These three Corbetts provide a challenging walk with the rewards of superb views. My advice is to save the for a day of good weather.
As a keen Corbett bagger, I was delighted to spot a cluster of three summits in the wildy beautiful West Highland region of Moidart. Rois-bheinn, which translates from Gaelic as “mountain of horses”, is the joint-highest hill in Moidart with Beinn Odhar Bheag. Both reach 882m.
As I am learning, as I worked my way through the list of 222 Scottish mountains with a height of between 2500ft and 3000ft, three “ticks” in one day’s walk is relatively rare.
Unlike the sister list of Munros – the 282 mountains in Scotland of at least 3000ft altitude – the Corbetts are more likely to be singular peaks. Corbetts are also more widely distributed across the country.
But then I took a more considered look at the OS map – at the closely packed contour lines and craggy mountain slopes – and realised the so-called Rois-bheinn round would likely prove a fairly significant challenge.
Rois-bheinn Corbetts round
A circuit of the three Corbetts of Sgùrr na Ba Glaise, Rois-bheinn itself and An Stac, from the tiny settlement of Inverailort, extends to around 22km and more than 1737m of total elevation.
The initial ascent, whether you choose to walk clockwise or anti-clockwise, is steep and then, as the rules of Corbett classification dictate, there needs to be at least 150m of descent and re-ascent between each summit.
Fortunately, my chosen day for the walk with my friend Rob proved to be brilliantly sunny and had the benefit of many hours of summer daylight. We set out early taking advantage of a night in our campervans close to the start of the route near Loch Ailort.
This area of Moidart is also known as the Rough Bounds and the lochs Ailort and Eilt form the northern boundary. The western edge is Loch Moidart and the Sound of Arisaig, while the boundaries east and south are formed by by Loch Shiel and the River Shiel. The interior is mountainous, as Rob and I quickly discovered.
A challenging hike
The first couple of miles of the hike, on a boggy path and then a wide track, took Rob and I east and then south – and provided a good warm up for our leg muscles. We passed near to historic Glenshian Lodge and along the shore of Roti Burn.
Rob’s collie Storm showed us he was eager to push on at a faster pace, but we knew the first stiff climb was coming and Rob and I enjoyed a relaxed pace.
Our main decision of the day was to do the round anti-clockwise. Although it looked steep from where we stood low down in the glen, climbing the norther slope of An Stuc would deliver the speedier reward of the first “bag” of the day, rather than the longer walk uphill to reach Sgùrr na Ba Glaise.
This first Corbett was also the smaller of the three at 2670ft.
I can confirm that the map hadn’t misled us. A rough path followed the western bank of Allt a’ Bhuridh before turning west uphill. A “trod” came and went as we climbed on rough and grassy slopes and then wound through a jumble of rocks and crags.
While Storm took it all with light steps and an easy pace, Rob and I felt the precipitous gradient in aching calves and thighs.
If we needed an excuse for a rest, one of us would exclaim at a superb view and suddenly find a need for a photo stop, a drink of water or a snack.
Gaining a lower summit, Seann Chruach, at close to 1700ft, we were treated to a magnificent coastal vista. The sea, dramatic coastline and islands, including the iconic outlines of Eigg and Jura, which are part of the collection of Small Isles, “needed” another rest so we could take more photos.
The pyramid shape of An Stuc rose up still further to the south and we followed a mostly direct route uphill, steeply again, and while dodging around rocky outcrops.
At a small cairn on the top of An Stuc, we rested once more and took in the stunning panorama from our new high point. A bright blue sky was dotted with tiny puffs of cloud which sat still on the almost windless day.
Below us, the sea’s hue was a deeper blue and we were afforded even better views of many west coast islands and the ragged edge of the coastal shore. Looking north and east, we could see our ridge of mountains, including our next two Corbetts, and the wider west Highlands landscape of multiple high-rise peaks.
On to Corbett 2 and 3
To reach Rois-bheinn, at 2894ft elevation, we descended the steep southern slope of An Stuc to Bealach an Fhiona, where Storm found a refreshing loch to drink from.
Our route diverted west, following a trod beside a long, low wall. High on Rois-bheinn, we spotted a small cairn at the east summit before a westerly summit with an impressive cairn – and even more impressive views.
After retracing our steps to the easterly top and back downhill beside the wall, we regained Bealach an Fhiona.
The summit of the third and final Corbett of Sgùrr na Ba Glaise seemed relatively easy compared to the challenge of the previous two. It’s an elevation gain of little more than 570ft from the bealach to the Corbett at 2867ft and we enjoyed the stroll on shorty, soft grass. The sun beat down and we stopped to take more photos.
The walk out – from half way!
Although the three Corbetts had now been bagged, Rob, Storm and I were a little over half way in distance. The rest of the ridge, walking east and then north-easterly presented several more ups and downs, especially after descending to Bealach an Fhaslaigh Dhuibh.
The rise to the peak of Druim Fiaclach was another stiff ascent and especially on tired legs. The descent further on towards Meall Damh became steep and rocky before we eventually reached a bridge over the Allt a’ Bhuiridh, where we joined a wide track again.
Instead of taking the boggy path back to our vans, we continued on the track and past a salmon hatchery. The slightly longer loop meant our boots stayed dry.
Watching Storm trotting contentedly alongside, still looking so fresh, I wondered if I’d somehow lost a lot of my hill walking fitness in recent months. In contrast, I felt heavy footed and drained. Rob kindly reminded me his dog is still young and he confessed he was also weary after a tough route and a long day in hot sunshine.
In retrospect, a triple Corbett bagging day was never going to be easy but, oh, the rewards of a fine weather walk in such a magnificent area of Scotland felt fresh for weeks afterwards.
Kit list for Corbett bagging hike
- Walking boots
- Walking clothing to suit the weather
- Waterproof jacket and over trousers
- Spare clothing layers
- Hat to suit sunshine or cold
- Sun cream
- Emergency blanket or bivy bag
- Map and compass
- Route upload on phone app, such as OS map
- Plenty of water.