In my pursuit to complete the Munros I have started to concentrate on groups of hills. Just to remind you, Munros are mountains over 3,000 feet listed by Sir Hector Munro in the 19th century. However, the current list of 284 Munros is not Sir Hector?s original list as it has been adjusted to give a more accurate list. Nowadays we have more sophisticated methods of measuring the height of mountains so some of the original list were found to be under the required height and other mountains were promoted, as it were, to the new Munro list. There is controversy over this as some would say mountains should only be called Munros if they were on Sir Hector?s original list.
The group that I completed recently were the four Munros around Loch Quoich (pronounced Queeck) near Invergarry which is on the road to Kyle of Lochalsh from Fort William and just before Fort Augustus. This is big deer stalking country and limits access to these hills at certain times of the year but mainly in the autumn. However, there are excellent stalkers paths on all of the hills to the summits so the walking is easy and there is no rough ground to cross.
We completed the round of the four Munros over three separate days in late summer in good weather this year. There are very good views from all these Munros over the loch. The first two hills to be bagged were Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach. We drove along the loch side to the starting point on a lovely clear morning with interesting cloud inversion over the loch. This was a circular walk using only one car and we ascended the first hill from the loch near Glen Quoich, a narrow arm of water from the loch. It was a steep precipitous path with dramatic views down to the glen and some feeling of exposure but the first top was easily reached and it was then onwards along the splendid high level undulating ridge following the scalloped cliff edge of the three corries to the summit of Spidean Mialach. From the ridge we could see across the loch to Sgurr a?Mhaoraich and Gairich, the Munros still to be bagged on subsequent trips to Invergarry. It was easy downhill to the glen and then a walk below the hills back to the start. All this in glorious weather and we did not meet anyone all day but did see herds of deer gathering in the corrie.
The second trip was to climb Sgurr a?Mhaoraich on the far side of the loch on the road to Kinloch Hourn. It was again a circular walk on an extended ridge in fine weather with views across the loch to the two Munros previously climbed. The route was on a good stalkers path with some rocky outcrops to walk around. From the loch side, this mountain appears as a grassy mound with the vast flanks of rock on the northern and western aspects hidden. From the summit the views are towards the remote area of Knoydart which I have previously written on in November 2000.
The final trip to Loch Quoich was to climb Gairich and although the hill is on the other side of the loch, the loch can be crossed at the dam and the walk along by the loch to the hill is over very boggy ground , wet even in dry weather due to the raised water level in the loch. This path leads to the forest at Glen Kingie where the ascent of the hill starts. The path continues to the top of the mountain over some interesting rocky mountain steps. We did meet some other walkers that day but generally these mountains do not attract a lot of walkers. When I have finished the Munros, these are certainly hills I would intend to climb again. First I still have another 71 Munros to do!
Coming attractions; Monadh Liath Munros, anything else I can think of or you request!
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Thanks to Frances Rickus for the photos.