Five Sisters of Kintail
Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe, Sgurr nan Carnachan and Sgurr Fhuaran
by Jackie Carson
||Car park at Glen Sheil
Sheet 33, GR NH005136
time 6 to 8 hours. We took 10. The weather was so good we
sat on the summits for ages soaking up the sun and taking
in the views.
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For those who have read my summary of An Teallach in mid July
you'll know my problem was with clegs. This time it was midges.
Camping in Glen Shiel mid August in what has been described
as the worst year ever for midges was not a good idea. Next
time it will be a B&B. Fortunately my precautions of taking
vitamin B12 (yeast tablets) seemed to work. No bites for me.
The sheer number of midges however meant they were everywhere,
in my eyes and up my nose. You couldn't breath without inhaling
them. They were battering against my face so much it felt like
a rain shower. Tent went up in record time.
on photo for larger image
|My companions weren't quite so lucky.
They got eaten alive. The heavy duty Zambian mosquito repellent
had no effect. The only solution was full waterproofs and a great
deal of swearing. Jackie standing in the field in shorts laughing
probably didn't help. Hadn't even got to the hill and a rebellion
was already brewing.
from the car park
in Glen Sheil at GR 005136. From here
a gate leads into the edge of a recently felled forest.
An obvious track leads off up the hill but you will be on
the wrong side of the new deer fence. Instead head a few
metres E along the road and pick up another track running
to the East of another set of the trees.
- Follow this track which is very well defined in places
to the Bealach na Lapain, 730 m, GR 007145. It's a slog
up 550 m of very steep ground. The bealach was a welcome
site. Not just because it meant an end to the steep angle
but it also afforded a slight breeze. Just enough to blow
away the hoard of midges hovering above my head. Vitamin
B12 was still working so no bites so far.
Click on photo for larger image
From the col there are fantastic views
of the route ahead. Sgurr Fhuaran looking particularly
interesting (and steep). Follow the well trodden path
WNW towards the summit of Sgurr Spainteach, 990 m, GR
- Continue along the ridge heading towards the first munro,
Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe. Descend steeply from Sgurr Spainteach.
Some simple scrambling is required here. The route is
well defined and there are plenty of hand holds available.
After scrambling down a climb of around 100 m is all that
remains to reach the summit, 1027 m, GR 984150. The summit
is a reasonably sized plateau with a large cairn which
presented an ideal photo opportunity.
- From the summit we descended W off the plateau then
contoured NW below the main summit ridge picking up a
faint track. The path disappeared here and there as we
ran into a short boulder field. Once through the boulders
we picked the path up again and descended to the col,
900 m, GR 978155.
- The path continues up the S flank of Sgurr nan Carnachan,
1002 m, GR 978159. At this point the views over Loch Duich
and into Skye came into their own.
- The final munro, Sgurr Fhuaran lies less that a km away,
with the col at 860 m this meant the route ahead would
be steep. The path did it's best to pick the easiest angle
but when you've got to go up you've got to go up.
- Another large cairn greets you at the summit of Sgurr
Fhuaran, 1067 m, GR 979167. From this vantage point it
was possible to look back over the route and into to top
of Coire Domhain.
Click on photo for larger image
- From Sgurr Fhuaran it is possible to descend very steeply
into Glen Sheil. As we planned to walk the whole ridge our
second car was left at Sheil Bridge so we carried on to
Sgurr nan Saighead, 929m GR 975178 simply following the
- Our final summit was Beinn Bhuidhe, 869 m GR 970182. Although
a good deal lower than the other summits this hill gave
a great view back to Sgurr Fhuaran over Sgurr nan Saighead.
A final short section of scrambling was required to reach
the summit. If desired this hill could be bypassed by following
a track running to the South.
- To descend back to Sheil bridge we headed W the NW off
the summit dropping in sections to the foot of Sgurr an
t-Searraich. From here we picked up a track contouring below
the hill which eventually returned to the road opposite
the filling station.
All the guidebooks describe this as a classic day out on
the Scottish hills. A classic day required classic weather.
We got just that, blue skies and views as far as the eye could
see in all directions. In low cloud care should be taken descending
from Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe but otherwise a very well defined
track can be followed.
We chose to descend to Sheil bridge but if desired a car could
be left further along the A87 at Ault a' Chruinn, GR 946203.
A path leads to here from the base of Beinn Bhuidhe following
the N side of the Allt a' Chruinn. A final option would be to
climb the 5th Sister Sgurr na Moraich, 876 m, GR 965194.
|Two cars (or a very fit companion) are essential
for this route otherwise you face a long haul back to the start
point. The City Link bus service could be used or possibly the
enterprising taxi company that left their business cards stapled
to the fences in the car parks along Glen Sheil.