Report on South Glenshiel Ridge
25 June 2011
Craggies: Robin, Kathryn, Kenny, Maureen, Neil, Mark, Gillian, Gail and Irene.
Two cars (Robin, Kathryn Neil and Maureen & Kenny, Gail) departed sunny Ayrshire on Friday morning and travelled North in good weather. Mark and Irene travelled later on the Friday afternoon. After the ubiquitous stop at the Green Welly Stop in Tyndrum we travelled on to Fort William where a stop was made to purchase comestibles.
The views of Glencoe, Ben Nevis and the other hills were stunning as the weather was superb. It was very unusual to see Ben Nevis with no cloud cover at all.
The drive from Fort William to Rattagan Youth Hostel was also through stunning scenery including the drive down Glen Shiel itself. The South Glenshiel ridge looked most inviting.
After dinner in the nearby hotel and a few refreshments a reasonably early night was required before the early start. Neil managed a reasonable night in his tent!
Early rise, breakfast and away by 0700, (unheard of for Craggies to be away this early). Pity the weather had turned wet! All the nice views of Glen Shiel seen the previous day, GONE!! There was nothing but clag on the hills. What a disappointment!
Three cars required with Kenny?s car being left at the point where the walk returned to the road some 7 miles from the start.
After parking at the Cluanie Inn we kitted up and were off by 0730. The start of the route is fairly gentle on a decent road from Cluanie Inn to the bottom of Creag a Mhaim.
Following a stalkers path the form for the day was soon evident. The hares were away and me bringing up the rear. I found the climb up to Creag a Mhaim very hard going and almost gave up! Thanks to Irene for encouraging me to carry on and the first of seven Munros was reached.
Unfortunately there were no views and only endless clag. It was also cold and nobody wanted to hang about so on we went towards the summit of Munro number two (Druim Shionnach). There was only a short decent to the bealach and the ascent up a narrowing ridge to the summit. Two down five to go!
The third Munro was some three km further along the ridge (rumour has it that the entire ridge is visible from here, not today!) We plodded on through the mist some slabby crags were occasionally visible to the north and soon the third summit (Aonach Air Chrith) was reached. This was the highest point on the ridge but still no views!
After leaving the summit a narrow section of ridge had to be negotiated but there were no real difficulties. We followed the ridge to the fourth summit (Maol Chin Dearg). At this point I thought I had miraculously caught up with the others and thought that we were going to retreat down the north ridge to the road. However it turned out that the others (no names!) had become disorientated and had taken the wrong ridge!
After finding the correct ridge we set off for munro number five. There were no difficulties on the long ascent to the fifth munro (Sgurr an Doire Leathain) but the summit lay a wee bit north of the main ridge. As we continued on from the summit (in the wrong direction) we realised that we should have backtracked from the summit and then continued to the west. Oh well it is easy to get misdirected when you can?t see very much!
At this point the visibility improved and we could see the next munro (number six). There were also decent views of the loch to the north in Coire Lochain. Irene, Mark, Maureen and I sheltered for a while behind a wall in a little hollow where it was good to get a break from the wind. The sixth munro (Sgurr an Lochain) is probably the most impressive to look at with some steep crags on the north side and a fine summit ridge.
The ridge from Sgurr an Lochain to the seventh and last munro passes over a minor top (Sgurr Beag) but there is a well trodden path which by passes this lower peak. A wee bit of scrambling and there we were at the top of the last munro (Creag nam Damh).
The descent route taken involved a wee scramble (Maureen was not impressed!) and a further 2 km walk beside a dry stone wall to reach the start of the final descent into the valley and back to the road.
The faster walkers (Kathryn, Neil, Kenny, Gail and Gillian) descended by a different route. Apparently this was a wee bit steep when descending through the forest!
All ended up safely back at the youth hostel after a tiring but enjoyable day. Only took 12 hrs mind you! The day was finished off with Kathryn?s wonderful chilli, half bottle of single malt and a wee blether. What a great way to end a great day.
Sunday arrived with much rain! Glad we walked on Saturday. Even less hills visible today. After a leisurely breakfast Kathryn, Neil, Maureen, Gail and I set off for the drive back to N Ayrshire. The drive was uneventful except for all the snoring from the back seat and complaints about the cold! We arrived safely back in Beith at the end of a memorable weekend. Irene and Mark travelled to Skye and Plockton for a visit before returning home