A’ Mhaighdean (almost) from Poolewe

When I left the house for this trip I was aiming to spend a few days around Assynt, and spending a bit more time exploring this wonderful area after a rather washed – out debut there last year.

However somewhere along the way the focus of the trip changed. I think that ‘somewhere along the way’ was when I drove into Torridon under a golden autumnal glow, with the bellows of the stags echoing round the glen in the stillness of the evening air.

I was still inclined to drift further north to Assynt, so decided I’d revisit plans to head into the Fisherfield Forest, an area also known as The Great Wilderness, which obviously sends tingles of excitement along any hill walker’s limbs.

It was going to be a rather tentative foray, a ‘quick’ overnighter to photograph the view from the summit of A’ Mhaighdean – commonly considered to be one of the best in Scotland, and not just because it’s from the summit of the remotest Munro.

I’d sketched a route on the OS map several months previously, and with no obvious difficulties shown on it didn’t really do any further research before heading out from Poolewe late in the morning, and aiming for the North West ridge of A’ Mhaighdean, approximately 13 miles distant.

With full camping and camera gear this can probably be classed as ‘a bit of a trek’, and so it proved, taking me 6 and a half hours to get about a third of the way up the ridge before pitching the tent in the fading light above Fuar Loch Beag.

The path to Carnmore at the base of the ridge is now a good one all the way, and after emerging from the Kernsary Forest it’s just a matter of fixing your eyes on the wonderfully rugged panorama of rock ahead as it gets slowly, oh so slowly closer.

As I’d failed to get to the summit before dark, it was another headtorch led walk the next morning, with another 45 minutes or so left to get to the summit.

After a bit of very mild scrambling up the craggier bits of the broad rocky ridge, I climbed what I thought would be the last rocky section, crossed a thankfully very short grassy causeway with precipitous gullies on either side… and came to a halt.

What lay ahead was a 30ft drop down to a narrow ridge, which was itself blocked by another 20-30ft high tower of sandstone. I couldn’t see a way down, let alone a way past the tower. Although the path had been faint on the way up the ridge, it was worn well enough to suggest it was possible to reach the summit this way, but I was baffled as to how.

From this point the views were still tremendous, a grand arc of a vista from the Torridon Hills to the south round to An Teallach to the north, but it’s just not quite *the* view I had planned to shoot. The main downside was that Dubh Loch and Fionn Loch were partially hidden behind the ridge I’d just climbed, whereas the view from the summit is much more open.

I made do with these, a bit undecided as to how disappointed I should be feeling after a long hard walk in such amazing surroundings on a beautiful clear morning.

Still, it’s only an 8 hour drive and another 7 hour walk to have another go 😉

Incidentally, you can see how to deal with the uppermost part of the ridge here.


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2 Responses to A’ Mhaighdean (almost) from Poolewe

  1. Andy Beck says:

    My favourite blog post of yours so far. Totally inspiring.
    Thanks for the link about tackling that last craggy section on the ridge. Very helpful.

    • Stewart says:

      Cheers Andy. Hopefully I’ll get round to doing it again one day, and if I do I’ll play it safe and go round the back of Fuar Loch Mor and up in between Ruadh Stac Mor and A’Mhaighdean. More straightforward ascent if a little longer!

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