Sgurr Dhomhnuill and Ariundle oakwoods Walking

The highest among a chaos of rugged hills in the wild heart of Ardgour, Sgurr Dhomhnuill is a steep-sided pyramid that offers typically challenging West Highland walking. Cut off from the 'mainland' by Loch Linnhe, this area has the feel of an island, and most people use a ferry to get here. With no higher ground for a long way in any direction the peak is a superb viewpoint, an outlook spanning all the way from Rum to Ben Cruachan, Mull to Schiehallion. Inland are the more celebrated peaks of Lochaber, well seen from here but a world away in terms of popularity. If the lack of well-worn paths here is anything to go by, comparatively few people bother with Ardgour - a major plus point in its favour. The absence of 3000-footers must have a lot to do with it, but the Munroists' loss can be your gain. Various routes are possible. The walk described here gives a logical three-peak circuit, with a long but beautiful approach through the Ariundle Oakwood National Nature Reserve ( ), one of the largest remaining fragments of native Atlantic oak woods in Scotland.

Sgurr Dhomhnuill and distant Ben Nevis from Druim Garbh  © Dan Bailey -
Sgurr Dhomhnuill and distant Ben Nevis from Druim Garbh
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Detailed description

NM8259163353 Follow the main track up-glen through moss-carpeted oakwoods, ignoring the occasional side trail. After about 3km pass through a gate to exit the NNR, then stay left at a fork in the track. A while later cross an elderly wooden bridge, passing out of the woods into open country. A gradual ascent leads to some old lead mine workings. The adits are mostly blocked, but worth a bit of poking about if underground exploration is your thing. There's not much to see, but this area was once a hive of mining activity; Strontian (almost) lends its name to an element discovered hereabouts. Beyond the mines a less-clear path follows the course of the burn into the mouth of Sgurr Dhomhnuill's western corrie. Go through a gate in an electric fence, and then whenever the urge takes you leave what little of a path remains.

NM8652467110 Cross the burn and follow your nose on a rising traverse onto the broad crest of Druim Leac a' Sgiathain. Here you're met with excellent views of the mighty Garbh Bheinn, and down the Strontian Glen to Loch Sunart and Beinn Resipol. Casual hints of a path are picked up among the knolls and outcrops as you climb the ridge to the airy little summit of Sgurr na h-Ighinn.

NM8870067000 Rough ground then leads down to a col below the rocky mass of Sgurr Dhomhnuill. From here the most straightforward line of ascent initially follows traces of previous footfall (I hesitate to call it a path) up a shallow grassy rake, to gain a vague subsidiary top. The final summit climb bears slightly right of the bigger rock outcrops, and again there's a path of sorts; scramblers can pick their own line among the mini crags. At the summit is an unusual circular cairn/wind break; I don't know the origins of this, but it looks to predate recreational hillwalking.

NM8896567867 The descent of the northwest spur isn't entirely straightforward. The ground is steep and scattered with slabby little crags; and unless you're careful it's possible to stray onto steeper, craggier ground still. The best line errs slightly left, with only very basic scrambling. The Glas Bhealach marks the end of any fall-down-able terrain. A quick descent into the corrie is possible from here, but it's better to continue uphill through rocky knolls to the high point of the Druim Garbh ridge (marked with a small cairn). From here you're looking straight down Glen Scaddle to Ben Nevis and the Mamores, over on the 'mainland'.

NM8818168364 Head roughly WSW down the ridge, which is scattered with yet more rocky knolls that could prove confusing in low cloud. Soon reach an obvious catchment area at the head of a burn.

NM8680968010 Cut left to follow the east bank of the burn steeply downhill into the boggy floor of the corrie, where the approach path is regained for the return leg to Ariundle.

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