Ceannacroc Circuit

Ceannacroc Circuit

Hike and bike route up Sail Chaorainn, Aonach Shasuinn and Carn a' Choire Ghairbh

East of Loch Cluanie, a track heads from the old Ceannacroc Bridge into the wilds, from where some Munros, a couple of Corbetts and a few Munro Tops can be linked in a remarkable high-level hike.



Route outline


Munros

Sail Chaorainn

Corbetts

Aonach Shasuinn, 

Carn a' Choire Ghairbh

Walk ascent 1300m (4260ft)
         distance 19km (12m)
         time 6:55hr
Bike ascent 180m (590ft)
         distance 15km (9m)
         time 1:15hr
Start/finish Ceannacroc Lodge
Grid Ref : NH226105
Terrain
easy hard
Nav
easy hard
Effort
easy hard
Scenery
ok fab


Ceannacroc forest lies between Glen Affric and Glen Shiel and is encircled by a ring of Munro and Corbett peaks waiting to be bagged on a wonderful high-level hillwalk.

In the glens, estate tracks enable bikes to reach to the heart of this wilderness where hydro schemes have tamed the area. One of the tracks continues up the length of Gleann Fada to Bealach an Amais - an excellent 'escape route' should weather turn foul. Higher up, most of the ground is grass covered, with some areas of stoney ground needing crossed. Paths are few and far between.



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Route description


1. Getting to Ceannacroc Lodge

Heading in by Ceannacroc Lodge

Heading in by Ceannacroc Lodge

The A87 travels from the A82 at Invergarry in the Great Glen towards Kintail and eventually on to the Isle of Skye.

As the road climbs westwards from Invergarry then drops northwards through Glen Loyne down to Glen Moriston, it meets with the A887 approaching from Invermoriston on Loch Ness.

Around 2km east of this junction, the road crosses the River Moriston, by which is the entrance to Ceannacroc Power Station and Ceannacroc Estate. Old Ceannacroc Bridge just downstream of this, hidden in forestry. There is room to park two or three cars by the bridge without causing any obstruction.


2. Aonach Shasuinn

Looking up the River Doe

Looking up the River Doe

Leaving Old Ceannacroc Bridge behind, cycle up the tarred road heading into Ceannacroc Estate. Cycle past Ceannacroc Lodge and its associated buildings and outhouses. A couple of houses are passed, one on your left, then another on the right, immediately after which the road becomes rougher and splits by a wooden shed - take the right fork.

Through a gate,continue cycling up the track for a further 6km as it hugs the southern bank of the River Doe, heading through woodland to open moorland. The track comes to a couple of buildings by some hydro-works - leave your bike here.

Behind the buildings, the track splits - now on foot, take the right fork aiming north-west (the route returns by the left fork). Around 300m further on, the track splits again - keep to the right, head over a bridge and carry on up the track as it follows the west bank of the Allt a' Ghlinne Fhada for 1km to more hydro works.

Cross over the river onto its east bank, aim over wet rush grass, then directly uphill eastwards on heathery slopes. After ascending slopes of around 300m, more level ground is reached which leads onto the summit of Carn a' Choire Bhuidhe at 847m.

Leaving Carn a' Choire Bhuidhe behind, follow hill crests north-westwards over grass covered ground interspersed with some boulderfields to gain Aonach Shasuinn's summit with its cairn and remains of a small shelter.

Shelter just east of Aonach Shasuinn's summit

Shelter just east of Aonach Shasuinn's summit

(The hydro works over the River Doe were not built at the time of my visit, and the route I took was a direct climb up Carn a' Choire Bhuidhe from a bridge that stood where the two buildings now stand by the fork in the track)

Shelter just east of Aonach Shasuinn's summit

Shelter just east of Aonach Shasuinn's summit


3. Carn a' Choire Ghairbh

Carn a' Choire Ghairbh from Aonach Shasuinn

Carn a' Choire Ghairbh from Aonach Shasuinn

From Aonach Shasuinn's main summit, head west over a delightfully grass-covered crest then some stoney ground to a cairn on Aonach Shasuinn's western summit . Continue westwards and drop down a grass-covered slope to Bealach an Amais. The head of the track coming up from the hydro works by the River Doe reaches this bealach - handy for an 'escape route' if needed !

Looking west from Bealach an Amais, the shoulder of An Elric rises on the left. Just to the north of this crest, a faint path can just about be made out climbing and heading westwards. Follow this path as it rises slightly then contours on An Elric's grass-covered north-facing slopes.

The path aims for the bealach, Cadha Riabhach, to the south of Carn a' Choire Ghairbh - I left the path around 1km east of this bealach and dropped down to the Allt Garbh , then clambered up Carn a' Choire Ghairbh's south-facing grassy slopes, picking up a line of tall old iron fence-posts higher up.

On Carn a' Choire Ghairbh's summit looking back to Aonach Shasuinn

On Carn a' Choire Ghairbh's summit looking back to Aonach Shasuinn

Following the fence-posts, a large cairn is met around 200m south of Carn a' Choire Ghairbh's summit, followed by a smaller cairn sitting on rocky ground marking the Corbett's highest point - a fine place to take in magnificent views of the surrounding higher peaks.

On Carn a' Choire Ghairbh's summit looking back to Aonach Shasuinn

On Carn a' Choire Ghairbh's summit looking back to Aonach Shasuinn


4. Sail Chaorainn

Tigh Mor na Seilge and Carn na Coire Mheadhoin from Carn a' Choire Ghairbh

Tigh Mor na Seilge and Carn na Coire Mheadhoin from Carn a' Choire Ghairbh

On Carn a' Choire Ghairbh's summit, about turn and re-trace your steps to the large cairn . Continue following the line of old iron fence-posts south-west to the grassy bealach Cadha Riabhach .

Turning south-east, a moderately gentle climb up pathless grass covered slopes leads onto Carn a' Choire Ghuirm. Beyond this minor bump, fairly level ground is crossed, some of it soggy and of peat-hags, followed by another gentle climb up onto the crest of Tigh Mor na Seilge . A faint path is picked up as Tigh Mor na Seilge's crest turns south-west towards the base of Carn na Coire Mheadhoin.

Climbing up more grass leads to a stone and boulder covered crest, with the path disappearing as quickly as it arrived. Higher up, gradient easies as terrain becomes more pleasant underfoot and the cairn on Carn na Coire Mheadhoin , a 'Munro Top' is reached.

On Sail Chaorainn looking back to Carn na Coire Mheadhoin

On Sail Chaorainn looking back to Carn na Coire Mheadhoin

There is a small drop between Carn na Coire Mheadhoin and Sail Chaorainn, with a fairly obvious path between the two summits. However, if in mist and particularly in winter conditions, a bit of care is needed on the initial steep and rocky drop south from Carn na Coire Mheadhoin. The flat grass-covered top of Sail Chaorainn is traversed with the summit marked by a small cairn sitting on some lines of rock.

On Sail Chaorainn looking back to Carn na Coire Mheadhoin

On Sail Chaorainn looking back to Carn na Coire Mheadhoin


5. Return to Ceannacroc Lodge

Aonach Shasuinn from Sail Chaorainn

Aonach Shasuinn from Sail Chaorainn

My intention was to continue onwards to Sgurr nan Conbhairean then Carn Ghluasaid and descend to Allt Coire Sgreumh via Bealach na h- Aon-luirg. However, with light fading fast on late afternoon in mid-December, I abandoned this idea and made the decision to shorten my route . . .

From Sail Chaorainn head southwards along the wide, flat summit plateau to reach the rim of Coire nan Lochan Uaine. Turn left and follow the coire's edge down Sail Chaorainn's south-eastern shoulder and up the rise of Carn a' Mhadaidh-ruaidh . North-east next over grass to the top of Coire Liath followed ideally by a traverse of An Reithe - I just needed to get onto the track by the Allt Coire Sgreumh before the last of the day's light disappeared, so descended directly from Coire Liath, which was fine, if rather tough going through deep heather lower down.

Last of day's light, looking back up Sgurr nan Conbhairean

Last of day's light, looking back up Sgurr nan Conbhairean

Back on the track above the Allt Coire Sgreumh, return to your bike by the hydro works and return to Ceannacroc Bridge.

Last of day's light, looking back up Sgurr nan Conbhairean

Last of day's light, looking back up Sgurr nan Conbhairean





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The route is shown in entirety on the Harvey Ultra and OS Landranger 34 maps, but overlaps over two maps in the OS Explorer series.

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Alternative and nearby routes »


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