Also to the north of Loch Quoich – [# 175]

Sgurr a’ Mhaoraich (1027m)

  • Pronunciation:             Sgoor uh Vurr-eeth
  • Translation:                  Peak of the Shellfish
  • Total distance:             11.9km
  • Total time:                     3hrs 42mins
  • Total ascent:                 983m
  • Weather:                        A lovely warm bright day. Mainly high clouds with sunny intervals.
  • Start / end location:   On the Glen Garry roadside – 1km SW of the road bridge on the north shore of Loch Quoich. [OS Map Sheet 33 – Grid Ref: NH 010 034]
  • Map:                                A map of route can be found here – it may take a few moments to load into a separate window. The map displays on most browsers, but not unfortunately Internet Explorer.

The view SW along Loch Quoich from the lower slopes of Bac nan Canaichean

Today we were climbing the third (and final) Munro on the north side of Loch Quoich – after having completed the other two a couple of days ago.

From Bac nan Canaichean looking WNW to Sgurr Coire nan Eiric

Our starting point for the walk was a little further west of where we’d started previously and required us to first cross a long single-track road bridge that cuts off a small appendage or “side-lochan” of water that projects northward like a finger from the main bulk of Loch Quoich. Once across this bridge we parked up on the verge about 1km further along the road where there was space for several cars, however, ours was the only one.

The weather was looking very promising for our short walk and so we packed our waterproof gear and gaiters in our rucksacks and began our walk in warm morning sunshine – this was the first we’d been able to enjoy such conditions in a while.

Elaine Speirs

Elaine ascending onto the Bac nan Canaichean with Loch Quoich and Sgurr Mor (centre) in the background

The path, which started directly from the roadside, was excellent and we followed its tight zigzagging course northward up the long spur of Bac nan Canaichean. It was really pleasant walking and easy underfoot. Higher up the spur the grassy terrain gave way to rockier ground – but it always remained a straightforward ascent. At the top of the Bac nan Canaichean the spur levelled out before it joined the SE ridge that extended down from the summit of Sgurr Coire nan Eiricheallach. Climbing to the top of this subsidiary peak provided us with excellent views east to the two Munros that we tackled a couple of days ago, namely, Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach, and south to Gairich, another Munro on the opposite side of Loch Quoich.

Crossing the Bac nan Canaichean with Gleouraich on the background

A delightful high-level, westward traverse followed as we initially dropped from the subsidiary top to then slowly climb again en route to Sgurr Mhaoraich. As we neared the summit of Sgurr Mhaoraich the gradient intensified as we scrambled over some rocky outcrops before arriving at the summit cairn at 1027m or 3,369ft. We paused at the summit for over 15 minutes as we sat and admired the view west along Loch Hourn and out to the isles of Skye, Rum and Eigg. To the southwest the whole of the Rough Bounds of Knoydart were on display, including the Munros we’d already climbed and the three that we still had to conquer. Of particular interest to us was the scene immediately to our north and right round to the NNE as it showed the south-facing profile of the South Shiel Ridge: a 12km long, high-level ridge that connects together seven Munros. [This will be an outing that we’ll be undertaking in a few days time.]

Cameron Speirs

Cameron on the summit of Sgurr Mhaoraich with Loch Hourn in the background

Looking ESE from the summit of Sgurr Mhaoraich towards Sgurr Coire nan Eiricheallach and beyond to Gleouraich

Once we’d soaked in the panoramic views we retraced our steps back to the subsidiary top of Sgurr Coire nan Eiricheallach. As we began to make our way along the connecting ridge we noticed quite a large party of climbers gathering on the subsidiary top. They appeared only as tiny figures because we were still almost a kilometre away. We were quite surprised that the large group were still on the top when we arrived as we’d expected to meet them somewhere along the connecting ridge. They appeared to be in no hurry and it was obvious that this was more of a social outing. As we passed we exchanged brief greetings and couldn’t help noticing the somewhat party atmosphere as they passed around a giant Toblerone chocolate bar. As we began our descent we met a man and a young boy who were still en route to the subsidiary top, and as they passed the boy was very keen to let us know that one of the party standing on the top was his dad and that he was climbing his 283rd and final Munro today – hence the relaxed, almost party-like atmosphere of the group. The chap who was with the young boy stopped to talk a while and was very interested in our approach of taking a year-out to bag all of the Munros, and in the progress that we’d made over a particularly tough winter and wet spring. It was really great seeing a fellow kindred spirit completing his round of the Munros and made Elaine and I more excited about climbing our last one in the autumn.

The chap that we’d been talking to headed off to catch up with his friends, who’d by this time left the subsidiary top bound for the Munro summit, whilst Elaine and I made very short work of the descent down the Bac nan Canaichean and back to the roadside. When we reached the road another half-dozen vehicles as well as two RAF Mountain Rescue Team 4x4s had joined our car parked on the verge.

Hopefully, when we come to climb our final Munro in the autumn we’ll be lucky enough to have as favourable weather as the chap who was celebrating the end of his Munro bagging challenge in the hills high above us.

About Cameron Speirs

Born and brought up in the Scottish Highlands, Cameron, has been interested in outdoor pursuits since he was a wee lad. Over the last few decades he has climbed extensively in the Italian Dolomites as well as summiting the Matterhorn and several other 4000m alpine peaks. Closer to home he has spent many wonderful weekends mountaineering and biking in Snowdonia, Cairngorms, Glen Coe, Skye and Lochaber.
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