The Glenfinnan Munros
Sgurr nan Coireachan and Sgurr Thuilm
The way points on this map are taken from my GPS Spot tracker. You can make the map bigger or alter its appearance by clicking on the controls.
The first train of the day from Fort William dropped me off at Glenfinnan just after nine o'clock. It had been raining but the forecast was for an improvement. I'd got just under ten hours for the walk before the train back to Fort William just after seven
The small church is just down the road from the station...
....but I'd no time to go in and soon I was down at the end of the lane leading up Glen Finnan.
The famous viaduct, built of concrete and famous the world over because of the Harry Potter films.
There's a much better view from the other side of the viaduct.
The first stage of the walk is easy along the paved lane to the Glenfinnan Lodge.....
......which can be seen up the hillside....
......just above the junction of the public footpath to Loch Arkaig.
The trouble is that it's no longer a path but a construction road for the new Glenfinnan HEP plant. Contractors were extending the road right up the valley, although I was assured that it will soon blend in...
I suppose it will make access to the hills a little faster for those with bikes....
......but at present it's a bit of an eyesore.
One of the things about this walk that concerned me was the suggestion in some guidebooks that crossing the Allt a'Choire Charnaig could be a bit tricky if there was a lot of water coming off the hill. True there are big stepping stones but, at this stage of the day you don't want wet feet.
What doesn't seem to be known by the guidebook writers is that there is a substantial footbridge a few metres up stream and hidden from the track. Thanks to the dumper truck driver who pointed this out to me. For some reason I forgot to photograph it but it's easy to find - just clamber up the bank when you come to the stepping stones.
Just beyond the stream the path up to Sgurr nan Coireachan starts.
Looking back down at the construction work, whilst the low col in the distance is the way across to Loch Arkaig. To the left of the photo is Sgurr Thuilm, the second Munro of the Glenfinnan round.
The path is at first easy and rises up the south ridge of Sgurr Choire Riabhaich, seen just covered by cloud.
It's quite an entertaining path as it twists...
...through and over rocky outcrops.
As you get further up the climb ahead looks a little daunting..
.....whilst at least the weather had improved.
As the path approaches the nose Sgurr Choire Riabhaich there are some slightly more demanding sections needing the use of hands but by and large..
.....the path finds a way up (or in this case down) through the crags.
As the climb continues the views become increasingly extensive.
Once up on the ridge between Sgurr Choire Riabhaich and Sgurr nan Coireachan the going becomes easier as the track winds up hill.
Click on this image to see the entire panorama from Sgurr nan Coireachan on the left to Sgurr Thuilm on the far right. The walk crosses this long ridge.
The summit of Sgurr nan Coireachan is fully in view as the path...
.....passes an impressive gully looking down into Coire Thollaidh
Onwards and upwards...
.....until I arrived at the summit of Sgurr nan Coireachan (956m) four and a half hours after leaving Glenfinnan. The climb had taken about 45 minutes longer than expected so there was no time to waste if I wanted to get that train.
And this is one of the reasons I've wanted to climb these Munros for a long time. This is Loch Morar with Knoydart beyond.
A panoramic photo of the wild land to the north and Knoydart. Click on it for a larger image.
I'd still a long way to go so, after a short break for lunch, it was off downhill on to the long ridge leading to Sgurr Thuilm.
The weather had changed slightly and for a few minutes there was actually light snow.
The path is generally well defined and clear....
......as it follows some old fence posts to a col with some pools.
Then it was uphill again towards Meall an Tarmachain....
......with a backwards glance at Sgurr nan Coireachan and Loch Morar.....
The bulk of Sgurr nan Coireachan is more obvious in this photo.
Looking down from the ridge into Coire Thollaidh and the head of Glen Finnan.
In the opposite direction Loch Moraig can be seen in Glen Pean.
The ridge path continues over Beinn Gharbh at 825m well below Munro status. Beyond the ridge falls and rises.
The track continues mostly without difficulties except in a few places coming downhill over the rocky outcrops, where a little 'five points of contact' is sometimes needed!
The north face of Sgurr Thuilm has some dramatic cliffs overlooking Glen Pean.
More descent over rocks to the next col...
.......before a climb up to an unnamed 858m summit.
Close up the cliffs look even mor impressive.
On the final approach to Sgurr Thuilm I decided to head straight up to the main ridge...
........to join the clear path that runs down its south west ridge. I then followed this up...
.....to the cairn at 963m. Once again Loch Arkaig is in view. I arrived at the summit six and a half hours after leaving Glenfinnan. The walk over the ridge had been slower than I'd expected, largely because of problems finding my way down through some of the crags and I was still running later on my time estimates. I wasn't too worried as I'd got well over three hours to get back to the station.
As sometimes happens on the descent when the GPS can't transmit a signal because of the mountainside obstructing access to the satellites there was a gap in locations. The blue symbols indicate the rough position I walked.
Without wasting any time it was off down the ridge....
......following quite a good path..
......often over grass..
......until the final very steep section down into the glen, which was followed by a rather boggy section across the glen to the track.
Once at the vehicle track I was in no doubt that I'd be at Glenfinnan comfortably in time for the train.
A final look back uphill. Unfortunately there was a footpath diversion away from the construction work which, whilst very well marked, was over disgustingly boggy ground.
The final walk down the road was taken at a fast pace, in the company of a young man from Lewis who was camping with his girl friend in the valley, and had forgotten something he needed from his car in Glenfinnan. I arrived back at the station with over half an hour spare and was met with this sight.....
For summer 2011 the 'Jacobite' steam trains are running extra evening journeys to Mallaig from Fort William on three evenings a week. The good news is that I could have joined this train on its return journey. The fare is £10 single to Fort William and the train stops about 21:30. Be on the correct platform for Fort William if you need it I was told as the train only stops briefly. However, I was more than glad to be on the ScotRail service just after seven.
A brilliant day, slightly spoilt by having to watch the time a little too closely.