Stob Ghabhar

Meaning: Peak of Goats

Munro Region: Strath Orchy to Loch Leven

Munro Number: 54

Height in Metres: 1090

Height in Feet: 3578

OS Map Reference OS Sheet 50; 230455


These two mountains rise a few kilometres north-west of the west end of Loch Tulla. Stob Ghabhar is a particularly fine peak with its summit standing on the edge of the cliffs at the head of its great east-facing corrie. This side of the mountain is well seen from the road across Rannoch Moor. Stob a' Choire Odhair is a much lower peak, but it also looks impressive as seen from the east. The ascent of these two mountains is usually made from the west end of Loch Tulla. Go along the track to Clashgour for 1½ kilometres and turn right along the path on the east side of the Allt Toaig. Go up it for 2½ kilometres and then climb a zigzag stalker's path up the steep slopes of Stob a' Choire Odhair. This path leads high up onto the hill and ends a short distance from the summit. To continue the traverse, go west down a broad stony ridge to the col at the head of Coire Toaig. Climb steeply to reach the east ridge of Stob Ghabhar, and traverse its narrow rocky crest to reach the summit. The descent goes south-east down wide grassy slopes to the Allt Toaig where a safe crossing place should be found to regain the path on the east side.


Stac Pollaidh

Stac Pollaidh is a fine wee hill, with a popularity out of proportion to its height of 613m. Take the A835 north out of Ullapool and turn left for Achiltibuie and the Summer Isles after about 16km. An Inverpolly Nature Reserve Car Park lies on the lochside of the road under the hedgehog ridge that is the feature of this short walk. It is suitable for a morning or afternoon, or even an evening if you have just arrived in this area and wish to both stretch your legs and see what's on offer!

The hill has been so popular that the steep path up loose slopes became badly eroded. Much work has contained this damage however and in fact Stac Pollaidh is one of the few hills circumnavigated by a path at height! Cross the road, go through a gate and head up the obvious path. Where it splits, you may go left or right depending, possibly, on the wind direction or a personal whim. Both ways lead round the mountain and onto its north flank, leading to below the col at about midway along the ridge.

A final steep ascent takes you to the summit ridge. Even from here, the views are great, with Ben More Coigach to the south across Loch Lurgainn and Cul Mor, Cul Beag, Suilven Canisp and Quinag to the north. The spiky ridge of Stac Pollaidh is formed from eroded layers of Torridonian sandstone, ground down over the millennia into a wonderful collection of towers, ridges and pinnacles. The path is very clear, winding its way in and out of these towers and leading to the top of a gully near to the west end.

The direct exit out of this gully is exposed and awkward but an easier way may be found starting a few metres down the gully on the south side. Once out on the ridge again, the summit is just a little way further.

Descent is via the same route and once back at the col and descending to the encircling path, you may care to return in either direction.

Maps: OS Sheet 15 'Loch Assynt, Lochinver & Kylesku'

Distance: 3 km

Ascent: 550 m

Time: 2.5 hours

Food & Drink: To the south Ullapool has a good choice of watering holes, while Inchnadamph to the north is a smaller option.


Sgurr a Mhaim

Meaning: Peak of the Large Rounded Hill

Munro Region: Loch Linnhe to Loch Ericht

Munro Number: 49

Height in Metres: 1099

Height in Feet: 3606

OS Map Reference OS Sheet 41; 165667


Sgurr a' Mhaim is the highest mountain in the western half of the Mamores and it stands in a fine position above Glen Nevis , a prominent feature of the view up the glen from Fort William. Like Stob Ban, its upper slopes are covered with quartzite boulders which give the mountain a pale grey appearance. The finest feature of the mountain is its south ridge leading to the two Tops, Stob Choire a' Mhail and Sgor an Iubhair. This ridge, known as the Devil's Ridge, is very narrow and in winter has a decidedly Alpine appearance. The ascent is most easily made from Achriabhach in Glen Nevis. Follow the stalker's path towards Coire a' Mhusgain for a short distance and then strike directly up the north-west shoulder of Sgurr a' Mhaim]] which gives a long steady climb to the summit, at first up grassy slopes and then on quartzite boulders and scree. There is a path for most of the way. Instead of descending by the same route, go south along the narrow ridge to Stob Choire a' Mhail. Care is needed, particularly in winter, at the narrow part of the ridge, which is quite exposed. At the col before Sgor an Iubhair a stalker's path leads down in steep zigzags to the col at the head of Coire a' Mhusgain. Return to Glen Nevis by the path down this corrie.


Loch Linnhe To Loch Ericht

This section includes some of the highest and finest mountains in Scotland, most notably Ben Nevis, the highest of them all. In the south-west corner of the area, between Loch Leven and Glen Nevis, is the long ridge of the Mamores.

The ten Munros in this range include Binnein Mor and Sgurr a' Mhaim, both fine mountains with narrow crests, and all the peaks except two are linked by high ridges which makes the traverse of the Mamores a splendid expedition.

Opposite them, on the north side of Glen Nevis, Ben Nevis dominates not only the town of Fort William at its foot, but also its nearby high mountains - Carn Mor Dearg, Aonach Beag and Aonach Mor. Although these three are high by the standards of other Scottish mountains, they are very much in the shadow of their greater neighbour. To the east of the Aonachs another long ridge, the Grey Corries, includes three fine mountains - Sgurr Choinnich Mor, Stob Coire an Laoigh and Stob Choire Claurigh.

Continuing eastwards beyond the Lairig Leacach, Loch Treig is deeply enclosed between the steep flanks of Stob a' Choire Mheadhoin and Stob Coire Easain on its west and Stob Coire Sgriodain on its east. Other hills of lesser height and character in the area near Loch Ossian include Chno Dearg, Beinn na Lap, Carn Dearg and Sgor Gaibhre.

To the north-east of Loch Ossian, extending in a long continuous ridge towards Loch Pattack, there are four high mountains - Beinn Eibhinn, Aonach Beag, Geal-Charn and Carn Dearg - and to their north Beinn a' Chlachair is the highest of three hills above Loch Laggan.

Finally, at the eastern edge of this section, there is Ben Alder and its much smaller neighbour Beinn Bheoil on the west side of Loch Ericht. Ben Alder is a high and remote massif with an extensive summit plateau surrounded by steep corries, and it may well be described as the finest mountain between Ben Nevis and the Cairngorms.


Great Glen Way

Lorraine Wakefield steps out on The Great Glen Way, a new long distance route from Fort William to Inverness that aims to have walkers crossing from west to east.

Scotland's highest mountain, longest glen, most famous loch and most mysterious resident are all features on the country's newest long distance route the Great Glen Way which opens on 30 April.

The Great Glen Way stretches from Fort William in the west to Inverness in the east and on the way passes Ben Nevis, covers the length of the glen, goes along the shores of Loch Ness and of course gives walkers the chance to spot the elusive Nessie.

The 73 mile waymarked route takes in some of Scotland's most spectacular scenery and natural heritage using paths, old railway lines, canal towpaths and sections of General Wade's Military Road as it winds its way along the Great Glen, which runs along a geological fault line.

Along the way its passes important historic attractions like Urquhart Castle, the village of Fort Augustus and the magnificent engineering of the Caledonian Canal that links the two coasts of Scotland via a series of lochs situated in the glen.

It is hoped that the Great Glen Way can build on the success of other long distance routes like the West Highland Way and the Speyside Way to help bring more visitors to Scotland and raise awareness of the spectacular environment and natural heritage found in Scotland.

The Great Glen Way route manager Alastair MacLeod said they have had enquiries from as far afield as Japan, North and South America, Europe and all over Britain from people wishing to walk the route and already there is a huge interest from visitors.

"We have had a lot of enquiries in the last few months and the majority of them are people who are going to do the whole Great Glen Way," explained Alastair.

"We anticipated the majority of walkers would be coming from Fort William and heading to Inverness but I have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of people wanting to do it from Inverness to Fort William," he added.

The good thing about the Great Glen Way however is that it is not designed only for serious walkers completing the whole route but is accessible to those wishing to have a day's outing as they can easily choose to walk just one section of the route.

"That is one of the great attractions of the route," continued Alastair. "Let's say you were based in Fort William and wanted to do a piece of the route, you would be able to use public services to get to Spean Bridge and then could walk back along the footpaths and towpaths to Fort William.

"At Inverness it is the same as you can make your way along the Great Glen Way out to Blackfold and then come back down to the (Caledonian) canal or do it the other way and take the bus out to Drumnadrochit and walk back to Inverness.

"There are a lot of opportunities for people doing the route in sections and once we are up and running we expect somewhere in the region of 10,000 people will use the facility each year as well as the expected 20 - 25,000 walkers doing the whole route."

The Great Glen Way will undoubtedly help bring more visitors to the area with one hotelier already receiving 400 confirmed bookings directly linked to the new route and Alastair said the route would give a big boost to the area.

"The thinking behind the provision of the long distance route is that there should be economic spin offs for all the communities along the way and there are opportunities, particularly in tourism, to capitalise on that," he said.

"Since we announced the creation of the route a significant number of people in communities along the way has provided extra accommodation with the creation of bunkhouses and chalet parks and maybe people who did not do bed and breakfast before are now going into it because they are adjacent to the route.

"I was speaking to a hotelier that said he had 400 confirmed bookings for people directly linked to the Great Glen Way that he did not have last year and that is really significant."

The Great Glen Way is about more than just a waymarked route however as the route is supported by four rangers who will work in two strong teams to help maintain the way, meet walkers and care for the natural heritage.

"We see our prime role first of all to service the public and that is those users on the route," said Alastair. "Our rangers will be on the route on a regular basis where people using the way will have the opportunity to stop and speak to them and they will be able to advise people on what they are seeing or what they can see around them.

"That's the main role but having said that we also see it as a great opportunity for us to directly liaise with community councils and local schools along the way and develop the environmental theme. We also see connection with the business community, local enterprises and so on.

"It is really by two way communication that we will be able to provide a better service and the service that the local communities and the walkers are looking for that will benefit everyone in the longer term."

The Great Glen Way will be officially opened by Prince Andrew in Inverness on 30 April when he will meet Alexander Morton, walking on behalf of the Highland Society for Blind People, who will be the first person to complete the new route and will present a scroll of greetings from Lochaber on his arrival from Fort William.

Also joining Alexander for the last bit of the route will be Grantown Grammar School pupils, the Great Glen Way rangers and route manager Alastair himself. Prince Andrew will unveil a plinth at Inverness Castle, which is one of the official termini of the route, the other being the Old Fort in Fort William.

Visit the Great Glen Way website at http://www.greatglenway.com for more information.



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