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Sgurr a Mhaoraich

19th of February 2004. A spectacularly clear day climbing above quiet glens for distant views

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A somewhat later start to the day than I had planned meant I wound my way along the shores of Loch Quoich to the point where the road crosses the northern arm of the loch and parked just beyond it at about 11.00. A short stroll down the road led to the point where the stalkers' path leads up onto Bac nan Canaichean which is the south ridge of Sgurr nan Coire nan Eirichellach. Just beyond here there was a group of twenty or so stags on the road and they seemed totaly unphased by the small fleet of landrovers (support for some team building excersise as far as I could tell) that drove past them.

Being a stalkers' path the path kept out of sight of the corrie for most of the time but climbing the bank at the side of it and wandering over to the crest revealed the view down to a sparkling loch below and the reflected view towards the mountains on the far side. As I came up to Sgurr nan Coire nan Eirichellach there was a sizable snow slope which would have been hard to cross without the aid of a previous walker's footprints. I would have had to walk round this snow without them since my crampons and ice-axe were in the boot of the car. As it was getting over the scarp slope at the top required me to hold my walking poles just above their baskets to clamber over.

After Sgurr nan Coire nan Eirichellach the ridge led on to Sgurr a Mhaoraich with views steeply down into Wester Glen Quoich on the right and Coire nan Eirichellach more gently on the left. As I attained the summit of Sgurr a Mhaoraich the view down to Loch Hourn and westwards to Skye was revealed. The air was so clear that the peaks of the whole of Scotland were on view all the way from Ben Lomond to Ben Hope and over in the east the Cairngorms glistened in the sun.

After playing the game of spot the peak and taking lots of photographs I made my way northwards past Am-Bathaich to Sgurr Thionail. There was a faint path along here despite the fact that Sgurr Thionail isn't a Corbett (lacking the necessary 150m drop to its Munro neighbour) and I spent most of my time trying not to reinforce it. I left my pack at a prominent rock by a small pool just beyond Am-Bathaich to pick it up on the way back.

As the sun dipped down I began to realise that I was in danger of having to make my way over Am-Bathaich in the dark. I always knew I would be walking back to the car in the dark but hoped to only be walking along the landrover track from Alltbeithe in full darkness. So grabbing a few shots of the view west with mist and cloud beginning to fill the glens I made haste to get to the start of the stalkers' path off Am-Bathaich whilst the twilight lasted. As I crossed the crest of Am-Bathaich the setting sun bathed Gleourach in orange light.

Then down into the glen as the gloom increased I was safely on the zigzags of the path before it was dark. However I managed to lose the path as it leveled out and ended up following the wrong side of Allt Coire a Chaorainn to where it joins the River Quoich. Fortunately the stream wasn't hard to cross and I was soon on the track along the loch leading back to the road. My car as well as my pack were covered in frost so I had to clear the windows for a second time that day. As I drove back along the road I surprised a family of badgers and a tawny owl.

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