Sixt Fer a Cheval, via refuge Vogealle to Samoen : an epic alpine trek

Fancy a truly epic cross country route, ticking every box in your alpine wish list?  Take my word for it and head to the dramatic horseshoe amphitheatre of Sixt Fer a Cheval.  Head northwards on the track, towards source of the river Gifre.

The dramatic rock amphitheatre of Sixt Fer a Cheval

The dramatic rock amphitheatre of Sixt Fer a Cheval

Technically, things get interesting after a mile or so : follow the path signposted up the cliff, towards refuge Vogealle. The first section, climbing up and across a rock face is the most difficult in terms of both route finding and scrambling. Although there are red arrows painted on the rock, we ended up on a couple of dead end ledges before eventually finding our way up and over the slabs. Continue reading

The Ring of Steall : test your metal

The Ring of Steall offers everything you might order for a big day out in the Scottish Highlands – with that little extra thrown in.  So you get 4 Munros and enough 3,000′ peaks to lose count, easy but airy scrambling, narrow snow-lined ridges even in July, a heart stopping clamber over a rope bridge – and a full day of fantastic views.  The little extra ?  That would be the ever present vista of Ben Nevis just across the glen, teasing you with a clear view of the whole CMD Arete ridgeline.

Start point for our anti-clockwise route was the car park at Achriabhach (NN 145683). Head East along the road for a 100m to pick up a good footpath, slowly climbing the glen beside the Allt Coire a Mhusgain.  Leave this track at NN148676 and head up the shoulder towards the day’s first peak, Sgurr a’Mhaim at 3,400′.  From here the views really open up, with sentinal of Stobb Ban to the West and the whole Ring curving round to the East.

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The Ring of Steall : just count those peaks!

The next section provides much of the day’s scrambling excitement, earning it’s title of ‘The Devil’s Ridge’.

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Llyn Idwal and up the Devil’s Kitchen to Y Garn : the place to go when storm winds howl!

We’ve all been there…  You’ve planned this trip for weeks, reviewed the route many times to get the perfect blend of challenging scrambling and great views, you’ve discussed it on Facebook with your mates and everyone is set…  Except : you’ve been checking the Mountain Weather Information Service – and it’s looking really ominous!

For most of us who don’t live close to the mountains, we have to plan trips well in advance.  There’s seldom a chance to change dates at short notice – but unfortunately you also have to be realistic and safe, especially in Winter.  Heading off for that airy ridge scramble when the forecast includes storms and 80 mph gusts (as happened to us just after Christmas), puts you just the wrong side of sensible.  So is their a solution which protects that precious day in the hills, but ensures we get home in one piece ?

Well, if you’re heading for Snowdonia there is a perfect route – and it’s quite possible that that storm will create the ideal conditions for an epic day out and put that smile on your (rather wet) face.  The trick is to use the geography to your advantage – and the cliffs surrounding idyllic Llyn Idwal create that perfect wind break, as well as providing a great scrambling route up towards the summit of Y Garn.  The wind may be howling – but it’s passing harmlessly 100’s of feet over our heads.

Heading up the Devils Kitchen rock face

Heading up the Devils Kitchen rock face

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Beinn Eighe : the greatest wild swimming in the World ?

Each of Torridon’s three great ridge walks provide a unique mountain experience.  On a sunny day, Beinn Eighe sparkles with alpine brightness, topped completely in quartzite icing.  The hidden gem though nestles on the far side of the range, with the turquoise waters of Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair lapping gently against the magnificent cliffs of the Triple Buttress.

Best to park at the small parking area near the bridge (OS ref NR 958568).  Walk East up the road for about a mile and the follow the clear path that leads up towards Coire an Laoigh.  The grassy start soon steepens as it approaches the quartzite ‘wall’.  Continue reading

Sgurr Alasdair : Scree heaven!

Fancy a gourmet meal of scrambling delights ?  Sgurr Alasdair delivers the perfect tasting menu, making it one of the best day’s scrambling in the Highlands!  For starters there is a beautiful loch nestled within a classic corrie, the main course is a scree slope to die for and pudding comes in the form of fantastic views covering the entire Cuillin ridge to the North – with an awesome vista of Scottish Islands to the South.

Start point is the small campsite at the end of the road at Glenbrittle.  The route follows a reasonable track heading directly towards an obvious corrie (Coire Lagan).  After a while you can leave the main path and climb up the huge, smooth rock slabs towards the corrie lip, all the time the amphitheatre of foreboding cliffs drawing in around you.

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Ben Nevis by the Carn Mor Dearg Arete

Sam and I climbed Ben Nevis a few years ago via the Pony track – and ever since then we’ve wanted to do it by the ‘other’ route – the CMD Arete!  This is a challenging day out and not for the faint hearted – but you wouldn’t be reading this unless you were made of sterner stuff!  Ben Nevis is not the objective here, even though that’s where you end up.  This route is all about the journey – and what a journey it is.

Sam and I started at the car park at Torlundy, walking up through the woods and along the Allt a Muillinn burn.  A mile or so along the burn, you begin to see why Ben Nevis is not the pussycat it’s sometimes made out to be.  First the buttreses of Carn Dearg come into view, quickly followed by the sheer precipices of the North Face as you approach the CIC climbers hut.  Take some time to drink in the views (the banner picture for Highland Scrambler was taken from here too).  Tried to spot a scrambling ascent route of the North Face …  Maybe next time …

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An Teallach – because it’s got everything!

You have to start any self-respecting Scrambling blog with the UK’s Number One destination : An Teallach!
Brooding over Little Loch Broom, across the water from Ullapool, An Teallach serves up every thrilling aspect of scrambling in the Highlands of Scotland.

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