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Beinn Sgritheall: Steeps, scree and awesome views

Written by Fiona

May 08 2019

It was the day after a day of serious Munro bagging on the Forcan Ridge. But the weather looked okay-ish and we were in the area anyway, so I headed – with Hubby G and friends Martin and Victoria – to the remote settlement of Arnisdale for a walk to the summit of Beinn Sgritheall.

Read: Munro challenge: The Forcan Ridge

Steep and challenging

I have no idea why I ignored the warning from the website Walk Highlands about the “steep and punishing ascent of Beinn Sgritheall”, but I did. It was only when I saw the path upwards that I realised it would be tough.

My legs were already tired and the route was unrelenting. In fact, it became steeper and steeper. Starting from sea loch level on the shore of Loch Hourn, the path zig-zags up the hillside to reach a pretty glen and waterfall – and then rises again past a small lochan.

We had sunshine, hailstones, clear sky and a white out all in one walk. That scree was a tough to ascend. Credit: Martin Mckenna
That steep climb.

The slope towards the first non-Munro summit at 906m is so steep I had to hold on to rocks and grass to keep going. We lost the path for a while and ended up on tricky scree, although whenever we could we returned to grass and a path.

I have since learned that Sgritheall means mountain of scree. That figures!

Walking along the wide ridge.
Superb views.

A flatter ridge before the summit

Over the summit, the ridge flattens and drops for a bit of light relief. There is a final push to reach the summit of Beinn Sgritheall at 974m but that is relatively easy compared to what you have climbed before.

However, Walk Highlands also reports that the views make your effort worthwhile. The website goes so far as to describe the summit as “one of the finest viewpoints in the Highlands”.

This is completely true.

Fantastic views in every direction. Credit: Martin McKenna.

The views are breath-taking with coast, sea loch and mountains all there in an easy glance in every direction. The vista takes in Loch Hourn to Knoydart, many west coast islands, including Skye and the jagged Cuillin of Skye, as well as numerous peaks of Kintail.

We could see where we had walked the day before – and many other mountain summits that I have ticked off during my years of Munro bagging.

Views from the summit.

The return route on Beinn Sgritheall

Instead of making a circular route that would have required a walk back along the road (more than 3km) we did an out-and-back hike. Of course, you could always tie up with friends and use two cars. We simply thought the return route would be quicker.

It might well have been faster than descending to the west but it required us to down-climb the same steep slope that we had just ascended. And that proved to be very painful on already exhausted quads. It was so sleep in places with loose rocks that I ended up bum shuffling in places.

By the time I got back to sea loch level I was feeling every small and painful nuance of downhill – and I really, really wanted to sit down.

The walk downhill.
A vista across Loch Hourn towards Knoydart.

I am celebrating a fact that very much surprises me: Never did I imagine I would tick off so many Munro summits.

Now I have “just” 39 to go. I wonder how many years it will take me to “compleat”?

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