A grey day doesn’t dampen a superb climb

Stob Coire Sgriodain (979m); Chno Dearg (1046m)

  • Pronunciation:            Stob Korrer Skreethane; Knorr Jerrack
  • Translation:                 Peak of the Coire of the Scree; Red Hill
  • Total distance:             13km
  • Total time:                   5hrs 15mins
  • Total ascent:                940m
  • Weather:                      A very grey day. Low mist with generally light winds. Thawing conditions with +6° at the start. Occasional light showers.
  • Start / end location:   At the end of the public part of the minor road to Fersit. Minor road accessed from A86 approximately 7km east of Roy Bridge. Fersit is located at the northern tip of Loch Treig [Grid Ref: NN 350 782]
  • Map:                              A map of route can be found here – it may take a few moments to load into a separate window.

It is good to be back on the road and getting on with our Munro bagging again.

Our trip today started from the end of the public minor road that services the few houses that make up “Fersit”. This minor road, which is only about 2.5 miles long, branches off southward from the main A86 – Fort William to Aviemore road about 7km east of Roy Bridge – and it ends for public access just before the road crosses the River Treig and runs adjacent to the houses of Fersit.

No overnight camping at Fersit - it couldn't be clearer

At this end of the public road there is ample parking – however, signage did make it clear that no overnight parking of any sort would be tolerated: “by caravans / campervans / other vehicles adapted for sleeping in” – courtesy of RioTintoAlcan. Very thorough!

From our parking place we first crossed the bridge over the River Treig and then the bridge over the Glasgow to Fort William railway line before continuing along the private road passed the half dozen houses/buildings of Fersit. The last building was a farm outhouse, which we passed on our left as we travelled ESE. Just before the road, by now a forestry-style track, switched back on itself through a sharp left turn, we branched right onto a path marked to “Corrour”. We only followed this path for a 100m or so before we veered SSE to follow the course of the Allt Chaorach Beag burn. We loosely followed this burn for about 2km, always keeping on the west side of it until it joined another burn (Allt Fhearghais) higher up the hillside. At this point, around the 570m contour line, we branched away from the combined watercourse in a southwesterly direction, heading for the nose of Sron na Gàrbh-bheinne. Up to this point the ground had been completely free of any snow or ice – it had, however, been quite boggy in places – especially as we weren’t following any discernible path.

Elaine on the summit of Stob Coire Sgriodain

Sron na Gàrbh-bheinne was tackled head-on: in places we had to zigzag our way upward to avoid some of the wet slabs of rock, whilst in others we sought out long ribbons of moderately consolidated snow to avoid some of the heather terraces. The climb up was, however, without any difficultly.

Once on top of Sron na Gàrbh-bheinne we headed due south and upwards along the connecting ridge to the summit of Stob Coire Sgriodain (979m or 3,212’). As the cloud level was generally sitting around the base of the Sron na Gàrbh-Bheinne at only 650m, the visibility on this summit was extremely poor. We didn’t linger long at the top before pressing on towards our second Munro of the day. The course was to follow the major ridge leading in a southeasterly direction from the top of ‘Sgriodain, passing tops at 958m and 924m before descending to the wide col with Meall Garbh. At this col we turned NE and tackled the broad and modestly inclined slope that led to the summit of Chno Dearg (1046m or 3,432’). Again, the visibility at the substantial summit cairn was very poor, and as the wind had picked up we simply retraced our steps for a 100m or so before veering NNW to follow an easy angled but very indistinct “ridge” all the way back down until it intersected the Allt Chaorach Beag burn well below the base of the Sron na Gàrbh-bheinne. The route down the whole of this “ridge” was extremely boggy and required many short detours left and right to avoid the worst of it.

Cairn constructed from quartz on southeast ridge of Stob Coire Sgriodain

One of the most interesting features on our descent was coming across a small mossy section of bog about 2m across that when stood on undulated up and down like a waterbed. It felt like under this mossy blanket was a pool of water, and only the moss “crust” stopped us from bursting through. It was very peculiar and not something that we’ve come across before on the hills.

Once back at the burn we were able to simply retrace our steps from earlier in the day, eventually returning to the houses at Fersit and the car-park a short distance beyond. Despite the grey and misty weather it had been a lovely outing, as this had been the first time over the last couple of months that we’ve not had to fight our way up deep soft powdery snow – and we were thankful for that!

Cameron on the summit of Chno Dearg

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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