Activation report: South Glen Shiel Ridge

Well having been rubbish about writing any form of activation report for some time I thought it was about time I had another go.

I had both wandered around Glen Shiel and driven through it earlier in the year, with some weather of the good variety forecast it was a good opportunity to head back and have a wander over the top of the hills.

Kit packed on Friday evening, Saturday morning saw me heading up the A82, with a stop at Fort William for an lunch of a rather tasty peppersteak and black pudding pie (if I remember correctly and I know that there are those that only read these reports for the food reports) and a brew from the Bakery. I also bought a cake for later, then walked past the foody stalls of the mini market and bought another cake (which was put in the rucksack for even later).

Eventually back on the road, up to Invergarry and over the hill to Glen Shiel, it is a pretty fab drive this (even if you don’t get up all the hills), eventually getting to the rather large parking area opposite the Cluanie Inn, where I had a drink and a cake.

Cake eaten, time to head off up the old road, now before all the hydro schemes were built in this neck of the woods, this was the main road to Skye – proper single track going over the mountains. It makes for easy progress and the begin to think you’ve gone too far as you begin to head down the otherside but before long I spotted the stalkers/munroist path heading off up Creag a’Mhaim. Again this path allows you to make steady progress up to the first summit on the ridge where the views are just well brilliant really, lots and lots and lots of hills everywhere. From here it’s a wander along, down and up, down and up, along the ridge to Aonach air Chirth, stopping to have a chat with a chap going the other way and nearly done for the day.

Aonach air Chirth, GM/WS-045 at 1021m, the highest point along the ridge isn’t the biggest summit in the west but at 7 in the evening it isn’t exactly Buchanan Street (insert major shopping street in your local town here) up there. 2m FM was, well it wasn’t anything but then I figured all sensible folks were having their tea. 20m brought about 3 contacts and then 40m another 5. Now when I started there was no wind and the midgies were out, by the time i’d finished someone had turned the fan up to max and it was pretty chilly and thankfully midgie free – still it was windy enough to make me want to move and “hide” behind the summit cairn out of the wind. In between 20m and 40m I cooked tea, that well known delicacy of couscous and pepperami, now having moved all my kit the 10 to the summit cairn to get out of the wind I jumped into the bivvy bag, put the kettle on for a hot chocolate and tucked into the other cake, well huge cookie really.

After a good sleep I woke the next morning to find the summit covered in cloud, visibility of about 50m – Oi, that’s not right, I want a view, oh well, stove on for another hot chocolate and breakfast eaten, before packing up and heading off (well there wasn’t much view to look at sadly –crackin’ view the previous night mind).

Down and up, down and up along the ridge, over the hills and the cloud is quickly burning off to give some views and jolly good views they are too. Eventually reaching Sgurr an Doire Leathain, GM/WS-050, 2 meters was tried first and this time did the job, working 8 stations, beginning with MM0BGQ on Skye followed by MMOBKQ on holiday in Glen Nevis, I did have to check I was writing the right call signs down.

Anyway, onward and along and Sgurr an Lochain looks big from here, incidentally you can tell the path along the ridge is a munroists path as it circumvents all the wee hillocks, just concentrating on the munros.

Over Sgurr an Lochain and on to the last summit for the day, Creag na Damh, GM/WS-100, settling down below an outcrop of rock. Putting up the beam, I almost immeadiately heard Robin GM7PKT on WS-022, so a summit to summit to start, then Bobby ’GAX who was out on the hills behind Port Glasgow and later finishing up with a chat with Jack, GM4COX who was on his way home down the 25 mile cul de sac that is the Kinlochourn road having activated Looney Bin, WS-083 for the first ever time, so we had a good chat about the condition of the track through to Barrisdale as I’d just walked it a way back at the end of May (remember that crazy heatwave?) –it’ll take you longer than you think.

Cue a wander down the hill, it’s a bit steep, a bit off piste and then I eventually found the stalking track down to A87 (although it goes a bit wrong in the forest) popping out at the site of the battle of Glen Shiel, 1719, and here is the problem, I’m at the site of the battle and my car is not.

Stuck my thumb out for a bit, wandered up the road to the layby at the start of the 5 sisters and being a bit cheeky I asked a couple of folks for a lift, the first were going the other way, doh, the second chap was out fishing and was just fetching some stuff from his motor but he did say he’d be leaving later and if I was still looking for a lift. So I was a bit bored standing around, so I headed off up the road, occasionally sticking my thumb out on sensible bits of road. After a while I decided I was going to stash the bag behind a tree (I had drunk all the water) and pick it up later, but as this point the fisherman pulled over in front of me, “jump in mate” and a quick lift back down the road to the Cluanie it was.

Another successful mission.

Iain, VK2/MM3WJZ

Note: for those checking the grammar, I did put apostrophes in but they all seem to disappear when I submit the post.

In reply to MM3WJZ:

Looney Bin! Love it!

A nice report, it made my feet itch.


Brian G8ADD

In reply to MM3WJZ:

Looks like a codepage issue on the apostrophes as when I hit reply I can see some unicode chars in your message. But that’s just computer nonsense…

I had a look at the map and then Geograph. Since my recent introduction to being places where I don’t want to be down by The Etive there are bits of that ridge I could do now! Looks rather good :wink: I’ve been up and down the A87 a few times now and it’s always been dreik so I’ve never seen the tops. One day, one day. It’s interesting (if you’re a map bore) looking at pre-Hydro maps and seeing how the whole nature of the area changes after the dams were built.

I had a look at the stalker’s path onto Creag a’Mhaim… would you look at all that brown ink! One time I’d have thought that that path looks a bit steep. But since my Cheesecake excursion I know lots of brown ink is much, much easier than lots of missing brown ink!

VK2 land hey… We have an office in Sydney and I keep trying to get dispatched out there for a few weeks. But the people with the company purse keep saying we can do it all by video conferencing and Webex and the like. You can’t videoconference sun and a few days in VK3 to get a Southern Hemisphere summit in the bag!


In reply to MM3WJZ:
Good read Iain,though I don’t know what the Gaels would make of your anglicised definition of Luinne Bheinn - “and later finishing up with a chat with Jack, GM4COX who was on his way home down the 25 mile cul de sac that is the Kinlochourn road having activated Looney Bin, WS-083” - hi!


Jack (;>J

In reply to MM0FMF:

It’s really just a long high level walk, a couple of easy scramble steps but the exposure isn’t there at those points.

Indeed when the ordnance survey decide there isn’t enough room to include all the 10m contours between the 50m ones,
That’s when you need to look out.

Nobody else in our office wanted to come to vk-land so I with immense “reluctance” volunteered!

In reply to GM4COX:
Well if they don’t have a sense of humour probably something similar to your words to that “road block” on the kinlochourn rd :wink:

Iain, VK4/MM3WJZ