UKH

The Fisherfield Six Walking

A fascinating tangle of rock and loch, of empty glens and unbridged rivers, the Fisherfield/Letterwe Forest lives up to its romantic alias the Great Wilderness. The peaks at its heart are famously among the least accessible of the Munros, and this isolation is both their biggest challenge and chief attraction. The horseshoe linking the so-called Fisherfield Six, five Munros and one peak latterly demoted to Corbett status, is a long-distance stamina test, with ascent and rough ground to match; but it is most notable for the aura of remoteness. Widely touted as the Munro summit furthest from a road, A’Mhaighdean takes top billing on the round, a rocky bastion rising at the head of the remarkable mountain trench of Carnmore to offer some of the most inspiring views of any Scottish summit. Its neighbours are rugged and characterful peaks, too. Though the route is possible in a single mega day, most walkers make a weekend of it.

Slioch (left) and Beinn Lair from A' Mhaighdean, early morning  © Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com
Slioch (left) and Beinn Lair from A' Mhaighdean, early morning

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Detailed description

1
NH1145185033 From Corrie Hallie take the track up wooded Gleann Chaorachain; cows may be out to pasture, so keep dogs on a lead at first. Beyond waterfalls at the head of the glen the track climbs onto open ground. It's possible to cycle the track, but doesn't work out as much less effort than walking. Turn right onto a footpath at a cairn roughly 3km from the road. The path runs around the foot of Sail Liath before descending quite steeply beside a burn to reach Shenavall bothy. The ground is eroded in places, and boggy in others, so using a bike beyond the cairn would be hard work (and is scarring the ground). At about 7km from the road, Shenavall is an obvious base for an overnight attempt on the round. With its stunning view of Beinn Dearg Mor, this is one of the truly iconic bothies, but if you don't like company then there's plenty of good camping hereabouts too.
Beinn Dearg Mor and Beinn Dearg Bheag from the Shenavall path  © Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com
Beinn Dearg Mor and Beinn Dearg Bheag from the Shenavall path
© Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com, Apr 2021

2
NH0660180978 Head southwest across the flats to ford the Abhainn Strath na Sealga at stony shallows. In a wet spell this may range from foolhardy to impossible, but after dry weather it's do-able without removing boots. Note that the walk returns the same way later, and heavy rain during the day may leave you cut off. Having found a way through a gorse barrier, continue south over the bogs towards Beinn a' Chlaidheimh. It's possible to climb the northeast spur, but though the heathery northern slopes are steeper they have the virtue of being direct, and offer some easy scrambling through outcrops; a path develops as you gain height. The airy summit ridge is fantastic, with two false summits before the high point. Beinn a' Chlaidheimh might have been demoted from the Munro list, but this smallest of the Fisherfield Six is more than an afterthought; anyone aiming to climb just the five remaining Munros would be missing out.

3
NH0613177580 A steep descent, partly on quartzite scree, leads to a little saddle pitted with pools. Pass over an unnamed top to descend to the col of Am Briseadh. Ahead is Sgurr Bàn - a giant mound of quartzite rubble. Trudge and totter up the tortuous northeast spur, passing a tiny stone 'igloo' on the way. Though it's less easily accessed, the north ridge offers a grassier alternative ascent. The summit is broad and featureless, and would need careful navigation in poor visibility. A steep stony spur heads down to the col below Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair. With yet more steep scree, and a badly worn path, the ascent of this rugged peak is hard work.
Slioch (left) and Beinn Tarsuinn from Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair  © Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com
Slioch (left) and Beinn Tarsuinn from Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair
© Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com, Apr 2021

4
NH0520273507 From this high point of the Six, follow the well defined ridge southwest and then descending south - again, it's steep and rubbly, but on the approach to the the col below, the grass begins to show through and the terrain gets less onerous. Those with spare energy can climb the minor peak of Meall Garbh, while for everyone else a path traverses its cliffy right flank to reach boggy Bealach Odhar beneath the grassy eastern aspect of Beinn Tarsuinn. A straightforward 200m ascent gains the summit.

5
NH0394572791 With its dramatic cliffs and deep northern corrie, Beinn Tarsuinn is one of the more memorable of Fisherfield's peaks. Heading west, a lovely narrow ridge curves around the corrie rim, offering some light scrambling on a series of little pinnacles: a path down on the left flank avoids the entertainment. Where the ridge broadens and begins to lose height drop left, descending steeply (with little trace of a path) into the peaty bealach below A'Mhaighdean. The dispiriting low point of the round, this may prove a tempting moment to bail out if resolve is flagging. Otherwise, weave through the bogs, then skirt just left of a line of outcrops to gain the long gentle climb up A' Mhaighdean's grassy southeast slopes - there's a path of sorts, but it's not really needed. The summit cairn sits on the edge of the stupendous crags overlooking the loch-filled trench of Carnmore.
Dawn haze over Carnmore, from A' Mhaighdean  © Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com
Dawn haze over Carnmore, from A' Mhaighdean
© Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com, Apr 2021

6
NH0076874901 Head over the plateau towards the mountain's lower north top, then bear right to descend a steep path onto the rugged bealach below Ruadh Stac Mór. Rotting sandstone crags seem to bar access to this peak; the rocks are breached by a rough, eroded path. Above is a short scree plod to the summit trig. It is common to retrace one's steps from here to meet a good path above Fuar Loch Mor, but it's quicker to take the stony northwest ridge. Having made the initial descent from the summit cone bear northeast down rough slopes; pass between two lochs (Lochan a' Bhràghad) then pick up a vague trail parallel with a burn down to the boggy ground above the head of Gleann na Muice Beag, a wild spot.

7
NH0225777881 Meet an excellent old stalker's path from the days before bulldozed tracks and lazy Landrover-reliant clients. This runs downhill towards Loch Beinn Dearg before cutting back right to the floor of Gleann na Muice near a burn junction. Sticking with the burn, the path continues downstream into the wide Strath na Sealga, dominated by the sawtoothed skylines of Beinn Dearg Mor and An Teallach. Ford the Abhainn Gleann na Muice close to the private bothy at Larachantivore (an emergency shelter for walkers is out back), then cross one kilometre of bog to return to Shenavall via another wading of the Abhainn Strath na Sealga. From here just retrace your steps back up and over to Corrie Hallie, a cruel 7km sting in the tail with tired legs.

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