Walking The Wainwrights – A Book-by-Book Adventure

Adventurer Nic looking over at Great Gable from Kirk Fell in the snow during her Walking The Wainwrights Challenge
Adventurer Nic walks away from Grisedale Tarn ascending St Sunday Crag
Adventurer Nic walks away from Grisedale Tarn ascending St Sunday Crag

Walking The Wainwrights – Introduction

Walking the Wainwrights of the Lake District, UK is something I’ve done once before. I hiked my first Wainwright fell in 2017 and I quickly caught the hill bagging bug! I completed my first Wainwright round in September 2018 – all 214 fells in 364 days. Then, two years later I moved to West Cumbria from South Yorkshire, delighted to be closer to my beloved fells. Regular Wainwright walks were suddenly far more accessible to me.

In 2021 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, I decided to embark on my second Wainwright round. A round with a twist! This time I’d be hiking them one book at a time. In the 1950s and 60s Alfred Wainwright published seven guidebooks entitled ‘A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells‘. I decided I’d hike each collection of fells together in a single continuous route, one book at a time. Seven multi-day Wainwright walks in total.

At the time, I was working three days a week in research and analysis in front of a laptop. So this left me with Friday to Monday to dedicate to my series of micro adventures. I would embark on seven Wainwright walks on my days off from work.

Wainwright Routes – The Planning

Stack of Alfred Wainwright Guidebooks
Stack of Alfred Wainwright Guidebooks

I planned each of my Wainwright bagging routes in the komoot app. Primarily, I used the following resources to plan my Wainwright walks –

  • paper maps
  • Alfred Wainwright’s guide books
  • a Wainwright fells list
  • a variety of blogs

Anyone who knows me knows that one of my favourite things to do is plan peak bagging routes. I enjoy it almost as much as the hiking itself!

Overall I would be walking over 600km and climbing over 30,000m in ascent.

Lake District By Bus

Adventurer Nic stands at her local bus stop in Cockermouth ready to travel the Lake District by bus

A quirky part of my Wainwright bagging was that I planned each of my Wainwright routes to start and finish at a Lake District bus stop.

Ultimately, this ‘Lake District by Bus’ approach ensured that I never had to worry about taking my car into a congested National Park during the busy Spring/Summer months.

Furthermore, travelling around the Lake District by bus also meant that I could undertake my Wainwright bagging routes in an environmentally friendly a manner as possible.

Bus Services for Walking The Wainwrights

Bus stop in the village of Rosthwaite, the Lake District with fells and farmland in the background
Bus stop in the village of Rosthwaite, the Lake District with fells and farmland in the background

The bus services I used to service my Wainwright routes were –

The X5 and X4 were always my first buses which led out of my home town of Cockermouth, Cumbria to the hub of the Keswick Depot bus station or the Penrith Depot bus station. From either of these points I could connect to the rest of the Lake District. Luckily, the X5 and X4 buses also took me directly to the Northern fells.

The 77 and 77a buses transported me from Keswick to both the North Western fells and the Western fells. This service follows a gorgeous route down Borrowdale alongside Derwent Water.

The 508 bus from Penrith allowed me to access the Eastern fells and Far Eastern fells via Ullswater. A really pretty route down the side of the lake.

The 555 bus from Keswick to Rydal transported me to the start of the Central fells route. This is a fantastic route down by Thirlmere via Grasmere.

The 505 bus allowed me to get back from the Southern fells by taking me from Coniston to Ambleside. From there I could get the 555 back to Keswick and the X5 home.

Lake District by Bus Recommendation

Nic travels on a near-empty X5 bus on her Walking The Wainwrights project

In conclusion, I highly recommend using the Stagecoach bus services of Cumbria to explore the Lake District National Park.

In the main I found the buses to be punctual.

The drivers were super friendly and helpful which always made me smile.

Seeing the Lake District from the top deck of a bus is very relaxing and the time flies.

I actually fell asleep on one of the buses which shows how comfortable the journey was.

Nic charges her phone using the USB port on the Stagecoach bus

Moreover, most of the buses have USB charging points.

This means you can charge your phone whilst you travel the Lake District by bus which I found very useful.

I was always taking lots of photographs along my journey and so the extra opportunity to recharge my phone battery along the way was handy.

On the other hand, a pitfall of the 77a route in particular is that the service regularly has to be cancelled during the busiest weekends of the year. This is due to inconsiderate car parking on the single track roads around Catbells. Unfortunately, this does lead to bus using hill walkers getting stranded at the wrong end of the valley. Luckily, the service wasn’t disrupted during my visits. Finally, it’s also worth noting that this service does not operate during the winter months.

The Lead Up to Walking The Wainwrights

I prepared for this walking challenge by meticulously reviewing my walking kit and making refinements. In addition, I went over the Wainwright routes with a fine tooth comb multiple times before locking them in. It was important for me to ensure I was using all available paths, reducing the pathless elements of the routes to a minimum as I knew that would slow me down. Furthermore, I wanted to avoid private land and wall/fence hopping which is often associated with long distance hill bagging challenges.

Researching the bus route options was easy using the Stagecoach website and the Traveline website.

My fitness was on the low side before the walking challenge began. We had just come out of another national lockdown and I hadn’t been out in the mountains regularly. I knew I wanted to start with one of the shorter Wainwrights routes. As a result, I decided on the Northern Fells.

The Wainwright Routes

The Northern Fells – Walking The Wainwrights

View of Derwent Water from the ascent of Lonscale Fell whilst Walking the Wainwrights
View of Derwent Water from the ascent of Lonscale Fell whilst Walking the Wainwrights

I walked the 24 Northern Wainwrights over three days in April 2021 starting at the Keswick Depot bus station in Keswick and hiking Latrigg first. The route ended with Souther Fell and finished at the Mungrisdale Road End bus stop on the A66. The whole Northern fells route was 79.5km in length.

The Eastern Fells – Walking The Wainwrights

A bivvy wild camp on the Eastern Fells Walking The Wainwrights route
A bivvy wild camp on the Eastern Fells Walking The Wainwrights route

I walked the 35 Eastern Wainwrights over four days in April 2021 starting at the Kirkstone Pass Inn bus stop on the Kirkstone Pass and hiking Red Screes first. The route ended with Little Mell Fell and finished at the Longthwaite Road End bus stop near Watermillock. The whole Eastern fells route was 96.4km in length.

The Central Fells – Walking The Wainwrights

The Howitzer - the summit of Helm Crag on the Central Fells route during the Walking the Wainwrights adventure
The Howitzer – the summit of Helm Crag on the Central Fells route during the Walking the Wainwrights adventure

I walked the 27 Central Wainwrights over three days at the end of April 2021 starting at the Rydal Church bus stop in Rydal and hiking Loughrigg Fell first. The route ended with High Rigg and finished at Dale Bottom bus stop near Keswick. The whole Central fells route was 71.6km in length.

The Western Fells – Walking The Wainwrights

Adventurer Nic walks along Mellbreak in the Western fells on the Walking the Wainwrights adventure
Adventurer Nic walks along Mellbreak in the Western fells on the Walking the Wainwrights adventure

I walked the 33 Western Wainwrights over four days in May 2021 starting at the Honister Youth Hostel bus stop at Honister Slate Mine and hiking Grey Knotts first. The route ended with Fleetwith Pike and finished the circular at the same Honister YHA bus stop. The whole Western fells route was 99.5km in length.

The Southern Fells – Walking The Wainwrights

Adventurer Nic peeks out of her tent during a wild camp in Eskdale at sunset
Adventurer Nic peeks out of her tent during a wild camp in Eskdale at sunset

I walked the 30 Southern Wainwrights over four days at the end of May 2021 starting at the Stonethwaite Road End bus stop in Borrowdale and hiking Bessyboot (Rosthwaite Fell) first. The route ended with The Old Man of Coniston and finished at the The Ruskin Centre bus stop in Coniston. The whole Southern fells route was 102km in length.

The North Western Fells – Walking The Wainwrights

The summit of Rannerdale Knotts on the North Western Walking The Wainwrights route
The summit of Rannerdale Knotts on the North Western Walking The Wainwrights route

I walked the 29 North Western Wainwrights over three days in June 2021 starting at the Rosthwaite General Store bus stop in Rosthwaite and hiking Castle Crag first. The route ended with Sale Fell and finished at the Dubwath (Junction with A66) bus stop in Dubwath. The whole North Western fells route was 73.9km in length.

The Far Eastern Fells – Walking The Wainwrights

Adventurer Nic hiking on the Kentmere Horseshoe on the Far Eastern Walking the Wainwrights route
Adventurer Nic hiking on the Kentmere Horseshoe on the Far Eastern Walking the Wainwrights route

I walked the 36 Far Eastern Wainwrights over four days in June 2021 starting at the Patterdale Hotel bus stop in Patterdale and hiking Place Fell first. The route ended with Troutbeck Tongue and finished at the Town End bus stop in Troutbeck. The whole Far Eastern fells route was 99.4km in length.

Walking The Wainwrights – Conclusion

Wild Camping in Back O Skiddaw
Wild Camping in Back O Skiddaw

Walking the Wainwrights and accessing the Lake District by bus was a really fulfilling experience. In short, my Wainwright walks were slow enough to truly appreciate the views and catch up with friends but fast enough to feel like a properly challenging series of walks.

About the Author

Photo of Adventurer Nic on a Loch in the Scottish Highlands

Adventurer Nic is a Munroist and double Wainwright ‘Compleator’ who in 2020 hiked a piligrimage from her birthplace of Sheffield to her home in West Cumbria. Let her know what you thought of this post by dropping her a comment.

Howes and Seat Robert

James Forrest overlooking Haweswater in the Lake District from the Old Corpse Road after hiking Seat Robert, Howes and a variety of other Outlying Fells of Lakeland
Kidsty Pike from the shore of Haweswater on the Howes and Seat Robert Outlying Fells of Lakeland route
Kidsty Pike from the shore of Haweswater on the Howes and Seat Robert Outlying Fells of Lakeland route

Howes and Seat Robert Route Introduction

Howes and Seat Robert are two classic routes featured in Alfred Wainwright’s Outlying Fells of Lakeland guide book. The original routes take in seven outlier fells of the Lake District National Park – two on the Howes route and five on the Seat Robert route. This route card incorporates all seven hills into a single circular and is a fantastic option for someone peak bagging the Outlying Fells of Lakeland.

Adventurer Nic walked this route on Thursday 24th December 2020. These were Outlier numbers 101 to 107 of 116 for Nic. Here, she explains how you can bag these outlying fells too.

Howes and Seat Robert Route Stats

Fells: Howes (583m), Nabs Moor (493m), High Wether Howe (531m), Fewling Stones (509m), Seat Robert (515m), Great Ladstones (440m) and Langhowe Pike (401m).

Total Distance: 21.8km / 13.5miles

Total Ascent: 1,020m / 3,350ft

Approx Walk Time: 8 hours

Grid Reference Start: NY 469107

Howes and Seat Robert Route Report

The Lead Up

Four days earlier we’d hiked Newton Fell (south) and Newton Fell (north). Today was a crisp and snowy Christmas Eve so we set out on a long hike of seven outlying fells near to Haweswater.

The Approach

Mardale Head Car Park by Haweswater
Mardale Head Car Park by Haweswater

We left the car park and headed to a large gate by Haweswater information board. We passed through the gate, designed to keep deer away from the road and followed the track uphill.

The path at the beginning of the Howes and Seat Robert Walk
The path at the beginning of the Howes and Seat Robert Walk

Soon we reached a fingerpost and turned left following the sign to Gatescarth Pass.

Finger post to Gatescarth Pass
Finger post to Gatescarth Pass

This stony path weaved up the hillside. We passed through a kissing gate and continued uphill.

View towards Blea Water and the High Street range
View towards Blea Water and the High Street range

Stunning views surrounded us, to the right towards Blea Water and to the left towards Haweswater. The sky was a beautiful hue of early morning sunrise pastel colours.

James Forrest hiking at sunrise at the start of the Howes and Seat Robert Route
James Forrest hiking at sunrise at the start of the Howes and Seat Robert Route

It became very icy underfoot as we reached the top of the pass.

James Forrest on an icy Gatescarth Pass
James Forrest on an icy Gatescarth Pass

There was an option to peel off to the left to hike Branstree but we kept going straight on following the fingerpost sign for the byway towards Sadgill.

Views down to Longsleddale valley from Gatescarth Pass
Views down to Longsleddale valley from Gatescarth Pass

We passed through another gate and started heading downhill with views of the Longsleddale valley which was glowing in the sunlight.

Finger post to Swindale Head and Wet Sleddale
Finger post to Swindale Head and Wet Sleddale

The Ascent

We passed through a gate at the bottom of the pass and then turned left at the fingerpost marked Swindale Head and Wet Sleddale. Hopping over the stream we made our way on the grassy trail which was boggy in parts in the direction of Mosedale Cottage to the north east.

Boggy trail to Mosedale Cottage
Boggy trail to Mosedale Cottage

We passed through a gate and at this point we could turn left for Branstree or right for Tarn Crag, two Wainwrights. Instead we continued heading north east for Mosedale Cottage.

Mosedale Cottage, a bothy in the far eastern Lake District National Park
Mosedale Cottage, a bothy in the far eastern Lake District National Park

We reached the white-washed bothy but didn’t enter due to the current COVID restrictions. It was also a little early to stop for lunch, but is a great shelter under normal circumstances.

We continued past the bothy, crossing Great Grain Gill and continued along the path. Soon we crossed Nowtly Gill and turned left after this, following the tracks of a farm vehicle up the hillside.

James Forrest ascending Howes
James Forrest ascending Howes

At around the 500m mark we looked over our left shoulders to see the white Mosedale Cottage from above.

View down to Mosedale Cottage from the ascent of Howes
View down to Mosedale Cottage from the ascent of Howes

At the top we turned right and made for the highest point, on a rocky outcrop.

The rocky summit of Howes
The rocky summit of Howes

Soon, in a vicious cold wind we reached the summit of Howes.

The Summit – Howes

View to Branstree from Howes
View to Branstree from Howes

We took a few photos on the summit but we didn’t stay for long. It was bitterly cold in the exposed position and we needed to retreat to lower ground as soon as possible.

View to Ulthwaite Rigg from Howes
View to Ulthwaite Rigg from Howes

We glanced across to Ulthwaite Rigg, a fell we’d hiked as part of another long Outlying Fells of Lakeland walk a few months earlier.

James Forrest hiking towards Nabs Moor from Howes
James Forrest hiking towards Nabs Moor from Howes

We left the summit to the north east and weaved down through the crags of Howes onto another farm vehicle track that would guide us towards Nab Moor, our second of Wainwright’s Outlying Fells of the day.

Fence between Howes and Nabs Moor
Fence between Howes and Nabs Moor

The track led us to a fence which we passed over before we continued north to the summit of Nabs Moor.

The Summit – Nabs Moor

Adventurer Nic on the submit of Nabs Moor
Adventurer Nic on the submit of Nabs Moor

Nabs Moor summit was marked by a small rock on a boulder.

View into the Swindale valley from Nabs Moor
View into the Swindale valley from Nabs Moor

The sun was now shining on us which took the edge off the wintery gales. We admired the views into Swindale valley before starting our descent into the Mosedale valley.

We headed south east initially before turning east to walk beside Swine Gill towards Mosedale Beck in the valley bottom.

Descending into the Mosedale valley
Descending into the Mosedale valley

We had two choices here. Either turn right at the bottom and follow the path to the bridge before looping back onto High Wether Howe from the south. Alternatively, we could find a way across the river here, approaching High Wether Howe from the west and cutting around two kilometres from the route. Luckily the dry weather allowed us to go for the latter option.

James Forrest crossing Mosedale Beck on the Howes and Seat Robert route
James Forrest crossing Mosedale Beck on the Howes and Seat Robert route

We crossed the fence for the second time of the day and used a small island in the river to aid our crossing. Dry boots all round!

Looking towards High Wether Howe
Looking towards High Wether Howe

We ascended High Wether Howe on the right hand side of the fence. As we reached the top we turned left and crossed the fence for the third and final time. Just short of the summit we stopped for lunch, as the rocky top of High Wether Howe gave us some much needed protection from the wind. Lunch today was a family favourite recipe from the night before – potato, cheese and onion, baked in the oven. It was cold now but was still delicious!

The Summit – High Wether Howe

View from High Wether Howe
View from High Wether Howe

We topped out onto the summit of High Wether Howe and took some photographs before continuing north to Fewling Stones.

Icicles between High Wether Howe and Fewling Stones
Icicles between High Wether Howe and Fewling Stones

We passed a lip of ground where a perfect collection of icicles had formed. They glistened in the sunshine.

Blue skies on the Howes and Seat Robert route
Blue skies on the Howes and Seat Robert route

We continued north under bright blue skies until we reached the top of Fewling Stones.

The Summit – Fewling Stones

View from the summit of Fewling Stones
View from the summit of Fewling Stones

The summit views of Fewling Stones were less dramatic than the earlier summits of the day as we were walking further and further away from the bigger fells, but the hillside was glowing in the sunshine and it had turned into a lovely day for hiking.

Surveying the land between Fewling Stones and Seat Robert
Surveying the land between Fewling Stones and Seat Robert

We left the summit of Fewling Stones to the south east. We walked over pathless terrain passing to the north of Haskew Tarn before ascending Seat Robert, our fifth summit of the day.

The Summit – Seat Robert

The large summit cairn on Seat Robert
The large summit cairn on Seat Robert

Seat Robert had the most established summit of the bunch, with a large wind shelter and summit cairn. We both commented that there wasn’t much of a drop in height between the five outlying fells on this side of the valley which meant that that hardest part of the walk was the pathless tufty terrain. You just have to be careful not to twist an ankle on the rough ground between the fells around Seat Robert.

James Forrest walks between Seat Robert and Great Ladstones
James Forrest walks between Seat Robert and Great Ladstones

We left Seat Robert to the north, staying left of Gambling Crag and following a series of intermittent farm vehicle tracks to Great Ladstones. There were patches of thick ice galore on this part of the route.

The Summit – Great Ladstones

Summit cairn of Great Ladstones
Summit cairn of Great Ladstones

The summit of Great Ladstones was marked by a cairn. We left the summit to the north east and made a beeline over pathless terrain to Langhowe Pike.

Views as we approach the final fell of the day Langhowe Pike
Views as we approach the final fell of the day Langhowe Pike

By this point we were beginning to tire but we knew we had a couple of ascents left.

The Summit – Langhowe Pike

View from the summit of Langhowe Pike
View from the summit of Langhowe Pike

Langhowe Pike summit was marked by a cairn. We admired the views back to where we’d walked from. It had been a great day of hill walking so far.

The Descent to Swindale Head

The decent of Langhowe Pike
The decent of Langhowe Pike

We left the summit, making our own zig zags down the hillside towards the bottom path. We made it to a gate at the bottom beside a dry stone wall.

James Forrest walking towards Swindale Head
James Forrest walking towards Swindale Head

From here we followed the path south-west to a bridge in the Swindale valley, just upstream from the dam.

James Forrest on the bridge
James Forrest on the bridge

After crossing the bridge we joined Swindale Lane to continue south west to Swindale Head.

View towards Swindale Head
View towards Swindale Head

At the farm at the end of Swindale Head we went through a gate to the right of the buildings and turned right at the finger post marked ‘Public Bridleway – Mardale via Old Corpse Road’.

The Old Corpse Road and the Final Descent to Mardale Head

We followed the bridleway up between two walls to a gate.

Finger post for the Old Corpse Road to finish our Howes and Seat Robert adventure
Finger post for the Old Corpse Road to finish our Howes and Seat Robert adventure

Passing through the gate, we then crossed a stream heading uphill to the north.

We continued along the Old Corpse Road as it swung west.

Crossing the stream
Crossing the stream

We soon realised we were walking just below the summit of Hare Shaw, a fell that we’d hiked as part the Naddle Horseshoe a few months earlier.

The view up towards Hare Shaw, another of Wainwright's Outlying Fells of Lakeland
The view up towards Hare Shaw, another of Wainwright’s Outlying Fells of Lakeland

At the top of the pass we could appreciate the snow-capped High Street mountain range before the southern tip of Haweswater came into view.

View to the High Street range of snow-capped fells, seen towards the end of the Howes and Seat Robert route
View to the High Street range of snow-capped fells, seen towards the end of the Howes and Seat Robert route

Many would argue that this is the best view in the far eastern Lake District National Park. Rough Crag drops dramatically down into reservoir forming a dramatic peninsula.

Adventurer Nic standing above Haweswater, just off the Old Corpse Road
Adventurer Nic standing above Haweswater, just off the Old Corpse Road

We stopped for photographs close to two ruined buildings just off the path.

We followed the zig zag trail down to the road where we crossed over and took the lakeside path back to the car.

James Forrest on the final descent into Mardale Head, finishing the Howes and Seat Robert Outlying Fells route
James Forrest on the final descent into Mardale Head, finishing the Howes and Seat Robert Outlying Fells route

The lakeside path was also beautiful, with the water reflecting a gorgeous sunset glow.

Haweswater at sunset
Haweswater at sunset

Due to erosion, the path at the end is not recommended, so we finished the last part of the route on the road back to Mardale Head car park.

Adventurer Nic on the Haweswater lakeside path
Adventurer Nic on the Haweswater lakeside path

A Dramatic Finish

At the very end of the walk we had a ‘heart in mouth’ moment! The car key wouldn’t work. It was so cold that I think it had affected the battery. Luckily there’s a back up key hidden inside the push button casing so I used this to gain access. Unfortunately it meant setting off the car alarm in the process! The sound of our alarm must have carried down the valley until I managed to disable it! Oops!

Wrapping Up

Gummer’s How and four other fells at the south of Windermere beckoned. This would be our next Outlying Fell bagging outing.

About the Author

Photo of Adventurer Nic on a Loch in the Scottish Highlands

Adventurer Nic is a Munroist, Wainwright ‘Compleator’ and is hiking her local Outlying Fells of Lakeland in the wake of the corona virus pandemic. Let her know what you thought of this post by dropping her a comment.

Blawith Knott

View from Wool Knott over Beacon Tarn

…Burney, Beacon Fell and more!

Blawith Knott Route Introduction

Blawith Knott is one of Alfred Wainwright’s Outlying Fells of Lakeland. This hike links Blawith Knott to 5 other outlying fells in the south of the Lake District National Park over a distance of 20km including Burney, Tottlebank Height, Wool Knott, Yew Bank and Beacon Fell. This route card is a fantastic option for someone peak bagging the Outlying Fells of Lakeland.

Adventurer Nic walked this route on Monday 24th August 2020. These were Outlier numbers 77 to 82 of 116 for Nic. Here, she explains how you can bag these outlying fells too.

Blawith Knott, Burney, Beacon Fell and More Route Stats

Fells: Burney (298m), Blawith Knott (248m), Tottlebank Height (236m), Wool Knott (223m), Yew Bank (207m) and Beacon Fell (255m).

Total Distance: 20km / 12.4miles

Total Ascent: 770m / 2,525ft

Approx Walk Time: 7 hours

Grid Reference Start: SD 262849

Blawith Knott Route Report

The Lead Up

Previous to this walk, I’d hiked Orrest Head, School Knott and Brant Fell which involved a broken leg and an encounter with Langdale/Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team. I was hopeful that this day of walking would be much less eventful!

The Ascent

I parked in the big layby on the A5092 on a sunny morning in the southern Lake District. I had just dropped my partner James off in Keswick to start his walk of the 214 Wainwright fells in a single round and I was feeling emotional! A hike alone in the outlying fells to clear my head was just what I needed.

I walked west along road for a short distance before turning right to follow a sign which read ‘Woodland 3 Miles’. I walked over the cattle grid and continued along the tarmac single track road.

Over the cattle grid at the start of the walk
Over the cattle grid at the start of the walk

After 400m I turned right to head steeply up a grassy path.

The grassy path up Burney
The grassy path up Burney

To the left in the distance I could see over towards Duddon Sands.

View towards Duddon Sands from the ascent of Burney
View towards Duddon Sands from the ascent of Burney

The navigation to the first summit was easy as the grassy path led right to the top of my first fell of the day – Burney.

There is a trig point on the summit of Burney but the grassy lump 10 metres away is actually the highest point of the fell. So I deviated there for a photo.

The trig point for Burney
The trig point for Burney

The Summit – Burney

The views were absolutely outstanding at this early stage and I knew I was in for treat for the rest of the walk.

View from Burney with Black Combe on the left
View from Burney with Black Combe on the left

I could pick out Black Combe, Buckbarrow, Whit Fell, Stickle Pike, Caw and Walna Scar up and onto the Coniston Fells along the skyline and it was stunning!

View from Burney to the Coniston Fells and beyond
View from Burney to the Coniston Fells and beyond

I suppressed a pang of sadness that I was experiencing such beauty alone.

Blawith Knott and the route ahead from Burney
Blawith Knott and the route ahead from Burney

Blawith Knott was visible up ahead and I followed the grassy path from the summit of Burney which headed off to the north-east.

As the ground became a little slushy underfoot, I took a small detour to visit Burney’s sibling – Little Burney. I went over the summit of Little Burney and headed north-west over pathless but easy grassy ground until I picked up an established path. If you’re not keen on visiting Little Burney, you can stay on the path the whole time and cut out this pathless section.

The path became a little steep and loose as it descended towards a crossroad in the path.

Path crossroad between Little Burney and Blawith Knott
Path crossroad between Little Burney and Blawith Knott

I continued straight on and the path led over a stream, weaved through bracken and then navigated across boggy terrain to gain higher ground onto a tarmac road.

Here I turned left and walked along the road, ignoring the first right-hand fork. Instead I turned right at the main junction, following a cycle fingerpost.  

Junction in the road en route to Blawith Knott
Junction in the road en route to Blawith Knott

From this junction I continued along the tarmac road uphill before the road started to descend giving me a clear view of my route of ascent up the south-west ridge of Blawith Knott.

View to Blawith Knott from the road section
View to Blawith Knott from the road section

The turn off for the grassy path up Blawith Knott came after around 1km of walking on the road and was just after a stream crossing.

I followed the path directly to summit of Blawith Knott.

The Summit – Blawith Knott

The summit cairn of Blawith Knott
The summit cairn of Blawith Knott

Blawith Knott was marked by a cairn.

I saw one other hillwalker approaching the summit just as I was leaving.

I left the summit to the east with Tottlebank Height in my sights. Again, I followed a grassy path, this time down through some bracken.

Small tarn between Blawith Knott and Tottlebank Height
Small tarn between Blawith Knott and Tottlebank Height

There wasn’t much of a drop between these two fells. I passed a small tarn to the left.

Then I continued on before taking a right-hand fork in the path up to the summit of Tottlebank Height.

The right fork up to Tottlebank Height
The right fork up to Tottlebank Height

The Summit – Tottlebank Height

It didn’t seem like five minutes since I was atop Blawith Knott but here I was on Tottlebank Height!

View from the summit cairn of Tottlebank Height
View from the summit cairn of Tottlebank Height

I paused for a short while on the summit to enjoy the view before heading down to the north/north-west.

Adventurer Nic on Tottlebank Height
Adventurer Nic on Tottlebank Height

In hindsight it probably would have been easier to retrace my steps to the path junction and turn right as it was a little bit of a tricky initial descent over grassy tufts and bracken with a few hidden boulders to navigate over before I reached the bottom path.

View from the bottom path towards Wool Knott
View from the bottom path towards Wool Knott

I passed a small group of people with binoculars before crossing a stream. At the next path crossroads I continued straight on towards Wool Knott.

Path crossroads between Tottlebank Height and Wool Knott
Path crossroads between Tottlebank Height and Wool Knott

I crossed another couple of streams as I followed the trail uphill. The path snaked through the bracken towards Wool Knott. I peeled off the path to the right as it bent left at the top of the pass in order to reach the summit of my fourth outlying fell of the day – Wool Knott.

The Summit – Wool Knott

The views from Wool Knott summit are simply beautiful. Not only was it my favourite fell view of the day, it is certainly in my top five of outlying fells so far.

View from Wool Knott towards Beacon Tarn
View from Wool Knott towards Beacon Tarn

Wool Knott overlooks Beacon Tarn which was shimmering in the sunlight. It was also a great vantage point to see the remaining two fells I was going to hike that day – Yew Bank and Beacon Fell.

I paused and had lunch on the summit of Wool Knott so that I could enjoy the view for a little longer.

As I left the summit of Wool Knott I initially retraced my steps, but then I headed north west to a grassy trod which led down to the main path.

Views en route from Wool Knott to Yew Bank
Views en route from Wool Knott to Yew Bank

I turned left on the main path which was wide and grassy and followed it until it crossed Mere Syke. From there I forked right to follow a smaller trail through bracken, traversing the northern flanks of Woodland Fell.

Taking the right fork in the path
Taking the right fork in the path

I forked right twice more, heading downhill passing a large tree on the left. This led through more bracken and to Green Moor Beck, which I crossed at a ford.  

Green Moor Beck
Green Moor Beck

After crossing the stream I walked north, keeping the wall on my left.

Following the wall
Following the wall

The path continued to lead north loosely following the wall.

There were a variety of options here but all trails meet together further up. I chose to cross Hodge Wife Gill near the wall.

Hodge Wife Gill
Hodge Wife Gill

The grass was often wet underfoot so I chose the driest of the interconnecting grassy pathways to follow uphill through the bracken. As long as you’re going north-east on one of the grassy paths uphill, you can’t really go wrong.

The Summit – Yew Bank

My trail led me to the col between Yew Ban and Rattan Haw, so I turned left at the top to bag Yew Bank.

Views from the large summit cairn of Yew Bank
Views from the large summit cairn of Yew Bank

The summit of Yew Bank was marked with a big cairn. I was surrounded by lovely purple heather which was still in bloom on this late August day.

From the summit I followed a faint path to the east over Rattan Haw. I passed a wind shelter and soon the path disappeared and the heather and bracken thickened.

The wind shelter
The wind shelter

I headed ‘off piste’ to the right heading towards what looked like a path that ran parallel that was slightly lower down. This path soon too disappeared so I picked the path of least resistance through the tufty grass and heather towards Beacon Fell in the west.

Pathless walking through heather and tufty grass towards Beacon Fell
Pathless walking through heather and tufty grass towards Beacon Fell

These fells were definitely the most problematic to link up as it involved around a kilometre of tough pathless walking, but that’s part of the excitement of executing four of Wainwright’s routes in one day. You’re probably doing a route that few people have done, so it makes it extra special.

When I made it to the main path I turned left and I only had one more ascent to go. I walked north on the path immediately below Beacon Fell and turned right to follow a steep path up the side of the fell to the north-east.

Coniston Fells from the ascent of Beacon Fell
Coniston Fells from the ascent of Beacon Fell

Half way up the ascent the path disappeared but it was easy to make a beeline to the summit on a compass bearing, easily avoiding the crags and steep ground.

I tried not to get too distracted by the brilliant views of the Coniston fells (and I failed).

The Summit – Beacon Fell

I arrived at the summit of Beacon Fell to a father and son flying a drone together.

Beacon Fell is marked by a large cairn and from here I could see the Top O’ Selside fells on the other side of Coniston Water.

Views from Beacon Fell to Top O'Selside fells
Views from Beacon Fell to Top O’Selside fells

I could also see as far as Helvellyn to the north.

View from Beacon Fell towards Helvellyn over Coniston Water
View from Beacon Fell towards Helvellyn over Coniston Water

The Descent

I left the summit of Beacon Fell following an established trail to the south-west.

The start of the descent from Beacon Fell
The start of the descent from Beacon Fell

The tarn came into view and was just as sparkling and magical as it had looked from the other side on Wool Knott. By the time I reached the edge of the tarn I realised I was now on the Cumbria Way.

The beautiful Beacon Tarn from Beacon Fell
The beautiful Beacon Tarn from Beacon Fell

I walked south along the Cumbria Way which soon ran alongside a dry stone wall on my right beside some woodland which offered some much appreciated shade.

The path then weaved through bracken, through a gate, crossed over Greenholme Beck and led uphill into woodland.

Through the gate into the woodland
Through the gate into the woodland

The path then did a u-turn to the right to run alongside a wall. This led through another gate and along a path with walls on either side of the trail. This opened out into a field where I kept the wall on my right. I passed through another gate at the end. After this gate I turned left. When the path forked beside a large boulder in an opening I kept right. Keeping right kept me on the Cumbria Way where the grassy path rose.

Heading uphill on the Cumbria Way
Heading uphill on the Cumbria Way

I glanced behind me on this section to see the most beautiful view of the fells to the north.

I passed to the left of Tottlebank Height. And at the end of the footpath I turned left onto a farm track which soon merged into a tarmac road. I walked down the road until I saw a fingerpost for a public bridleway.

Public Bridleway sign
Public Bridleway sign

I took this right fork and walked down the grassy track. When the track split I took the right-hand fork which led over a stile.

Ladder stile over the wall
Ladder stile over the wall

I continued across the field following the trail, which ultimately bent east to run alongside a dry stone wall.

The Home Straight

I passed through a series of gates keeping the Kiln Bank farm buildings on my left. At this point I left the Cumbria Way by continuing south. I passed through a metal gate and peeled off the track following the right of way down to the stream. Crossing the stream using the small stone bridge, I continued heading south.

Stone bridge over the stream
Stone bridge over the stream

I then crossed over the wall using the stile. Then, I headed across the field to the stile in the next wall. After this, I continued on passing through a gate in the bottom right of the field. From here I turned right to walk along the track at Raisthwaite.

I passed through the farm yard and through a gate to a tree-lined path. I crossed the stream and went through another gate. Hiking across the field, I went through the gate in the top right of the field and walked straight on following the grassy trail.

I crossed a road and continued straight on, and then crossed a track to continue uphill. I passed a big boulder with a tree growing out of it which boggled my mind.

Tree growing out of a boulder
Tree growing out of a boulder

The final challenge was to make it over the boggy ground to the col to the east of Burney. My legs were tired at this point and I was craving a cold drink! There were no real paths to follow here due to the terrain. This meant it was hard going, but I kept sneaking peeks behind me at the stunning views. Once at the col the path reappeared and I walked downhill to the right of a wall.

Walking alongside a dry stone wall towards the end of the walk
Walking alongside a dry stone wall towards the end of the walk

I dropped down onto the road and retraced my steps over the cattle grid back to the car.

Wrapping Up

Potter Fell would be my next Outlying Fells of Lakeland walk.

About the Author

Photo of Adventurer Nic on a Loch in the Scottish Highlands

Adventurer Nic is a Munroist, Wainwright ‘Compleator’ and is hiking her local Outlying Fells of Lakeland in the wake of the corona virus pandemic. Let her know what you thought of this post by dropping her a comment.

Walk Home 2020

Adventurer Nic on a small beach on Black Moss Reservoir #WalkHome2020
A sunset during a wild camp on the Walk Home 2020 section through the north western Lake District
A sunset during a wild camp on the Walk Home 2020 section through the north western Lake District

Walk Home 2020 Adventure Intro


#WalkHome2020 was conceived in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to celebrate life in healthy way, even in the darkest of days.

Cockermouth became my new home town in 2020.

Cockermouth Castle
Cockermouth Castle

Situated just outside the Lake District in the county of Cumbria, it’s far enough away to not feel too touristy but close enough for the fells to feel like they’re on my doorstep.

The River Derwent that runs through Cockermouth. I will walk close to the river at the end of my Walk Home 2020 route.
The River Derwent that runs through Cockermouth

But Sheffield was once my home. I lived and worked there for over 30 years and I still feel a strong connection to my roots.

Sheffield Wednesday football stadium
Sheffield Wednesday football stadium

During the winter of 2020 I should have been walking the length of New Zealand on Te Araroa – a 3,000km long distance trail from the tip of the north island to the tip of the south island. But as New Zealand’s borders remain closed to the UK at the time of writing, I have had to postpone this trip and pick up some part time work in the UK.

Feeling a bit lost, I thought up an adventure that I could do around my new job – a long distance journey that would mean a lot to me and the Walk Home 2020 project was born.

On 3rd October 2020 I started my hike at the hospital I was born in 36 years ago in Sheffield. I then walked over 330km (over 200 miles) home to Cockermouth, via a selection of national and local trails through South Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and Cumbria.

Walk Home 2020 Q&A

Which route did you take?

You can see the full route I planned here –

I detoured a couple of times in order to re-supply at shops along the way.

The full breakdown of each day can be found here –

Where did the route start?

The route started at the site of the old Jessop Hospital for Women on Leavygreave Road, Sheffield. This was the place I was born in August 1984. Unfortunately the wing of the original building that I was actually born in has since been demolished.

Sheffield is also known as the Steel City due to it’s history of steel-making.

Adventurer Nic ready to start #WalkHome2020 outside the old Jessops maternity hospital where she was born
Adventurer Nic ready to start #WalkHome2020 outside the old Jessops maternity hospital where she was born

Where did the route finish?

The route finished at my home address in Cockermouth, Cumbria.

Cockermouth is also the birthplace of William Wordsworth and the town is twinned with Marvejols, France.

Adventurer Nic on Day 15 after reaching home in Cockermouth
Adventurer Nic on Day 15 after reaching home in Cockermouth

How did you decide on the Walk Home 2020 route?

The komoot app suggested the most efficient walking route between the start and finish points but I found it a lot of fun to plot my own route, tweaking the suggested tour to include places I really wanted to visit along the way. I also adjusted the route to include national trails like the Pennine Way and local trails like the Dales High Way and the Coast to Coast route.

First sight of the Lake District from the Yorkshire Dales on the Walk Home 2020 route
First sight of the Lake District from the Yorkshire Dales on the Walk Home 2020 route

What was the total distance?

The total distance was 336km (209 miles). It fluctuated slightly above my initial target due to my mood on the trail. For example, I added in extra mountain summits in the Lake District when I had great weather.

The view from Fleetwith Pike, an added peak on #WalkHome2020
The view from Fleetwith Pike, an added peak on #WalkHome2020

Where did you sleep?

I planned on wild camping as much as possible along the route, but I added in one AirBnB and had two additional offers of accommodation along the route (one night in a friend’s caravan and one night in a friend’s guest house). The other 11 nights were spent in my tent.

Tent views during a Wild Camp in the central fells of the Lake District during Walk Home 2020
Tent views during a Wild Camp in the central fells of the Lake District during Walk Home 2020

Did you walk alone?

I walked half and half both alone and with small numbers friends and family, remaining respectful and compliant with current COVID guidelines.

Adventurer Nic sitting back to back with Becky near Stoodley Pike
Adventurer Nic sitting back to back with Becky near Stoodley Pike
Celebrations chocolates left for Adventurer Nic on a stile near Lorton in Cumbria on the last day of #WalkHome2020

I walked the Pennine Way section with my friend Becky and was joined for other small sections of the walk by friends Ben, Jess, Megan, Bryony, Adrian, Liz, Eeva, Carla, my boyfriend James and my parents.

My friends Heather, Kate, Laura, Aggie, Katie, Adam and Josh also joined me for short spells to cheerlead from the side lines.

Three Labrador dogs called Moss, Tia and Mack also joined me for sections of the walk.

I experienced a lot of Trail Magic along the way, offers to stay in accommodation, chocolates left along the route and I was recognised twice by people on their own day hikes who had been following my journey on Instagram.

How far did you walk each day?

I planned to walk in the region of 22km to 30km per day. My average day was 24km so my initial estimate was about right. My biggest day was 30km on the Cowling to Malham section of the walk.

Adventurer Nic feeling foot pain just outside Malham
Adventurer Nic feeling foot pain just outside Malham

How long did the Walk Home 2020 route take you?

I had 2 weeks off work so I had to be finished within that window. I started on Saturday 3 October in the evening and I finished on Saturday 17 October in the early afternoon. I had a contingency day in the schedule that I could have as a rest day but I didn’t feel the need to use it.

Adventurer Nic on the summit of Pinhaw Beacon on Walk Home 2020
Adventurer Nic on the summit of Pinhaw Beacon on Walk Home 2020

How did you re-supply food?

I resupplied along the way using four shops in Hebden Bridge, Gargrave, Sedbergh and Shap. I carried between two and five days of food at any one time. I considered leaving one or two stash boxes along the way containing supplies like gas for my stove, expedition meals and a change of underwear, but in the end I didn’t do this. I took enough gas for the whole trip from day 1 and wore the same clothes throughout.

Adventurer Nic at the foot of Jacob's Ladder in the Peak District National Park
Adventurer Nic at the foot of Jacob’s Ladder in the Peak District National Park

What did you wear for the Walk Home 2020 adventure?

On my feet I wore the Hanwag Banks Lady GTX. If it was summer I would have worn lightweight trail running shoes but autumn on the Pennine Way will be very wet and boggy so I took the boots and gaiters approach and I have no regrets about this. My boot lace loop snapped on day 8 but I persevered and finished the walk in the same boots I’d started in.

I took a set of waterproofs, a down jacket and a set of thermal (merino) base layers to sleep in. I hiked in a pair of technical hiking leggings, a t-shirt and an insulated mid-layer.

I took a hat, gloves and a buff (which doubled as a face covering in shops).

Adventurer Nic approaching Pen-y-ghent in the Yorkshire Dales National Park
Adventurer Nic approaching Pen-y-ghent in the Yorkshire Dales National Park

What other kit did you take?

In my rucksack I carried a first aid kit, a one-person tent, sleeping mat, sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, lightweight stove, titanium pot, spork, bowl, water filter, personal locator beacon (PLB), a waterproof cover for my phone, a multi-tool, a set of dry bags, my hiking poles, a compass, water bottles, a trowel for when nature called, a head torch, a sit mat, a small microfibre towel, minimal toiletries, ear plugs, sunglasses, a power bank, my bank card and a small amount of cash.

My luxury item was a light-weight cotton pillow case, which I’ll put my down jacket in at night and use as a pillow. I always sleep so much better if I’ve got a cotton pillow on my cheek.

Adventurer Nic's tent pitched for a wild camp in the Lake District National Park on the Walk Home 2020 route
Adventurer Nic’s tent pitched for a wild camp in the Lake District National Park on the Walk Home 2020 route

Can I do the same?

Yes you can! Unless you live a sea or ocean away from your birthplace, you can plot and consider walking or cycling from your own birthplace to your current home address, either as one full walk or in sections. It’s a great way to do an adventure unique to you and everyone’s walk will be different! If you do decide to do it, please tag #WalkHome2020 on social media so I can see and share your journey.

Reflections on Buttermere in the Lake District during #WalkHome2020
Reflections on Buttermere in the Lake District during #WalkHome2020

Did you update social media along the way?

I did! I used the hashtag #WalkHome2020 and I updated to my Instagram story daily. Check out the pinned highlights beneath my bio if you’d like to see my full photo diary, including all the ups and downs of the adventure.

Here are a selection of Instagram posts which explain more about my Walk Home 2020 adventure –

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Nic 🇬🇧 ➡️ 🌍⛰⛺📸 (@adventurer.nic) on

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Nic 🇬🇧 ➡️ 🌍⛰⛺📸 (@adventurer.nic) on

About the Author

Photo of Adventurer Nic on a Loch in the Scottish Highlands

Adventurer Nic is a peak bagger. She has stood on the summit of the 282 Munro mountains of Scotland, the 214 Wainwright Fells of the Lake District and has recently been hiking the Outlying Fells of Lakeland. Let her know what you thought of this post by dropping her a comment.

Walna Scar

Adventurer Nic descending Green Pikes before heading to Walna Scar

…Caw, Stickle Pike and more!

Adventurer Nic and her friend Laura heading to Stickle Pike
Adventurer Nic and her friend Laura heading to Stickle Pike

Walna Scar, Caw, Stickle Pike and More – Route Introduction

Walna Scar is the highest of all of Alfred Wainwright’s Outlying Fells of Lakeland. This hike links Walna Scar to 9 other outlying fells in the south of the Lake District National Park over a distance of 26km. This route card is a fantastic option for someone peak bagging the Outlying Fells of Lakeland.

Adventurer Nic walked this route on Wednesday 24th June 2020. These were Outlier numbers 39 to 48 of 116 for Nic. Here, she explains how you can bag these outlying fells too.

Walna Scar, Caw, Stickle Pike and More – Route Stats

The trig pillar on Great Stickle
The trig pillar on Great Stickle

Fells: Great Stickle (305m), Dunnerdale Fells (280m), Tarn Hill (313m), Stickle Pike (375m), a nameless summit 1183′ (361m), The Knott (284m), Caw (529m), Pikes (469m), Green Pikes (420m) and Walna Scar (621m)

Total Distance: 26.1km / 16.22miles

Total Ascent: 1,090m / 3,576ft

Approx Walk Time: 10 hours

Grid Reference Start: SD 201917

Walna Scar, Caw, Stickle Pike and More – Route Report

The Lead Up

A few days earlier we’d hiked the Bannisdale Horseshoe and Knipescar Common, two great walks on the far eastern edge of the Lake District National Park. After a couple of days rest we headed to Ulpha to take on another big day in the hills.

James and I met our good friend Laura in the car park on the road between Ulpha and Stonestar. Laura is a postal worker in the Windermere post office but was making the most of her week off with some hiking.

The Ascent

The ascent was straight forward as there was a clear path which led through thick bracken right from the edge of the small car park virtually to the summit of our first Outlying Fell of the day – Great Stickle.

The ascent of Great Stickle through the bracken
The ascent of Great Stickle through the bracken

The ground was firm underfoot and the gradient wasn’t too steep. The view up to the crags ahead was beautiful.

Views from the ascent of Great Stickle
Views from the ascent of Great Stickle

I love the colour of bracken in June and there seemed to be a sea of green in every direction we turned.

Looking back on the ascent of Great Stickle towards Whitfell
Looking back on the ascent of Great Stickle towards Whitfell

We looked back and could pick out the summit of Whitfell quite clearly as we’d hiked that as part of our extended circuit of Devoke Water previously.

Continuing up towards Great Stickle
Continuing up towards Great Stickle

As the trail zigzagged gently through the ferns towards Great Stickle, we were chatting away intently. It was one of those ascents that passed quickly due to great conversation.

The Summit – Great Stickle

The summit cairn of Great Stickle
The summit cairn of Great Stickle

A large cairn marked the summit of great Stickle, five metres south-west of a trig pillar. From here we were treated to an excellent, albeit hazy, view down to Duddon Sands.

The summit cairn of Great Stickle and Stickle Pike in the background
The summit cairn of Great Stickle and Stickle Pike in the background

I also loved the view to the other side, which featured Stickle Pike with a backdrop of higher Lake District mountains. I had the feeling this was going to be a great hill day.

The Summit – Dunnerdale Fells

From Great Stickle we pondered over which route to take to Dunnerdale Fells. We followed a series of small interconnecting paths through the bracken to the edge of this pretty tarn which was teeming with wildlife.

Tarn between Great Stickle and Dunnerdale Fells
Tarn between Great Stickle and Dunnerdale Fells

The ground was firm enough as we were in the midst of a heatwave, but I would imagine this area could be very slushy in poor weather.

Adventurer Nic on the summit of Dunnerdale Fells
Adventurer Nic on the summit of Dunnerdale Fells

A very modest cairn of two rocks marked the summit of Dunnerdale Fells.

The Summit – Tarn Hill

From Dunnerdale Fells we headed towards Tarn Hill, weaving around ponds and through bracken, avoiding the crags.

Looking up on the route to Dunnerdale Fells and Tarn Hill
Looking up on the route to Dunnerdale Fells and Tarn Hill

I’m sure the size of the cairn on Tarn Hill made the two stones on Dunnerdale Fells feel woefully inadequate.

The view from here, overlooking a tarn (no surprises there) towards Buck Barrow and Whitefell was stunning.

View from Tarn Hill towards Buck Barrow and Whitfell
View from Tarn Hill towards Buck Barrow and Whitfell

But it couldn’t compete with the view to the other side. Stickle Pike looked so grand up ahead. We were keen to press on.

Laura looking from Tarn Hill towards Stickle Pike
Laura looking from Tarn Hill towards Stickle Pike

The Summit – Stickle Pike

We left the summit of Tarn Hill to the north, all the while Stickle Pike was getting closer and closer. It looked far bigger than its lowly 375m height tag!

Adventurer Nic and Laura en route to Stickle Pike
Adventurer Nic and Laura en route to Stickle Pike

We aimed for the col between the two fells and followed another path through bracken which wound up and over steeper, rockier ground to the summit. And boy was it a handsome summit.

Approaching the summit of Stickle Pike
Approaching the summit of Stickle Pike

Hiking fells like this is one of the reasons I love being a peak bagger. I’d never heard of Stickle Pike prior to walking the Outlying Fells of Lakeland but it’s such a fantastic hill and an absolute must for lovers of Lakeland.

Adventurer Nic on the summit of Stickle Pike
Adventurer Nic on the summit of Stickle Pike

We settled down to eat an early lunch at 11:30 am. Laura put us both to shame with her lovely, fresh prawn salad while James and I picked the mould off the bread of our peanut butter sandwiches!

Lunch on Stickle Pike whilst looking over the rest of the route
Lunch on Stickle Pike whilst looking over the rest of the route

At this point in the walk we were so happy. We already had four of the ten fells under our belts but Walna Scar seemed a long way away. We were under no illusions we would be back at the car at tea time. Thank goodness for the late sunsets at this time of year!

Looking to Caw from Stickle Pike
Looking to Caw from Stickle Pike

From our summit vantage point we took the opportunity to scout out the route ahead, looking across Stickle Tarn to the junction at Kiln Bank Cross and on to our next Outlying Fells.

The Nameless Summit – 1183′

We descended to the car park at Kiln Bank Cross and followed the trail to the east, passing a cave in the crag.

Cave in the crag to the left of the trail
Cave in the crag to the left of the trail

From there we took a left fork in the trail, which traversed up the western side of Raven’s Crag.

The trail up the side of Raven's Crag
The trail up the side of Raven’s Crag

This trail led us straight to the nameless summit which Alfred Wainwright, in his book The Outlying Fells of Lakeland, fondly referred to as – nameless summit 1183′.

Looking from the nameless summit towards Caw
Looking from the nameless summit towards Caw

This fell reminded me how must I enjoy bagging the hills that are close to the sea. You get a completely different perspective to the land locked fells in the centre of the Lake District. On a hot day like this was it almost felt like we were abroad!

View to Duddon Sands from Raven's Crag
View to Duddon Sands from Raven’s Crag

It felt unnatural to be walking away from Caw, the 529m hill looming behind me in the photo below, but first we needed to lose some height to bag The Knott, at 284m.

Adventurer Nic on the Nameless Fell with Caw in the background
Adventurer Nic on the Nameless Fell with Caw in the background

The Summit – The Knott

So we continued south along the ridge.

James and Laura heading towards The Knott
James and Laura heading towards The Knott

It was an undulating route, passing over a couple of other tops. Whitfell and Buck Barrow made for an awesome backdrop.

Adventurer Nic on the approach to The Knott
Adventurer Nic on the approach to The Knott

We made it to the top of The Knott and admired our next objective, Caw.

View to Caw and Pikes from The Knott
View to Caw and Pikes from The Knott

The Coniston Fells looked fearsome from this angle. We knew we’d later have to ascend a good chunk of that to reach Walna Scar.

View to the bigger Coniston fells and the direction of Walna Scar, which would be our final Outlier of the day
View to the bigger Coniston fells and the direction of Walna Scar, which would be our final Outlier of the day

The view to Great Stickle, our first Outlier of the day was also stunning.

Looking towards Great Stickle from The Knott
Looking towards Great Stickle from The Knott

And of course we were even closer to the sea.

Duddon Sands from The Knott
Duddon Sands from The Knott

Re-fuelling once more, we had a good giggle during a well earned rest by the summit cairn of The Knott.

Snack and giggles on The Knott
Snack and giggles on The Knott

The Summit – Caw

We retraced our steps for 300m before turning right along the trail, heading north-east towards Jackson Ground on the map.

The path to Caw from The Knott. Walna Scar seemed a long way away at this point
The path to Caw from The Knott. Walna Scar seemed a long way away at this point

This part of the trail was really good underfoot so we made quick progress. We crossed Long Mire Beck and followed the path up to the highest point of the pass before noticing some cairns to the right of the trail. We peeled off the trail and followed the cairns to the foot of Caw, where a steep ascent up the south face was required for 150m.

Around 20m from the summit, an older gentleman passed us with remarkable pace and flexibility. We caught up with him on the summit.

Solo hiker on the summit of Caw
Solo hiker on the summit of Caw

He was a local to south Cumbria, living in Barrow-in-Furness, and after a short chat he ventured off towards his next hill of the day – White Maiden.

The views were simply incredible.

Touching the trig point on Caw
Touching the trig point on Caw

A few friends had recommended Caw as their favourite Outlying Fell of Lakeland so my expectations were high and the views certainly didn’t disappoint!

Views from the trig point of Caw
Views from the trig point of Caw

There were OUTSTANDING views to the highest peaks of the Lake District including Scafell Pike, Pillar, Great End and on to Esk Pike, Bow Fell, Crinkle Crags, Pike O’Blisco and all the Coniston fells – Great Carrs, Swirl How, Dow Crag, Coniston Old Man. In the foreground – Harter Fell and Hard Knott also stood out.

View to Duddon Sands from the trig point of Caw
View to Duddon Sands from the trig point of Caw

The views off to the other side were striking for different reasons. A sea view and then Black Combe and a number of other familiar outliers from trips gone by. What a treat.

The Summit – Pikes

Laura decided to leave us at this point, so made her own way back to the car from Caw. James and I continued on, heading north-east towards Pikes.

The uninterrupted views of the Lake District giants were heavenly.

Leaving Caw in the direction of Pikes
Leaving Caw in the direction of Pikes

It seemed like it was mostly downhill towards Pikes, and there were now only two summits between us and Walna Scar.

The summit of Pikes
The summit of Pikes

A rocky outcrop marked the summit of Pikes.

Adventurer Nic on the summit of Pikes, looking towards Walna Scar
Adventurer Nic on the summit of Pikes, looking towards Walna Scar

The Summit – Green Pikes

The amble across to Green Pikes was trouble-free and joyous.

Adventurer Nic on the hike towards Green Pikes
Adventurer Nic on the hike towards Green Pikes

We were now heading directly towards the big mountains in distance and it was difficult to concentrate on where we were putting our feet because of the distraction of the awesome scenery.

Adventurer Nic in awe of the scene between Pikes and Green Pikes
Adventurer Nic in awe of the scene between Pikes and Green Pikes

Green Pikes was my favourite place to photograph of the day. There is no cairn on the summit but the views are out of this world.

Adventurer Nic showing her love for Green Pikes. One more fell to go, Walna Scar
Adventurer Nic showing her love for Green Pikes. One more fell to go, Walna Scar

The Summit – Walna Scar

And just like that we had one Outlying Fell remaining! Walna Scar here we come.

Ruins of quarry buildings on the way to Walna Scar
Ruins of quarry buildings on the way to Walna Scar

We descended off Green Pikes and headed for the wide track known as Walna Scar Road. The path led us past a series of old ruined quarry buildings. What awesome views they’d have if you could stay in them I pondered.

Ascending Walna Scar Road
Ascending Walna Scar Road

The track wound its way up Walna Scar Side and to a crossroads at the col between Walna Scar and Brown Pike. We turned right to head south up and onto the summit.

Approaching the summit of Walna Scar, our last Outlying Fell of the day
Approaching the summit of Walna Scar, our last Outlying Fell of the day

The top was marked by a cairn and overlooked what appeared to be the full length of Coniston Water.

Views from Walna Scar over Coniston Water
Views from Walna Scar over Coniston Water

Looking back, the zigzag path up Brown Pike and on to Dow Crag was so clear as visibility was great.

The summit of Walna Scar looking to Brown Pike
The summit of Walna Scar looking to Brown Pike

We celebrated the milestone, as we were now 40% through Wainwright’s Outlying Fells of Lakeland and we’d already ticked off the two highest fells – Walna Scar and Black Combe.

Adventurer Nic celebrating hiking the highest of the Outlying Fells of Lakeland - Walna Scar
Adventurer Nic celebrating hiking the highest of the Outlying Fells of Lakeland – Walna Scar

The Long Descent of Walna Scar

Thinking about the long walk back to the car, we left the summit and retraced our steps back to the ruined quarry buildings, before continuing through a gate down Walna Scar Road, heading north-west towards the base of the valley, which contained the Tarn Beck and the village of Seathwaite. We filled our water bottles from the stream and couldn’t quite quench our thirst on what felt like the hottest day of the year so far.

Views to Harter Fell from the long walk back to the car after Walna Scar
Views to Harter Fell from the long walk back to the car after Walna Scar

We reached the road at the bottom and walked along it for almost 2km under the blissful shade of the large trees that lined the street. The view to Harter Fell from the valley was beautiful, surrounded by woodland and quintessentially English dry stone walls.

Another Ascent Before Finishing the Walk

We joined a path which led gently uphill back towards the Kiln Bank Cross car park for around 3.5km.

Looking back over stunning views of Lakeland
Looking back over stunning views of Lakeland

As we regained 200m of height the views opened up behind us once more.

Heading back towards the foot of Stickle Pike
Heading back towards the foot of Stickle Pike

By this point we were very tired and a bit low on energy so some high calorie sugary snacks were on the menu to perk us up.

We made it back to Kiln Bank Cross car park and made a beeline for Stickle Tarn. From there we followed the trail beside Hare Hall Beck, laughing as we spotted two Herdwick sheep in the middle of a swampy tarn having a cool down.

Two sheep swimming in the middle of this swampy tarn
Two sheep swimming in the middle of this swampy tarn

We were back on the bracken lined trails for the remainder of the walk, bypassing Great Stickle and picking up the original route of ascent which led these two weary hikers back to the car.

James Forrest following the trails through bracken back to the car
James Forrest following the trails through bracken back to the car

Wrapping Up our hike up Walna Scar, Caw, Stickle Pike and Friends

What a day! 26km and over 1,000m of ascent on the hottest day of the year probably wasn’t the best idea but the views certainly warranted completing this walk on a clear day.

Our next outing would be Cold Fell and Ponsonby Fell in the western Lake District.

About the Author

Photo of Adventurer Nic on a Loch in the Scottish Highlands

Adventurer Nic is a Munroist, Wainwright ‘Compleator’ and is hiking her local Outlying Fells of Lakeland in the wake of the corona virus pandemic. Let her know what you thought of this post by dropping her a comment.

Extended Circuit of Devoke Water

Adventurer Nic approaching the summit of Woodend Height on the Extended Circuit of Devoke Water hiking route

Devoke Water Route Introduction

The Circuit of Devoke Water is a classic horseshoe featured in Alfred Wainwright’s Outlying Fells of Lakeland. The original route takes in 6 outlier fells in the south west of the Lake District National Park. This route card incorporates and additional 6 hills and is a fantastic route for someone peak bagging the Outlying Fells of Lakeland.

Adventurer Nic walked this route on Sunday 31st May 2020. These were Outlier numbers 3 to 14 of 116 for Nic. Here, she explains how you can bag these outlying fells too.

Extended Circuit of Devoke Water Route Stats

Fells: Rough Crag (319m), Water Crag (305m), White Pike (442m), The Knott (331m), Stainton Pike (498m), Whitfell (573m), Burn Moor (543m), Buck Barrow (549m), Kinmont Buck Barrow (535m), Yoadcastle (494m), Woodend Height (489m) and Seat How (311m)

Total Distance: 20.4km / 12.68miles

Total Ascent: 600m / 1,969ft

Approx Walk Time: 6 hours

Grid Reference Start: SD 171977

Extended Circuit of Devoke Water Route Report

The Lead Up

A day earlier we’d hiked Flat Fell and Dent, the first two Wainwright Outlying Fells of Lakeland on our peak bagging list, but it was time for something a bit more juicy.

The walk started at a small car park just off the Austhwaite Brow. There were a few cars there when James and I arrived at mid-morning but there were still some free spaces.

The weather forecast for the day was glorious. Sun cream and water were required in large quantities.

The Ascent

We set off in a south-westerly direction along a wide track in the direction of Devoke Water.

Views as we ascended Rough Crag, the first Outlying fell of the day
Views as we ascended Rough Crag, the first Outlying fell of the day

At an obvious scar in the grassy bank on the right hand side we peeled off the track, following the faint path which guided us gradually over grassy terrain. The views back across Eskdale were fantastic, right from the off.

Views from the ascent of Rough Crag
Views from the ascent of Rough Crag

Devoke Water, which was a bright royal blue in the gorgeous sunshine, is normally popular with anglers but there were none that day.

The ground was dry from the recent warm weather and we soon reached the summit of Rough Crag.

The Summit – Rough Crag

Rough Crags's summit cairn, with views down to Devoke Water
Rough Crags’s summit cairn, with views down to Devoke Water

Out to the west was the large expanse of the Irish Sea and the faint outline of the Isle of Man. The small hump of Water Crag, our second Outlying fell of the day, can be seen clearly, behind the cairn of Rough Crag, in the above photograph.

Adventurer Nic on the summit of Rough Crag
Adventurer Nic on the summit of Rough Crag

The Summit – Water Crag

After a short pause, we walked south-west to Water Crag, the second hill in the Circuit of Devoke Water.

To get there, we followed a faint path over grassy terrain, descending and re-ascending a mere 50m between the two fells. I noted that this was in stark contrast to the 600m cols between the giants of the Munro mountains of Scotland that we hiked the previous summer.

View from the summit of Water Crag
View from the summit of Water Crag

Water Crag had sea views that were even better than the panorama from Rough Crag. The sea was a lovely bright shade of blue.

Adventurer Nic on the summit of Water Crag
Adventurer Nic on the summit of Water Crag

The Summit – White Pike

From Water Crag we dropped down to the south-west, through wet grass that is probably quite boggy after a spate of wet weather but was fairly firm for us. We aimed for the western edge of the tarn where we planned to cross Linbeck Gill and head up the fells on the south side of Devoke Water, starting with White Pike.

James on the ascent of White Pike with Devoke Water in the distance
James on the ascent of White Pike with Devoke Water in the distance

We started hiking uphill on the other side looking for faint paths but there was nothing but a few misleading sheep trods. We paused for a drink and a snack and identified all the fells we could see from this vantage point, from Whin Rigg in the north, we cast our eyes right across the skyline of bigger fells over to Crinkle Crags.

Setting back off walking, we pushed to the summit of White Pike.

Adventurer Nic on the summit of White Pike
Adventurer Nic on the summit of White Pike

The top of White Pike was rocky and we were greeted by a slim columnar cairn.

Views from the summit of White Pike towards Bowfell
Views from the summit of White Pike towards Bowfell

The Summit – The Knott

From the summit of White Pike we left the usual trail for the Circuit of Devoke Water and made our first diversion.

We dropped down, picking our way around the crags and boulders on this side of the hill. We avoided the steepest parts by heading south around the rocks.

After reaching the grassy col we walked over a small hill which led to The Knott, our fourth outlying fell.

Adventurer Nic on the summit of The Knott
Adventurer Nic on the summit of The Knott

We had our lunch here – cheese and pickle sandwiches. A game James and I often played whilst sitting in front of a Lakeland view was to survey the scene and select which cottage out of the valley you’d most like to live in. On this occasion, James picked what looked like a stately home, while I opted for a more modest white washed cottage close to woodland. There were no prizes associated with this game of course, we could never afford a cottage in the Lake District National Park, but nobody can stop us dreaming. We admired the views a little longer, with the exception of Sellafield nuclear power station, which was visible to the north west.

The Summit – Stainton Pike

After lunch we headed off to the south east, picking our way towards next fell – Stainton Pike. Tussocky, hard, grassy, ankle-breaking lumps slowed us down somewhat. I was grateful I’d opted for boots.

The ground then turned a little bit boggy. We crossed Stainton Beck at the point where it forked, before crossing a fence at the most appropriate point. We continued uphill following a grassy rake to the left of the summit of Stainton Pike.

View from the summit of Stainton Pike
View from the summit of Stainton Pike

Once we’d gained the ridge, we turned right to head south west to the summit.

Adventurer Nic on the summit of Stainton Pike
Adventurer Nic on the summit of Stainton Pike

The Summit – Whitfell

From the summit of Stainton Pike, we dropped off summit heading for Whitfell, or Whit Fell, if you use the spelling Alfred Wainwright adopted in his guide book.

We crossed the fence by Holehouse Tarn and picked up a faint path which led to the top of Whitfell.

Adventurer Nic on the summit of Whitfell
Adventurer Nic on the summit of Whitfell

Whitfell’s summit was marked with a trio of features – a very large cairn, an adjoining wind shelter and a trig pillar.

View from Whifell's large summit cairn towards the trig pillar
View from Whifell’s large summit cairn towards the trig pillar

The Summit – Burn Moor

From the summit of Whitfell, we followed a faint path over grassy terrain to the rather lacklustre Burn Moor – the seventh fell on this extended circuit of Devoke Water. It was quite rounded and featureless in comparison to its neighbours, but it made a nice change.

Adventurer Nic on the summit of Burn Moor
Adventurer Nic on the summit of Burn Moor

From Burn Moor, a view opened up of Duddon Sands in the south east.

The Summit – Buck Barrow

From Burn Moor we followed a faint path to Buck Barrow, our eighth outlying fell of the day.

Adventurer Nic on the summit of Buckbarrow on the extended circuit of Devoke Water hike
Adventurer Nic on the summit of Buckbarrow on the extended circuit of Devoke Water hike

In stark comparison to Burn Moor, Buck Barrow was rocky on top, but there was plenty of space between the rocks to walk up to the summit without any scrambling.

View towards Kinmont Buckbarrow from Buckbarrow
View towards Kinmont Buckbarrow from Buckbarrow

We looked across to the west at our next target – Kinmont Buck Barrow.

The Summit – Kinmont Buck Barrow

We descended to find a large wall split Buck Barrow and Kinmont Buck Barrow, so we headed for a large gap in the wall before ascending.

Views from the summit of Kinmont Buckbarrow
Views from the summit of Kinmont Buckbarrow

It wasn’t long before we’d reached the large cairn that marked the summit of our ninth outlying fell. It was also the furthest point from the car where we’d started the walk.

Views from the summit of Kinmont Buckbarrow
Views from the summit of Kinmont Buckbarrow

Black Combe was visible from here.

The Summit – Yoadcastle

We returned to the same gap in the dry stone wall and followed it north. We bypassed the bulk of Burn Moor and walked along a faint path that led all the way back to Whitfell.

By this point in the walk we’d noticed that there had been skylarks above us for much of the walk. In fact, they were the only other living thing we’d seen all day! Their melodic chirping was a great soundtrack to the walk.

As we re-ascended Whitfell from the south we passed another couple – these would be the only other people we encountered on the whole 20km route.

We descended back to Holehouse Tarn and then headed for Yoadcastle, keeping the crags on our left. We weaved around a couple of craggy tops before heading up onto the summit, officially rejoining the original Circuit of Devoke Water route from here on in.

Adventurer Nic sitting on the summit of Yoadcastle, part of the Circuit of Devoke Water walk
Adventurer Nic sitting on the summit of Yoadcastle, part of the Circuit of Devoke Water walk

Whilst on Yoadcastle, we scouted out two fells that we’d return to and hike another day – Hesk Fell and The Pike.

The Summit – Woodend Height

We left the summit of Yoadcastle and made our way with ease to our penultimate hill of the day and boy was it worth the wait! Woodend Height soon became my favourite fell of the extended circuit of Devoke Water.

Adventurer Nic on the summit of Woodend Height
Adventurer Nic on the summit of Woodend Height

The summit offered the best view of the trip – with at least 16 Wainwrights visible to the north, over Devoke Water – starting with the Wasdale fells and extending east, it was a feast for the eyes.

View over Devoke Water from the summit of Woodend Height
View over Devoke Water from the summit of Woodend Height

Woodend Height really offered a stunning panorama. I didn’t want to leave!

The Summit – Seat How

We headed down over pathless but firm grassy terrain to the valley bottom again. Seat How appeared to be a little rocky lump in the middle distance.

View over Devoke Water as we approached Seat How
View over Devoke Water as we approached Seat How

Seat How appeared craggy on all sides but we headed to its eastern side where it was possible to weave easily up through the rocks.

View of Devoke Water from the summit of Seat How
View of Devoke Water from the summit of Seat How

The view from the summit was lovely. We’d now appreciated Devoke Water from every possible angle, completing the full extended circuit.

Adventurer Nic on the summit of Seat How, our final Outlying Fell of the day
Adventurer Nic on the summit of Seat How, our final Outlying Fell of the day

Extended Circuit of Devoke Water Descent

We dropped down from Seat How, again finding the best way off to the east, before heading around back to the track where we’d started the day that morning.

A short walk to the car and that was that. 12 of Wainwright’s Outlying Fells of Lakeland in the bag!

Wrapping Up our Devoke Water Hike

Burnt shoulders and big smiles! That pretty much summed up the day as we stretched our tired muscles back at the car. The Lake District was truly on top form and we were thankful we were there to appreciate it.

What next? Clints Crags beckoned – this would be our next Outlying Fell.

About the Author

Photo of Adventurer Nic on a Loch in the Scottish Highlands

Adventurer Nic is a Munroist, Wainwright ‘Compleator’ and is hiking her local Outlying Fells of Lakeland in the wake of the corona virus pandemic. Let her know what you thought of this post by dropping her a comment.

Camban Bothy Munro Route

Adventurer Nic walking down from the summit of Ciste Dhubh down the north west ridge at sunset
Hiking over the Three Brothers on the three-day Camban Bothy Munro Route
Hiking over the Three Brothers on the three-day Camban Bothy Munro Route

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!

Loch Duich from the initial ascent, with the reflection of clouds and sky in the still water
Loch Duich from the initial ascent, with the reflection of clouds and sky in the still water

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

Adventurer Nic on the ascent of Sgurr Fhuaran with Loch Duich behind her
Adventurer Nic on the ascent of Sgurr Fhuaran with Loch Duich behind her

We started the ascent on a clear path that cut steeply up the hill side, ultimately emerging at the start of a magnificent ridge.

James Forrest overlooking Coire na h-Uaighe on the ascent to Sgurr Fhuaran
James Forrest overlooking Coire na h-Uaighe on the ascent to Sgurr Fhuaran

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.

Lunch on Beinn Bhuidhe en route to Sgurr Fhuaran

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.

James Forrest descending Beinn Bhuidhe towards Sgurr Fhuaran
James Forrest descending Beinn Bhuidhe towards Sgurr Fhuaran

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.

Views over to Loch Duich and the distant Cuillin Munros
Views over to Loch Duich and the distant Cuillin Munros

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

Sgurr Fhuaran

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.

Adventurer Nic and James Forrest on the summit of Sgurr Fhuaran, the first of the Camban Bothy Munros
Adventurer Nic and James Forrest on the summit of Sgurr Fhuaran, the first of the Camban Bothy Munros

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

Adventurer Nic on the summit of Sgurr na Carnach, the second of the Camban Bothy Munros

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.

Adventurer Nic and James Forrest in a selfie on the summit of Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe, the third of the Camban Bothy Munros
Adventurer Nic and James Forrest in a selfie on the summit of Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe, the third of the Camban Bothy Munros

Saileag

After posing for a selfie we left Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe and continued along the ridge.

The cairn marking the summit of Saileag, a Munro in the Scottish Highlands

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 Forrest relaxing on the summit of Saileag, our fourth Munro of the day
James Forrest relaxing on the summit of Saileag, our fourth Munro of the day

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

Views as we descended Saileag
Views as we descended Saileag

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.

James Forrest on the summit of Sgurr a' Bhealaich Dheirg, our fifth of the Camban Bothy Munros
James Forrest on the summit of Sgurr a’ Bhealaich Dheirg, our fifth of the Camban Bothy Munros

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.

Adventurer Nic starting the descent from Sgurr a' Bhealaich Dheirg en route to Aonach Meadhoin - the day was coming to a close and we planned to descend to Camban Bothy
Adventurer Nic starting the descent from Sgurr a’ Bhealaich Dheirg en route to Aonach Meadhoin – the day was coming to a close

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.

James Forrest descending Sgurr a' Bhealaich Dheirg towards Aonach Meadhoin
James Forrest descending Sgurr a’ Bhealaich Dheirg towards Aonach Meadhoin

Aonach Meadhoin

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.

Summit to Eat freeze dried meals on the approach to Aonach Meadhoin
Summit to Eat freeze dried meals on the approach to Aonach Meadhoin
Adventurer Nic on the summit of Aonach Meadhoin, the sixth of our Camban Munro summits

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.

Ciste Dhubh

View of the setting sun over the mountains from the ascent of Ciste Dhubh in the Scottish Highlands

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.

Adventurer Nic and James Forrest pause for a selfie on the summit of Ciste Dhubh
Adventurer Nic and James Forrest pause for a selfie on the summit of Ciste Dhubh

After walking up along the ridge, we made it to the summit of Ciste Dhubh in the most beautiful light.

View from the summit of Ciste Dhubh down the north west ridge at sunset
View from the summit of Ciste Dhubh down the north west ridge at sunset

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.

James Forrest descending Ciste Dhubh, silhouetted by the setting sun
James Forrest descending Ciste Dhubh, silhouetted by the setting sun

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.

James Forrest descending Ciste Dhubh with the setting sun in the distance
James Forrest descending Ciste Dhubh with the setting sun in the distance

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.

James Forrest looking up at the mountains from the descent of Ciste Dhubh in the Scottish Highlands
James Forrest looking up at the mountains from the descent of Ciste Dhubh in the Scottish Highlands

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).

A hanging bunny rabbit in Camban Bothy - quite a disturbing sight!

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

Door of Camban Bothy, photographed before setting off on our Munro bagging Route for the day
Door of Camban Bothy, photographed before setting off on our Munro bagging Route for the day

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.

Camban Bothy on the path that links Glen Lichd with Glen Affric, part of the Affric Kintail Way
Camban Bothy on the path that links Glen Lichd with Glen Affric, part of the Affric Kintail Way

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

Adventurer Nic and James Forrest on the summit of Sgurr nan Ceathramhnan in the Scottish Highlands
Adventurer Nic and James Forrest on the summit of Sgurr nan Ceathramhnan in the Scottish Highlands

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.

View from Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan towards the Cuillin Ridge on Skye
View from Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan towards the Cuillin Ridge on Skye

We admired the view to the west, with the Cuillin’s on Skye just visible in the distance.

Mullach na Dheiragain

Adventurer Nic and James Forrest take a selfie on Mullach na Dheiragain
Adventurer Nic and James Forrest take a selfie on 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.

An Socach

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!

James Forrest and Adventurer Nic celebrating on the summit of An Socach, which marked the half way point in their Munro round
James Forrest and Adventurer Nic celebrating on the summit of An Socach, which marked the half way point in their Munro round

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.

James Forrest consoling Adventurer Nic on the summit of An Socach, which marked the half way point in their Munro round
James Forrest consoling Adventurer Nic on the summit of An Socach, which marked the half way point in their Munro round

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 –

  1. Me to rest in the bothy all day while James did the 21km Beinn Fhada route as planned
  2. Skip the Beinn Fhada route and do the final day over Mullach Fraoch-choire and A’ Chralaig a day early
  3. 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

Adventurer Nic in the doorway of Camban Bothy in the Scottish Highlands with the shovel for human waste looking very sorry for herself before we continued the Munro Route

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

Mullach Fraoch-choire

Adventurer Nic and James Forrest take a selfie in wet weather on the summit of Mullach Fraoch Choire in the Scottish Highlands

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.

A’ Chralaig

Adventurer Nic and James Forrest take a selfie in wet weather on the summit of A' Chralaig in the Scottish Highlands

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

Adventurer Nic finds James's crisp packet that had fallen out of his pocket on the descent of A' Chralaig during our Camban Bothy Munro Route multi-day adventure

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.

Wrapping Up

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).

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.

About the Author

Photo of Adventurer Nic on a Loch in the Scottish Highlands

Adventurer Nic is a Munroist and ‘compleated’ the list over a six month period in 2019. She stood atop each of the 282 Munro summits with her peak bagging partner in adventure – James Forrest. Let her know what you thought of this post by dropping her a comment.

Knoydart Munros

Ladhar Bheinn from the top of Stob a’ Chearcaill

…Six Munros and Two Nights in Sourlies Bothy

Adventurer Nic waiting for James Forrest on the descent of Ladhar Bheinn overlooking Barrisdale Bay
Adventurer Nic waiting for James Forrest on the descent of Ladhar Bheinn overlooking Barrisdale Bay

Knoydart Munros – Route Introduction

The Knoydart Munros are some of the most wild and remote mountains in the UK. The six Munros featured in this route are – Meall Buidhe, Luinne Bheinn, Ladhar Bheinn, Sgurr na Ciche, Garbh Chioch Mhor and Sgurr nan Coireachan. This route card explains the quickest way of getting to all six summits for a peak bagger in a single outing of 2.5 days.

Adventurer Nic walked this route on Sunday 13th October 2019 as part of her Munro Bagging Challenge. These were Munro numbers 275 to 280 for Nic. Here, she explains how you can bag these Munros too.

Knoydart Munros – Route Stats

Mountains: Meall Buidhe (946m), Luinne Bheinn (939m), Ladhar Bheinn (1,020m), Sgurr na Ciche (1,040m), Garbh Chioch Mhor (1,013m) and Sgurr nan Coireachan (953m)

Total Distance: 73.8km / 45.86miles

Total Ascent: 3,700m / 12,139ft

Approx Walk Time: 2.5 days

Grid Reference Start: NM 988916

Knoydart Munros – Route Report

Nic and James 0 – 1 Knoydart Munros

We initially attempted this walk the previous week. We drove to Loch Arkaig from Drumnadrochit, but a flooded road at the eastern end of the loch stopped us in our tracks.

A flooded road at the eastern end of Loch Arkaig temporarily stops Adventurer Nic and James Forrest from hiking the Knoydart Munros
A flooded road at the eastern end of Loch Arkaig temporarily stops Adventurer Nic and James Forrest from hiking the Knoydart Munros

There was a German traveller parked on the edge of the flood. We pulled up alongside him and he explained that he’d walked down the road in his wellies and returned when the water was about to go over his boots at the knee. He said he’d risk it in his car, but only if we went and tried it first. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud!

We immediately initiated Plan B, I didn’t fancy being a guinea pig for this random dude! At this point in the challenge we only had 11 Munros remaining out of the 282. I didn’t even entertain the thought of risking it when we were so close to the finish line.

Instead we headed to Dalwhinnie to complete the Ben Alder Munros first.

Reassessing our Approach to the Knoydart Munros

Two days later, after walking the Ben Alder Munros, we drove to Fort William and considered our options. We could –

a) Try driving the same road to the end of Loch Arkaig and take our chances on the flooding having receded

b) Book the ferry from Mallaig to Inverie and re-plot our walking route

c) Drive to Arnisdale and attempt to get a boat from there across to Barrisdale and re-plot our walking route

d) Drive to Kinloch Hourn and walk in from that side instead (but that would also involve re-plotting our full route)

Not only would options B-D involve route revisions, they would also be longer outings. We’d left the Munros in that area as such that we could walk in through the valley, do the furthest three Munros west in a day, then return to the car over the ridge picking up the remaining Munros. This wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t start at Loch Arkaig.

In addition, options B and C carried a cost and we were trying to keep our overall expedition costs to a minimum.

Given the recent weather and up coming forecast, we decided to stick to plan A and re-attempt the original approach to the Rough Bounds of Knoydart.

That meant getting food supplies from Lidl and getting on our way ASAP, otherwise we’d be finishing our day in the dark.

Adventurer Nic, Neil Irwin, Janey McGill and James Forrest - a chance meeting in Lidl Fort William
Adventurer Nic, Neil Irwin, Janey McGill and James Forrest – a chance meeting in Lidl Fort William

By pure fluke, we stumbled across our friend Neil and his friend Janey in Lidl. They were there to buy supplies for their long distance walk of The Skye Trail. We chatted for a while before grabbing our food and getting on the road.

En Route to the Knoydart Munros

My worst nightmare then happened. A small, white, scruffy-looking dog ran out into the road right in front of the car. I slammed on the brakes in an emergency stop just as a blonde Labrador came into view, chasing the dog in front.

I didn’t hit either of them but my heart was in my mouth and my stomach was churning as I watched them continue running into the woods to my right.

With both dogs long gone and still no sign of any owners, I meticulously checked the front of the car for any sign that I’d hit anything and there was nothing.

It was a very close shave and it took a good hour for me to calm down. When I close my eyes I can re-live the whole event as if it was yesterday.

View across Loch Arkaig from the road
View across Loch Arkaig from the road

With no sign of the earlier flood, we continued down the long, windy and undulating narrow road to the end of Loch Arkaig.

We parked up and got our stuff together. I asked James “Are you going to have a wee before we go?” and he asked “Are you going to drink a lot of water before we set off?” I realised we now routinely spoke to each other like parent and toddler. That’s what over a hundred days together on an endurance challenge does to a couple!

Walking through Glen Dessary

View of the western end of Loch Arkaig of some wild campers
View of the western end of Loch Arkaig of some wild campers
Adventurer Nic shows off her bright coloured outfit, complete with luminous pack cover as a deterrent to being accidentally shot by a deer stalker

We set off in dry but cloudy weather conditions.

It was a 16km walk into Sourlies bothy and it started off well, on a nice wide track.

Conversation flowed freely and we were feeling positive that we felt well rested and strong despite it being the last few days of the challenge.

I showed my bright outfit off for the camera, complete with luminous pack cover. This was my deterrent to being accidentally shot by a deer stalker.

Moss covers the trees in this eerie part of the wood in Glen Dessary

We walked through a very eerie section of woodland, where the trees were absolutely covered in pale moss.

We then walked through a section of the trail which was covered in raised slippery tree roots.

It felt very much like the natural environment was trying to reclaim the trails.

These paths certainly aren’t frequented as often as other areas of the Scottish Highlands.

A series of easy stream crossings later and we were back out onto more open ground.

Adventurer Nic walking towards Sourlies bothy and the Knoydart Munros

A cyclist passed us, heading towards Loch Arkaig where we’d started.

We nodded a greeting, but little did we know he was going to be the last person we’d see for three days.

At the time we didn’t realise just how quiet this area would be.

This was probably amplified as we were entering the area late on a Sunday afternoon just as any weekend explorers were heading home to get ready to return to work.

The woodland path of Glen Dessary
The woodland path of Glen Dessary

From Glen Dessary to Sourlies Bothy

Bealach an Lagain Duibh

The path became rough and it was very sloppy underfoot from the recent heavy rain.

There were also sections of bog to avoid which started to slow us down.

We walked through a valley of mountains that looked like giant versions of the Langdale fells in the Lake District.

From Bealach an Lagain Duibh we could see Lochan a Mhaim in the distance. Another milestone of the route.

We both started to worry about the next day.

Lochan a' Mhaim in the Scottish Highlands
Lochan a’ Mhaim in the Scottish Highlands

It was shaping up to be the longest and most pathless route of the whole challenge with a great deal of ascent. 

Adventurer Nic walking towards Sourlies bothy and the Knoydart Munros
Adventurer Nic walking towards Sourlies bothy and the Knoydart Munros

Darkness fell quickly and James got angry with himself for getting his walking pole stuck in a bog. He really wanted to make it to the bothy before dark and we’d failed to do that.

As we took out our head torches I sighed with the realisation that our earlier positivity had somehow morphed into angst.

We passed a ruin before stumbling across Sourlies bothy just beyond it.

Sourlies Bothy

Stag antlers in Sourlies Bothy above the fireplace

Sourlies bothy was empty which was a relief. Neither of us fancied the pressure of having to socialise in our respective moods.

The bothy had antlers above the fireplace and a couple of large sleeping platforms.

We organised our gear and settled down to a freeze dried meal. For dessert we added Haribo Goldenbears into a Summit To Eat Chocolate Mousse. Delicious!

Food was clearly what we needed as our moods lifted exponentially after this.

Over a hot chocolate, we reassured ourselves of the route for tomorrow (and the various escape options, should we need them). We set an early alarm and bedded down.

Day 1 Ascent

Looking out across Loch Nevis from Sourlies at 5am under the light of the moon

5am in Sourlies bothy – time to get our game faces on!

It was pitch black outside.

We left a bit of our gear and some food in the bothy, ensuring to hang the food from a dry bag on the rafters to ensure Angus (the resident mouse at Sourlies) didn’t deplete our supplies in our absence!

We stepped outside the bothy and looked out across Loch Nevis from Sourlies under the light of the moon.

It was so still and beautiful.

We made a navigational error immediately after leaving the bothy. This caused a lot of frustration and debate between us as to which way was the correct one. Luckily the komoot app came to the rescue – revealing a faint path that was not on either OS Maps or Viewranger.

The route took us up and over the crags above the beach at the far east of Loch Nevis before dropping steeply into what I can only describe as a swamp land! We hopped, skipped and jumped over saturated ground, desperately trying (but failing) to keep our boots dry.

We reached the bridge over the River Carnach. Luckily the new bridge had opened less than two months prior to our trip. The previous bridge had washed away in 2017 and hikers had been making crazy detours in the meantime.

Passing a ruin, we found a good path that took us up to the col between Meall Bhasiter and Sgurr Sgeithe.

Adventurer Nic pauses on the ascent of Meall Buidhe to admire the view out to the Sound of Sleat
Adventurer Nic pauses on the ascent of Meall Buidhe to admire the view out to the Sound of Sleat

From there we peeled off and made a steep grassy ascent, dodging the crags up to 780m where we gained the south east ridge of Meall Buidhe.

Sgurr na Ciche pierces through the cloud in dramatic fashion
Sgurr na Ciche pierces through the cloud in dramatic fashion

The Knoydart Munros: Day 1 Summits

Meall Buidhe

Adventurer Nic and James Forrest on the summit of Meall Buidhe - the first of the Knoydart Munros

Unfortunately the summit of Meall Buidhe was completely clouded over.

This meant we didn’t linger at the summit to celebrate reaching our first of the Knoydart Munros and instead we got straight on with the walk.

We were soon back below the cloud, heading northeast along the ridge towards Meall Coire na Gaoithe’n Ear.

To the left, we spotted Beinn Sgritheall in the distance, as we marched on in the direction of our second of the Knoydart Munros – Luinne Bheinn.

Views to Beinn Sgritheall on the ridge between Meall Buidhe and Luinne Bheinn
Views to Beinn Sgritheall on the ridge between Meall Buidhe and Luinne Bheinn

We continued past Meall Coire na Gaoithe’n Ear along the ridge to Bealach a’ Choire Odhair. From there we approached the ascent of Luinne Bheinn to the north west.

Despite the low cloud, we were in for a treat close to the summit of Luinne Bheinn, a brocken spectre!

Brocken Spectre on Luinne Bheinn
Brocken Spectre on Luinne Bheinn

This is a phenomenon that occurs when the sun is behind you and cloud in front of you. You see your own shadow with a rainbow coloured halo effect cast onto the cloud.

This was the second time on the challenge we’d been lucky enough to see a brocken spectre, the first being when we were climbing the Inaccessible Pinnacle on the Cuillin ridge on the Isle of Skye.

Luinne Bheinn

From the summit of Luinne Bheinn, we walked a short distance, immediately dropping out of the cloud, just as we had done with Meall Buidhe.

Adventurer Nic descending Luinne Bheinn, looking down over Lochan an Dubh - Lochain, with Inverie just in view
Adventurer Nic descending Luinne Bheinn, looking down over Lochan an Dubh – Lochain, with Inverie just in view

Luinne Bheinn offered cracking views down over Lochan an Dubh-Lochain and over towards Inverie.

We decided to stop for lunch looking over Loch Hourn with Beinn Sgritheall towering in the distance. We reflected on our progress with a smile.

Lunch spot overlooking Loch Hourn with Beinn Sgritheall in the distance
Lunch spot overlooking Loch Hourn with Beinn Sgritheall in the distance

After a short break, we dropped down over Bachd Mhic an Tosaich to the Mam Barrisdale pass, before heading over on pathless, rough terrain to the foot of Stob a’ Chearcaill.

An eagle soared above our heads as we looked up at the steep scramble section onto Stob a’ Chearcaill. From here there are a few ascent options, the safest of which is to head for a grassy ramp. We found it difficult to scout out the best way initially but just followed our noses, picking our way through grassy tufts and rocks to reach the top.

As we descended to the next col – Bealach Coire Dhorrcail – we were presented with this view of Ladhar Bheinn. A really stunning mountain from all angles.

Ladhar Bheinn from the top of Stob a’ Chearcaill
Ladhar Bheinn from the top of Stob a’ Chearcaill

Ladhar Bheinn

The northeast ridge from the summit of Ladhar Bheinn

There was one final push of ascent required to reach the summit of our third of the Knoydart Munros.

At one point on a small scramble section, I really struggled to hoist myself up a gap between two large rocks.

I was probably exhausted and in need of something to eat, but James spotted me from below as I managed to scramble up.

It was because of this small struggle – which seemed bizarre as I’d scrambled over all of the more technical Skye Munros, Aonach Eagach and countless other graded scrambles in the lead up this one – that I was so emotional upon reaching the summit of Ladhar Bheinn.

Adventurer Nic and James Forrest on the summit of Ladhar Bheinn - the third of the Knoydart Munros
Adventurer Nic and James Forrest on the summit of Ladhar Bheinn – the third of the Knoydart Munros

I actually cried on the summit. It finally hit me that we were coming to the end of the challenge and I was so proud of myself for overcoming the tough times.

I knew that in time, the pain would seep away and I’d just be left with the awesome memories of the rugged mountain scenery and I’d no doubt feel a sense of sadness that it was all over.

Pausing for a moment, I sat and breathed in the magic of the west coast of Scotland. I wanted to stay.

The islands of Rum and Eigg from Ladhar Bheinn
The islands of Rum and Eigg from Ladhar Bheinn

From the summit of Ladhar Bheinn, I admired the Isle of Rum (centre) and Eigg (left) before we discussed the descent.

Day 1 Descent

We had two options for the descent of Ladhar Bheinn. Either to retrace our steps or to descend north east to Barrisdale and follow the section of the Cape Wrath Trail back to Sourlies from there. Both would involve a great deal of walking and further ascent.

As the crow flies, the distance was 10km but unfortunately we’re not crows.

James Forrest on Ladhar Bheinn, overlooking the eastern end of Loch Hourn
James Forrest on Ladhar Bheinn, overlooking the eastern end of Loch Hourn

We chose to descend into Barrisdale and pick up the Cape Wrath Trail. The views were out of this world as we picked up the northeast ridge. Knoydart really is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been, even on a dull day!

It was 3km of walking down the ridge until we reached and crossed the Allt Coire Dhorrcail. From there we followed a path that took us around the spur of Creag Bheithe and down a zig zag path to the Barrisdale bothy and campsite.

We were back at sea level, and a walk of 14km and a climb of nearly 500m still stood between us and Sourlies bothy. What remained of the walk was the kind of thing most people would stretch out to last all day on a nice Sunday. By contrast we’d already walked 26km and climbed over 2,000m and still needed to squeeze in the additional 14km. This was going to take all the strength we had.

The Last Push Uphill

It was getting late in the day and we set ourselves the target of reaching the highest point on the pass by dusk (at approximately 7pm).

We made good progress on the flat wide track, before picking up the stalkers path up Gleann Unndalain.

We got to the highest point of the pass, just as it was getting too dark to continue without head torches. Under the light of our torches, at 7pm, we ate our dinner. Hopeful that it would give us enough energy to complete the long descent back to Sourlies bothy.

It started drizzling and we quickly scoffed our dinner and continued walking. At least it was all downhill (ish) from here. We came off the path before it met the Allt Coire an Lochain and headed south over the pathless hillside towards the banks of the River Carnach.

Our concentration levels were high as we made our way over wet, steep ground in the pitch black. There were a few scattered crags to avoid.

The Long Dark Valley

Once we reached the river, we simply had to keep it on our left until we reached the bridge that we’d crossed earlier that morning. It felt like a lifetime ago!

Following the river seemed like a simple approach but it was far from it. There was bog, slick large slabs, dense woodland, bogus faint paths, countless stream crossings and it felt like an obstacle course. We were sure it was ten times harder in the dark than it would have been in daylight.

Our progress was painfully slow, often less than 2km per hour. At this rate we’d be getting back to Sourlies after midnight.

After hours of slow route finding, the main track appeared and we were finally making progress again. We saw a bright light up ahead, more powerful than any torch we’d ever seen. It seemed to be illuminating the hillside in waves. James wondered if it was a lighthouse but I knew there were no lighthouses around here. We were far too deep inland.

Eventually we made out a six wheeled vehicle and surmised it was a farmer or land owner lamping against the fell side. What for, we had no idea! They probably thought our presence was as bizarre as we thought theirs was, although we never got close enough to see them properly.

We crossed the bridge, relived to be back on familiar ground and we navigated our way across the swamp that we’d danced across earlier that morning. It also took us a while to pick out the route around the crags to Sourlies but we made it.

Back at Sourlies Bothy

I prayed there would be nobody sound asleep in the bothy. It was just after 11:30pm and I didn’t want to disturb anyone. But our luck was in – it was empty. We could spread out, stuff our faces with recovery food, cry about how much it hurt and laugh about how broken we we made ourselves all in the name of fun. We stretched out our tired muscles. I was amazed by how much strain I was able to put my body under without it giving up on me.

Adventurer Nic's zombie feet after hiking the most westerly Knoydart Munros over wet terrain for 17 hours and 40 minutes

I got the shock of my life when I removed by boots and socks. My feet looked like zombie feet!

We’d been hiking over 40km for a total of 17 hours and 42 minutes and my feet had been wet within the first hour of the walk. I likened it to getting ‘prune’ fingers in a 17 hour bath!

Don’t even get me started on the smell. They were putrid. It was as if the flesh had actually died.

I started panicking that I’d never be able to walk out the next day. Surely the bottoms of my feet were going to totally peel off. Just at the point when I only had 5 Munros left to climb out of 282.

I aired them the best I could. Hanging my bare feet over the edge of the bench, trying desperately to dry them out.

We settled down to sleep just after 1am. I reluctantly covered my pathetic feet in dry socks and nestled into my sleeping bag, but I really struggled to nod off. My hips were so sore and my legs were in pain – the spasms came on and off throughout the night.

Morning in Sourlies Bothy

Morning at Sourlies Bothy in the Scottish Highlands
Morning at Sourlies Bothy in the Scottish Highlands

We woke in Sourlies bothy after a fitful sleep. My body was screaming at me. But laying down hurt, sitting up hurt and standing up hurt. I couldn’t win!

Adventurer Nic painfully contemplating putting her dry feet into wet boots in Sourlies Bothy

There was one thing I was keen to check….my feet!

I gingerly removed my socks and was absolutely astounded to see that the soles had gone back to normal overnight.

No blistering, no peeling skin, no white or red patches.

They were as good as new! Remarkable!

But now for the worst bit….putting my dry feet into yesterdays wet boots. James captured this photograph of me whilst I was geeing myself up to put them on.

After all the hardships of yesterday, this somehow felt like a bigger challenge!

We had four Munros on the agenda before getting back to the car – Sgurr na Ciche, Garbh Chioch Mhor, Sgurr nan Coireachan and Sgurr Mor. But we took the difficult decision to leave out Sgurr Mor. It would certainly require another head torch finish plus we didn’t have enough food to still be walking after dinner. Our energy reserves were heavily depleted and it felt like Sgurr Mor would be one Munro too far.

Nice little touches at the entrance to Sourlies Bothy - Knoydart
Nice little touches at the entrance to Sourlies Bothy – Knoydart

We read the signs in the bothy that gave us the acceptable lines to take to avoid deer stalking and we set off.

Day 2 Getting Going

Views over Loch Nevis from the ascent of Sgurr Na Ciche, our 4th of the Knoydart Munros
Views over Loch Nevis from the ascent of Sgurr Na Ciche, our 4th of the Knoydart Munros

As we ascended away from the bothy, we were feeling warm in the morning sun. I said to James that it was a shame we hadn’t seen Angus the bothy mouse. He smiled and said “Actually, I did”. Aghast, I asked him why he didn’t tell me, and he said that Angus was chilling just above the food preparation bench and he didn’t want to freak me out.

It was at this point that I realised James didn’t know me well at all. I would have LOVED to have seen the famous resident rodent of Sourlies!

Day 2 The Ascent

Adventurer Nic resting on her walking poles during the ascent of Sgurr na Ciche - the 4th of the Knoydart Munros

The ascent of the first Munro was tough, it was almost wholly pathless.

We marched up through primarily tufty grass which was rocky in parts.

I can best describe that we hauled our broken bodies upwards in any way we could.

I was thankful for the help of my walking poles.

We stopped for breaks to take on food and it didn’t matter how much we ate, we were never full.

We must have been running a huge calorie deficit at this stage in the route, especially after such a big day yesterday.

James hit the wall half way up the ascent, which was brutally steep. It was one of the only times on the challenge that I saw him really struggle. The best I could do was force him to eat more food and get him to focus on the stunning surroundings and how lucky we were to call this place home for a few days.

James Forrest looks up at Sgurr na Ciche on the ascent
James Forrest looks up at Sgurr na Ciche on the ascent

With revised motivation, we soon reached the rocky undulating ridge, the summit looked impenetrable from this angle and we were thankful for the excellent visibility.

Behind us were fantastic views over Loch Nevis, including each of the three Knoydart Munros we’d hiked the previous day.

Due to our low energy, we stopped to eat lunch really early and the marvellous views across the Rough Bounds of Knoydart ensured we stayed positive. We’d made it to just below the ‘nipple’ of Sgurr na Ciche. But instead of hitting the steep face head on, we traversed to the right along the 900m contour until we found the main path up Sgurr na Ciche which cut into the north face.

Views of Loch Nevis and the River Carnach from Sgurr na Ciche, Knoydart
Views of Loch Nevis and the River Carnach from Sgurr na Ciche, Knoydart

The Knoydart Munros: Day 2 Summits

Sgurr na Ciche

Adventurer Nic on the summit of Sgurr na Ciche, thanking the weather gods for the blessing of seeing Knoydart in all it's glory

The path wound it’s way up through the crags and we topped out on the summit next to a large cairn.

We’d made it. Number four of the Knoydart Munros in the bag.

With the main ascent out of the way, we were psyched to continue on. We knew the hardest bit was behind us and it was such a relief.

We took some time to really enjoy the Sgurr na Ciche summit views. I think Sgurr na Ciche has to be up there in my top 5 Munro summit vistas.

I needed a bit of first aid first though, I’d somehow scratched the back of my finger on a boulder when scrambling to reach the path up Sgurr na Ciche. It was one of those annoying tiny cuts that just wouldn’t stop bleeding.

View from the summit of Sgurr na Ciche of the distant Cuillin ridge on the Isle of Skye, Ladhar Bheinn and Beinn Sgritheall
View from the summit of Sgurr na Ciche of the distant Cuillin ridge on the Isle of Skye, Ladhar Bheinn and Beinn Sgritheall

We could see as far as the Cuillin ridge from here. It was cloud free and it made us think that our Cuillin guide Adrian would probably be having a whale of a time up there today with some lucky clients. The conditions were perfect for climbing.

View down to Loch Cuaich from the summit of Sgurr na Ciche, our 4th of the Knoydart Munros
View down to Loch Cuaich from the summit of Sgurr na Ciche, our 4th of the Knoydart Munros

We took a big gulp of water and swung around to admire the view in the other direction, down towards Loch Cuaich.

Garbh Chioch Mhor

From Sgurr na Ciche, we descended steeply to the col between this and the next Munro -Garbh Chioch Mhor.

We followed a path that ran alongside a wall and up to the summit of Garbh Chioch Mhor and rejoiced in the fact that it seemed these two Munros were in spitting distance of one another!

Adventurer Nic and James Forrest on the summit of Garbh Chioch Mhor, our 5th of the Knoydart Munros
Adventurer Nic and James Forrest on the summit of Garbh Chioch Mhor, our 5th of the Knoydart Munros

The wind had picked up a little by this point, but we were loving the sunshine.

Sgurr nan Coireachan

From Garbh Chioch Mhor, we descended onto the ridge which would lead to our final Munro of the day, in fact, the last of our Knoydart Munros of the route – Sgurr nan Coireachan.

Adventurer Nic descending Garbh Chioch Mhor, the 5th of the Knoydart Munros
Adventurer Nic descending Garbh Chioch Mhor, the 5th of the Knoydart Munros

It was a rugged looking ridge, full of lumps and bumps, with the old wall running down its spine.

A faint path meant that navigation was straight forward. Plus, there weren’t many other options than to stick to the crest of the ridge.

Whilst undulating up and down along the ridge, we looked down to the right and we could see the route that we’d taken two days ago on the evening walk in to Sourlies bothy.

I was much happier up on the dry rock of the ridge than I was on the sloppy valley floor.

The view as we got closer to Sgurr nan Coireachan
The view as we got closer to Sgurr nan Coireachan

At 953m, Sgurr nan Coireachan was quite a bit smaller in height than the earlier two Knoydart Munros which was a bonus.

We made the final bit of ascent onto the summit and looked back along the ridge. What an achievement!

Summit view from Sgurr nan Coireachan - our 6th of the Knoydart Munros
Summit view from Sgurr nan Coireachan – our 6th of the Knoydart Munros

Day 2 Descent

With just the descent to go, we took one last glance down the valley and headed off Sgurr nan Coireachan to the south, into Glen Dessary.

James Forrest descending Sgurr nan Coireachan
James Forrest descending Sgurr nan Coireachan

The route was easy to follow, using stepped grassy shelves in the hillside.

We made it down to the main path in the valley and paused by a stile to eat the last of our food supplies, a Dairy Milk chocolate bar.

We hit the main track and fast marched back to the car. Concluding that the Rough Bounds of Knoydart really had lived up to their name!

Wrapping Up

We made it to car just as it was going dark. We ate a huge amount of food that night, including freeze dried meals, cous cous, tinned tuna, rice, noodles, cereal, crisps, chocolate, dried fruit, anything we could get our hands on! Our stomachs were bottomless pits.

I’m ashamed of what came next. Generally, in these circumstances, we made the effort to wild camp away from the car and it would be easy for me to pretend that we hiked back into the wild that night to pitch our tent. But this is an honest article so I’ll share, warts and all! We still needed to walk from here to Sgurr Mor the next day and we were miles from anybody so we crudely pitched the tent right next to the car in the car park. By far our cheekiest wild camp.

We nicknamed the Knoydart Munros:

  • Meal of Bird – Meall Buidhe
  • Lunar Being – Luinne Bheinn
  • Ladder Begin – Ladhar Bheinn
  • Scoffed A Shish (kebab) – Sgurr na Ciche
  • Garbled Choc Whore – Garbh Chioch Mhor
  • Scupper Nan’s Curry Eating – Sgurr nan Coireachan

Find out why we nicknamed all 282 Munros here.

About the Author

Photo of Adventurer Nic on a Loch in the Scottish Highlands

Adventurer Nic is a Munroist and ‘compleated’ the list over a six month period in 2019. She stood atop each of the 282 Munro summits with her peak bagging partner in adventure – James Forrest. Let her know what you thought of this post by dropping her a comment.

Fisherfield

Adventurer Nic zipping down her tent in front of Shenavall Bothy in the Scottish Highlands before setting off to climb the Fisherfield Munros

…Five Munros and a Night in Shenavall Bothy

James Forrest leaving Beinn Tarsuinn - one of the Fisherfield Munros
James Forrest leaving Beinn Tarsuinn – one of the Fisherfield Munros

Fisherfield Route Introduction

The Fisherfield Round comprises of five Munros in the Scottish Highlands. The five Munros are – Sgurr Ban, Mullach Choire Mhic Fhearchair, Beinn Tarsuinn, A’ Mhaighdean and Ruadh Stac Mor. This route card explains the quickest and easiest way of getting to all five summits for a peak bagger.

Adventurer Nic walked this route on Saturday 21st September 2019 as part of her Munro Bagging Challenge. These were Munro numbers 230 to 234 for Nic. Here, she explains how you can bag these Munros too.

Fisherfield Route Stats

Mountains: Sgurr Ban (989m), Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair (1,019m), Beinn Tarsuinn (937m), A’ Mhaighdean (967m) and Ruadh Stac Mor (918m)

Total Distance: 43.9km / 27.28miles

Total Ascent: 2,040m / 6,693ft

Approx Walk Time: 1.5 days

Grid Reference Start: NH 115848

Fisherfield Route Report

The Lead Up

Adventurer Nic walking in towards Shenavall bothy after sunset

We spent the morning walking up An Teallach in glorious sunshine. It was definitely one of the best weather days of the year.

After making it down to the car at Corrie Hallie that afternoon, we switched out our day packs for our overnight packs, scoffed dinner by the car and set straight back out.

Once again we found ourselves on the same stretch of the Cape Wrath Trail that we’d started on earlier that morning, along the Gleann Chaorachain.

We pondered numerous times whether or not we should have stowed gear that morning and somehow linked the seven Munros.

It had seemed like too hard to do at the time…. but now we weren’t so sure!

Adventurer Nic looking down at her feet, illuminated by her head torch whilst hiking at night

We passed the point on the trail where we’d turned off for An Teallach earlier that morning and continued on towards Shenavall bothy. Darkness fell quickly so we continued under the light of our head torches.

As we got closer to the Mountain Bothies Association shelter, the path thinned out and the trail to Shenavall became less obvious. Battling the disorientation that nightfall brings, it constantly felt like we were headed in the wrong direction but we persevered.

It was comforting that we were not alone in the dark that night though. We saw lots of head torches in the distance, possibly from other hikers finishing the Fisherfield circuit in the dark. Shenavall bothy eventually came into view and we descended to it, relieved the night walking was coming to an end.

There was already a large group settled in the bothy so we favoured setting up camp on the grass outside in our tent. We bedded down straight away and set an early alarm for the morning.

Terra Nova Laser Compact 2 tent beside Shenavall bothy at sunrise
Terra Nova Laser Compact 2 tent beside Shenavall bothy at sunrise

Setting Off

Adventurer Nic set off hiking at sunrise towards the Fisherfield Munros

6:50am – our departure time for the long walk of the Fisherfield Munros.

As we were not what you’d consider ‘morning people’, any day we set off walking prior to 8am was something to celebrate!

The beautiful orange, pink and purple hues in the skies helped lure us out of our grogginess.

So many factors could influence how long the walk would take us – the weather, meeting other hikers, number of breaks and so on, but we made a rough estimate that it would take around 12 hours. So an early start was imperative.

We walked alongside the river for well over 5km, passing a derelict house and a woodland area with at least seven tents and bivvy bags set up, with their occupants either still snoozing or just waking up.

Celebration balloon in one of the most remote areas of countryside in the UK

At the river’s edge, we stopped to eat a scrambled egg freeze-dried breakfast meal with coffee, but the midges were out in force so we didn’t stay long.

We carried on and soon stumbled across a foil helium balloon in the middle of the trail.

It was a sad reminder of how far waste can travel if not disposed of properly.

These were the most remote Munros in all of Scotland and I wondered how far the balloon must have drifted to get there.

We picked it up and packed it out of course.

We carried on beside the river until we found a suitable suitable crossing point. Ironically, our guidebook had made specific reference to the fact that wet feet were an inevitability on this section but we made it across successfully on stepping stones.

The dry weather of the previous two days had helped us greatly.

View across the Abhainn Loch an Nid
View across the Abhainn Loch an Nid

The Fisherfield Ascent

We walked across terrain which was a mix of heather and grass up to a boulder strewn ridge. Describing it as ‘boulder strewn’ is probably the understatement of the century. It’s most likely the longest stretch of boulders I’ve ever hiked across – over 2km of quartzite blocks and large stones.

Up to the right was Beinn a’ Chlaidheimh. If I had been walking the Munros back in 2011, I’d have been heading up there but Beinn a’ Chlaidheimh was actually relegated from Munro status after being remeasured and found to fall short of 3,000ft.

The original name for this route was the Fisherfield Six, referring to Beinn a’ Chlaidheimh as one of the six Munros along the route.

Adventurer Nic ascending Sgurr Ban over rocky terrain
Adventurer Nic ascending Sgurr Ban over rocky terrain

Continuing on, we headed up to the left towards the summit of Sgurr Ban.

Our decision to tackle the route clockwise was one I didn’t regret. Reversing the route would involve descending over the sea of rocks. I could foresee lots of accidents here as tired and weary legs made their way down.

Views from the boulder strewn slopes of Sgurr Ban in Scotland
Views from the boulder strewn slopes of Sgurr Ban in Scotland

Ironically, four walkers descended past us just as I’d had that thought. As it was still quite early, they must have wild camped up on the tops.

The Summits

Sgurr Ban

Adventurer Nic with James Forrest eating a bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk Chocolate on the summit of Sgurr Ban, the first of five Fisherfield Munro mountains

Out of nowhere, the wind picked up a great deal of strength on the big, flat summit top of Sgurr Ban.

James tucked into a big slab of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate as we appreciated views across the Fisherfield forest and to An Teallach in the north.

Unlike the previous day there was no sun in the sky but the cloud base was high and we rested for a short while by the large summit cairn, which provided a small amount of protection from the wind.

We crossed the large plateau summit of Sgurr Ban across yet more boulders and descended in a southwesterly direction towards the col between this and the next Munro – Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair.

Descent to the col between Sgurr Ban and Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair

As was often the case, James descended faster than I did, but I caught up with him down at the col.

We looked ahead and could see the steep line of ascent of Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair.

It looked rather intimidating but there was a clear path up and the weather was certainly improving.

As we hit the ascent, it was remarkable how much sand there was underfoot. At times it was so soft it was like walking up a sand dune!

The distance between these two Munros felt negligible, but I guess that’s in comparison to the really long walk in to the first Munro.

Mullach Choire Mhic Fhearchair

Adventurer Nic on the summit of Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair - one of the Munro mountains in the Fisherfield circuit

We needed to keep an average pace of 2.5km per hour (including breaks) in order to finish the remainder of the walk within the 12 hour target.

This kind of goal setting motivated me to keep going as the hike of the Fisherfield Five got tougher.

From the summit of Mullach Choire Mhic Fhearchair we looked at the route ahead. We would be able to skirt around the bulk of Meall Garbh before heading west towards Beinn Tarsuinn.

Heading south, we descended down to another col. We had lunch here and I checked my legs for ticks and found six of the little buggers!

Luckily they were all tiny and I removed them all easily and completely. The risk of contracting Lyme disease from one of these tiny ticks was low due to me spotting them and removing them quickly. But I stayed vigilant for symptoms throughout my challenge.

A friend later suggested that maybe I’d walked through tick eggs just as they were hatching and maybe that’s why so many tiny ticks (larva) where found on me at one time. As getting so many ticks in one sitting is fairly rare.

Lunch spot between Mullach Choire Mhic Fhearchair and Beinn Tarsuinn
Lunch spot between Mullach Choire Mhic Fhearchair and Beinn Tarsuinn

Beinn Tarsuinn

Adventurer Nic on the summit of Beinn Tarsuinn - one of the Fisherfield Munros

We used the bypass path around Meall Garbh before ascending over terrain which was less sandy and more grassy with small rocks up Beinn Tarsuinn.

The summit of Beinn Tarsuinn marked the ‘halfway point’ of the hike. We’d been moving for exactly six hours.

The weather was now really nice.

It was still breezy but the views were simply incredible and the blue skies made everything look less foreboding and more inviting.

I particularly enjoyed looking at the shape of the river as it flowed into the valley with the jagged pinnacles of An Teallach noticeable in the distance.

Adventurer Nic looking across to An Teallach from Beinn Tarsuinn - one of the Fisherfield Munros
Adventurer Nic looking across to An Teallach from Beinn Tarsuinn – one of the Fisherfield Munros

To the other side sat Slioch, a Munro which we’d hiked the previous month.

But I was the most enthralled by the tennis court shaped flat plateau of rock part way along the ridge in the direction of A’ Mhaighdean. It was a geological phenomenon. A slightly slanted shelf of rock suspended along the ridge.

View from Beinn Tarsuinn of the Tennis Court shaped rock part way along the ridge
View from Beinn Tarsuinn of the Tennis Court shaped rock part way along the ridge

We descended steeply from the summit of Beinn Tarsuinn to see that the ridge wasn’t quite as razor sharp as it looked initially.

James Forrest descending from Beinn Tarsuinn on the Fisherfield walk
James Forrest descending from Beinn Tarsuinn on the Fisherfield walk

As I walked along the ridge, I was beginning to understand why this area had been given the nickname – the Great Wilderness.

There were no buildings in sight, no signs of civilisation, it was just an expanse of mountains, valleys and lochs as far as the eye could see, in every direction.

Adventurer Nic walk along the west ridge of Beinn Tarsuinn
Adventurer Nic walk along the west ridge of Beinn Tarsuinn

A’ Mhaighdean

Adventurer Nic and James Forrest on the summit of A' Mhaighdean

We descended steeply, following a faint path into a boggy peaty section between Beinn Tarsuinn and A’ Mhaighdean.

In our guidebook, we’d read that it could be wet here but the ground was firm and dry in the main.

This was a relief and we made decent progress.

We headed uphill, following a faint path most of the way, whilst bypassing crags.

After seeing nobody since the ascent on Sgurr Ban we were surprised to summit A’ Mhaighdean at the exact same time as another hiker. He approached from the northeast as we arrived from the southeast.

View from A' Mhaighdean to the southwest with the Torridon Munros in the far distance
View from A’ Mhaighdean to the southwest with the Torridon Munros in the far distance

We were now stood on (what’s widely reported to be) the most remote Munro on the whole list of 282. Another Munro bagging milestone achieved. It felt great!

Ruadh Stac Mor

Adventurer Nic, celebrating on the summit of Ruadh Stac Mor - 5 Munros in the bag

As we left the summit of A’ Mhaighdean, we put our waterproofs on as it started to rain lightly.

Luckily, a clear path led us to the col between A’ Mhaighdean and Ruadh Stac Mor – our fifth and final Munro of the day.

Next came the scramble up red stone scree. This was such a stark difference in terrain from the soft sandy approach to Mullach Choire Mhic Fhearchair and the grey blocks of Sgurr Ban. It was amazing to think these peaks were all part of the same walk!

There were a few awkward big red blocks to scramble over before we reached the summit of Munro number 5 – Ruadh Stac Mor.

The Fisherfield Descent

With all five Munros now in the bag we readied ourselves for the long descent. We started down a short bouldery section, taking our time on the slick rock, before aiming for the gap between two lochans – marked on the map as Lochan a Bhraghad.

The groans of the rutting stags were echoing all around us.

Keeping Ruadh Stac Beag on our right, we dropped downhill following a burn to the north west.

The rain kept coming and going but luckily it was never too heavy.

We crossed some lumpy bumpy ground to join the stalkers path which would lead us along Gleann na Muice Beag. Our average hiking pace was up to 5km as we enjoyed a gentle descent deeper into the valley. The path then ran alongside the western bank of the Abhainn Gleann na Muice.

We crossed the river just before Larachantivore. We managed to get half way across on stepping stones before realising we couldn’t complete the crossing with dry feet. So we sat on a large rock in the middle of the river while we removed our boots and paddled the second half barefoot.

This worked quite well as it was refreshing for our tired feet but kept our boots dry.

Then came the notoriously boggy section. People have been known to fall into waist high bogs here. We avoided the worst parts by testing the ground with our hiking poles. Prodding to test the depth of each section of ground.

We finally reached the river opposite Shenavall bothy and we removed our boots again to wade across.

Shenavall Bothy

Adventurer Nic standing outside Shenavall Bothy
Adventurer Nic standing outside Shenavall Bothy

We met a Belgian couple in the bothy who were walking a section of the Cape Wrath Trail from Fort William to Ullapool. They’d originally intended on walking the whole trail but had been caught in a bad storm in Knoydart and Iris had an accident during a river crossing which almost saw her swept away. We swapped adventure stories for a while before going to bed early.

This time we slept in the bothy itself rather than the tent. I found a total of two more ticks – bringing my total for the day to eight. And then found an additional one on James. I removed them all before settling down to sleep (removing ticks was certainly becoming second nature!)

Wrapping Up

In the morning, we got up leisurely and said goodbye to our two bothy-mates. It was a 2.5 hour walk back to the car, which was parked by the Dundonnell River.

Upon reaching the car, I immediately scoffed two bags of crisps back to back.

We then had one of those delirious moments, common during our Munro round, where we went a bit wappy. We put High Hopes (by Panic at the Disco) on high volume as we drove to Ullapool for food supplies, singing the lyrics at the top of our lungs.

Food, Shower and More Food

Post Fisherfield lunch - poached eggs and avocado on bagels

We bought food to last two days and drove on to Ledgowan Lodge in Achnasheen.

We dried the tent on the grass by the bunkhouse and prepared a massive lunch.

My portion alone consisted of two toasted bagels, three poached eggs and half a smashed avocado.

Doing a challenge like this means there is zero guilt associated with eating large meals. I certainly made the most of it!

Food came before showers on this occasion, as it often did on the challenge.

In the bunkhouse we were given rooms 1 and 2 (single rooms only) and we had the place to ourselves for the night.

Dinner after the Fisherfield Munros - sweet potato curry with a side of the IT Crowd

We caught up with family, friends and social media after a few days off-grid in the Fisherfield wilderness.

Before long our thoughts turned to food again. We cooked sweet potato, pepper, onion and spinach curry with naan bread, rice, poppadoms and dips. All washed down with a pint of Irn Bru and an episode of the IT Crowd.

My tick removal duties weren’t yet over as I found yet another two ticks on James’s foot before we went to the main hotel so that James could do some work on the WiFi.

At one point a man walked past us and said “so this is where the cool kids hang out” but I heard it as “so this is where the coke heads hang out” and looked at him horrified. The Fisherfield Munros had scrambled my ears!

We nicknamed the Fisherfield Munros:

  • Scary Bants – Sgurr Ban
  • Male Ache Covers My Fear Of Chairs – Mullach Choire Mhic Fhearchair
  • Beef Chop Suey – Beinn Tarsuinn
  • A Mega Deal – A’ Mhaighdean
  • Rude To Stack More – Ruadh Stac Mor

Find out why we nicknamed all 282 Munros here.

About the Author

Photo of Adventurer Nic on a Loch in the Scottish Highlands

Adventurer Nic is a Munroist and ‘compleated’ the list over a six month period in 2019. She stood atop each of the 282 Munro summits with her peak bagging partner in adventure – James Forrest. Let her know what you thought of this post by dropping her a comment.

Loch Mullardoch Munros

Adventurer Nic looking down over Loch Mhoicean and Loch na Leitreach from the slopes of An Socach
Low cloud over the south east ridge of An Socach - one of the Loch Mullardoch Munros
Low cloud over the south east ridge of An Socach – one of the Loch Mullardoch Munros

Loch Mullardoch Munros Route Introduction

There are nine Loch Mullardoch Munros – mountains which encircle Loch Mullardoch in the Scottish Highlands and they are rather awkward to access. This route links Carn nan Gobhar, Sgurr na Lapaich, An Riabhachan, An Socach, Beinn Fhionnlaidh, Mam Sodhail, Carn Eige, Tom a’ Choinich and Toll Creagach. The route card below explains how these nine Loch Mullardoch Munros can be walked over two days, incorporating a wild camp.

Adventurer Nic walked this route on Saturday 28th September 2019 as part of her Munro Bagging Challenge. These were Munro numbers 242 to 250 for Nic. Here, she explains how you can bag these Munros too.

Loch Mullardoch Munros Route Stats

Mountains: Carn nan Gobhar (992m), Sgurr na Lapaich (1,150), An Riabhachan (1,129m), An Socach (1,069m), Beinn Fhionnlaidh (1,005m), Mam Sodhail (1,181m), Carn Eige (1,183m), Tom a’ Choinich (1,112m) and Toll Creagach (1,054m)

Total Distance: 43.5km / 27miles

Total Ascent: 2,450m / 8,038ft

Approx Walk Time: 2 days

Grid Reference Start: NH 228315

Loch Mullardoch Munros Route Report

The Lead Up

The previous day we’d climbed the Munros north of Glen Strathfarrar. Our friend Sally had kindly offered to let us stay at her house so we woke there and drove to Mullardoch House through Glen Cannich from Drumnadrochit. The nine Loch Mullardoch Munros were now in our sights.

The Beginning (and almost a Premature End)

We parked just below the dam and walked uphill along the tarmac road when a tractor and a four wheel drive vehicle with a party of hunters passed us. I started to get anxious that our presence hill walking that day might be heavily discouraged. The convoy stopped up ahead to fire practice rounds with their shotguns just off the track. Eventually, we caught up with them and we greeted the tractor driver. He was an older gentleman dressed in hunting attire with a deerstalker style hat that reminded me of Sherlock Holmes. He asked us where we were headed in a very upper-middle class accent. My heart sank, I was certain we were about to be told that the mountains were a ‘no go’ area.

We replied with a description of our proposed route of the Loch Mullardoch Munros, starting with Carn nan Gobhar. “Well it’s a great day for a walk!” he guffawed, a broad smile stretching across his face. He explained that they were planning on taking a boat to the end of the loch but that they’d be finished deer stalking at 4:30pm. Sticking to the crest of the ridge would ensure that we’d be well away from their activity. With a ‘rather you than me’ chuckle, he added that he’d be drunk on whisky back at his cottage by the time we were done walking for the day.

The Ascent

The vehicles descended to the boat house by Loch Mullardoch to start their day, whilst we followed the track ahead. The track gradually became less clear as we yomped further up the hillside. A lone figure walked briskly up ahead but we never caught them. He/she was moving faster than us (most likely not carrying overnight gear).

We made it to main ridge and followed it up to the summit of the first of the Loch Mullardoch Munros – Carn nan Gobhar.

The Summits

Carn nan Gobhar

Adventurer Nic standing on the summit of Carn nan Gobhar - one of the Loch Mullardoch Munros

Next to the summit cairn which marked the top of Carn nan Gobhar, we had something to eat.

It felt quite early to be having lunch but the first ascent was always the toughest and we’d earned our lunch.

We looked back over to the north side and we could see down into Glen Strathfarrar and the mountains we’d climbed the previous day.

The summit of Carn nan Gobhar was covered in small rocks which were awkward to walk along but the sun was shining and I was happy have got the first summit in the bag.

Sgurr na Lapaich

Adventurer Nic and James Forrest on the summit of Sgurr na Lapaich - one of the Loch Mullardoch Munros

From the summit of Carn nan Gobhar, we descended west to a col before heading uphill again towards Munro number two – Sgurr na Lapaich.

The ascent began on a path but ended with a slippery scramble over boulder strewn ground. It was muggy and the rocks carried a light sheen.

The sun was long gone at the point we reached the summit but cloud was washing over the tops on and off, teasing us with occasional bright spells.

The weather couldn’t make up its mind whether or not it wanted to be sunny or dull.

An Riabhachan

We were making good progress as we descended from Sgurr na Lapaich in a southwesterly direction along the ridge.

Adventurer Nic approaching An Riabhachan in the Scottish Highlands
Adventurer Nic approaching An Riabhachan in the Scottish Highlands

We started to noticed how vocal the stags were. The rut was getting underway and we went on to see deer in huge herds throughout the afternoon and evening. I secretly celebrated the fact that they were managing to evade the hunters that day.

We ascended and approached An Riabhachan, over its long flat summit.

An Socach

Adventurer Nic sat atop the trig pillar on the summit of An Socach - one of the Loch Mullardoch Munros

From the summit of An Riabhachan we continued along a rocky ridge with many undulations before reaching the cylindrical summit trig pillar of An Socach (one of three Munros with the same name).

At 1,069m, An Socach wasn’t the highest mountain of the day but the views were the most spectactular due to the weather being back on our side.

We enjoyed stunning views down over Loch Mullardoch and An Socach’s long southeast ridge.

As much as I wanted to get down and settled for a the wild camp, I was happy to rest here momentarily and take in the beauty of the area.

Views of Loch Mullardoch from An Socach
Views of Loch Mullardoch from An Socach

An Socach Descent

We paused on the descent as the rays of sunlight cast a heavenly glow over Loch Mhoicean and Loch na Leitreach. We could see the westerly Munros of Glen Shiel in the distance. It was a beautiful scene.

Adventurer Nic looking down over Loch Mhoicean and Loch na Leitreach from the slopes of An Socach
Adventurer Nic looking down over Loch Mhoicean and Loch na Leitreach from the slopes of An Socach

Beauty aside, it was a pathless descent over grassy, mossy and wet ground – ankle twisting stuff. Large herds of deer surrounded us. They probably wondered what on earth we were doing there, descending into a remote valley so late in the day.

A herd of deer on the descent of An Socach
A herd of deer on the descent of An Socach

Weariness had set in and yet we were tiring ourselves out further by guessing the height of the river from above and fretting about it.

We knew we’d have to cross it in order to continue our route on the other side of the valley. Yes, we’d had many a thigh high crossing during our Munro challenge but getting all wet before a wild camp was never an appealing prospect.

We made it to the riverside and after all my whittling, the river was only ankle deep. I took my boots off and slowly ventured across barefoot. The water was cold but I tricked myself into believing it was a treat for my hot, tired and swollen feet.

Adventurer Nic crossing the river at the mouth of Loch Mullardoch
Adventurer Nic crossing the river at the mouth of Loch Mullardoch

Wild Camp by Loch Mullardoch

The area on the other side of the river was perfect for a wild camp. The sound of the river would hopefully drown out the moans of the nearby stags.

Settling down to wild camp by the river - our camping stove, meals, walking poles in the grass

We pitched the tent, content in the knowledge that the last of the midges had died off a week or so ago.

The camp meals went down a treat, but I managed to spill chicken bites into my sleeping bag.

After retrieving them all (or at least I hoped I had), we settled down to sleep at 8:15pm.

Our bedtime was getting earlier and earlier as the challenge wore on.

Those early morning alarm calls didn’t get any easier as the challenge progressed. In the tent we were warm and cosy as light rain pitter-pattered on the tent fly sheet. We resisted the temptation to repeatedly snooze the alarm and turned our attentions to brewing coffee and eating breakfast. Leaving no trace of our wild camp, we began walking just after our 7am target.

We summised we had an ample weather window to get the remaining five Loch Mullardoch Munros bagged and back down to the car, before returning to Sally’s in time for a shower and meal out at the Loch Ness Inn in Drumnadrochit.

Beinn Fhionnlaidh

At this point in the walk, some might like to extend the route to take in Mullach na Dheiragain, Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan and An Socach, but we had already bagged those Munros from Camban bothy (in the southwest). So we proceeded towards Beinn Fhionnlaidh.

A rough path led us to another river, where we took our boots off to cross. I noticed two ticks on my feet. I removed them in the rain as James got a bit impatient waiting for me. Five months into our challenge and spending 24 hours a day with each other, we now knew not to let our tired snappy outbursts get the better of us. We chatted it out on the ascent of Beinn Fhionnlaidh, all was forgiven and we both got over it quickly.

Adventurer Nic finds James Forrest on the summit of Beinn Fhionnlaidh reading John Grisham

The ascent of Beinn Fhionnlaidh was pathless and long but we made it to the summit just as the rain had dissipated into a mist.

James strode ahead of me and by the time I reached the summit he was sat enjoying his John Grisham!

Heading south down the broad ridge, we marched on. We had a decision to make – either make a pathless traverse around the bulk of Carn Eige in the direction of Mam Sodhail, or summit Carn Eige twice. We chose the former.

Mam Sodhail

Adventurer Nic on the summit of Mam Sohail - one of the Loch Mullardoch Munros

Navigating over bouldery terrain to gain the col between Carn Eige and Mam Sodhail, we stopped for a break and stowed our heavy camping gear before walking up Mam Sodhail as an ‘out and back’.

The ascent seemed fairly quick and trouble free. The cloud had persisted but at least it wasn’t raining.

Mam Sodhail has a big storm shelter which offers full protection from the wind on all sides. We sat in it for a short while but the true summit was actually 45 metres further on, by a small cairn, so of course we visited that too.

Carn Eige

Adventurer Nic on the summit of Carn Eige next to the trig pillar

We returned to the col to retrieve our gear before starting the ascent up Carn Eige (sometimes spelt Carn Eighe).

The summit trig pillar marked the highest point of the entire Loch Mullardoch Munros route and is the bulk that separates Loch Mulladoch and Loch Affric.

Once again the cloud gave us a bit of a break and at the summit of Carn Eige we were treated to views back across to the long eastern ridge of Mam Sodhail.

Tom a’ Choinich

After leaving the summit of Carn Eige we looked in the direction of the next Munro – Tom A’Choinich. The route would take us over some dramatic looking pinnacles along the narrowing ridge. The route incorporates the Munro Tops of Stob a’ Choire Dhomhain, Sron Garbh, An Leth-chreag and Tom a’ Choinich Beag. A forboding moody atmosphere came as a result of the clouds coming and going over the ridge.

James Forrest looks along the ridge from Carn Eige in the direction of Tom a’Choinich on the Loch Mullardoch Munros circular walk
James Forrest looks along the ridge from Carn Eige in the direction of Tom a’Choinich on the Loch Mullardoch Munros circular walk
Adventurer Nic having a mini nap on the summit of Tom a’Choinich

There were a lot of ups and downs to the summit of the fourth Munro of the day – Tom a’Choinich.

I needed at least a couple of breaks for snacks and water as I felt really low on energy.

When we made it to the summit cairn I had a sit down and really struggled to get back up again!

Toll Creagach

It was a much more straightforward walk between Tom a Choinich and Toll Creagach. My pack had started to dig into my hip so we swapped packs for the last part of the walk. A great benefit of adventuring in a pair.

The Descent

We descended east from Toll Creagach to a col. Next we ventured in a northly direction, heading for the edge of Loch Mullardoch over a never ending sea of mushy ground with the occasional batch of heather, grass and rock thrown in for good measure. It was really tough going. We hit a section of ferns that were up to our shoulders.

Frustratingly, the dam seemed to be in our sights for the entire descent but it took us an age to reach it. When we saw a gate, we assumed (wrongly) that there may be a path on the other side of it but somehow it was worse on the other side. Another gate led us to a muddy path but that didn’t last either. We made our way into a small ravine and climbed up the other side and over a stile. But we couldn’t get down to the road becuase of a 5 metre drop over a small cliff.

It really did feel like we’d either made a series of bad navigational choices, or it was just that we were so exhausted that it would have been fine with fresh legs. We managed to swing around a fence on the edge of the cliff and made it down to the road from there, back to the car.

Wrapping Up

Back at Sally’s we put our meal reservation back to 8pm and had a hot shower (for Sally’s benefit as much as our own) before heading to the pub. Between us we devoured a burger, seafood pasta and a lamb dinner followed by sticky toffee pudding, toffee sundae and pannacotta. Scrummy!

We nicknamed these Munros:

  • Can Nan Gob Hard? – Carn nan Gobhar
  • Stir Nan’s L.A. Peach – Sgurr na Lapaich
  • I (need) Rehabilitation – An Riabhachan
  • Anne’s Sock Axe – An Socach
  • Ben and Fiona Got Laid – Beinn Fhionnlaidh
  • Mam’s Sodden Hair – Mam Sodhail
  • (Dale) Carnegie – Carn Eige
  • Tom is Chinese – Tom a’ Choinich
  • Tall Creature – Toll Creagach

Find out why we nicknamed all 282 Munros here.

About the Author

Photo of Adventurer Nic on a Loch in the Scottish Highlands

Adventurer Nic is a Munroist and ‘compleated’ the list over a six month period in 2019. She stood atop each of the 282 Munro summits with her peak bagging partner in adventure – James Forrest. Let her know what you thought of this post by dropping her a comment.