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ARDGOUR & MOIDART

South of the A830, as it runs west from Fort William, lie the regions of Ardgour and Moidart. This is a region rarely visited by Munroists as it contains only Corbetts and Grahams.

However, seventeen Top 500 Summits can be climbed in a fairly compact area. Some of these mountains are legends; Rois-Bheinn has amazing views over the sea and islands, beautiful Beinn Resipol makes a great half day walk, and mighty Garbh Bheinn holds its own with Munros anywhere in Scotland.

The Top 500 Summits are

1    Sgurr Dhomhnuill                            2,913 ft               2    Garbh Bheinn                                   2,904 ft

3    Beinn Odhar Bheag                         2,894 ft              4    Rois-bheinn                                      2,894 ft

5    Sgurr na Ba Glaise                           2,867 ft               6    Creach Bheinn                                  2,799 ft

7    Sgurr Ghiubhsachain                       2,785 ft              8    Beinn Resipol                                    2,772 ft

9    An Stac                                             2,671 ft              10  Carn na Nathrach                             2,579 ft

11  Beinn Mhic Cedidh                          2,569 ft              12  Sgorr Craobh a’ Chaorainn             2,543 ft

13  Stob Coire a’ Chearcaill                   2,530 ft             14  Druim Tarsuinn                                 2,526 ft

15  Fuar Bheinn                                      2,513 ft              16  Beinn na h-Uamha                           2,501 ft

17  Sgurr a’ Chaorainn                           2,495 ft

My favourite two walks in this area are the round of Rois-Bheinn from Lochailort and a walk to the heart of Ardgour, Sgurr Dhomhnuill and Carn na Nathrach from just north of Strontian.

1. The Round of Rois-bheinn

Distance of 11 miles, 5,000 ft of climbing, 6-7 hours

Rois-bheinn          3,318 ft

Sgurr na Ba Glaise   3,038 ft

An Stac       2,899 ft

Rum & Eigg from near the summit of Rois-bheinn
Rum & Eigg from near the summit of Rois-bheinn

This walk lies in the district of Moidart, just south of the West Highland Railway and the Road to the Isles. The traverse of the ridge from Druim Fiaclach to Rois-bheinn is one of the best ridge walks in Scotland, winding, undulating, rocky and constantly interesting as you head towards the sea.

Park just off the narrow road beside the River Ailort. Follow a track which goes south then bears right to go round the south side of Tom Odhar and into Coire a’ Bhuiridh. Continue south on the west side of Allt a’ Bhuiridh for one kilometre, then cross the stream and climb south east up the grassy slopes of Beinn Coire nan Gall, aiming for the col between this hill and Druim Fiaclach.

From the col climb south to the summit of Druim Fiaclach (2,854ft), a HUMP, and with a drop of over 400ft, close to Corbett and Top 500 Summit status. From the summit of Druim Fiaclach, a fascinating ridge wends its way south west for three kilometres to the first Top 500 Summit, Sgurr na Ba Glaise (2,867ft). Route finding along this section would be tricky in mist.

West Top of Rois-bheinn
West Top of Rois-bheinn

From the summit of Sgurr na Ba Glaise, descend north west to a well defined bealach, Bealach an Fhiona, at 2,300ft. Climb west to the summit of Rois-bheinn. The west top should be visited for the superb views out to sea and the Scottish Islands.

Return to the Bealach an Fhiona, then descend a further 500ft in a northerly direction to the bealach below An Stac. Climb 850ft steeply to reach the top of An Stac and follow its northern ridge over Seann Chruach. After traversing Sean Chruach descend a further 500ft, then drop down east to the Allt a’ Bhuiridh and return to the car via the outward route.

2. Central Ardgour

Distance 10 miles, 4,500 ft of climbing, 6-8 hours

Sgurr Dhomhnuill                     2,913 ft

Carn na Nathrach                     2,579 ft

This is an unfashionable walk through country which has long been the preserve of Corbett climbers, but it is unique in covering complex and at times tough terrain as well as ascending two of the finest peaks in the area. The views from the summits, including point 803m (Druim Garbh), are outstanding.

The Corran ferry enroute to Ardgour
The Corran ferry enroute to Ardgour

From the pleasant village of Strontian (best reached from Fort William or Glencoe by the Corran Ferry, see below) drive north up a minor road and park near pt 342m, just before the road turns north west and descends through trees.

From here walk east north east over complex ground, which rises slowly towards a wide ridge called Druim Garbh. At times small hills and lochans block the way but these can be circumvented. After three kilometres point 803m and Sgurr Dhomhnuill come into view giving you a clear target to aim at.

Looking east to Druim Garbh, left, and Sgurr Dhomhnuill
Looking east to Druim Garbh, left, and Sgurr Dhomhnuill

The ridge starts to rise and the going becomes easier as you near point 803m. Climb over point 803m, the summit of Druim Garbh (2,635ft). Druim Garbh is a HUMP but with a drop of nearly 470ft, it is not far off Corbett and Top 500 Summit status.

From this summit turn south east and drop nearly 500ft to a col, then climb steeply 750ft to the top of Sgurr Dhomhnuill. Return to the col, then descend north on grassy slopes heading directly towards Carn na Nathrach. Turn slightly left as you near Gleanne na Cloiche Sgoilte to reach the bealach between point 803m and Carn na Nathrach.

It is a steep and tiring 1,000ft climb north to the ridge just west of Carn na Nathrach, and from there a short ascent east to the summit. Return by the same route to the bealach beneath point 803m. Traverse south west for one kilometre maintaining height and then it is a straightforward climb of nearly 500ft back to the wide ridge of Druim Garbh. After regaining the ridge, retrace the outward journey back to the car.