Streap - 909m
& All Tops

Saturday 14th March 2015

Weather/Conditions: Stunning weather. Couldn't get much better. Tonnes of snow lying
Distance/Ascent/Time: 17.5km / 1400m / 7h
Accompanying: Struan

Something really profound happened in the spring of 2015 regarding personal motivation for the hills, as though spring came back in sync with the changing seasons: the skies turned deep blue, the sun returned. The snow receded too, with the warmth of the sun. And the light of the sun took the dead stems of winter grass and illuminated them again, turning the slopes yellow and golden in the strong light of a climbing spring sun.

On such times it seems like spring has come back for good, and it certainly seems as though light and life has flooded back to the Highlands. In the anti-cyclonic dazzle of new light, it also feels as though time has stopped among these glens.

Struan and I went away for a weekend to the West Highlands, a trip that lasted only a day and a half. But as with all the best trips it seemed to last a lot longer. We had the joy of discovery and of new sights, and I certainly found new perspectives in these wild corners of theh hills.

Loch Shiel

We headed first for Streap, a mountain on the road to Mallaig with a corker of a reputation. It really is a small mountain range, with multiple summits strung along its length, starting with bulky Beinn an Tuim, and culimating in the pointing scythe of Streap in the north. Streap itself is a curious name, referring to 'climber' in Gaelic. It's not really a noun, so that translates into a hill name I do not know. It has a subsidiary top to the east, Streap Comhlaidh, and the two form a distinctive double top. The western flanks of the mountain fall steeply to Bealach a' Chaorainn, a massive and steep pass between Streap and Sgurr Thuilm. Visible from afar (particularly the Invergarry high road) this dramatic V-notch has long been a route between these hills.

Struan and I left the car at the foot of Gleann Dubh Lighe, and headed up forestry tracks for a couple kilometres. That sun was out, dazzling and bright again. We cut off onto the flank of Beinn an Tuim to gain height rapidly, with views opening down the length of Loch Shiel. Spring snow was still thick on the hills, affording hazy and dramatic views to surrounding ranges. It was like life had returned to the glen and in some sense life had returned to me.

Leaving trails in the powder

Our day was simply to pick off the tops from Beinn an Tuim across the rest of the range. The southern slopes would be dry and crisp. The northern slopes would be packed with névé with a sprinkling of powder and glorious to run down.

There were two intermediate tops prior to reaching Streap; Meall an Uillt Chaoil (Allt Caol = thin/slim stream) and Stob Coire nan Cearc. Beyond is the final ridge to Streap, a razor edge of schist. It's some drop off to the west, into the aforementioned Bealach a' Chaorainn! The cairn arrived soon after with views opening to the north. Loch Arkaig didn't seem so far away. Views opened to the east too, to Ben Nevis and the great Lochaber hills. As the day wore on the the sun swung to the west, Nevis cast a profile of its north face onto the white flank of Carn Mor Dearg. It was a striking glimpse intoc Nevis' hidden interior.

That pleased to see the sun

Streap Comhlaidh was our last top, and from there we headed south into Gleann Dubh Lighe. We stopped by the bothy which not long previously had been burned in an accident. It had been renovated, and looked fantastic now.

Back at the car, Struan and I drove west and into soft evening light. I'd never been this way before: the Mallaig road beyond Glen Finnan was a mystery. And what a time to see it! Empty hills passed us by, then we turned left at Kinlochailort. Reaching the sea, views of Rum and the Skye Cuillin opened out; almost mystical was their presence, I felt the shudder of staring at something intangible and greater than the sum of it's parts, one feeling about the hills that has never entirely left me. It was like being fired up again; fired up by the immensity of these places.

We ate at Glenuaig, then in darkness drove south to Resipol, the location of tomorrows hill. Struan knew of a campsite, but we turned up to find the place shut up and empty. We simply drove in, put our sleeping bags on the ground and slept out in the open under a massive black sky of stars.

A truly phenomenal day. One of the best I've had for a long time.

Travel & Beinn an Tuim

Meall an Uillt Chaoil & Stob Coire nan Cearc

Streap & Streap Comhlaidh

Gleann Dubh Lighe

360° Panoramas

Beinn an Tuim

Meall an Uillt Chaoil

Stob Coire nan Cearc


Streap - Detail

Streap Comhlaidh
Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 10.50am Ceann Lochiall
(2.40) 1.30pm Beinn an Tuim
(3.20) 2.10pm Meall an Uillt Chaoil
(4.00) 2.50pm Stob Coire nan Cearc
(4.30) 3.20pm Streap
(4.57) 3.47pm Streap Comhlaidh
(7.00) 5.50pm Ceann Lochiall
Written: 2017-11-27 & 12-13