Slioch viewed across Loch Maree

Tops: Slioch (980m)
Sgurr an Tuill Bhain (934m)
Height: 980m, 3215ft
Map Reference: NH 005688
  • OS Sheet (1:50000): 19
  • OS Sheet (1:25000): Sheet 8
  • Harveys Superwalker: Torridon
Our Ascent 26 June 1998 (Susan and Simon)

Crossing Abhainn an FhasaighIntroduction

One of the best known mountain views is that of the western cliffs of Slioch seen rising above the craggy shoulder that runs along the far shore of Loch Maree. From this viewpoint the summit looks completely inaccessible as there are no breaks to the buttresses on this side - the actual summit is perched right on top of the cliffs on the western side. Access is gained through the high and hidden corrie, Coire na Sleaghaich, on the east side of the mountain where the Allt Coire an Sleaghaich provides an easily ascended breach to the summit plateau and eastern ridges.

With no road on the far side of Loch Maree the approach starts from Incheril, just outside Kinlochewe, where there is a car park at the end of the sideroad. It is a pleasant, easy and flat approach for 4km as the path sets out to the eastern shore of Loch Maree, passing under the steep cliffs of Beinn a'Mhuinidh. The cliffs that surround this mountain are formed from a great tilted slab of rock some 3km in length and this backdrop dominates the first part of the walk. A prominant waterfall nearly 100m high spouts over one of the buttresses - a fall best seen after heavy rain and from the road side of the valley. For those camped at Taagan you may prefer to ford the Kinlochewe River rather than walk to Kinlochewe to reach the far bank - saving some 6km in distance.

In Coire na SleaghaichOur Ascent

The riverside footpath passes a cemetry and gives fine views over to Beinn Eighe before crossing the Abhainn an Fhasaigh by a footbridge. It takes about an hour to reach this point from the car park and it was 10:30am as we crossed the swollen river by the wooden bridge. The main path continues along the shores of Loch Maree to Letterewe, but a second path turns north east to follow the valley Gleann Bianasdail through to Lochan Fada. This signifies the start of the climb and after a few hundred metres a rough path branches off and climbs steeply beside the streams to reach the col west of Meall Each. This was the first climb of the holiday and it was wet and boggy underfoot - it seemed to take an age to reach the ridge but when we checked the map we realised it was a climb of over 1500ft in about 1km. Wild goats roam this area of the mountains and we saw a group of them high up on the hillside. The views over Beinn Eighe opened up as height was gained and although the skies were overcast most of the tops were clear.

View down the south ridgeThe reward for the climb is claimed as you reach and turn the shoulder of Sgurr Dubh to find yourself on much easier ground at the foot of the large open Coire na Sleaghaich. The long high ridge to Sgurr an Tuill Bhain is on the far side - it can be reached up grassy slopes - with the large solid block of the true summit standing defiantly at the head of the corrie just over a kilometre away. The summit plateau can clearly gained by turning the cliffs on the right, however you can also pick out a path that makes a reverse rising traverse to reach the south east ridge on your left - the path starts just above a slight lip in the corie floor ahead. The walking is much easier, if a little wet, and the rising traverse path gives quick access to the ridge next to two small lochans that are lodged high on the ridge above. The path now strikes up broken rock on a direct assault of the summit plateau - above this is a long steep grassy section that comes as a real sting in the tail before the first top of 933 metres is reached. The view now opened up with a fine retrospect down the ridge - the cliffs of Beinn a'Mhuinidh look a long way off - and a lot lower. The mountains of Beinn Eighe were now disappearing under cloud and by the time we strolled over the last few metres to the trig point, passing four deer that wandered across the path apparently oblivious of the handful of walkers that were about, we were enveloped in mist. We passed the main summit, pausing for a quick photo, to reach the more northerly top (same height) that supposedly gives the better viewpoint.

By the summit, Loch Maree behindIt was 1:45pm so we donned waterproofs and settled down for lunch as it started to rain. We could only just make out Loch Maree far below - although we were given momentary views over Lochan Fada into the wilderness of Fisherfield Forest. Both tops are sited right over the cliffs that circle the summit plateau to the north, west and south giving dramatic views down the gullys to the lochs below. By the time we had finished lunch the cloud had enveloped the entire summit and there was little point striking out along the ridge to the outlier Sgurr an Tuill Bhain. We set our compass to retrace our route of ascent clearing the cloud as we reached the two lochans on the ridge. The skies started to clear again with the Fannichs to the west enjoying some sunshine - the Beinn Eighe ranges also cleared as we descended towards Loch Maree. It had cleared sufficiently to take a dip in one of the burns before strolling gently back along the riverside path to the car park It was 6:30pm as we got changed before retiring to the Kinlochewe Hotel for a drink and supper. The top of Slioch was still shrouded in mist.


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