Sometimes when you’ve been really looking forward to something for many years, finally achieving it can be a bit of a let down. That’s definitely NOT the case with the Aonach Eagach ridge !
One of the (many) pleasures of staying at the Clachaig Inn in Glen Coe, is an evening stroll along the road to the West to look up at the narrow ridge line that is Aonach Eagach. For years this has haunted me : half of me desperate to get up there and test son Sam and myself against Scotland’s ultimate scramble – and half of me thinking of the all too real risks entailed. This year I came up with the solution : call on the services of local mountain guide, Martin McDermott to help keep us on the right track – and more importantly in one piece! To make the day even better, my nephew Lewis managed to get the day off and travelled over from Edinburgh to join us.
There’s not really much you can say about the route itself. Basically, you drive along Glen Coe for a bit, then climb up a steep track to reach the ridge line at Am Bodach – then follow the crest of the ridge for about 3 miles.
Aonach Eagach is all about the scrambling.
Looking along from the start of the Aonach Eagach ridge
The Cuillins are all about Drama. The landscape is schizophrenic : smooth red lumps on one side, spiky black rocks with attitude on the other. Bruach na Frithe is definitely in the latter camp : one accesible peak in a gang of malevolant pinnacles. This is a classic day out in the Black Cuillin, with views that fix themselves for ever into your memory !
To make life a little easier, you start and end this walk at the iconic Sligachan Inn, just the place for a pre-walk fry-up and a post-walk pint of ‘Red Cuillin’. Walk in along the Alt Dearg Mor burn, following this for a few miles. Leave the main track at Coire na Circe and head quite steeply up the path towards the obvious corrie between Sgurr a’ Bhasteir and Bruache na Frithe. From the Corrie basin, head straight up the rocky rim towards the lowest point of the ridge (Bealach nan Lice).
Here the vista changes suddenly, with the view dominated by the fearsome pinnacles of Am Basteir (the Tooth) and Sgurr nan Gillean (pictured left). For best effect, take a short detour left to climb Sgurr a Bhasteir, the spur taking you out at right angles to the main ridge. Turning around you get an awesome view of the Black Cuillin at it’s best.
Whilst the Bhasteir Tooth is reserved for experienced climbers, there are ways up Sgurr nan Gillean for expert scramblers. This involves a traverse of the south face, overcoming the obligatoy ‘bad step’ on the ascent.