Between lochs Hourn and Shiel, the gnarled and intricate terrain of the west highlands reaches peak intransigence. A tangle of folded uplands and remote, boggy glens, the infamous Rough Bounds, or Na Garbh Chriochan, could hardly have been better named. Nothing is a pushover here. Go for broke with this biggie. Forming a barrier between Loch Cuaich, Glen Kingie and Glen Dessarry, a single great ridge leads west from the peripheral peak of Gairich to the craggy cone of Sgurr na Ciche in the hard heart of the Knoydart hinterland. A long and arduous route with access to match, this is a rewarding expedition for those who thrive on challenge. There's just one question: go all-in on a light one-day push, or bulk up for a weekender with a high camp or bivvy en route? Either way you're in for a memorable journey.
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Distance: 26.22 miles (42.20 km)
Total ascent: 3,399m
Time: 14 – 16 hours (Walking)
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SummitsGairich 919 m
Sgurr an Fhuarain 901 m
Sgurr Mor 1003 m
Sgurr nan Coireachan 953 m
Garbh Chioch Mhor - Garbh Chioch Bheag 968 m
Garbh Chioch Mhor 1013 m
Sgurr na Ciche 1040 m
Car park at the end of the public road west of Loch Arkaig (expect this drive to take around 1hr from Spean Bridge), NM987916
A mix of estate tracks, hill paths and some pathless sections. Rough going underfoot, with boggy glens and steep, rocky ground on the hills. Some occasional easy scrambling. One notable river crossing, which may be thought- provoking in wet weather.
A major winter expedition likely to take at least two days, and which would have a serious and remote feel.
Weather and Hill Conditions: mwis: Northwest Highlands – Met Office: West Highlands
No public transport anywhere near the route. Most of the 'traffic' up Loch Arkaig will be walkers or anglers, so it may be possible to hitchhike from the A82 at the Commando Memorial.
No guidebook that I know of covers this route, but for a similarly challenging round in these hills from the Loch Quoich side see Great Mountain Days in Scotland (Cicerone)
OS Explorer 413 (1:25,000), OS Explorer 414 (1:25,000), OS Explorer 398 (1:25,000), OS Explorer 399 (1:25,000), OS Landranger 41 (1:50,000), OS Landranger 40 (1:50,000), OS Landranger 33 (1:50,000) Directory Listings:
Find more Listings near this route Tourist info:
Fort William (0845 22 55 121); Cluanie (01320 340 238)
by Dan Bailey UKH