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Sgurr na Ciche

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This is not a walk for the unfit or the inexperienced! It takes in three Munros on the north flank of Glen Dessary, in the wonderful and well-named area known as "The Rough Bounds." The walk begins at the west end of Loch Arkaig, where the public road terminates. The road continuing up Glen Dessary is private, though it is the right of way to Inverie. Take this to Upper Glendessary and continue along the path above the trees.

The Allt Coire nan Uth has a bridge, useful when the burns are in spate. Once across the bridge, turn up to take the south ridge of the first summit, Sgurr nan Coireachan (953m). The ridge narrows nicely before the summit.

Now go west then south-west to the Bealach Coire nan Gall at 733m. There is a good dry-stane dyke to follow along the ridge, lulling one into an easy navigational frame of mind. There is one top (Garbh Chioch Bheag, 968m) to pass over before reaching the second Munro, Garbh Chioch Mhor (big rough place of the breast, 1013m).

The dyke is still followed west (what a labour that must have been) then north-west, leading to the col at 845m below Sgurr na Ciche. This is wonderfully named Feadan na Ciche, or the whistle or chanter of the peak, no doubt from the near-constant drone of the wind at this spot. Above lie the rocky slopes leading to the summit of Sgurr na Ciche (peak of the breast).

The return to the car is by going back down to the windy col, then descending a narrow, boulder-filled gully south-west towards Coire na Ciche. At its foot, at an altitude of about 670m, contour south-east below the crags of Garbh Chioch Mhor and follow a small burn down grassy slopes to gain the Bealach an Lagain Duibh. Finish down the path in Glen Dessary, a bit of a squelch, to pick up the outward route at the Allt Coire nan Uth.

This area is known for its high rainfall and with steep, rocky hills the burns are infamous for becoming raging torrents very quickly. Walkers have been drowned here. Walking into Sourlies Bothy one winter weekend, we had to jump one such burn just above the bothy (it's now bridged). Landing at a bit of rope in mid-stream (if you missed…) I damaged a knee.

I had to abandon a walk the following day, while obviously worrying about getting back to the car the day after that. In the event it was quite odd; I found it too painful walking along the path but could just manage the steeper slopes, slowly, so we went out via the ridge walk described above! This provides another option for the walk; go into the bothy (or camp, as it is sadly too popular now) and walk out via Sgurr na Ciche etc., starting up the ridge above Sourlies called the Druim a'Ghoirtein.


Maps: OS Sheet 33 'Loch Alsh, Glen Shiel & Loch Hourn' & 40 'Mallaig & Glenfinnan, Loch Shiel'
Distance: 26 km
Ascent: 1400 m
Time: 8 hours
Food & Drink: The closest fleshpots will be found at Spean Bridge, with possible refreshments slightly closer to hand at Achnacarry or Gairlochy.


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