9th October to 12th October 2012
At 10am on 9th October Paul and I left Chester bound for Invershiel and two days of ridge walking in Glen Shiel with “The Five Sisters of Kintail” being our main challenge. It was to be our final training for our trek to Nepal later in the month. We were in Crianlarich at 3.30pm, Fort William at 4.30pm and into our hotel –the Kintail Lodge Hotel - at 6pm after a good journey and some 426 miles taking us eight hours. We were staying in The Trekkers Lodge and cooked our own meal before enjoying some of the real ales in the hotel bar.
Wednesday 10th saw us up at 6.30am and at 8am we started our walk from Morvich. A very steep climb up grassy long slopes (sometimes 60/65% scrambles) saw us arriving at 10.15am at our first mountain on the ridge – Sgurr na Moraich 876m. It was a beautiful calm and sunny morning and as the rut was in full swing we could here the roaring stags all around and it was not long before we saw stags and hinds. At 11am we were on the top of Beinn Bhuidhe 869m with wonderful scenery all around basking in warm sunshine. The beauty of Kintail is as much in the glens and corries as it is on the peaks and the bealachs that separate them. This turned out to be a demanding route with an amount of scrambling and great care was needed on the narrower and steeper parts of the ridges. Down in the valleys below us on both sides of the ridge we could here and see red deer actively participating in the rut. It was fascinating to watch and we did this on a number of occasions.
At noon we reached Sgurr nan Saighead 929m with mountains all around. Visibility was wonderful and we could see for miles in all directions. Some of the vistas we saw can be seen in the slide show on the blog. At 1pm we reached the highest point of the day and the highest Munro in the Glen Shiel area - Sgurr Fhuaran 1067m (3501ft). Here the slopes down from the mountain top are possibly the longest in all Scotland. The blue waters of Loch Duich shown in the sunlight and Skye and the Inner Hebrides looked very close and the south part of the Outer Hebrides could also be seen. On the mainland the peaks of Assynt could be made out. To the South we looked across to Knoydart and in the distance the mountains of Glen Coe and Ben Nevis 1344m.
We continued along the ridge and at 2.30pm we were on the top of Sgurr na Carnach 1002m. We had made an earlier decision that we would end our walk on the ridge at 4.30pm as we had a steep and long decent down to Gleann Lichd and the River Croe, and then a long walk along the valley bottom back to our car. At 3.30pm we were on Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe 1027m and at 4pm we climbed Sgurr nan Spainteach 990m. It was then on to the top of Beinn Odhar 878m and at 4.30pm we started our decent. The sun was still shinning brightly at 6pm but as we made our decent we dropped into the shadows and reached the valley bottom at 5.45pm and in darkness we reached our car at 7.30pm. We had walked constantly for close on 12 hours. We had walked 18.1km and undertook a total ascent of 1830m.
We enjoyed a lovely meal and drinks in the hotel – no way were we cooking tonight!
Up at 6.45am we were welcomed to wind and rain and such a different day from the day before. After cooking breakfast we were away again at 8.30am with our target for the day being The Saddle 1010m going up the Forcan Ridge. With the high winds at sea level where we were we held little hope of reaching the top.
We were on a good path at 9am heading for Biod an Fhithich 644m our first mountain of the day. At Bealach na Craoibhe 496m we felt the full blast of the wind and in the valley on the other side of the bealach we looked down once again into Coire Caol and onto the rutting stags and the hinds they were guarding. We reached the top of Biod an Fhithich at 10.40am and then returned to the bealach and then walked on to Meallan Odhar 617m which we reached at 11.20am. The wind here was ever so strong so we decided to stop for a brew and made a decision not to risk the much higher and narrow ridges above us. We went back down to our car and we arrived there for 12.50pm. After a coffee at the hotel we headed for Skye on a very wet day. We reached Broadford and then went on to Elgol to look across the bay to The Cuillin Hills but with low cloud their was alas little to see. We arrived back at our hotel for 4.30pm and spent the evening there.
After settling our account we were away at 9.30am and again a wet morning. By 2.30pm we were in Carlisle and by 5pm we were back in Chester where Paul dropped me off before he drove on to Capel Curig in Wales.
It was a long way to go but we so much enjoyed The Five Sisters Ridge that we both felt it was well worth it and it was excellent training for the rigours of the trek we were to go on to experience in Nepal.