Maol Chean-Dearg and An Ruadh-Stac Walking

A stunning Munro and an even-more-impressive Corbett sit side-by-side in the high, wild tract of land known as the Coulin forest, in between Strathcarron and Glen Torridon. Both of them thrust up into the Highland sky as improbable rocky crowns. An Ruadh-stac, in particular, looks nigh-on unassailable. But, if you possess the soul of a mountaineer, assail it you must. The contrast between the two is an object-lesson in size not being everything. An Ruadh-Stac falls short of Munro status by twenty-two metres but is the finer sight, at least from this side. Maol Chean-Dearg throws its best face northwards to Glen Torridon, but remains stupendous from any direction. These hills are a fine alternative when the spectacular peaks of Torridon itself are thronged. If the weather is clear, you’ll get staggering views northwards to Liathach, Beinn Alligin and Beinn Eighe with none of the queuing on every rock-step.

A brooding An Ruadh-Stac looming over the dark lochans of  Bealach a Choire Ghairbh  © Norman Hadley
A brooding An Ruadh-Stac looming over the dark lochans of Bealach a Choire Ghairbh
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Detailed description

1
NG9579345069 Set off up the Fionn-abhainn glen. You'll pass a bungalow and gain a good stalkers' track heading upriver. Once you're established on this, it's hard to go wrong. Cross the footbridge over the Fionn-abhainn, then pass the curious memorial to Breton father and son Michel and Alan Conan, the Coire Fionnaraich bothy and the boulder of Clach nan Con-fionn, where Fionn the giant tethered his hounds. Or so it is said.

2
NG9482349011 Turn left at an easily-located junction to pick up a strong set of stalkers' zigzags on striking white gravel.

3
NG9314448806 Get ensconced in the complex col of Bealach a Choire Gharbh with its three radial ridges and three descents; this would not be a good place in mist. Get acquainted with the lie of the land, because this is your first of three visits to this point today. Head northwest up rough slopes to the fine Munro of Maol Chean-Dearg.

4
NG9239949903 Reverse your footsteps down to the bealach. Set off on your second out-and-back expedition heading east-south-east on improbable-looking slabby terrain to the fine summit of An Ruadh-stac. It is scrambly but, in dry weather at least, manageable with care.
An Ruadh-Stac and Maol Chean-Dearg seen from Sgorr Ruadh  © Norman Hadley
An Ruadh-Stac and Maol Chean-Dearg seen from Sgorr Ruadh
© Norman Hadley, Jun 2019

5
NG9213648037 Avoid all temptation to go off-piste, which would plunge you into vast realms of knee-deep bouldery heather, never to be heard from again. Instead, return via the stalkers' tracks whence you came. On the zigzags down from the bealach, your knees will thank you.

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