Ardgour, south of Loch Shiel

Northern Ardgour Corbetts

Hillwalking route in Ardgour up the Corbetts south of Loch Shiel

South of Glenfinnan, an estate track leads to the base of a rugged ridge encircling the head of Cona Glen on which stands three remote Corbett peaks.



Route outline


Corbetts

Sgurr Ghiubhsachain, 

Sgorr Craobh a' Chaorainn, 

Stob a' Bhealach an Sgriodain (Druim Tarsuinn)

Ascent 1580m (5180ft)
Distance 23km (14m)
Time 8:25hr
Start/finish Callop River, Glenfinnan
Grid Ref : NM924792
Terrain
easy hard
Nav
easy hard
Effort
easy hard
Scenery
ok fab


Heading south from Glenfinnan, defined mountain crests are followed on a route taking in three rugged Corbett peaks encircling the head of Cona Glen. Navigation is fairly straightforward, made even easier over the section from Sgurr Ghiubhsachain to Stob a' Bhealach an Sgriodain by following lines of fence-posts. A few surprises are encountered on the route, with rocky crags thwarting some direct route planning.



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Route description


1. Getting to Callop River by Glenfinnan

Car park by Callop River

Car park by Callop River

From Fort William, head westwards along the A830 through Caol and Corpach to Kinlocheil by the head of Loch Eil, then pass the junction for the A861 and continue onwards for a couple more miles.

Shortly after passing through a narrow opening under a bridge for the West Highland Railway Line, look for an opening on your left. There are no sign posts, but most likely a bin or two will be standing by this junction.

From this junction, head down an estate road to cross a bridge over the River Callop, then turn immediately right to find a small shaded riverside parking area. There is room for around 5 vehicles to park here, with a bit more space just by a barrier across a track that aims towards Loch Shiel.


2. Sgorr Craobh a' Chaorainn

Meall na Cuartaige and Sgorr Craobh a' Chaorainn from Callop

Meall na Cuartaige and Sgorr Craobh a' Chaorainn from Callop

From the car-park, head back to the track by the bridge, turn southwards (right) and pass a sign indicating private road. Follow the road as it heads towards the buildings at Callop .

When approaching the first of the buildings, a small hydro pump house, turn right, then turn left under the farmhouse and its outbuildings, with the road degrading to a track.

Follow the track southwards for around 2km as it climbs, passes by some woodland and forestry, then splits just before reaching a small dam and hydro scheme on the Allt na Cruaich.

Take the fork on the right (there was a small sign with 'Hill walkers - Callop to Glen Cona hill path' and a big arrow on my last visit), climb the track briefly uphill and head through a gate in a deer-fence. Behind the gate, the track comes to an abrupt end, with a worn path taking over. Through heather, the path crosses the Allt Coire na Leacaich and becomes increasingly soggy as it climbs up to another gate in a deer-fence.

Beyond this gate, the path climbs quite steeply up 50m or so before levelling out as it turns a corner . Leave the path and climb up densely grass-covered crest ahead, Sron Feith nan Con. Higher up, the cairn on the minor summit of Meall na Cuartaige is met, with a fine view of Sgorr Craobh a' Chaorainn ahead.

On more grass-covered ground, lose a little height and drop to a wide col with a lochan. There is no path to follow on rise up Sgorr Craobh a' Chaorainn's north-eastern shoulder, but the route is quite obvious following a grass-covered gap between rocky slabs and outcrops.

On Meall na Cuartaige looking to Sgorr Craobh a' Chaorainn

On Meall na Cuartaige looking to Sgorr Craobh a' Chaorainn

There is a sizeable cairn of boulders on Sgorr Craobh a' Chaorainn's summit and on my last visit, a tiny little Rowan sappling was making the most of the sunshine.

On Meall na Cuartaige looking to Sgorr Craobh a' Chaorainn

On Meall na Cuartaige looking to Sgorr Craobh a' Chaorainn


3. Sgurr Ghiubhsachain

The rocky western side of Sgorr Craobh a' Chaorainn

The rocky western side of Sgorr Craobh a' Chaorainn

From Sgorr Craobh a' Chaorainn's summit, if weather is clear, Sgurr Ghiubhsachain can be seen directly ahead and hillwalkers will most likely leave the cairn making a beeline for it. However, doing this leads very quickly to a steep rocky drop without an obvious way down !

If you fancy a scramble, then a faint path leads to the edge, where with care, a route can be wiggled down. Alternatively, a detour can be made by aiming south-east from the summit and following grass under the rocks. Both these routes converge by a lochan, in which the rocky western face of Sgorr Craobh a' Chaorainn's summit is reflected.

Now on Sgorr Craobh a' Chaorainn's south-western, undulating and grass-covered shoulder, trace its crest for 1km to a bealach with another lochan .

Ahead, the route up to Sgurr Ghiubhsachain looks fine, though the spur radiating northwards from the hill's summit looks slightly intimidating. So instead of aiming directly for Sgurr Ghiubhsachain's summit, I hiked under the crags of its southern face, to then climb up a grassy bank to reach its crest around 200m west of its top. This left a short pleasant walk to reach the summit .

Sgurr Ghiubhsachain from the bealach between it and Sgorr Craobh a' Chaorainn

Sgurr Ghiubhsachain from the bealach between it and Sgorr Craobh a' Chaorainn

A very large cairn stands on Sgurr Ghiubhsachain's summit from where very fine views can be had in all directions.

Sgurr Ghiubhsachain from the bealach between it and Sgorr Craobh a' Chaorainn

Sgurr Ghiubhsachain from the bealach between it and Sgorr Craobh a' Chaorainn


4. Druim Tarsuinn and Stob a' Bhealach an Sgriodain

On Sgurr Ghiubhsachain's summit looking back to Sgorr Craobh a' Chaorainn

On Sgurr Ghiubhsachain's summit looking back to Sgorr Craobh a' Chaorainn

The route continues westwards, descending gradually along the wide crest of Sgurr Ghiubhsachain, grass-covered and undulating. Any rocky sections are easily by-passed before the ground begins to rise towards Meall nan Creag Leac .

Climbing up Meall nan Creag Leac, a line of old iron fence-posts is met and followed southwards (or as I did, to avoid unnecessary ascent, short-cut directly downhill) to drop to Bealach Scamodale .

Following the line of posts, this peat and grass-covered col is crossed and the climb up Druim Tarsuinn begins, initially up a wide trough. Another line of posts approaches from the west and thereafter the two lines of fence-posts seem to compete for the best line up the crest ahead.

Fence line on the way up Stob a' Bhealach an Sgriodain

Fence line on the way up Stob a' Bhealach an Sgriodain

Travelling over grass and across slabs of rock, the fence-posts reach a minor summit then drop to Bealach an Sgriodain. The route then traces a grassy line between rocks up Stob a' Bhealach an Sgriodain's north-western crest and to its summit , where a small cairn rests.

Fence line on the way up Stob a' Bhealach an Sgriodain

Fence line on the way up Stob a' Bhealach an Sgriodain


5. Return through Glen Callop

At the top of the Eag a' Mhadaidh Ruaidh

At the top of the Eag a' Mhadaidh Ruaidh

Leave the little cairn on Stob a' Bhealach an Sgriodain behind and continue to follow the fence-posts eastwards over more grass-covered undulating crests for around 1km.

As the line of fence-posts begin to head uphill towards Meall Mor, the top of the Eag a' Mhadaidh is met, a wide grassy trough descending north-eastwards . Keeping to the southern bank of a burn that descends this, drop down into Cona Glen.

Below, the edge of a forest plantation is walked around, shortly thereafter reaching the banks of Cona River . If not in spate, the river should be straightforward to cross.

Looking back along the path in Feith nan Con to Druim Tarsuinn

Looking back along the path in Feith nan Con to Druim Tarsuinn

Above the northern bank of Cona River, a short climb uphill through thick grass converges with a track approaching from the east which reaches its highest point by a cairn . Beyond the cairn, a rough path heads north-eastwards, giving a fine hike of 3km through Feith nan Con to return to the point the path was left earlier , from where steps are retraced back to Callop.

Looking back along the path in Feith nan Con to Druim Tarsuinn

Looking back along the path in Feith nan Con to Druim Tarsuinn





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