On the Saturday morning will stocked up on a full Scottish Breakfast, packed the pack lunch that the Hotel provided in our rucksacks and headed off for our walk at half 9. Sun was shinning, wind was calm and the Stags were making themselves heard once more.
|Neil and Colin, Ready for a long day of walking|
The start of the walk follows the private road between the Cluanie Inn to Tomodoun.
|Looking north back torwards the Cluanie Inn.|
We ignored the first path up to first summit Creag a' Mhaim as Colin had done a recce back in August and found it to be boggy and hard going, instead we continued on the road to a path the south west end of ridge. The path is well maintained and zig zags it's way up to the top. The view looking back eastwards towards Loch Loyne was spectacular.
|View from half way up Creag a' Mhaim, looking east towards Loch Loyne|
|Summit of Creag a' Mhaim, 947m|
|Viewing looking north towards Loch Shiel|
The Cluanie Ridge was stretched out before us, all the first summits were clear of cloud, but the end of the Ridge had their heads in the clouds.
|View looking West along the Cluanie Ridge|
|Looking west from ridge towards Druim Shionnach|
|Looking back east towards Creag a' Mhaim|
|Druim Shionnach summit cairn, looking west towards the next Munroe, Aonach air Chrith|
|Neil pointing out where we'd come from - the Cluanie Inn.|
Progress to next Munroe was slower thanks to the steady climb up to the highest point on the ridge - Aonach air Chrith at 1021m.
|Aonach air Chrith|
We caught two fellow walkers on the descent down the crags, they were planning to do all 7 munros, but suspect they will have been too slow to do it before nightfall as we only just managed it.
|Looking back to the craggy descent, looks rather more benign than it was.|
|Maol Chinn-Dearg summit, 981m|
|Looking south towards Loch Quoich|
The descent from Maol Chinn-Dearg and traverse of the ridge to Sgurr an Doire Leathain offered lots of good ground so were were able to jog most of it.
|View west towards Sgurr an Doire Leathain, hidden in cloud|
|Just before the summit, looking back east|
|Sgurr an Doire Leathain summit, 1010m|
|Cloud scape on the descent from Sgurr an Doire Leathain|
|Sgurr an Lochain, 1004m|
We got out the first compasses to double check the direction of the path we were on, were expecting west, but it suggested we were heading north. This just didn't feel right as we never recalled making a right turn at any point during the ascent. A second compass agreed with the first. But still we weren't convinced, finally smart phone with compass agreed as well. Three blokes think west, three compasses say north.
Out comes the map on Colin's phone, then the actual OS map. Yep there is an out and back on this munroe, with a T junction just before the summit that we missed. We back tracked and eventually found the path to the right heading off to the west. Relieved to have caught our navigation mistake before it we wasted too much time/risk heading off down a very steep descent, we then made our way down out of the cloud and heading back west towards the final Munroe of the day - Creag nan Damh.
I polished off the last of my food just before the ascent and enjoyed this final climb. Neil and Colin were reporting being pretty knackered on this climb, but with all my ultra races and training found myself nearer the end of journey still with plenty of energy. The last hundred foot of the climb I just let rip and ran up to the summit, bounding up like an excited puppy.
The summit was only just in cloud so we get occasional hints of views around. It was no 4:50pm with the first hints that sunlight was diminishing.
|Creag nan Damh|
|Last scramble before the final descent.|
|View back down the scramble crag|
|His raised his arms and the clouds parted revealing the way ahead|
It took us another 1:40 to get down to the car, only 2 1/2 miles away but it was a real slog. It felt like the end of the glen never got any nearer, and the path that we hopped would improve as we got to the bottom of the glen never improved, only got boggier.
One final hurdle was a small river we had to cross, we couldn't spot any bridge so stepped across the stones, Neil with his long legs made it across without incident, me and my short legs ended up slipping and only just avoiding getting wet, while Colin slipped on the first stone and ended up in the drink and waded across the rest of the river.
Once over the rive it was easy walking back to the car, just before it got dark. By the time we had driven the 6 miles back up to the hotel it was dark. One more surprise was awaiting us - right next to our accommodation three female red deer were standing close by and looking right at us. They didn't show any fear, were calm and just watched us.
|Deer at the Cluanie Inn|
The next morning we work to brilliant, unfortunately Colin needed to be back in Aberfoyle to be with his family so we all headed back home straight after breakfast.
Not before a few final photo's. The following captures the Cluanie Ridge in all it's glory. Sadly the staff accommodation and generator and equipment rather spoiled the otherwise epic view.
|View of the Cluanie Ridge from the Cluanie Inn.|
The drive home was stunning, especially the descent down to Loch Garry, the Loch sparked in the early morning sunshine whilst banks of mist boiled around the loch, forest and hills producing scenes of jaw dropping beauty. Alas we were in too much of hurry to stop and take photo's, so I only have memories of this. If only I had a means for downloading images from my head... Just wait a few more decades perhaps...