Camban Bothy Munro Route Introduction
This is a multi-day Munro bagging route using Camban Bothy as a base for 12 mountains in the areas north of Glen Shiel and Glen Affric, including the Five Sisters of Kintail and the Three Brothers.
The 12 Munros featured in this route are – Sgurr Fhuaran, Sgurr na Carnach, Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe, Saileag, Sgurr a’ Bhealaich Dheirg, Aonach Meadhoin, Ciste Dhubh, Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan, Mullach na Dheiragain, An Socach, Mullach Fraoch-choire and A’ Chralaig. This route card explains the quickest way of getting to all 12 summits for a peak bagger in a single outing of 3 days.
Adventurer Nic walked this route on Sunday 7th July 2019 as part of her Munro Bagging Challenge. These were Munro numbers 132 to 143 for Nic. Here, she explains how you can bag these Munros too.
Camban Bothy Munro Route Stats
Mountains: Sgurr Fhuaran (1,067 m), Sgurr na Carnach (1,002 m), Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe (1,027 m), Saileag (956 m), Sgurr a’ Bhealaich Dheirg (1,036 m), Aonach Meadhoin (1,001 m), Ciste Dhubh (979 m), Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan (1,151 m), Mullach na Dheiragain (982 m), An Socach (921 m), Mullach Fraoch-choire (1,102 m) and A’ Chralaig (1,120 m)
Total Distance: 62.4km / 38.77miles
Total Ascent: 3,800m / 12,467ft
Approx Walk Time: 3 days
Grid Reference Start: NG 945202
Grid Reference End: NH 091121
Camban Bothy Munro Route Report
The Lead Up
We woke up on the campsite of Faichemard Farm Touring, Caravan and Camping Site for the fifth and final time. It had been a good place for us to base our tent for the week and we’d hiked a total of 11 Munros whilst there.
We decamped in one of the biggest midge swarms we’d experienced on the challenge so far. I waited in the car while James took the tent down. He then got in with midges clinging to his entire body. It was a nightmare! I sped off the campsite with the windows down to try and get rid of them all, while James slapped himself repeatedly. If it wasn’t for the midges it would have been the perfect site, really quiet and great facilities. It’s a shame the midges liked to make us a prisoner of our tent.
We arrived in Morvich and parked in a small visitors car park. We didn’t plan on returning to the car for four days.
Day 1 Getting Going
It was 10:40am and we’d left the car a bit later than planned. We knew we’d have a big day ahead, with seven Munros on the agenda. It was only yesterday when we were on the opposite side of they valley bagging the seven Munros on the South Glen Shiel Ridge!
14 Munros in two days was quite an ask, but we were feeling strong and the conditions were perfect. Loch Duich was so still it acted as a mirror for the fluffy white clouds and blue sky above.
Day 1 Ascent
We started the ascent on a clear path that cut steeply up the hill side, ultimately emerging at the start of a magnificent ridge.
The Coire na h-Uaighe was vast and framed by a rocky ridge, it was a dramatic setting and we were excited for the walk ahead.
We headed south and continued uphill to the summit of Beinn Bhuidhe.
Beinn Bhuidhe is not a Munro, Corbett or any other classification and yet it had awesome views of the ridge ahead.
The perfect place to stop and enjoy lunch.
The bulk of Sgurr Fhuaran, our first Munro on the Camban Bothy Munro Route, looked really imposing from this angle.
Lunch consisted of wraps with a Nutella filling, plus sprinkled coconut bites.
We’d purchased a 1kg bag of crunchy coconut bites from Costco and they were so versatile!
We added them to wraps but also ate them loose as a snack.
The ridge wasn’t challenging, it was just fun! It often looked dicey but never actually was.
From this early vantage point we could enjoy views of the Cuillin ridge on Skye to the west as well as the Torridon hills to the north.
Given the fact we’d eaten lunch before even getting close to the first Munro of seven meant that we knew at this point that we were in for a late finish. It helped that we knew a welcoming bothy awaited us.
Camban Bothy Munro Route: Day 1 Summits
Those wanting to hike the traditional Five Sisters of Kintail route will first summit Sgurr nan Saighead, but we skirted around the edge of this Corbett and headed straight for the first Munro of the route, Sgurr Fhuaran.
On the summit of Sgurr Fhuaran we met a really friendly woman called Anne Marie. She was from Inverness and out hiking with her friend. Anne Marie took the below photo of us on the summit of Sgurr Fhuaran and we chatted for a good twenty minutes. I was astounded to discover that she was on 281 of 282 Munros! She was in no rush to ‘compleat’ though.
I asked which Munro she had left and it was Ben More on the Isle of Mull (which had been our first)! She said that one day she’d make it over to Mull to finish her Munro round but it had never felt like the right time.
Instead, she was content hiking her favourite Munros again and again, and that was what she was doing on the Five Sisters of Kintail that day.
Anne Marie insisted that I take her number and said to call if ever we needed a bed, a shower and a meal in the Inverness area during our challenge. A gem of a woman! We now follow each other on Instagram and (to date) she’s still content on 281.
Sgurr na Carnach
By now we were seriously behind schedule and we were certain to finish with head torches in the darkness.
I did love meeting people and hearing their stories during our Munro round though so I don’t regret taking the time to get to know Anne Marie.
We didn’t need to take her up on her offer in the end but she reminded me of it multiple times in the following months.
From Sgurr Fhuaran we headed south down the ridge towards Sgurr na Carnach. The second peak of the Camban Bothy Munro Route.
With the col between them being over 850m it didn’t feel like too much work to get to the second Munro summit.
Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe
We realised that once we were high on the ridge, the summits seemed to come thick and fast. Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe was next. From Sgurr na Canarch we descended south to Bealach na Craoibhe, before turning east up to the summit of Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe.
After posing for a selfie we left Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe and continued along the ridge.
We continued east to Sgurr nan Spainteach, over Beinn Odhar and down to Bealach an Lapain.
If you were just walking the Five Sisters of Kintail, you’d most likely make your way down to the road at this point, but we needed to continue to the Three Brothers.
At 725m, the bealach was the lowest we’d been since before the first Munro.
But luckily Saileag was the smallest Munro of the day so far so the pull up to the summit didn’t feel too taxing.
Saileag had a very unique summit cairn, featuring long rocks balanced on each other, defying gravity.
We took the opportunity to have a short rest on the summit. The views were simply magnificent. There was something about the light that day that made the landscape look so dreamy and inviting.
James admired the view over Sgurr na Sgine and The Saddle, with Ladhar Bheinn and even the hills on the distant Isle of Rum visible in the distance. The Cuillin ridge can be seen on the right of the above picture.
Sgurr a’ Bhealaich Dheirg
We admired the Munros on the south side of Glen Shiel as we left the summit of Saileag and headed to Sgurr a’ Bhealaich Dheirg.
To reach the summit of this Munro, you must leave the main ridge, and head northeast along a short, sharp ridge. A large, impressive cairn marks the summit.
James knelt down in the shelter of some larger rocks to boil the water for our freeze dried meals on the stove while I walked on ahead.
I headed south east along the main ridge towards the col between Sgurr a’ Bhealaich Dheirg and Aonach Meadhoin.
James poured the boiling water into the food pouches, tucked them into his jacket and walked back along the ridge and down to join me.
We admired the views down into Coire nan Eun. This really was a stunning ridge walk and we were blessed with near perfect conditions for it.
We sat on a rock to eat our respective Pasta Bolognaise and Chicken Fried Rice meals, before setting off to summit Aonach Meadhoin.
Within half an hour we were on the summit plateau of Aonach Meadhoin, which was fairly flat and marked with a jumbled cairn.
The sun was sinking lower in the sky and our shadows were getting longer.
With food in our bellies we were re-energised and ready for the final push of the day.
Ciste Dhubh was all that stood between us and a night on the benches of Camban Bothy.
Oh, that and a pesky river crossing… it dawned on me that we’d be crossing the river in the dark.
From the summit of Aonach Meadhoin, the Camban Munro Bothy Route became pathless for the first time.
We headed down into the Bealach a’ Choinich (591m) and the area was teeming with deer.
There were more deer than I’d ever seen in a herd, close to one hundred I’d guess. All enjoying the wet bealach.
Watching them disperse as we neared the bealach was mesmerising. They moved so fluidly over the landscape.
We reached the bottom of the col and started the climb up the final Munro of the day – Ciste Dhubh.
The sun was casting a wonderful glow over the surrounding peaks.
We took an incorrect angle on the initial ascent (the low light impeding our ability to pick up the faint path up the south ridge) so we recovered the situation with a steep grassy pull onto the ridge from the west side.
After walking up along the ridge, we made it to the summit of Ciste Dhubh in the most beautiful light.
As we walked from the summit, the sun was setting directly in front of us, with the bulk of Beinn Fhada silhouetted. It was a sight I’ll never forget.
Over to the left were the series of sharp summits that we’d walked over earlier that day. The obvious peaks of the Five Sisters of Kintail, piercing up and interrupting the hazy, dusky hues of the sky.
As sickening as it sounds, ‘magical’ would be the word I’d use to describe the scene. All the hard times, stresses and strains of life just fall away when you’re faced with such beauty.
Day 1 Descent
Reluctantly, we started the descent towards Camban Bothy, which we knew sat between Glen Lichd and Glen Affric at the foot of Ciste Dhubh.
The route was steep and pathless as we headed off down the north west shoulder of Ciste Dhubh.
A lone stag eyeballed us for half an hour as we zig-zagged to the valley bottom. Luckily the dusk light lasted for most of the descent before we needed to dig our head torches out of our packs.
Then came the river crossing. Fortunately we’d had two rain-free days and we found a place to cross where there were boulders. Mission accomplished!
First Night in Camban Bothy
We arrived at the bothy at 10:50pm and were greeted by Matt and John (friends from Devon and Norfolk).
Camban Bothy has two rooms, one to the left and one to the right.
Matt and John quickly made room for us to sleep on the top bunk of the room to the left.
A couple were already settled for the night into the right-hand room.
We chatted to the guys, scoffed some more food and retired to bed, exhausted. 14 Munros in two days had taken it out of us.
Disturbingly, there was a stuffed toy bunny rabbit hanging from the roof of the bothy, which struck me as very macabre!
We fell asleep with the pungent scent of marijuana seeping into the bothy from outside.
Day 2: Morning in Camban Bothy
Our second day started at Camban Bothy with breakfast outside, accompanied by the other occupants.
We met Nikki and Euan, who slept in the room next door. Nikki was from Nelson, New Zealand and Euan was from Thurso in the far north of Scotland near John O’Groats. Nikki was over here on holiday and they were walking the Affric Kintail Way from Drumnadrochit to Morvich.
We debated the pros and cons of small town life vs city life and hearing of my plans to walk Te Araroa – New Zealand’s long distance trail, Nikki kindly gave me her email address in case she could help with anything.
John explained that he’d walked from the North East to the South West of Senja in Norway, bypassing Segla – a mountain that James and I had hiked earlier that year. I mentally added another ‘must do’ to my bucket list!
Delaying our departure (yet again) for the three Munros on our list for the day, we wiled away another half hour discussing kit – notably space and weight saving ideas, plus water filters like the Sawyer Squeeze.
Day 2 Ascent
We finally peeled ourselves away from the conversation. It’s always difficult when you find kind and chatty like-minded people in bothies. You know you’ll never see them again and yet you really value the conversation so you delay leaving as much as possible!
It was a nice day as we followed the Affric Kintail Way north east towards Glen Affric. We reached the youth hostel – Alltbeithe after about 40 minutes.
Nikki had told us to look out for the temporary Hostel Manager, Graham. A lovely ‘live in’ custodian of this remote hostel. A sign told us he was out enjoying the hills and he’d be back later.
For some reason neither James nor I could quench our thirst so we spent a good 20 minutes sitting by the stream, filtering litres of water for the walk ahead.
We ascended following a path which ran alongside the Allt na Faing. We passed a tall blonde-haired man descending with a big pack. I remember I accidentally said “Good morning”, despite it being 12:40pm already. I had no idea where the time had gone!
We ate lunch at the col under Stob Coire na Cloiche, before ascending west, en route to our first Munro of the day – Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan.
We passed two solo, male hill walkers on their way down, the first was a nice chap who stopped to talk for a while. The second was the famous Graham! He promised to chill a couple of cans of fizzy pop in readiness for our return to the hostel after our walk.
Camban Bothy Munro Route: Day 2 Summits
Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan
At the summit of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan we met another lovely chap who took a photo of us.
I can see how thin I was getting in the above photograph and it scared me a little. I really needed to eat more.
Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan is the 22nd highest Munro on the list.
We admired the view to the west, with the Cuillin’s on Skye just visible in the distance.
Mullach na Dheiragain
We descended together down the north-east ridge to Bealach nan Daoine, accompanied by the lovely man we’d met on the summit of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan, who I think was called Steve.
It was a very long and undulating ridge to the summit of the second Munro – Mullach na Dheiragain. It was necessary for us to go up and over Carn na Con Dhu en route.
We were in high spirits as we said goodbye to Steve (who was continuing north).
We retraced our steps along the ridge before hitting the lowest point at Bealach nan Daoine. From here we headed down into Coire nan Dearcag.
This was part of the walk was a pathless trudge over peaty terrain. An intense heel pain had flared up by this point in the walk and I wasn’t sure why. It had started as an ache but had developed into a shooting pain as the day had progressed. My energy was sapping and all of a sudden I felt really weak and in desperate need of a rest.
James picked up the faint path that got us back to the col between Stob Coire na Cloiche and our final Munro of the day – An Socach.
It was a final push of around 100 metres to the summit and we’d reached our half way Munro! Number 141 of 282!
I collapsed into a seated position on the summit and opened my red dry sack – my snack bag. It was at this point that I noticed a red shiny disc. Could it be? A Babybel! I didn’t realise I had any cheese treats left. Cheese had become my absolute favourite mountain snack. This was just the boost I needed to finish the hike.
James knew that whenever anything miraculous happened, I liked to comfort myself by saying that my Pop (maternal grandfather who’d passed away two years ago) had a hand in it. So James said “Maybe your Pop put it there because he knew you’d need it today?” Well that was it, I sobbed my heart out as I ate it, tears rolling down my cheeks. I think James was genuinely worried I’d completely lost the plot by this point.
Day 2 Descent
Composing myself, we descended An Socach back to the col. The route was mostly following a clear path which helped me progress despite the soreness.
James dived into the hostel at Alltbeithe and grabbed the fizzy drinks from Graham, which buoyed us for the final stretch of the walk back to Camban (where we’d stowed our sleeping gear and food supplies for tomorrow).
The next day should have been hiking the Munros Beinn Fhada and A’ Ghlas-bheinn, followed by a third night in Camban bothy and then Mullach Fraoch-choire and A’ Chralaig the day after that, but I think we both knew that I wasn’t capable of another two days of hard hill walking.
We discussed the options –
- Me to rest in the bothy all day while James did the 21km Beinn Fhada route as planned
- Skip the Beinn Fhada route and do the final day over Mullach Fraoch-choire and A’ Chralaig a day early
- Skip both peak bagging days and walk back to the road along the valley.
Jointly, we decided on option 2. Hoping that a good night’s sleep would be just the tonic I needed to get over two more Munros. We would return to Morvich to hike the Beinn Fhada route another day (and it would be the same distance as the route from Camban bothy so we wouldn’t have really lost anything).
Second Night in Camban Bothy
Back at the bothy we found a large group of Belgians in the right hand room, and the tall, blonde guy in the left hand room (the one I’d made the ‘good morning’ faux pas to earlier that afternoon). He turned out to be a lovely Danish guy, travelling alone. The night before he’d wild camped high in the mountains.
We found the bothy register entry from our friend Emily Scott (fellow Munroist who hiked the Munros in 2018 whilst cycling between them) and signed it ourselves before bedding down on the top bunk.
Day 3: Morning in Camban Bothy
We woke in the Camban Bothy to the sounds of the Danish guy quietly packing up his kit to continue along the Affric Kintail Way.
We slowly got our own kit together.
I ate as much breakfast as possible in order to strengthen me for the tough route ahead.
It would only be an 11km day (in comparison to the 27km previous day) and I’d had a good sleep, but it was raining hard and it would be a tough pathless ascent.
I went out with the shovel to do ‘my business’ and James took what could be the most pathetic looking photograph of me ever taken.
Hobbling like an old woman, I was still dealing with the intense pain in my heels. I toyed with just walking out through the valley once more but I decided to go for it. If this was a holiday I would have retreated, but it was a challenge. It was sometimes going to hurt and if it didn’t hurt every now and then, everyone would do it. I popped two Paracetamol and two Ibruprofen, put on my big girl pants and we set of.
Fully waterproofed to the eyeballs, we steeled ourselves for the two 1,100m+ Munros that separated us from the main road.
Day 3 Leaving Camban Bothy to Finish the Munro Route
We set off in drizzle and we had a key navigational choice to make. We either stayed on the Affric Kintail Way to the hostel and then over a bridge to hit the mountainside at its steepest point. Or we took our chances crossing the river earlier and approach the mountainside where it wasn’t as steep. Option two was the more direct route. Either way it would be pathless after the river because these two Munros are seldom climbed from this angle.
I preferred the direct approach, as it would limit the number of kilometres I had to walk on bad feet. So that’s what we did.
We tramped through tall wet grass until we met the river, at the point where the River Affric, the Allt Cam-ban and the Allt a’ Chomhlain all came together. Gulp.
It was obvious there would be no crossing point that didn’t involve getting our feet wet (most likely up to the knees). I knew that if I got my feet wet the climb would be so much harder, probably three times as much.
James said “I could carry you over that” and I laughed out loud. It seemed impossible that James would be able to carry me across the wide river. In order to do so, James himself would have to cross three times – once with the two big rucksacks, once back for me and then again with me on his back!
I was reluctant but James insisted. He walked us across slowly, using his poles for balance and I stayed dry, my hero!
It’s worth noting that this is NOT a recommended method for river crossing. It was a last resort given the state of my feet (fuelled by James’s desire for me to get up the hillside as quickly as possible!)
Day 3 Ascent
The ascent up Mullach Fraoch-choire was slow and arduous both for me and my feet, but also for James who was finding it hard going so slow. I felt a pang of guilt, as I often did at the times when James was clearly stronger than me. I never wanted for him to feel like I was a burden or annoyance. Our challenge was supposed to be fun.
We got to the spine of the wide ridge and stopped for some peanut butter crackers. There was a nice (albeit misty/cloudy) view down Glen Affric.
Using the first scrap of 4G we’d had since two days earlier, James booked a hotel for the next 2 nights. It was a relief to know we’d be sleeping in the first proper bed for the first night in over a week that night. With the biggest part of the ascent behind us, I found it easier going up the ridge onto the summit of the first Munro of the day – Mullach Fraoch-choire.
Camban Bothy Munro Route: Day 3 Summits
We paused briefly on the summit and then progressed down and onto the narrower ridge which linked Mullach Fraoch-choire and A’ Chralaig.
It was completely non-technical but I do remember the ridge had a smidgen of exposure, and the swirling mist added drama to the scene.
The Na Geurdain pinnacles were sharp and angular.
I made a mental note to return on a sunny dry day to experience the beauty of the ridge properly.
We went over the summit of Stob Coire na Craileig before progressing south down the ridge to A’ Chraliag – our final mountain of the Camban Bothy Munro Route.
I was unbelievably proud of myself for making it to the final summit of A’ Chralaig (sometimes referred to as A’ Chraileag).
It was all downhill from here. Downhill to the Cluanie Inn where I was already planning on ordering huge pizza.
We rested in the thick mist by the summit cairn and planned our descent.
Our car was parked in Morvich and retrieving it had to be our first priority.
We therefore agreed that James would go on ahead of me as soon as we were outside of the ‘death zone’ (i.e. under 1,000m). I’ve no idea why we called it the death zone, it was nothing like being at 8,000m in the Himilayas but the terminology worked for us!
The purpose of James going ahead was to optimising the chances of getting a hitchhike back to the car.
Day 3 Descent
It was approximately a twenty minute drive along the A87 to Morvich from the foot of A’ Chralaig.
I was inevitably going to be quite a bit slower than James so it was in both our interests to separate.
After dropping out of the clouds, I could see the main road down in the glen.
The ground was wet and sloppy but there was a path which guided me down.
I found a crisp packet that James had accidentally dropped on the way down so I knew I was on the right path! He’d dislodged it by mistake out of a side pocket, so of course I picked it up for him.
It was actually quite fun because I had a birds eye view of James catching his hitch which was exhilarating!
Every time a car approached I would will it to stop! But it was probably the twentieth car. I saw the little ant shaped character than I knew to be James get in the car and drive away.
In the end I was 45 minutes slower than James in getting down the mountain so I didn’t have to wait long for him to pick me up in a layby on the A87.
We drove immediately to the Cluanie Inn and ordered two caesar salads and two pizzas. For some reason we were craving fresh ingredients (and cheese of course).
Fresh salad in the Cluanie Inn Pizza in the Cluanie Inn
We scoffed our meals whilst James told me about the chap who picked him up. He was a resident of Skye who’d driven to the mainland for a hospital appointment. He was lonely on the journey so was happy to have James’s company. We then drove to Foyers to check into the hotel.
Our hotel room was called Ness and it overlooked Loch Ness. We each had a hot shower and started the recovery process. There’s nothing quite like laying in a proper bed after over a week of intensive exercise and sleeping on a camping mat.
We nicknamed the Camban Bothy Munros:
- Grrrrr Fury! – Sgurr Fhuaran
- Scary Carcrash – Sgurr na Carnach
- Scare My Sister’s Dumbo – Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe
- Sale Egg – Saileag
- Scared I’ll Be Late Doc – Sgurr a’ Bhealaich Dheirg
- Annie’s Meaty Groin – Aonach Meadhoin
- Sister Dubstep – Ciste Dhubh
- Scorpion Cameraman – Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan
- Mouldy Dragon Again – Mullach na Dheiragain
- Answer = Ache – An Socach
- Musical Frog Choir – Mullach Fraoch-choire
- Achey Leg – A’ Chralaig
Find out why we nicknamed all 282 Munros here.