A' Chralaig and Mullach Fraoch-choire Walking

Among the biggest hills north of the Great Glen, A' Chralaig and Mullach Fraoch-choire are a grand high-level ridge walking traverse. Fans of challenging days might want to rope them into a larger round with neighbouring Sgurr nan Conbhairean, but the two-Munro standard route covered here gives you the best bit of the range in a more manageable hit, building to an airy finish on the narrow South Ridge of Mullach Fraoch-choire. This short pinnacled ridge provides some engaging scrambling - all avoidable in summer, when most walkers will opt instead for the very obvious (though still briefly quite exciting) flanking path. In winter this path can sometimes bank out, and if so it will feel hairy. In heavy snow cover or icy conditions the South Ridge is elevated from an exposed walk to a grade I climb, and there are times when non-mountaineers might sensibly opt not to go all the way.

On Stob Coire na Cralaig, heading for the brilliant South Ridge of Mullach Fraoch-choire  © Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com
On Stob Coire na Cralaig, heading for the brilliant South Ridge of Mullach Fraoch-choire
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Detailed description

1
NH0894512127 Walk east along the verge, across a bridge, to join the vehicle track heading for An Caorann Mor. Almost immediately, turn right onto a hill path (small cairn). This gives a brutal but speedy ascent onto a shoulder at 800m. Follow the ridge north to reach the huge cairn marking the summit of A' Chralaig.

2
NH0942814784 Descend north along the ridge, with a good view ahead of the fun to come leading over to Mullach Fraoch-choire. Where the ridge twists left there's a short scrambly descent, before the crest runs more easily down to a col at 952m. Continue up onto the little peak of Stob Coire na Craileig.
Ciste Dubh and the north Glen Shiel peaks from the Cluanie hills  © Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com
Ciste Dubh and the north Glen Shiel peaks from the Cluanie hills
© Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com

3
NH0913716308 Here the ridge makes a 90-degree turn to the east, forming a pleasant narrow crest leading down to a small col at 949m, the low point of the traverse. Curving north, the ridge now rises towards Mullach Fraoch-choire. The pinnacles are soon met. Staying directly with the crest provides some excellent - if short-lived - scrambling, but most people will take the obvious path avoiding the bigger teeth. This starts at the first large pinnacle, making an exposed traverse across the east flank before climbing to a small notch on the crest and passing onto the west side of the ridge. Continue below the final pinnacles, then regain the ridge for the short ascent onto Mullach Fraoch Choire.
The ever-entertaining South Ridge of Mullach Fraoch-choire  © Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com
The ever-entertaining South Ridge of Mullach Fraoch-choire
© Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com

4
NH0949117145 If the South Ridge in ascent has felt an undertaking (in hard winter conditions, for instance) then the best option is to carry on down the northwest ridge to outflank the steep ground, before turning west into the glen. But doing the ridge twice is not as far, and has the added bonus of getting to do the ridge twice. For this, return the way you came to the low col. From here a path descends northwest into Coire Odhar. To descend the grassy lower slopes keep heading more or less west, bearing left of the burn cuttings, to reach a trail in the floor of An Caorann Mor.

5
NH0784516671 Follow the glen path south. The first 2km or so can be very glutinous, but once a gravel track is reached the going gets much drier underfoot, making for a speedy final 3km back to the road.

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Further Routes

by Dan Bailey UKH



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