Thursday, 5 May 2011

The Saddle (1010m) and Sgurr na Sgine (946m)

After a great weekend in Braemar with CAAC for the Balmoral 10k, Neil and I drove across to the West, where we had a cottage booked in a small place called Conchra – just off the main road a few miles past Eilan Donan Castle. It was a great base for our week and perfectly placed for our planned adventures. The first of which was a Munro double, the Saddle and Sgurr na Sgine – 2 adjacent hills, with the first, the Saddle incorporating the Forcan Ridge, a great scramble. We couldn’t have wished for a more perfect day weather and view wise. The first part of the walk involved following a stalkers path up to the ridge before the scramble began. I really enjoyed the challenge of the scramble, and felt quite safe throughout, as there were some good hand holds and rocks to support yourself on. There were routes around to avoid the scramble if wanted, but as pointed out in the Munro book ‘this would defeat the object of the ascent’. I was pleased to see the cairn come into view on the last section – a hard climb, but one of my favourites to date. We enjoyed our lunch on the summit before continuing onto hill number two for the day.

There was a fair drop between the two hills and a challenging rocky descent off the Saddle. We arrived at the top of Sgurr na Sgine when the light off the hills was beginning to look quite spectacular. We could see across to Syke, Knoydart, the South Glen Shiel Ridge to mention a few. After spending a bit of time on the summit, (this was number 60 for me) we started the walk down. The route followed a ridge for a way, then back up a bit before the real descent began. I could see our car; it was a tiny red dot, some 900m below us! I’m never a fan of the descent, although my Leki walking poles which I got last birthday are proving to be invaluable, especially with keeping my ankles intact! Neil recently got some walking poles too and is feeling the benefits. I enjoyed watching the sun setting over the surrounding mountains on the way down; the ever changing colours were beautiful. We spotted a couple of wild campers who had pitched their tents along the way. I envied them, as I looked down on what we still had to do to get back to the car! We arrived back to the car with weary legs, but I have to say, one of my favourite ever hill walks. I’ll remember this one for some time.

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