Date: Saturday – Sunday 2nd and 3rd July 2011
Ascent: 2000m + 750m
Route planning is always a bit of a work in progress, especially wild-camp routes. I’d been fiddling around with a route across up the East Loch Shiel Corbetts, Druim Tarsuinn and Sgurr Mhic Bheathain.
As is often the case guddling around with digital mapping throws up new temptations. A new plan was hatched– and lo….the Met office delivered a nice weekend.
A bit of a complex start for this one – left Hazel having a long lie in Fort William and drove to Glenfinnan (great view of a pine marten crossing the road at Kinlocheil), parking at the car park NM 906 808. Walked the 1km up to the train station and caught the 0650 back to Fort William for 0730.
We could have waited til 0900 and caught the bus to Corran but we grabbed a taxi instead to get going.
So that had us at the Corran Ferry about 40km from the car with a few hills to do and a nice weekend to do them.
A lovely morning with a rather still Loch Linnhe – we headed north for about 6km to Aryhoulan at the intersection of Cona Glen and Glen Scaddle. A quiet coastal walk other than the traffic noise from across the Loch.
Took the track running into Glen Scaddle, crossing the bridge at NM 007 689. This is a bridge to nowhere – the north side is ferns and vegetation.
Worked our way uphill on the E ridge of Druim Leathad nam Fias – actually quite obvious from the A82 on Loch Linnhe.
The day was very sunny and very hot at this point. Even with the lightweight summer camping packs I was feeling that this was hard work and the sweat was running off me on the steep ascent. Began to have some serious doubts about the feasibility of the route.
Scrambled up the steep grassy slope and got to the flatter summit area – for once a breeze and some clouds were welcome in cooling off the walk.
A fairly long wander along the top of this hill – a good 5km long. Reasonable terrain however and some interesting angles on the hills of Ardgour. Accompanied by the calls of plovers across the tops.
Watched a Golden Eagle flying in climbs and dives above Glen Scaddle – they do seem to like this.
Sat and had some food at the summit of the Marilyn – the cooler temps had us feeling a bit better but I was still a bit doubtful about our planned walk. Still, lots of daylight at this time of year so we decided to plod on along the ridge.
Carried on towards the Graham Stob Mhic Bheathain – a bit of a drop and then a reclimb.
One of the great aspects of a linear walk compared to a loop walk is the greater distance covered from the start point. The changing angles and perspectives to the surrounding hills were of great interest.
More food at the Graham summit – a little visited summit I think. From there a bit of bobbly walking to Stob a Chuir and then a fairly steep descent to the next bealach.
Another 250m ascent to the summit of Meall Mor and then on to the Corbett summit at the top of Druim Tarsuinn. Nice to sit down and take a break here – another little visited summit.
A strange day – both of us had felt wiped out by the first ascent but we both felt far better by this stage. Plenty of daylight meant a final 3km to the planned camp site on Meall Nan Creag Leac.
It had been fairly cloudy for a lot of the day – but clearer out to sea. As the sun dipped ever NW we began to reap the benefits of the low sun.
Dropped down to the final bealach with herds of deer streaming away.
Climbed halfway, purified a few litres of water for cooking and finished the climb.
The view from here was just as hoped – a standout viewpoint S along Loch Shiel and N along the Loch to Glenfinnan – worth the effort to get some time here rather than passing by.
Got the tent pitched, cooked tea and took some photos. The sun was setting to the NW.
The wind got up after sunset and the Nallo was getting a bit flappy – worried about sleeping but flaked out quickly and slept like a log. Alarm at 0430 to see sunrise – a few red clouds above Beinn an Tuim but too much cloud for direct sunrise – had a few hours more sleep.
Up at 0630 – sunshine and clouds again. The usual 90 minutes of breakfast, packing and gawking.
An easy stroll to the next Corbett – Sgurr Ghiubhsachain – only 150m of climb and 1.5km. A beautiful morning – but our tent pitch had been the better viewpoint.
Backtracked 200m SW from the summit to descend a grassy strip SE to Leac an Fhaurain before strolling off for the last Corbett Sgurr Craobh a Chaorainn. Legs a bit less bouncy than usual – but a decent pace.
Once again glad we pitched where we did – the Corbetts have lots of hills on view but the Loch views of our pitch site were far better for me.
Another wee food break and a confab. The plan had been to carry on to the end of the ridge – Meall a Bhainne but we could shorten the walk by dropping from the Corbett. Decided to carry on.
Headed N from Sgurr Craobh a Chaorainn and skirted Meall Doire nan Mnatha to acend Sgorr nan Cearc.
From Sgorr nan Cearc headed ENE down the easier ridge line then cutting N to ascend Meall a Bhainne up grassy slopes.
Meall a Bhainne had caught my eye on perusing this route – lines up with Loch Eil and Loch Shiel and sits opposite the Corryhully horseshoe. The view quality was blunted by the clouds but if you were up here at dawn in winter I think that would knock most socks off.
Ate the last of the food and discussed descent – the plan had been to drop NNE to Meall na h-Airigh and then E to Callop. We chose instead to drop S to the bealach with Sgorr nan Cearc and then down to Loch Shiel – probably a mistake as the last 300m was an irritating mix of steep tussock grass and heather – think the original plan would have been better.
Back to the car along Glen Shiel.
Pretty pleased with this route – a high ridge from Loch Linnhe to Glenfinnan over some difficult to reach places.
Meall nan Creag Leac and Meall a Bhainne are standout viewpoints – recommended add ons to the 2 E Loch Shiel Corbetts if you’re climbing them.