Published 17th April 2018, 17:24

    IT will quickly become obvious to anyone who regularly tramps Scotland's hills that size is no real measure of a mountain.

    There are many of a high contour line that seem almost humble in their surroundings, the gentle, rolling hills of Deeside and Perthshire, for example, where you can often wander for hours without feeling you have made much actual ascent.

    Then there are the ones that appear to tower over their surroundings despite being of relatively modest height. Suilven falls into this category, its imposing ramparts rising from an expanse of bog and loch to dwarf the village of Lochinver. It often comes as a shock to many that Suilven fails to reach even Corbett height, never mind that of a Munro.

    It's not the only one. Ben Stack is a soaring pyramid that attracts the eye more than much higher neighbours, Sgurr an Fheidhleir, from one angle at least, another.

    For my money, you can add Druim na Sgriodain to that list. Like so many peaks in the Munro-free zone of Ardgour, it seems to rise out of nothing, swollen like an animal or insect in defence mode to present a more intimidating facade.

    Druim na Sgriodain is the highest point of the circuit seen across the Corran Narrows, but it is its more handsome and shapelier partner Sgurr na h-Eanchainne that gets all the plaudits. This perfect point, so prominent during the short ferry hop, is the lure that reels you in, but it is somewhat unfair to write off its shy partner.

    The walk from one to the other goes through a jumble of rock outcrops and false summits before culminating with views deep into the Ardgour interior and across to the Nevis and Glencoe giants.

    Now maybe I'm slightly biased because I did this circuit in superb conditions; blue sky, sunshine and light winds. Or maybe it's because any hill day that starts with a ferry crossing over calm waters is hard to beat. Either way, this hill is now etched on to the repeat list.

    The five-minute crossing feels a Zen-like way to approach a mountain walk, the peaks seeming to rise in stature the nearer you get to docking.

    The climb starts above the Maclean burial ground some 2km along the road from the slipway. The word idyllic is often overused but it's hard to think of another way to describe the scene which greeted me. Sheep wandered idly along the beach paying no attention to this intruder, a few anglers in no hurry as they loaded their boat, one distant chainsaw buzzing through the otherwise still air.

    The rise was steep and unrelenting with the sun beating down, but once higher on the ridge there were steep, iron-hard snow slopes which needed crampons and the chill kicked in.

    The view from the trig pillar is as expansive as you would expect from a pointed peak overlooking a vast loch, and the back corries were loaded heavily with snow. At one point in the traverse, fence posts were showing only a foot of their six in the sea of solid white.

    Druim na Sgriodain means ridge of the screes, and although that is the name adopted for the highest point, it would appear to refer more to the whole ridge. Some maps have this marked as Meall Dearg Choire nam Muc, but that name seems largely ignored.

    The trickiest part of the day came on the descent. The ridge dropping south-east from the summit is well guarded by cliffs, and with the amount of overhanging snow it was important to find the correct way off.

    This involved teetering to the edge of the snowline to peer down through the broken rock. I was glad I was still wearing crampons for this descent.

    Once safely into the corrie, I crossed the water and walked down by the series of waterslides known as Maclean's Towel, passing by some impressive icicles. 

    The final walk out through woods is pleasant but seemed to go on for a long time, so much so that I managed to reach the slipway just in time to see the ferry heading out.

    No matter, it gave me an extra half-hour to enjoy the calm in the final minutes of the day, a spectacular sunset lighting sky and water in harmony, a final colour salute over my hills.