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Scotland: The Saddle and the South Cluanie Ridge

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Scotland: The Saddle and the South Cluanie Ridge

Postby edhyatt » Fri Nov 27, 2015 5:05 am

The Saddle by Sgurr na Forcan; Sgurr na Sgine and the South Cluanie Ridge: backpack with summit camp

Date: June 2010
Participants: Me
Weather: Excellent
Distance: 9km +17km + 13km
Ascent: 1100m + 1650m + 400m

The Saddle. Eight at night. Grinning like an idiot and looking like one. Filmed with sweat, sun-cream, mosiguard, and a light smattering of decorous recently deceased midges. No matter, the campsite comes complete with a pool :lol:

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An azure and sun-baked late afternoon wander up Gleann Undalain and Coire Caol and a skirt around Meallan Odhar and I am under the Forcan Ridge... The Forcan Ridge – tee hee, I’ve been wanting to do this for ages :D

This seems like the start – although my legs tell another story of the approach. The continuation will be Sgurr na Sgine and the South Cluanie Ridge.

The first evening in red, the second day in green and the following morning in blue.

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And off we go - me and my unwieldy anti-gravity aid.

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First impressions are good with fun to be had and care taken with rock-overs when 9kgs of ballast is carried...but then...it palls and becomes a bit...bitty. Sorrow. Is this it? The Forcan Ridge? Oh. Oh no, on a bit and – this is it...

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Now that’s what I call rock. Pedants rock cos you have to look for it at times though. But it is rocky and rolly and pointy and tiring despite holds the size of buckets...especially tiring (emotionally) the bit where I step into space...an amusing little wall that seems all a bit grown up with my loadstone pack. Soon over; which is better than all over.

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All too soon (blatant lie as I am knackered and gasping for a rest) the summit hoves into view...or one of them...there appear to be two (could the name be a clue :oops: ?).

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Tired, and so site selection is brutal. Here. Water...happily from a seep a few metres downhill.

Yeah yeah so it’s not quite the summit! Tant pis.

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Nice distant shiny bits and complex cloudscapes all around.

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Incredibly still, incredibly peaceful...and so many mountains, just everywhere. As the sun begins to dip a fine (well edible) pasta is consumed as I look out over what I guess to be Wester Ross and then Applecross.

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I am sadly too tired to watch the full sunset as slumber and an opportunity for product placement call :D

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Dearie me – 07:00 – what a slugabed. Abashed I make haste...not forgetting a trip to the summit (all 4 meters of ascent) to up my hill count for the day :lol: I have no shame.

A few unconcerned deer are nibbling at Lochan Bealach Coire Mhalagain.

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Sgurr na Sgine arrives easily enough as do serried ranks of rusty fenceposts that will be my companions throughout the trip; even I can’t get lost with this sort of help.

The descent is steep – but not as steep as might have been had I ventured down the gully I thought to try at NG945113...

An abject and frankly self-serving disregard for the proprieties of hill walking are evinced by my walking around (the horror) the next lumpette rather than over it. I might add that I have been over it before...and that I need all the help I can get given the day that stretches ahead.

On my traverse I almost tread on a fawn that is so shaky it cannot run away, the parents bounded away barking....which made me wonder. I feel guilty. Hope they will come back. Knowing little about such things does not assuage the uneasiness I feel.

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But does not stop evil thoughts of a dark chocolate, red wine, and rosemary sauce sliding into my dank imagination; I have no soul :oops:

Despite seemingly covering little ground Shiel Bridge looks distant..

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...and Cluanie rather close; highly perplexing.

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I think this is repose on Sgurr an Lochain...

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...and thence onwards from Sgurr an Doire Leathain.

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Now the ridge starts to fill up and I see the first of four walkers – the first since 17:00 the night before so not so bad really. Interest gains too as the crest narrows and becomes more stony and broken – winter freeze-thaw seeming to have prised off some rock that is ‘fracture clean’ compared to its weathered surrounds.

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Down Glen Quoich there appears to be a landing strip with buildings set around it (?) – not visible on this snap though.

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With most of the excitement over the Cluanie Inn is a not so distant temptation. I contemplate...three hours and I could be there...beer, revelry, witty badinage...or another night out. Little contest really, and after skippity-skipping (in my mind’s eye rather than actuality) down the eastern arm of Aonach Air Chrith the hunt for a pitch and water begin.

Pitch is easy, lee of boulder in a hollow out(ish) of the winds gusting strongly across the bealach; naturally a windless and very still night ensues :D

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Water is a bit more cagey – but a much-loved by deer seep to the North affords enough of a trickle.

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A little wandering about. A lot of deer contemplation. A Mountain House Beef Stroganoff and the day is mainly done.

Early to bed – early to rise...

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...very early as it turns out...I am off by 05:00, well insulated against the early chill by a windshirt; the memory of deer passing the tent in the pre-dawn tucked away to make me smile another time.

There are a few of the little (from here) chaps – perhaps chapesses too on the rim of Coire an t-Slugain far below..

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A mackerel sky hovers above hills emerging from the haze over Loch Cluanie; the sun seems to be burning the chill out of the day and the mists from the Glens (I am coming over all romantic).

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The tops flick by with ease...

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..and on the last the ego-pod comes out for a last (as if) spot of self-aggrandisement.

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Warmed up I tarry awhile as there is nowhere to rush to – behind me is a fine ribbon of hills which seems to stretch further than I have walked, and I can still discern The Saddle in the distance, which I kind of like. The air is still yet fresh and it is just 6am. Breakfast.

But first the stalkers path; a real delight that weaves and dances its way down the hill to the track up from the loch.

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Once there it is but a short walk to the Cluanie, the aforementioned and about-time-too breakfast and a double shot of espresso.

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edhyatt
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Re: Scotland: The Saddle and the South Cluanie Ridge

Postby rlown » Fri Nov 27, 2015 11:28 am

Another nice report.

Don't worry about the fawn too much. They are almost born to stay still. The mom will return. It's when people touch the fawn that sometimes problems ensue.

One question. You mention "deer seeps" and other water sources. Do you filter, and if so, what do you use?
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Re: Scotland: The Saddle and the South Cluanie Ridge

Postby edhyatt » Fri Nov 27, 2015 12:47 pm

I did not bother with filtering from high side-stream sources in Scotland for many years..occasionally still don't. But post a cancer-treatment (there's a trip report for that ;) ) I tend to these days...although I think that might just be a little fear? Never been sick.

I've used a Travel tap (UK product). Silver Halide tabs. And now (as do many I suspect) a Sawyer Mini does it for me.
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Re: Scotland: The Saddle and the South Cluanie Ridge

Postby maverick » Fri Nov 27, 2015 4:47 pm

Fun report from a place we don't hear about often. Kept expecting to see William Wallace on one of those distant ridge lines. :)
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