Walk 24 – The Achiltibuie Mountains

 

This walk should be started from the hotel and is in our view the finest hill walk in the area. It is, however, long and, if possible, a car should be left near the road end at Culnacraig. Set out through the gate to the right of the hotel and make your way over the moorland to the small lochs which lie about 1 ¾ miles to the northeast. Of these, Lochan Fada, hemmed in by crags, is particularly attractive.

Turn southeast and make your way over a succession of ridges past Lochan Smuirneach on to a broad ridge, which encircles the glen formed by the Badenscallie Burn. Follow the contours round the head of the glen until you reach the end of the broad shoulder that leads up to An t-Sail, the Heel, (1,609 feet). Climb to the summit cairn and from here the “ridge walk” proper begins. At first, you follow the broad top nearly due east to Creag Dhubh na Saile from which there are magnificent views of the hills around Loch Lurgainn, in particular the twin peaks of Beinn an Eoin. From here continue along the edge of the crags, which drop to Loch Dearg, and before long the route becomes very steep. The next summit that you reach is un-named but for all that the hill is a fine one and from it, you can look down the length of Dubhrach Choire to Achiltibuie and the Summer Isles. Descend southwards to the broad col, which separates the main horseshoe ridge from Sgurr, an Fhidhleir and climb the shoulder of that mountain to the summit (2,308 ft) keeping as close to the edge of the crags as conditions and your head for heights permit. From the summit cairn there is a splendid view down to Lochan Tuath over 1,000 feet below. Retrace your steps to the col and make your way north-west on to the horseshoe ridge again half a mile before the summit of Beinn nan Caorach, the Hill of the Sheep (2,131 feet).

This hill offers some of the best crag scenery on the walk and its ridge is splendid. At its end, make your way down north westwards to join the gravelly ridge, which leads to the summit cairn of Cona Mheall, the Hill of Enchantment (about 1,700 feet). The cairn is perched on the edge of the great precipices which face the Summer Isles and in the foreground is the mountain’s finest rock-climbing feature – the Acheninver Buttress – joined to the main crag by a narrow arete. There is no descent for walkers from the cairn itself so make your way back eastwards along the ridge for 100 yards or so and then descend south towards Culnacraig over steep rough grass. The level road will be a very welcome when you reach it, even if you have to face the 3 ½ mile walk back along it to the hotel.

DISTANCE: 11 ½ or 15 Miles

GOING: Much of it rough, but without any major difficulties.

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