The Saddle & Sgùrr na Shine via The Forcan Ridge

Todays adventure would hopefully see us summit two Munro’s including the magnificent Saddle, some say, one of the finest mountains in all of Scotland.

There is a variation to this hike which avoids The Forcan Ridge but we had decided it simply had to be done.  It is said to be one of the airiest scrambles in the Highlands, with a knifelike ridge leading to the summit of The Saddle!

The Forcan Ridge 🙏

The day had started off wet and cloudy but the weather forecast predicted things would improve as the day went on so we started off late just in time for the rain to stop and off we went.  We parked the car in a layby and began our ascent. 

From here you cannot actually see the Munros we were about to summit as they are hidden behind some of the other mountains that surrounded us.

It didn’t take us long to get high above the valley and we were already getting decent views of the mountains, including The Five Sisters across the valley. 

Views down and across the valley

We continued to climb upwards and reached the summit of Meallan Odhar and as we rounded a corner we were able to look across to the next part of our journey – The Forcan Ridge – and it looked impressive and interesting.

The Forcan Ridge – the dark jagged grey points

We reached the point where the decision had to be made.  We could take the ‘easier’ route by turning left taking the trail which contours around the slope of the mountain missing the ridge walk altogether but you can still summit The Saddle or we could turn right heading up the more difficult route.  I think by this stage the decision had already been made (by Andy) and we were rather quickly, steeply climbing up to the ridge after turning right! 

The ascent up was actually pretty challenging to begin with and by challenging I mean if you have ‘smaller legs’ although I would like to state at this point that I would actually go as far as to say I have pretty longish legs compared to some just not as long as the average man I guess then foot holds were pretty limited and I had to contort my body in all shapes just to reach some of these!  At this stage I must admit I did think ok I have only just begun and already I am experiencing this what’s the rest going to be like…but I kept these thoughts to myself and continued upwards!

The rock scrambling at sections over steep and rugged terrain were challenging enough to keep things interesting, if you enjoy scrambling then you will enjoy this. 

The exposed ridge certainly requires a head for heights, which I don’t actually have if I’m being honest and never feel 100% comfortable when I have several hundred metre drops to the side of me whereby if I fell, there was no point of return…but I continued to scramble my way further along the route with things continuing to lead more uphill. 

At some points of the ridge it was pretty wide to relax a bit and not be alarmed and in general the rocks we were scrambling over were fairly firm and only the occasional rock was loose.  There was also plenty of excellent hand and footholds here and the views continued to get only even more spectacular.

Then on looking ahead you could see how steeply and narrow the ridge rises up. 

Can you spot us?

We continued scrambling around airy corners, over slabs of rocks, tipped on their edges until we had reached the Saddle itself.

The scrambling had went on far longer than I expected but it had been pretty amazing. 

The best bit about it was there was no-one in front of us and no-one behind so we could be as fast or as slow as we wanted, with no pressures. 

We are up there somewhere 👀

On looking downwards we did however see a guy with a dog and another couple summiting the Munro from the other route.

The views from the trig point on the summit were amazing.  We stood simply taking it all in as-well as looking back at what we had just undertook and it looked absolutely amazing.

Trig point view – The Saddle

It was time to make our next move.  The descent down from here was loose, steep and tricky at points and it seemed to go and on, this would have been the avoidance route if you didn’t want to undertake The Forcan Ridge. 

Once we had made our way off the slippery terrain we were heading across a wide bealach to summit our next Munro of the day, Sgurr na Sgine.

We knew at this point we had to be quick as we still had a long way to go and it was already 8pm!  This looked more of a lumpy hill so an easier and quicker summit hopefully. 

We passed a small lochan before climbing some steep grassy slopes then we were on to a ridge between Faochag and Sgurr na Sgine.   

We had some more amazing views from here over to the Five Sisters and The Forcan Ridge view from this point was immense. 

Here we had two options.  The first was to turn left and head off the mountain back to the car the second was to turn right at the top of the ridge to summit the Sgùrr na Sgine, which we chose.

Following a good enough track we had a final ascent up a steep slope to the summit plateau, with the summit being at the furthest away point, typically!

Summit of Sgùrr na Sgine

Once we reached here again views were amazing.  We saw all the way across to Knoydart, from Skye to Torridon and across to Ben Nevis. 

The sky was starting to turn tones of pinks, yellows and orange as the sun was beginning to set which reminded us we needed to make our way back down…we had a long way to go and the sun was setting!!!

We quickly made our way back to the spot where we could have turned left previously to get off the mountain and then from here we continued across the top of the ridge where the trail ends at Faochag. 

Faochag

Although we knew we were tight for time we could not rush this walk as the sights were so beautiful. 

The sun was setting in the sky and the colours all around were beautiful, it couldn’t have been any better.

Eventually we were on to a strenuous descent which felt like it went on forever. I must say this felt like one of the steepest, longest descents I’ve ever done…well apart from Mt. Elbrus but that’s a whole different story altogether…but I guess puts things in to perspective and makes you more resilient.

Darkness approached and we continued to descend with head torches on, it felt endless and obviously got slower the darker it got until eventually it was pitch black.  It never let up!

At the bottom we hit a boggy spot but by this stage wet feet was the least of our worries so we trudged ahead through inescapable bogs.  We did manage to find the bridge (hallelujah), to cross the river which was a bonus then continued the trail which took us to the road where our car was parked.

It was 11.30pm. 

What a day this had been, long and hard but our views had been rewarding and we had undertook The Famous Forcan Ridge, I’ll sleep tonight!

Check out the video below 😍😃

One Comment Add yours

  1. You do like to live dangerously Mary🤭😱 great scenery though. Xx

    Like

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