Moruisg - 928m
Sgurr nan Ceannaichean - 913m

Friday 29th April 2011

Weather/Conditions: Sunny weather, little cloud and a lot of haze obscuring views to more distant mountains. Windy on the tops and warm otherwise.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 11.3km / 970m / 4h 55m
Accompanying: Colin and Faye

I was up well before 5am, up early for a trip that saw Colin Macleod up his 200th Munro. We were going to Glen Carron/Torridon area for a few days - a weekend in the northwest was what I needed to take a holiday from end-of-year university work, although guilt make itself known.

Colin picked me up from mine, and we headed out to Kilsyth and onto the A9. It was an amazing morning, the sun illuminated the mountains all the way up. We stopped at Inverness for breakfast in Tesco then headed westward to our mountains of choice today: Moruisg and Sgurr nan Ceannaichean. The latter used to be a Munro but it's summit is a matter of centimetres below 3000 feet.

The drive down Glen Carron started well - through a break in the trees at Achnasheen, I caught sight of Liathach briefly, swore aloud, and then apologised to Colin and Faye. It had been just a brief view, but it was my first proper view of that huge mountain and I was instantly stunned. What a giant. Pictures are impressive, but the real thing is just magnificent.

Further down Glen Carron, Moruisg swung into view. It's eastern corrie throws an attractive profile from the road, although access to this side is difficult and consequently everybody else, including us, starts further down the glen where the mountain resembles a pudding than a sculpted, rocky mountain.


We parked west of Loch Sgamhain, where a footbridge crosses the River Carron to gain access to Moruisg's long north flank. It's hardly a mountain face from this angle, sadly one of the more shapeless sides to this hill. We'd heard about people calling this hill a dull slog, which I could imagine: if the storms were doing their havoc, it would become a very dull and tedious ascent through mist and rain.

But we had no such problems today: just dry, sunny weather and a breeze to keep the heat off. (The wind had been very strong at the lay-by where we parked, but fine on the hill.) The angle of the face is usually steep enough to make solid progress, but not so steep as to be tiring. As we gained height, the mountains of the north opened out bit by bit: Liathach, Beinn Eighe, and most special of the lot, A' Mhaighean, the elusive Fisherfield. It's light grasses shining through the haze gave the impression of a summit of white sand.

The face steeped briefly, then angled backward to form a summit plateau of thin grass and rock. We arrived at a large cairn although the real summit was another cairn a few hundred metres further on. Like Maoile Lunndaidh, it's summit plateau is strange for this part of Scotland. Southward are the remote Loch Monar hills: grassy hills but with steep, craggy corries. Northward is bare rocky Torridon, but Moruisg is the accommodating grassy hill in the middle. Glen Carron carves a great slash through the north west of Scotland marking a geographical shift from the a huge grassy mountains of the south to serrated, bare rocky mountains further north.

And one of the nicest parts of the day was to finally see into the Loch Monar area. I realised that as remote as they are, they could be out of Bridge of Orchy. They can't be that hard, surely? And maybe it wouldn't be so difficult to climb them after all, so long as I can travel up here again some time.

We had this all in view as we sat by Moruisg's summit, sheltering out of the wind.

Sgurr nan Ceannaichean

I thought the next summit, Sgurr nan Ceannaichean, was the more interesting of the two. It's broad arms rising to meet the summit table top made an interesting and picturesque hill. The connecting ridge gave an uncomplicated walk. Bidean a' Choire Sheasgaich has an unmistakable profile at the back, a real landmark mountain which I'd imagine is visible from far around.

We dropped our rucksacks below the summit of Sgurr nan Ceannaichean and walked to the top unencumbered. All should climb this hill with Moruisg, it's a beautiful second half. I imagine that many still do (owing to it's old Munro status) and will continue to do so for a while at least.

A stony path brought us to the top, a flat summit with double cairns. Like Moruisg, the largest probably wasn't on top, the other instead on the edge of the plateau overlooking Monar.


Happy with the time we'd spent at the top, we walked off the summit and collected the rucksacks, went down the north ridge into Coire Toll nam Bian. A path follows Alltan na Feola back towards the car - when we reached it's fresh waters we took a break on the rocks and drank plenty. A path leads out by the river bank and crossed the peat to arrive near the railway. We cut across to the railway and crossed the bridge to the car.

Our day continued further down Glen Carron at Coulags bothy and on the Munro behind, Maol Chean-dearg, in time for sunset.


Moruisg 180° - North

Moruisg 180° - South

Sgurr nan Ceannaichean 360°
Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 11.00am A890 Lay by
(2.00) 1.00pm Moruisg
(2.20) 1.20pm Moruisg (left)
(3.10) 2.10pm Sgurr nan Ceannaichean
(3.20) 2.20pm Sgurr nan Ceannaichean (left)
(4.55) 3.55pm A890 Lay by

Written: 2011-07/08