Colin's Munros


The Saddle & Sgurr na Sgine, Maps 414S & 33
16th March 2006 & 26th September 2008

Route: Ascent 1800m+ = 5900'+; 10.3 miles; 9 hrs.

Photographs of The Five Sisters of Kintail from The Saddle:

Sgurr Fhuaran, Sgurr na Carnach & Sgurr na Ciste Dubh Sgurr na Ciste Dubh, Saileag & Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg Sgurr Fhuaran, Sgurr na Carnach & Sgurr na Ciste Dubh Sgurr na Carnach, Sgurr na Ciste Dubh, Saileag, Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg, Aonach Meadhoin Sgurr Fhuaran, Sgurr na Carnach & Sgurr na Ciste Dubh Sgurr na Carnach, Sgurr na Ciste Dubh, Saileag, Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg, Aonach Meadhoin

Photographs of the Forcan Ridge:

The Forcan Ridge The N ridge of The Saddle The Forcan Ridge from Meallan Odhar The knife-edge on the Forcan Ridge The two summits of The Saddle The corrie below the summit of The Saddle The summits of The Saddle from the Forcan ridge. The N ridge of The Saddle Sgurr na Forcan (963m) from its 958m top Sgurr na Forcan (963m) and its 958m top The summit of The Saddle and tops of Sgurr na Forcan The summit of The Saddle from the trig post.

Photographs of The Saddle:

The Saddle trig post and snow caves Looking down the N ridge from The Saddle trig post. The summit and N ridge of The Saddle The two summits of The Saddle (left) Spidean Dhomhuill Bhric and Sgurr Leac nan Each Spidean Dhomhuill Bhric and Sgurr Leac nan Each Sgurr Leac nan Each from Spidean Dhomhuill Bhric. Ben Sgritheall from Spidean Dhomhuill Bhric. The W top (left) and main tops (right) of The Saddle The twin tops of The Saddle and Sgurr na Forcan The twin tops of The Saddle and Sgurr na Forcan Sgurr na Forcan and the Forcan ridge

Photographs of Sgurr na Sgine & Faochag:

Faochag and the N Glen Shiel ridge Faochag The ridge from Sgurr na Sgine to Faochag Faochag with the S Glen Shiel ridge behind Sgurr na Sgine with Gleouraich and Sgurr a'Mhaoraich behind. The two tops of Sgurr na Sgine The ridge over to Sgurr na Sgine The ridge over to Sgurr na Sgine The ridge E to Faochag Creag nan Damh with Sgurr an Lochain and Gleouraich

Rating: Classic Route, deservedly 5 star status.
Access: There are two convenient parking places. The first is opposite forestry at NG973138 on the NW-bound side of the A87 at Malagan, 3.9 miles east of the petrol station at Shiel Bridge, 7.8 miles W of Cluanie Inn, 1.75 miles after Eas-nan-Arm bridge over R. Shiel. The other, unmarked on the 1:25000 map, is about 550m NW of the bridge at Malagan, at NG967144 on the SE-bound side of the A87. The latter is the better choice for those omitting Sgurr na Sgine.
Route: As usual, my route includes all the associated Munro tops. On west ridge of The Saddle there are of two these, which adds 2.5 miles to the distance and 340m (3100') to the ascent. The Munro Sgurr na Sgine is usually included with any ascent of The Saddle. The shapely Corbett top Faochag (a deleted Munro top) is an excellent finale to the day and requires almost no extra effort. Underfoot it is certainly the best return route as well.
The Forcan ridge is a straight-forward, but slightly exposed, scramble along a ridge that is literally knife edge at one point: you can sit astride it! Watch out for the bad step immediately after reaching the summit of Sgurr na Forcan: a 20m near vertical drop. It might be better named the “big bad step” because of its height. This can be the crux of the climb, technically slightly harder than the In Pin, but it has a superfluity of excellent holds and is not difficult, just exposed. Moreover, there is an easy descent via a gully by-passing the step on the south side. The two guys behind me used a rope. That did not seem necessary to me even in the winter conditions, but only in retrospect. From its orientation, the sun keeps the face fairly dry and so it is probably often ice-free in winter. It is a ridge worthy of comparison with those in Skye, with some tricky exposed moves on the ascent. If you enjoy this, then you'll do fine in Skye. In wet conditions, I strongly advise avoiding the bad step by using the by-pass to the south. The easiest way to bag the summit of Sgurr na Forcan is certainly as an excursion from the trig point, using the by-pass. This involves essentially no scrambling. There are plenty of pictures of the bad step to study on the internet. If you have not done any scrambling before, don't attempt other parts of the Forcan ridge yet. Gain some easier experience first.
Most of the route from the base of the Forcan ridge to Bealach Coire Mhalagain is rocky, with numerous little pinnacles on the narrow ridges. These add considerably to the expected traversal time, especially in wet conditions when extra care is necessary on the slippery rocks, and the amount of ascent noted above is an under-estimate because of this.
For those descending to the A87 directly from Bealach Coire Mhalagain, please note that the path from the summit of the Saddle becomes indistinct on the bealach but it can be picked up easily lower down at the wall (outlined on the 1:25k map) which runs approximately horizontally from below the bealach round to the base of the Forcan ridge at NG9465613072 (GPS). The path follows the wall, but is very tiresome because of the big rock scree which it crosses.
Map: Use the OS 1:25000 map. The 1:50000 does not have enough detail. Note that the OS post is not at the summit.
Conditions 16/3/06: Cold but dry, mostly cloud-free day. 4°C at car. Light but sharp E wind. Snow above 600m, crampons necessary above 750m.
Conditions 26/9/08: Stiff, cool breeze; overcast; dry.

16/3/0626/9/08 Description Ht.Asc.Dist. Grid Ref.Mob.
08550650 Parking immediately SE of Malagan Bridge   40   00.0 milesNG97301378Talkmobile
   Walk NW along road 350m beyond
Malagan Bridge to gate at path end.
  30 0.4 milesNG9465613072 
09550755 Ascend formerly excellent stalkers' path
(degraded by modern amateurish "repair"
work) SW then NW to Bealach na Craoibhe.
4964701.85 milesNG95181417 
10300830 Continue S/SW on path up Meallan Odhar
to cairn/wall at foot of Forcan ridge
6806502.6 milesNG9465613072 
 0845 Scramble up to top of first section of ridge 8257952.85 milesNG94431313 
11150905 W up ridge to T Sgurr na Forcan 9639553.1 milesNG94031305 
   W down exposed bad step (20m)
or gully on S side to col
935 3.2 milesNG93911305 
   W to top 9589753.25 milesNG93831304 
   WNW to col 935 3.28 milesNG93761307 
11450930 WNW to true summit M The Saddle 101010503.4 milesNG93611313 
   SW to dip 995  milesNG93551310 
11500935 SW to The Saddle (trig pt) 101010653.5 milesNG93481307Orange
   W/WSW to col 950 3.7 milesNG93101291 
12250955 The Saddle – W Top 96810753.95 milesNG92781282No Orange
 1005 W to col 891 4.2 milesNG92361284 
12451010 WNW to T Spidean Dhomhuill Bhric 93911254.3 milesNG92221294No Orange
   W to col 853 4.5 milesNG91951300 
13051025 NW/NNW to T Sgurr Leac nan Each 91911904.7 milesNG9177313313No Orange
   Return S/SSE/SE to col 853 4.95 milesNG91951300 
13251042 E to T Spidean Dhomhuill Bhric 93912755.1 milesNG92221294No Orange
   ESE to col 891 5.25 milesNG92361284 
13501100 E to The Saddle – W Top 96813455.5 milesNG92781282No Orange
   ENE to col 950 5.7 milesNG93101291 
ENE to The Saddle (trig pt) 101014055.95 milesNG93481307Orange
15001155 Descend SE ridge and then E across corrie
to Lochan Bealach Coire Mhalagain.
699 6.7 milesNG94401252 
15251215 (If necessary, return via path by wall
to base of Forcan ridge.)   Otherwise,
path SE to ridge cairn (almost at top)
88015856.9 milesNG94521212 
15351220 Path SW/S to col 857 7.07 milesNG94441189 
1230 S to T Sgurr na Sgine, NW Top
(Not a very worthy Munro top.)
94216607.27 milesNG94381158No Orange
   SE to col 921 7.33 milesNG94451152 
16001240 SE to M Sgurr na Sgine
(Orange 5m from summit)
94616857.45 milesNG94581138No Orange
   Return NW to col 921 7.55 milesNG94451152 
16051250 NW to T Sgurr na Sgine, NW Top 94217057.62 milesNG94381158No Orange
   N to col 857 7.82 milesNG94441189 
16201305 N/NNE to top (near cairn for path up) 88017157.97 milesNG94521212 
   E to col 855 8.25 milesNG94931224 
16401320 E to Faochag 90917908.6 milesNG95461234Orange
 1405 Path NE down ridge towards Allt
Mhalagain path: Stile in deer fence
280 9.45 milesNG96641309 
 1420 Gate in deer fence & river ford. (There is
a bridge slightly upstream if necessary)
  55 9.83 milesNG97091351 
17551430 Track N back to A87 parking layby.   40179510.3 milesNG97301378Talkmobile

Previous Top Next