summit which leads to the foot of the Forcan Ridge.

What can you say? The first time I had been there was in 1993 also with Frank. The climb up the ridge had been a dance up the crest. The Forcan Ridge still was real fun to climb in 2016. Its steepness, sharpness and exposure making it a great scrambling experience and I was glad that we had included The Saddle as a non-essential extra repeat Munro in this […]

2017-09-19T14:14:57+00:00June 14th, 2016|2016, 2017 - 2010, Loch Eil to Glen Shiel|

The Saddle

On 14 June 2016 we had something very special on the agenda. Special because the tour included the first Munro I had ever climbed: The Saddle, in 1993. And special, too, as the day would see us climb Sgurr na Sgine the only Munro that had seen me turn back from it twice, both times in driving snow in winter 1997/1998. So I was utterly determined to finally bag the Hill of the Knife 18 years on.

We started the hike at the layby on the A87 in Glen Shiel and followed the path leading to the foot of the steep north-east ridge of Faochag. Once we had crossed the Allt Mhàlagain we turned right and headed towards the path leading up to Meallan Odhar. I admit that was a somewhat spontaneous approach but we had been too bloody stupid to pick the old military road earlier on. Ok, no harm done. Once we had reached the Meallan Odhar path it was a steady plod up this hikers’ highway until finally the shoulder between Biod an Fhitich and Meallan Odhar invited us to have a break and to drink some water. The view towards the Forcan Ridge and the Saddle was to die for. But dying was not high on our list of things to do. So instead we continued on the path bypassing Meallan Odhar’s summit which leads to the foot of the Forcan Ridge.

What can you say? The first time I had been there was in 1993 also with Frank. The climb up the ridge had been a dance up the crest. The Forcan Ridge still was real fun to climb in 2016. Its steepness, sharpness and exposure making it a great scrambling experience and I was glad that we had included The Saddle as a non-essential extra repeat Munro in this […]

2017-09-19T14:14:57+00:00June 14th, 2016|1993, 2016, 2017 - 2010, Loch Eil to Glen Shiel|

Sgurr Mor

2016 Sgurr Mor is a rather isolated hill usually climbed by itself. Unless of course you are an ultra-fit hillwalker as my friend Frank is who had bagged the hill as a moderately exhausting minor extension to our memorable Sgurr na Ciche, Garbh Chioch Mhor and Sgurr nan Coireachan hike a few years ago. This feat of his had left me with a sore spot in my record that called for me making amends.

Fortunately, Frank had agreed to accompany me on my attempt to climb Sgurr Mor in a one-hill-expedition from Strathan in 2016. So a nice day in June 2016 saw us drive down the uuunnnndulating road on the north side of Glen Arkaig towards the parking at the end of the loch. From Strathan we continued on the track towards Glen Dessary Lodge. A few minutes before reaching the lodge we climbed the easy path up to the long and wide beallach (at about 360m) between Druim a’ Chuirn and Fraoch Bheinn. From there we moved towards Glen Kingie skirting the north east ridge of Druim aí Chuirn and heading towards the path alongside the developing River Kingie. On the way we paused sitting in the long grass.

When the path beside the River Kingie was reached we turned due west and followed it all the way to the Sgurr Mor ridge above. On the ascent the well-engineered path zigzags up the southern flank of An Eag and Sgurr Beag very nicely. We gained altitude in a steady fashion. Once on the ridge and west of Sgurr Beag we rested and ate some of our sandwiches. Another hiker — the only other one that day — was visible climbing Sgurr Mor. We lost sight of him in the mist later. From the beallach between Sgurr Beag and Sgurr Mor we climbed the path that […]

2017-09-19T14:14:57+00:00June 13th, 2016|2010, 2016, 2017 - 2010, Loch Eil to Glen Shiel|

Sgurr nan Coireachan

The Corryhully Horseshoe had long been on our list of very desirable hill walks in Alba. Maybe not as grandiose as the Ring of Steall or Sgurr na Ciche but nonetheless some tour to look forward to very much. 12 June 2016 saw us go about fulfilling that plan. It was a warm day and the midges were already showing us some attention when we prepared our kick-off for the day at the parking beside the River Finnan in Glenfinnan Village. Off we went and quickly reached the viaduct which I had last seen, when Birgit, Stephanie and I had visited the eastern Munro of the Horseshoe in 1998. Harry Potter films had then not been known and the viaduct had not acquired its present notoriety.

Of course progress was swift and easy. The glen is beautiful and so is the meandering River Finnan. After 45 minutes we crossed the Allt a Caol Ghleann and passed Corryhully Bothy. There the Landover track becomes a little steeper and we gained some height as we progressed another kilometre. Then, however, the cairn indicating the start of the ascent of Sgurr nan Coireachan’s steep and rocky southeast ridge appeared to the left. We deposited a bottle of water for the return leg of the hike and commenced the long climb towards the Sgurr.

The path is rather well-engineered and there was some material left beside it which indicated that maintenance work had been done. Somebody had even left a wheel barrow there. Rising first gently and then after a major bend more pronouncedly the path climbed over several rocky steps in the ridge which took turns with slightly more level grassy sections. Soon the terrain got more and more rocky. At a spot where the path leaves the crest of the ridge to climb a few dozen metres to […]

2017-09-19T14:14:58+00:00June 12th, 2016|2016, 2017 - 2010, Loch Eil to Glen Shiel|

Sgurr Thuilm

The Corryhully Horseshoe had long been on our list of very desirable hill walks in Alba. Maybe not as grandiose as the Ring of Steall or Sgurr na Ciche but nonetheless some tour to look forward to very much. 12 June 2016 saw us go about fulfilling that plan. It was a warm day and the midges were already showing us some attention when we prepared our kick-off for the day at the parking beside the River Finnan in Glenfinnan Village. Off we went and quickly reached the viaduct which I had last seen, when Birgit, Stephanie and I had visited the eastern Munro of the Horseshoe in 1998. Harry Potter films had then not been known and the viaduct had not acquired its present notoriety.

Of course progress was swift and easy. The glen is beautiful and so is the meandering River Finnan. After 45 minutes we crossed the Allt a Caol Ghleann and passed Corryhully Bothy. There the Landover track becomes a little steeper and we gained some height as we progressed another kilometre. Then, however, the cairn indicating the start of the ascent of Sgurr nan Coireachan’s steep and rocky southeast ridge appeared to the left. We deposited a bottle of water for the return leg of the hike and commenced the long climb towards the Sgurr.

The path is rather well-engineered and there was some material left beside it which indicated that maintenance work had been done. Somebody had even left a wheel barrow there. Rising first gently and then after a major bend more pronouncedly the path climbed over several rocky steps in the ridge which took turns with slightly more level grassy sections. Soon the terrain got more and more rocky. At a spot where the path leaves the crest of the ridge to climb a few dozen metres to […]

2017-09-19T14:14:58+00:00June 12th, 2016|1998, 2016, 2017 - 2010, Loch Eil to Glen Shiel|

Sron a’Choire Ghairbh

The second hike of 2016 was scheduled for a set of two Munros which I had visited twice before on each occasion bagging one of them. I had climbed one with Alex (Sron) and the other one with Mike (Meall). Today Frank and I were to combine them in one hike from the Cam Bealach (or at least Frank had to combine them since he still needed the ticks in his list).

From the parking just before the farm in Kilfinnan we followed the usual approach on the forest road, passing a few holiday homes or huts and then took the upper branch of the road through the dense fir plantation. It was an overcast day and occasionally a few drops of rain fell from the clouds. When three or three and a half kilometres were behind us we left the road took the good path branching off to the right and started the climb beside the Allt Glas-Dhoire. This path is steep at first but soon after you leave the forest the gradient eases. The continuation up the Cam Bhealach is quite scenic since both Sean Mheall to the north and Beall Dubh to the south of the glen hold interest for the wandering eye with their rocky faces and gullies. We made good progress and after maybe six kilometres were covered we reached the bealach between the two hills.

Here I decided that one Munro would be enough for today (no summit views) and Frank set of towards Sron aíChoire Ghairbh climbing the very well-engineered stalkers (?) path which leads almost all the way to the summit ridge and level summit of the Munro. I lay down in a comfortable spot close to the bealach and dozed for maybe 40 minutes. Then another walker reached the bealach also from the Loch Lochy side and […]

2017-09-19T14:14:58+00:00June 11th, 2016|2005, 2016, 2017 - 2010, Loch Eil to Glen Shiel|

Meall na Teanga

The second hike of 2016 was scheduled for a set of two Munros which I had visited twice before on each occasion bagging one of them. I had climbed one with Alex (Sron) and the other one with Mike (Meall). Today Frank and I were to combine them in one hike from the Cam Bealach (or at least Frank had to combine them since he still needed the ticks in his list).

From the parking just before the farm in Kilfinnan we followed the usual approach on the forest road, passing a few holiday homes or huts and then took the upper branch of the road through the dense fir plantation. It was an overcast day and occasionally a few drops of rain fell from the clouds. When three or three and a half kilometres were behind us we left the road took the good path branching off to the right and started the climb beside the Allt Glas-Dhoire. This path is steep at first but soon after you leave the forest the gradient eases. The continuation up the Cam Bhealach is quite scenic since both Sean Mheall to the north and Beall Dubh to the south of the glen hold interest for the wandering eye with their rocky faces and gullies. We made good progress and after maybe six kilometres were covered we reached the bealach between the two hills.

Here I decided that one Munro would be enough for today (no summit views) and Frank set of towards Sron aíChoire Ghairbh climbing the very well-engineered stalkers (?) path which leads almost all the way to the summit ridge and level summit of the Munro. I lay down in a comfortable spot close to the bealach and dozed for maybe 40 minutes. Then another walker reached the bealach also from the Loch Lochy side and […]

2017-09-19T14:14:58+00:00June 11th, 2016|2002, 2016, 2017 - 2010, Loch Eil to Glen Shiel|

Ciste Dhubh

We started the first hike of 2016 basically from the Cluanie Inn where we had spent the night. The day before we had arrived in Scotland at Edinburghís Turnhouse Airport and had driven up to Loch Cluanie in a leisurely fashion. Having arrived early enough meant we could even take a pint at a picnic table in front of the Inn before lunch. A relaxed start to the “nine days nine hikes”-holiday.

We started the climb of A’Chralaig from the parking on the north side of the A 87 which is close to the bridge over the Allt a’Chaorainn Mhoir. A few metres on the public footpath to Alltbeithe Youth Hospital in Glen Affric were enough: We immediately found the small cairn that marks the path leading up to the southeast ridge of A’Chralaig. This path climbed steeply beside a burn up to the high ridge above. The going was easy enough, the ground being relatively dry. Steadily we climbed along the burn. Once on the ridge proper the terrain became more and more stony. Much of the ascent was spent in clouds and fog but very occasionally views of Loch Cluanie, Am Bathach and (higher up on the ridge) of the Munros further to the east could be had. Then, after some considerable exertion at least on my part, the *massive* cairn of A’Chralaig came into view. Visions of my first climb of this Munro almost 20 years ago in late December 1998 sprang up from my memory. It had been a snowy and icy affair which I only managed to complete thanks to a pair of crampons I had packed. That had been my first solo Munro and my first solo Munro in winter at the same time!

We faced no such challenges this day. After five minutes at the summit (no views) we […]

2017-09-19T14:14:58+00:00June 10th, 2016|2002, 2016, 2017 - 2010, Glen Affric and Kintail|