Monday, 31 August 2020



It was a fabulous weekend working over in Kintail guiding some lovely folk. I was assisting a large group of hillwalkers over several Munros working with Allan, Alistair and Blair on behalf of Waymark Oudoor. The Kintail and Glen Shiel area has so many Munros and wonderful ridges, it is hard to choose which to walk in just 2 days. You could very easily spend at least a week in the glen. 


I've been doing a fair bit of low and high level wild camping this Summer. It's not the best time of year to do this because of the dreaded midge, but work is work! We've been plagued by some quite bad midgy conditions on the hills and definitely at lower levels this year. Arriving up at Glen Shiel on Friday evening with Allan, I pitched my tent expecting the worse. Fortunately the temperatures were quite low for the time of year and we had a gentle breeze so this kept those pesky biting insects at bay. The following morning it was a joy to cook my breakfast in peace with no disturbance from the midges.

Our walk for Saturday was the long ridge line taking in 7 Munros on the South Glen Shiel Ridge, alternatively known as The Cluanie Ridge. There aren't too many single hill days where you can link this amount of 3000ft peaks in one day (for normal fitness people that is). We set off up the old Tomdoun Road to gain the excellent stalkers path that winds up to the first Munro summit of  Creag a' Mhaim. We were walking in 3 separate groups, I was with Allan for the day and our group of 12 folk. The day started off fine and some lovely sunshine with great views.

The hills on this ridge are mostly broad, grassy, easy angled and not too steep. There are some narrower sections, most notably between the Munros of Druim Shionnach and Aonach air Chrith, the second and third tops. Some very easy, small sections of 'hands on rock' but not really scrambling as such. 

Despite a good forecast all day with only 'less than 5% chance of rain' we did get an hour or two of drizzly, light rain and the cloud rolled in over the tops at times. This was interspersed with some brighter moments. It was quite atmospheric cloud and we also got a beautiful rainbow at one point.

There is options throughout the route to 'escape' off the ridge if it's feeling like a long day or your tied. or both! Allan and I had a good, strong group who were all moving at a nice steady pace with plenty of breaks for food. It was a cooler day than we've had recently, so no midges! We were off and on with waterproofs, hats and gloves as the rain and cloud arrived or disappeared. Autumn is knocking on the door and your kit should now be tailored to these conditions.

We arrived on the final Munro summit, Creag nan Damh at 5.30, 9 hours after setting off. A big day out but a satisfying one and a good tally of 7 Munros if you're counting them up. From our final top there is still some up and down including a wee, easy scramble up. Don't be tempted by a rough path that goes down some horrible scree into a pathless coire. This is NOT the route off, we did see a few folk heading down here. Get your map out, the generally good path down to Glen Shiel is on there!

A great effort by the group and we got down to the glen in time for dinner and well earned pint in the newly revamped Cluanie Inn.

A slightly sorter walk today.  The Forcan Ridge onto the Munro, The Saddle and Sgurr na Sgine. The Forcan Ridge is probably the finest route in Glen Shiel. Indeed it probably ranks in my top 30 mountain routes. We had two smaller  groups today, Alistair and I on the Forcan Ridge whilst Allan guided the others on a easier, walking route avoiding the scrambling up to The Saddle.
The two routes set off on a fabulous, well constructed stalkers path from Glen Shiel. An easy angled trail takes you up to almost 500m at the Bealach Craiobhe where you get your first profile view of the Forcan Ridge. Unfortunately the cloud was sat some way down on the mountain and we didnt get to see this impressive sight.

The path continues in a lazy fashion all the way to the toe of the ridge and start of the scrambling. We had just arrived at this point in time for a light rain shower. Once again the forecast of '5% chance of rain' seemed optimistic! Nevertheless the Forcan Ridge group were up for it. We parted company with the other half of the party, Allan taking 6 folk along the walking route which runs below the ridge while Alistair and I guided 7 folk along the ridge. 

Shortly after the first section of scrambling, the rain ceased and the cloud lifted to reveal the fabulous sight of the ridge. Looking very fine and intimidating at the same time! Despite a fierce looking angle the scrambling is quite easy and any harder sections we bypassed.

Around 3/4 of the way along there is a sudden down scramble which is quite steep and probably the  crux of the route. This is easily avoided by a steep path down and around this section. 

The sun popped out just at the right time for the classic view of the ridge. Looking stunning. We had the whole ridge to ourselves with just 2 folk way ahead of us. Waterproofs off now as the temperature rose. It was a fair bit warmer than yesterday. 

The scrambling is virtually finished once you reach the Munro Top of Sgurr nan Forcan. It's just a short walk from here to the main Munro summit of The Saddle. The cloud rolled in again and no view but everyone happy after an exciting and thrilling scramble. Our day  wasn't over, we continued with a walk up to the adjecent Munro, Sgurr na Sgine.

It's a fair descent on a rough, bouldery path before heading up again to this 946m mountain. More cloud and some more drizzle. We met up with the other group just before the cloudy summit and walked  back down together. The rain stopped and cloud lifted again.

Good to get the 'profile view' of the Forcan Ridge on the way back to the glen. 
A great couple of days with a fun and lovely group of folk. Good to be working with 3 too chaps too. 
Great stuff.

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