THERE are those who climb mountains and then there are those who only climb Munros.
There’s nothing wrong with ticking off peaks but when it means you restrict your view to a matter of a few feet either way it’s a real shame.
Some of Scotland’s finest mountains fall short of the 3,000ft mark – Foinaven, Suilven, Ben Stack for example – but they provide magical days out that eclipse some of the dreary hills that qualify as Munros. Better a short, exciting day on little Stac Pollaidh than a never-ending plod up the grass slopes of some of the Drumochter lumps.
Recent satellite mapping has seen two mountains previously thought to be Munros, Sgurr nan Ceannaichean and Beinn a’ Chlaidheimh, re-classified because they were found to be shorter than originally measured. Both are now Corbetts, the next rank down in the hill lists, and that probably means they will see less footfall. That would be a great shame, for they are wonderful hills.
I recently highlighted the South Shiel ridge and suggested that doing the seven Munros in two days from different corries and ridges was a better option than one long day to tick off all seven.
Back in 1997 when the Munros list was amended to include seven new peaks, it was amusing to see the scramble by some baggers to get back up and climb the tops they had inexplicably avoided first time out. There’s always talk of more tweaks to the list so it pays to be a bit more expansive in your walks.
Sgurr nan Ceannaichean is a rugged little peak in Glen Carron, and it is usually climbed in conjunction with Moruisg, a vastly inferior neighbour. Now, however, some folk will see it simply as an irritant as they dash up the featureless Moruisg to get their tick. Don’t fall into this trap.
The route onward to Ceannaichean round Coire Toll nam Bian saves the day, and will make you look back more fondly on Moruisg than you are probably entitled to. You can also tackle Ceannaichean from the other side, taking the track in from Craig in Glen Carron and then ascending the peak of the peddlers by a good path. Continue along the ridge to Moruisg and take in some of its subsidiary peaks before dropping down to Gleuaig Lodge.
Beinn a’ Chlaidheimh lies in the Letterewe Forest, one of a round of six remote Munros that could be tackled on a very long day requiring plenty of stamina and determination. To reach it usually involves at least one problematic river crossing and a tough push up through crag and heather-covered slopes.
It may be a Corbett now but it almost takes more effort to bypass it and you would be missing out on one of the finest views you can get of An Teallach. And that’s something you should not miss.
(First published Daily Record, August 1, 2013)