Choice of Route:
This is a large and complex mountain system with wonderful corries on its northern slopes.
Because of its size, it is important to choose a route which minimises the effort involved.
Roughly speaking, all routes start with a walk in to Alltbeithe Youth Hostel, a walk encompassing all the Munros and Munro Tops back to the YH, and then a walk out back to the start. The route round the tops has many options, the most significant one affecting distance being whether or not to return via the path under Sgurr Gaorsaic. The most significant way of reducing the amount of ascent is to traverse corries between the three main northerly ridges rather than ascending ridges each time to the summit of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan. However, this introduces a greater element of danger in icy conditions, as noted below.
To minimise the ascent and/or distance, here is a list of the different options for traversing between three bealachs at NH05132501, NH06652350 and NH07952288 respectively on the north, north-east and east ridges of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan. Let us call these three points ColN, ColNE and ColE.
Thus, Route 5 is the shortest overall in total distance, and for all practical purposes equal least in ascent. Note that there is 9.8 miles with 220m ascent from the Glen Affric parking to Strawberry Cottage and back. This is via the south side of Loch Affric. Using the path along the north side of Loch Affric is around 0.3 miles further with maybe 10m more ascent. Also, there is 16.66 miles with 390m ascent from the Glen Affric parking to Alltbeithe Youth Hostel and back (via the south side of Loch Affric), and 12.15 miles with 395m ascent from the layby near Cluanie Inn to Alltbeithe Youth Hostel and back. The paths and tracks from Glen Affric to the Youth Hostel are of much higher quality than those from the Cluanie Inn side.
For these routes the only significant danger is contouring round the cliffs above Loch an Fhraoich-choire in icy conditions (NH05672445 to NH05332459). Less difficult is contouring west from the bealach ColNE to An Gorm-lochan (NH06652350 to NH05892355). For neither of these is there any path. Most straight-forward is the descent WNW from the bealach ColE to Loch Coire nan Dearcag (NH07952288 to NH07212313) for which there is a path. Overall, Route 3 and Route 4 are therefore safer in icy conditions than Route 5 or Route 6.
Route 1 (17/4/04) from Cluanie Inn: Poor, very wet paths (partly the weather),
endless peat bogs in valleys.
There are other choices of route over the Munro tops of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan. In particular, there is a path from the bealach due N of the YH into Coire nan Dearcag, enabling an ascent to Bealach nan Daoine and then Mullach na Dheiragain without going via the summit of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan. The start of this path is marked by a small cairn around 100m west of the bealach at NH07862291.
The second route uses this alternative, and would save 2½ miles in this the first route mainly by avoiding the big (though easy) circumnavigation round the west side of Sgurr Gaorsaic.
It is well worth staying in the Glen Affric Youth Hostel the nights before and after to cut the distance on the day by about 12 miles.
Weather 17/4/04: Snow, cloud & increasingly strong wind from 9 a.m.
|0455||Park A87 near Cluanie Inn at track end.
(There is also parking on the old road
layby beside forestry at NH08701209.)
|0545||Track & very boggy path N to pass||430||200||2.75 miles||NH07791614|
|Path N over ftbr to Glen Affric YH (Alltbeithe)||270||215||5.75 miles||NH07952023|
|0810||Ascend path due N to bealach||795||745||7.6 miles||NH07952288|
|E to minor pt on ridge||843||795||7.75 miles||NH08162283|
|E to neighbouring col||818||7.95 miles||NH08482287|
|0835||E to M An Socach NH088230||921||900||8.15 miles||NH08822300|
|Return W to col||818||8.4 miles||NH08482287|
|W along ridge to minor pt.||843||925||8.6 miles||NH08162283|
|0855||W back to bealach||795||8.7 miles||NH07952288|
|0905||W/SW to T Stob Coire na Cloiche||915||1045||9.0 miles||NH07522272|
|WSW to col||875||9.1 miles||NH07352262|
|0915||WSW to Stob Coire nan Dearcag||941||1115||9.27 miles||NH07152250|
|W to col with lochan||915||9.4 miles||NH06922249|
|0930||W to E top of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan||970||1175||9.7 miles||NH06462252|
|W to col||955||9.77 miles||NH06352253|
|0955||W/NW to M Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan||1151||1375||10.25 miles||NH05702287|
|W to col||1105||10.4 miles||NH05452280|
|1010||W to T Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan W Top||1143||1412||10.5 miles||NH05292283|
|Return E to col||1105||10.6 miles||NH05452280|
|1025||Return E to M Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan||1151||1460||10.75 miles||NH05702287|
|1050||Descend ridge NE to Bealach nan Daoine||845||11.5 miles||NH06652350|
|1120||Continue NE to T Carn na Con Dhu||967||1590||12.05 miles||NH07262418|
|NNE to Bealach na Con Dhu||885||12.75 miles||NH07782515|
|1150||NNE to M Mullach na Dheiragain||982||1690||13.25 miles||NH08062594|
|Further N to Bealach na Dheiragain||925||13.4 miles||NH08072620|
|1200||N to T Mullach Sithidh||974||1730||13.6 miles||NH08212641|
|Return S to Bealach na Dheiragain||925||13.75 miles||NH08072620|
|Re-ascend S to M Mullach na Dheiragain||982||1795||13.9 miles||NH08062594|
|SSW to Bealach na Con Dhu||885||14.45 miles||NH07782515|
|Continue SSW to T Carn na Con Dhu||967||1880||15.12 miles||NH07262418|
|SW to Bealach nan Daoine||845||15.7 miles||NH06652350|
|Turn W off ridge, descend 100m to avoid cliffs
& contour round to S side of An Gorm Lochan
|Ascend W to col S of Stuc Bheag||1030||2072||16.55 miles||NH05252336|
|1400||NNE up to T Stuc Bheag||1075||2122||16.8 miles||NH05352372|
|N to col||995||17.0 miles||NH05302402|
|1415||N to T Stuc Mor||1041||2175||17.15 miles||NH05362427|
|NNW to bealach||883||17.65 miles||NH05132501|
|1445||N to T Stob Fraoch Choire NH052253||918||2210||17.8 miles||NH05212530|
|Descend SW to Allt Coire-Lochain.||600||18.53 miles||NH04432454|
|Contour round W into Gleann Gaorsaic
and descend SW to valley path.
|Path S to beside L. Thuill Easaich.||400||2210||20.0 miles||NH03002316|
|Head S to path junction S of Loch a'Bhealaich||400||21.65 miles||NH02962063|
|1745||Follow path E then S to bridge
(It is normally better to continue to bridge
by YH to avoid fording the Allt Cam-ban.)
|Path/bog SW to ford of Allt Cam-ban
(Saves 1 mile over ftbr at YH, but
very wet peat hags in Fionngleann.
|SE over peat hags to Allt a'Chomhlain
and ascend very sodden path S to pass
|1945||Track S back to end on A87||230||2405||30.15 miles||NH09201205|
Route 2 (19/4/08) from Glen Affric:
Although this route is nominally much shorter than that from Cluanie Inn, half of the difference is
from traversing the hills in a different way rather than due to the walks in and out.
Strawberry Cottage is 5 miles from the Glen Affric Car Park (mostly cyclable).
Starting from the latter would make both walks about 30 miles long from the road,
but here there are 3½ more miles on hill paths instead of valley tracks.
However, Route 1 could have been shortened (as noted above) by 2½ miles.
(30.4 miles and 2195m ascent) is the same route starting at the parking in Glen Affric.
Equipment: For winter conditions, ice axe and crampons may be required particularly for contouring round above Loch an Fhraoich-choire.
Weather: Sunny intervals, cold but light east wind, dry, slowish snow on ground down to 2000', freezing level below 3000'.
Mobile: No Orange reception on any tops.
|0610||Strawberry Cottage||235||0||0.0 miles||NH13252063||No Orange|
|0620||Track W to join Path||255||20||0.33 miles||NH1270420813|
|0645||Track W to Allt Coire Ghaidhiel||260||50||1.5 miles||NH10812085|
|Path N to Bealach Coire Ghaidhiel||715||505||3.57 miles||NH0984623827|
|0825||Ridge SW to pt 906||906||695||4.0 miles||NH0933423440|
|SW to col||875||4.2 miles||NH09402325|
|0840||Ridge SW to M An Socach||921||745||4.4 miles||NH08822300||No Orange|
|0850||Ridge W to shallow minor col||818||4.65 miles||NH0849922878|
|W along ridge to minor pt.||843||775||4.85 miles||NH08122281|
|0900||Ridge W to bealach at path from YH||795||5.0 miles||NH07952288|
|0905||Ridge W for 200m to cairn at descent path||820||800||5.1 miles||NH0774522900|
|0925||W down to N end Loch Coire nan Dearcag||735||5.45 miles||NH0717923102|
|0940||NW out of corrie to nr Bealach nan Daoine||845||900||5.9 miles||NH06652350|
|1005||Ridge NE to T Carn na Con Dhu||967||1030||6.45 miles||NH0727324189||No Orange|
|NNE to Bealach na Con Dhu||885||7.15 miles||NH07782515|
|NNE to M Mullach na Dheiragain||982||1133||7.7 miles||NH0804225918||No Orange|
|Further N to Bealach na Dheiragain||925||7.85 miles||NH08072620|
|1105||N to T Mullach Sithidh||974||1170||8.0 miles||NH0821826415||No Orange|
|Return S to Bealach na Dheiragain||925||8.15 miles||NH08072620|
|1120||Re-ascend S to M Mullach na Dheiragain||982||1235||8.3 miles||NH08062594||No Orange|
|SSW to Bealach na Con Dhu||885||8.85 miles||NH07782515|
|1205||Continue SSW to T Carn na Con Dhu||967||1325||9.53 miles||NH07272420||No Orange|
|SW back to Bealach nan Daoine||845||10.1 miles||NH06652350|
|1305||Descend W by 75m to avoid cliffs, & contour
round to below outflow from An Gorm Lochan
|1345||NNW to NE ridge of Stuc Mor, then between
upper/lower cliffs to N ridge of Stuc Mor
|NNW down to broad col||883||11.6 miles||NH05172510|
|1405||N to T Stob (Stuc) Fraoch Choire||918||1485||11.8 miles||NH0522325309||No Orange|
|Return S to broad col||883||12.0 miles||NH05172510|
|1445||SSE to T Stuc Mor||1041||1647||12.47 miles||NH0536724279||No Orange|
|SSW to col||995||12.63 miles||NH05302402|
|SSE up to T Stuc Bheag||1075||1730||12.8 miles||NH0535823732||No Orange|
|S to col||1030||13.05 miles||NH05252333|
|1535||S to T Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan, W Top||1143||1850||13.43 miles||NH0529422815||No Orange|
|E to col||1105||13.52 miles||NH05452280|
|1555||NE to M Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan||1151||1895||13.7 miles||NH0570422846||No Orange|
|E to col||955||14.15 miles||NH06392251|
|E to E top of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan||970||1915||14.22 miles||NH06462252|
|E to col with lochan||915||14.5 miles||NH06852252|
|E to Stob Coire nan Dearcag||941||1947||14.65 miles||NH07152250|
|NE to col||875||14.8 miles||NH07352262|
|1645||NE to T Stob Coire na Cloiche||915||1987||14.9 miles||NH0752322724||No Orange|
|1655||Ridge NE/E to nr bealach||795||15.22 miles||NH07952288|
|1745?||Path S down to lower gate in deer fence||300||16.75 miles||NH0827020535|
|SE cross country to valley track||260||17.0 miles||NH07952023|
|1810||Track (formerly path) E to track end||250||1992||17.9 miles||NH09952085|
|1820||Track E to Allt Coire Ghaidhiel||265||2000||18.45 miles||NH10812085|
|1900||Track E to Strawberry Cottage||235||2030||19.93 miles||NH13252063||No Orange|