Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach Walking

Lonely Loch Cuaich (formerly Quoich) reaches west into the rugged hills of Knoydart's Rough Bounds, a classic west highland skyline that speaks of adventure and adversity. North of the loch, the gentler slopes may lack such promise, but once height is gained – an ascent of remarkable ease on one of the finest historic stalker’s paths anywhere – the true quality of Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach is revealed. Striding high above a series of craggy northern corries, this Munro pair offers a grand ridge walk to match any in the west, with spacious views out along the loch to that summit-crowded horizon.

Loch Cuaich (when did the official spelling change?) and the Rough Bounds peaks from Gleouraich, the hill with every vowel  © Dan Bailey -
Loch Cuaich (when did the official spelling change?) and the Rough Bounds peaks from Gleouraich, the hill with every vowel
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Detailed description

NH0291103018 Opposite the layby is a narrow path, which climbs through dense rhododendrons, survivors from the local lodge now drowned in the waters of the expanded loch. The undergrowth soon thins. Pass under a pylon line, and soon afterwards the path leaves the Allt Coire Peitireach, cutting left to zigzag up the hillside. Built in sympathy with the contours, and putting today's brutal bulldozed estate and hydro tracks to shame, this handmade stalkers' trail gives a quick ascent up steep slopes onto the ridge of Druim Seileach.

NH0293304839 The path traverses the steep west flank of the ridge in grand fashion to reach a grassy saddle. Pass a little stone-walled shooter's 'nest', then zigzag up stony slopes to reach the fore-summit of Gleouraich. Follow the ridge rightwards to reach the cairn marking the true top. This hill has it all: as well as every vowel, it's also quite the viewpoint. On the right day you can have a good game of name that mountain (starter for ten: the big hunchback is Ben Nevis; the jaggedy mass is the Skye Cuillin; the pointy one down the loch is Sgurr na Ciche).

NH0394505341 Follow the corrie edge in an airy position onto the summit of Creag Coire Fiar Bhealaich. Descent from here is steep and rocky, with a crag to take care of on the left flank, and the occasional steadying hand required. Drop to a low col, the Fiar Bhealaich, which offers a possible bad weather escape route south into Coire Dubh (though it looks boggy).

NH0548504802 The path now winds up slopes of stones and grass, skirting the edge of two wild corries to reach the western top of Spidean Mialach. Marked with a tall thin cairn and a windbreak, the main summit is a short way to the east, along the rim of the very impressive Coire an Spidein.

NH0658604304 Descend southwest on a clear trail. Alternately rough and boggy, this makes a long descending diagonal traverse across the grassy southern flank of the hill to reach a soggy saddle northwest of Loch Fearna. Some guidebooks advise heading straight to the road from here, but the more direct route back goes west into the lower reaches of Coire Dubh/Coire Mhail. The path is obvious, but wet and peaty. Pass out of the corrie, then descend a little more steeply to go back under the pylon line, then fight through the rhododendron barrier to rejoin the road near the start point.

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Further Routes

by Dan Bailey UKH

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