The Five Sisters of Kintail
Hills: Sgurr nan Spainteach, Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe, Sgurr na Carnach, Sgurr Fhuaran, Sgurr nan Saighead
Date: Sunday 15th June 2014
Company: Myself, Paul, Lianne, Gemma, Alasdair and Chris
Distance: 12.7km, Ascent: 1355m, Descent: 1550m
Time: 7Hrs 30Mins

I attended the Moray Mountaineering Club Bus Meet yesterday, destination Kintail.

While I didn't have a fixed plan for the day I did have two potential routes in mind: i) a traverse of the South Cluanie ridge or ii) a traverse of the Five Sisters of Kintail. When I heard that several guests were interested in a traverse of the Five Sisters, I offered to accompany them. It was nice to also walk with Paul, who I have climbed with previously but not walked with.

We were dropped off at the start of track below Bealach an Lapain. The bus then continued on to park up for the day at Morvich.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

One of the disadvantages of undertaking a long route on a Bus Meet is time constraint. We only had eight hours available to undertake this traverse. In order to avoid being late for the bus we had to keep up a good pace throughout the walk and had little time for stops.

If you like a nice, gentle start to a walk then avoid the Five Sisters . From the outset the ascent is steep and relentless.

View along Glen Shiel from initial ascent:

During the ascent up through the small forest, we stopped briefly several times but only for long enough to re-group.

Small waterfall:

The SMC guidebook suggests continuing directly and very steeply up towards Bealach an Lapain. I noticed the contours on the map were more widely spaced a short distance further along the ridge. As it happened, there was also a path heading in this direction so we followed it until we were directly below Sgurr nan Spainteach.

View along Glen Shiel from above the forestry:

Looking across to Faochag and Sgurr na Sgine:

Once below Sgurr nan Spainteach, we left the path to make our way up onto the ridge. While this ascent was still fairly steep, it wasn't as steep as it would have been had we headed for Bealach an Lapain.

Looking towards Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe during ascent:

Alasdair, Chris, Gemma and Lianne ascending towards Sgurr nan Spainteach:

We joined the ridge a couple of hundred metres distance away from the summit of Sgurr nan Spainteach (a Munro Top). A quick out and back was required to reach the summit of Sgurr nan Spainteach.

At the summit of Sgurr nan Spainteach:

We returned back a couple of hundred metres to where we had joined the ridge and commenced our traverse of the Five Sisters ridge.

Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe:

Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe, Sgurr na Carnach and Sgurr Fhuaran:

The most sustained section of scrambling of the entire ridge was found during the descent of Sgurr nan Spainteach.

Looking back to Sgurr nan Spainteach during ascent of Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe:

Approaching the summit of Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe:

Well done to Gemma on reaching the summit of her first Munro.

Gemma at the summit of Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe:

Gemma and Lianne at the summit of Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe:

Despite the time pressure of having to catch the bus, we did have a brief stop at the summit to have a drink and a bite to eat.

Summit of Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe:

From the summit of Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe, we could see that we still had quite a bit of up and down ahead!

Loch Duich, Sgurr nan Carnach and Sgurr Fhuaran from Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe:

Looking back at descent from Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe:

The descent from Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe and the ascent of Sgurr na Carnach were fairly straight-forward. It took 45-50 minutes to get from the summit of Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe to the summit of Sgurr na Carnach.

Sgurr na Carnach:

Looking towards Sgurr Fhuaran from the summit of Sgurr na Carnach:

Loch Duich from the summit of Sgurr na Carnach:

Beinn Sgritheall with Rum in the distance (zoom):

Sgurr Fhuaran:

The ascent of Sgurr Fhuaran was a little trickier due to lots of boulders.

Boulderfield ascent on Sgurr Fhuaran:

Looking back to Sgurr na Carnach during ascent of Sgurr Fhuaran:

At the summit of Sgurr Fhuaran:

At the summit of Sgurr Fhuaran:

I enjoyed the views from Sgurr Fhuaran. As well as seeing the hills of Eigg, Rum and Skye, we also had good views towards the Achnashellach hills and beyond to Torridon.

An Sgurr, Eigg in the distance (zoom):

Skye Cuillin (zoom):

Looking towards Sgurr nan Saighead:

Loch Duich from Sgurr Fhuaran:

Heading for Sgurr nan Saighead:

The ascent of Sgurr nan Saighead and the ridge beyond is a bit exposed in places - no place for a slip. The cliffs on Sgurr nan Saighead are fairly impressive.

Impressive cliffs on Sgurr nan Saighead:

Looking back to Sgurr Fhuaran from Sgurr nan Saighead:

After summitting Sgurr nan Saighead, we continued along the ridge towards Beinn Bhuidhe. We took a by-pass path to skirt a short distance below the summit of Beinn Bhuidhe.

Ridge beyond Sgurr nan Saighead:

It had originally been my intention to continue on to also ascend Sgurr na Moraich however time was not on our side. A quick look at the map showed that a descent of the North-West ridge of Beinn Bhuidhe was shorter. We therefore started our descent down the North-West ridge heading towards Sgurr an t-Searraich.

It was our intention to eventually pick up the path marked on the map alonside the Allt a'Chruinn. We were pleased to find that this path has been extended and is now at least 1km longer than as marked on the map.

Descent from Beinn Bhuidhe into Coire na Criche:

We followed this path taking us back out to the road. The views of Loch Duich during the descent were nice.

Loch Duich during descent:

Loch Duich during descent:

We made it out to the road with 30 minutes to spare. Sore feet, jelly legs but all happy to have completed this fine circuit.

A nice day out in good company .