Saturday, 16 May 2015

Scotland 2015. Day 6 South Glen Shiel Ridge Walk

The weather forecast was good for today so it was with some anticipation that I awoke early, breakfasted and packed ready for a 7.30 pick up by Peter and Linda.  Our plan was to walk the South Glen Shiel Ridge, a roller-coasting narrow ridge, knife edge at times, running for seven and half miles along the south side of Glen Shiel.  Although significantly better than the last few days, there was still a fair amount of cloud about but this was to clear and the light got better and better as the day went on.  Driving up the Glen Linda dropped us at the Cluanie Hotel and we were walking by 8.00 am.  Our first surprise was the group of three red deer hinds that were not fazed by us at all and allowed close photographs, even with the compact camera.  Our route took us first along the tarmacced track to Clunie Lodge before heading steeply up the hillside to the summit of our first munro: Druim Shionnach, with the views expanding all the time back down the glen and across to the North Shiel ridge which was to be tomorrow’s target.  Once on the summit it was a delight to sit for a while over a coffee and cereal bar and let our eyes wander over the endless vista of mountains to the south of us; hundreds, it seemed, none of which we had climbed.  Scotland is still a vast wilderness and long may it remain.  As we looked around,we both noted the grass, still bleached white by the retreating winter snows.
Following our short break we tackled the out and back to our second munro, Creag a’ Mhaim.  Heading west after this the ridge rose and fell constantly with little of no flat.  It was consistently narrow and often exhilaratingly knife edged.  There was still an awful lot of snow about with massive cornices built up on the head walls of the north facing corries.  Some of these were partially collapsed and it was then possible to see into the depths of the snow/ice which gleamed a beautiful milky turquoise colour.
At last it was time to head back down to the glen from our final summit of Creag nan Damh through a remote corrie, picking up a path by a magnificent waterfall, which fell free of the cliff for a couple of hundred feet.  When walking high on the ridge I love to hear the muted sound of rushing water far below and then lower down to revel in the sharper, more intimate sound of white water and gurgling rivers.  Once back at the road,Heather and Linda were there to meet us with a welcome cold beer.

A fantastic day: 17 miles, 6500 feet of ascent and 7 munros to add to the tally. 

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