Monday, May 14, 2007

Glen Shiel Hills: Aonach Mheadhoin (135), Sgurr a' Bhealaich Dheirg (96), Saileag (205) and Ciste Dhubh (173)

Walk date: 10/05/07
My Munro #'s: 116, 117, 118 and 119

Pronunciations - translations - heights:
Oenach vain - middle hill - 1001m
Skoor a vyaleech yerak - peak of the red pass - 1036m
Saalak - little heel - 956m
Keesta doo - black chest - 979m

Duration - 08:45-17:10
Distance - 22.9km
Total ascent - 2009m
Weather - warm at start, light rain here and there. Wind picking up toward end of day.
Team - solo
Other hikers: 2

If you're combining, repeating hills is a certainty:

Hiking Expedition '07 - Glen Shiel area - Day 6 (Thurs 10th)
With the forecast that this would be the least good of the remaining days here, I postponed the South Shiel ridge for another day, and took on this North Shiel ridge, with the otional add-on of Ciste Dubh. As I made my way from the car however, I found myself taking off the layers and worrying that I hadn't put sun-block on as the sun shone warmly down! This made for a very warm ascent to Sgurr an Fhuarail, over an initial flat and boggy grassland and then steep grass slopes, neither of which came with a path. Other travellers must have come this way however, as once on top a good path suddenly appears and is then present for the entire ridge.
Cluanie Inn and Loch from the rise to Sgurr an Fhuarail:
More up and down than I had expected takes you onto the rocky backbone of Aonach Meadhoin, a massive wide chunk of a mountain with the cairn being almost its only feature. Moving off toward the day's highest point, Sgurr a' Bhealaich Dheirg, the path makes its way over some fun outcrops of rock, but these can be easily avoided by the obvious adjacent path. Once up at height again, the summit itself is a short walk northeasterly along a rocky spur capped by an impressively solid cairn given its position. The way is absolutely fine, but I can imagine that adding in snow, ice and wind would make things a little spicier.
Aonach Mheadhoin and its bleak top:
Those outcrops on the way to Sgurr a Bealaich Dheirg:
Great views north along Allt Cam-Ban:
The rocky cairn of Sgurr a' Bhealaich Dheirg:
Once back on the main path, some easy walking leads toward another cairn, the path heading down westwards just before reaching it. Saileag is then soon reached with just some minor up and down relative to what's gone before. Whether I was to go for Ciste Dubh or not, my initial route was to retrace my steps to Sgurr an Fhuarail, but given that the weather had been mainly good and that my time on this break was running out, the decision was pretty much already made in the positive. Thus I set about losing a depressing 400m down to Bealach a' Choinich.
Poor Saileag's cairn is a little lacking:
Ciste Dubh from Sgurr an Fhuarail:
At the bealacah some refreshments were taken in before a return to climbing, which unfortunately started with a steep and extremely boggy rise, but one which soon enough became solid and good underfoot. The route to summit was then straightforward and just required the effort to be put in. The top, which is often described as sharp, is indeed 'pointy', but at no point requires use of hands and is basically a walk, incidentally ending in a rather cute stacked cairn.
That pointy top of Ciste Dhubh:
Best cairn of the day award goes to Ciste Dhubh:
I didn't hang around on top and was soon trying to find a path off Bealach a' Choinich back toward The Cluanie Inn. A path does develop, but on this day at least it was mostly bog. This was on the eastern side of Allt a' Chaorainn Bhig, but paths on the western side initially seemed no better. However, once the western side turned turned into a wide farm track and my eastern side started to veer a little too eastward, I decided to jump the river and take the low road right back to my lovely little car, happy that I had successfully added an extra hill on an already satisfying day.

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