Hills: Druim na Sgriodain and Sgurr na h-Eanchainne
Date: Sunday 22nd January 2017
Company: Just myself
Distance: 15.2km, Ascent: 920m
Time: 5Hrs 45Mins

On Sunday morning, I set off from home around 7.20am with a view to ascending a hill. I had no idea which hill but was conscious that I was quite late in setting off and the amount of daylight at this time of year is still fairly limited. I initially considered ascending something in the Cairngorms but my outstanding Munro Tops in the Cairngorms are all really long ones. I next considered an ascent of either Creag Pitridh or Creag Meagaidh. However on passing these hills they were capped in cloud. My next and final option was to undertake the Ardgour Horseshoe which would get me one of my fourteen remaining Grahams and would/should be just about be feasible given the amount of daylight still available.

On reaching the Corran ferry, I parked-up and decided to go across as a foot passenger thus avoiding ferry costs. Unfortunately, I missed the ferry by about one minute meaning it was already just after 11:00am before I got across to Ardgour and began walking. I anticipated the walk would take somewhere between 4 and 5 hours but hadn't really factored in delays due to having to navigate in low cloud.

Corran ferry with Druim na Sgriodain and Sgurr na h-Eanchainne capped in cloud in background:

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

On disembarking from the ferry, I could potentially have saved some time by taking a more direct approach to reach the Ardgour Mast.

Boat at Ardgour:

Loch Linnhe from Ardgour:

Instead, I decided to follow a waymarked route to the "Ardgour Mast" which according to the sign was 2.5km distant opposed to circa 800m via a more direct approach. The 2.5km walk to the Ardgour Mast was however really pleasant and I would recommend following this waymarked route to get to the mast.

Track leading to Ardgour Mast:

Path leading to Ardgour Mast:

Track leading to Ardgour Mast:

On reaching the mast, I stopped to answer several messages on my phone which I probably should have simply ignored given time pressures.

Ardgour Mast:

After skirting round the high security fence enclosing the mast, I commenced my ascent towards Druim na Sgriodain. Having read several reports on this hill beforehand, I knew the ground ahead was steep and potentially dangerous in the wet, and it sure was wet. This was why I decided to undertake a clockwise circuit of the horseshoe instead of an anti-clockwise one, such that I could tackle the steep terrain in ascent rather than descent.

Steep ascent beyond mast:

Looking back towards the mast and Loch Linnhe:

Steep ascent:

During the ascent I took care not to fall into the waterfall which could have had very nasty consequences given the very steep drops below.

Previous internet reports I have read about this hill have advised of crossing the waterfall. There is absolutely no need to cross the waterfall, just stick to the right-hand side of the waterfall until you are onto safe ground in the coire and then very easily cross the burn at an easy, level section.

Ascent to the right of the waterfall:

Looking back towards the Corran Narrows:

Once in the coire, it was a case of head in the general direction of the summit.

Onto easier ground and about to enter the clag:

Despite the low-cloud, I did spot a wee howff in the coire.

A howff:

A short distance below the summit, I managed to get myself onto a section of steep ground which was likely steeper than necessary, so was relieved to "top-out" once again onto easier ground.

Had it not been for Viewranger on my iPhone, with the 10 figure grid reference for the summit programmed in, I could potentially have spent an eternity searching for the summit as visibility was awful. As I didn't have the luxury of time on my side, and due to the weather being somewhat unpleasant, Viewranger came in very handy.

Approaching the summit of Druim na Sgriodain:

On reaching the summit, I stopped sufficiently long to touch the cairn and have a quick drink before I was once again on my way.

At the summit of Druim na Sgriodain:

I again used Viewranger to navigate my way from the summit of Druim na Sgroidain to the summit of Sgurr na h-Eanchainne. The entire journey from summit to summit was in approximately 10m visibility.

Thin covering of snow on ground between Druim na Sgriodain and Sgurr na h-Eanchainne:

By the time I reached the summit of Sgurr na h-Eanchainne, I was starting to have some concerns around the amount of remaining daylight and also the fact I hadn't reasearched the route off in advance! Instead I was relying purely on my reading of the map contours to find a way off. As using Viewranger was taking too long to navigate, but useful to know location, I also got out my good old compass and used it to navigate off the hill.

At the summit of Sgurr na h-Eanchainne:

I decided to descend from the summit via the north ridge i.e. towards the 596m top and then turn off a short distance before reaching the 596m top heading down towards Cille Mhaodain.

Looking back to Sgurr na h-Eanchainne in descent:

Descending in low cloud, and having to bypass several rocky sections, was a touch worrying. However, I wasn't going down anything I couldn't get back up. My greatest concern was the elapsing daylight.

Looking back at steep descent:

As it turns out although the descent was very steep, I made it off the hill shortly after sunset with sufficient daylight remaining.

Corran Narrows with steep descent ahead:

Descent alongside gully:

Descent towards Cille Mhaodain:

Descent towards Cille Mhaodain:

Looking back at steep descent:

This hill is definitely not to underestimated. There is much steepness in ascent and descent and you need to take care navigating in poor visibility.

On reaching the road, I walked circa 2km back along the road again missing the ferry by approximately one minute! This however provided the ideal opportunity to spend around 30 minutes in the Inn at Ardgour where I enjoyed the perfect post-walk drink when you feel in need of defrosting.

Perfect post-walk drink at the Inn at Ardgour:

13 Grahams now remaining with many of the hardest ones still to do, including Beinn na Lus, An Cruachan, Meith Beinn and An Stac, Slat Bheinn, etc. Oh how I long to get back to doing Munros with their half-decent paths .