Above Glen Dessary

We recently headed west again following a working day for Neil in Fort William. Heading along Loch Arkaig in the early evening, we’d forgotten just how long the loch is and just how much of a roller-coaster the road is and it was getting towards dusk when we were only half way along the loch. Nae worries; we found a wee corner to pull off the road and a wee bit of flattish grass to pitch the tent.

Loch Arkaig

Early the following morning the lighting was wonderful and gave more great views over the loch and to the hills in Locheil Forest, Glenfinnan and out towards Morar and Knoydart.

Loch Arkaig

At the end of the road there were four cars parked on wee bits of verge and I was surprised to see anyone at all considering this was a midweek day in March. We followed the track on the north side of Glen Dessary and noted that this track is pretty smooth and would be passable by mountain bike as far as Glen Dessary House – four kilometres along the glen.

Glen Dessary

Glen Dessary

We took the right fork at the cottage which is signposted for “Sourlies Loch Nevis 4 hours” a walk I’d like to do sometime. The path here became much rougher and pretty wet. This is where we had initially though we’d camp overnight and as we walked along I eyed up a couple of likely places for next time – if they are not taken!

Glen Dessary

Upper Glen Dessary

We had originally thought we’d walk the two Munros at the head of Glen Dessary however after just the initial walk along the glen I realised I’ve not yet recovered from the Lyme disease and I knew I’d not manage such an arduous day. Instead we opted to head up the first Corbett above the glen, Sgurr Cos na Breachd-laoidh, and traverse the wee horseshoe over the top, Druim a Chuirn.

About 2km after Upper Glen Dessary we left the path and struck off uphill following the burn between Sgurr Cos na B-L and Sgur Coireachan. We headed up the south-westerly ridge which gave good walking on grass and short heather, with a few rocky outcrops to negotiate. There are two wee lochans just below the summit and after checking one top just to make sure that one was not the summit we stopped beside the lochan for a bite to eat before striking for the summit at 835m.

Sgurr Cos na Breach-laoidh

Sgurr Cos na Breach-laoidh

The summit cairn

Sgurr Cos na Breach-laoidh

From here the ridge above the corrie to the other Corbett top was clearly visible as was a line of old metal fence posts.

Sgurr Cos na Breach-laoidh

Sgurr Cos na Breach-laoidh

By now the weather had changed a bit and up here in the wind it was now quite cold. The distant views were still hazy as they had been all morning, but it was still a stunning location. Looking north-east we could see Glen Kingle and the hills above Loch Quoich and beyond to Glen Sheil.

Sgurr Cos na Breach-laoidh

The summit of Druim a Chuirn was not obvious and again it was a case of standing on the top of several high points and checking the altitude with the GPS! We found it eventually. Just before this top we passed the only other person we saw all day, an Irish woman who was carrying full backpacking gear and who was doing the route in the opposite direction to us, then going to be heading down to the bothy, I wasn’t quite sure which bothy she was heading for, but she looked very fit as she was left us going at a cracking pace.

The descent from this top was fairly easy going and simply a matter of picking a route between the rocky outcrops.

Descent from Druim a' Chuirn

We headed to the Alt na Feith where we picked up the path that runs between Glen Dessary and Glen Kingle. It does not appear to be a very well used path – except by deer, judging by the number of deer tracks churning up the ground. Just before Glen Dessary house the path becomes a stalkers quadbike/argocat track

Descent from Druim a' Chuirn

Retuning to Glen Dessary track

It was a relief for my knees to get back to the level track and I really enjoyed the easy romp along the glen back to the public road.

Glen Dessary track

Back at the loch side we saw more red deer stag who totally ignored us.

Loch Arkaig

Enjoy more photos here

23 comments on “Above Glen Dessary

  1. Looks like a pretty good effort for someone who is recuperating! Looks like a great hill too. Spent the New Year at A Chuil bothy once. I don’t know whether we did this particular hill. What stick’s in my mind: the horrible journey in the back of a Peugeot 205 driven by a maniac down the Loch Arkaig road (no doubt he’ll be here to defend himself before too long), a mammoth Munro bagging day, a very odd chap who joined us in the bothy, and, the highlight for me, Sgurr na h-Aide at the end of the valley.

  2. The Loch Arkaig road is quite notorious, have yet to travel its full length!
    Have only visted Glen Dessary the once on a backpacking trip from Glenfinnan through to Knoydart, such a wonderful area. Hope to head back sometime picking off a few of the Corbetts. Some fine ridge walking to be enjoyed by the looks of things.

  3. What a wonderful walk. Hope you’re feeling better! I have to say I don’t ever remember it being just that warm in March before. When Austin & I met for our walk a week last Sunday you could see our breath hanging in the chill air, but by the time we were even ten minutes into our walk it was warming up, and, as you say, the light was just marvelous! Thanks for sharing this one!

    • Aye, Linda, the previous night when camping by the loch the temperature fell to about 1°C. It was another wonderful clear night and magnificent for star gazing,.

      It was probably about 30176C when we set off in the sunshine, rising to 10 on the summit, but warmer when we returned to the glen in the afternoon.

  4. Looks like a cracking day out. Love the signpost with all the routes you can do – very inviting to head off with a backpack!

    • That sign made me aware of a couple of routes that I hadn’t known/thought about before and we are definitely going to return to backpack some of the old routes.

    • It was wonderful. No, we don’t do every weekend, but try to go out when we can. I am out of work as my summer seasonal post has not been renewed and Neil was made redundant last year too. He is partly retired (early) and partly doing some freelance work.

  5. Hi Sheila.
    Beautiful reflection photo on the loch.Sheep ticks are something I always think about these days when in the mountains as I always seem to get a fair few after every summer trip.Had 70 odd from the Islay trip last year alone but it was so hot shorts seemed a good idea at the time.Its a worry though.I know 3 folk now who have had Lyme disease and the removerers on sale are not much cop for the tiny ones.
    Looked a cracking trip in fine conditions.

    • Oh, over 70 ticks. It’s enough to almost put me off going to Islay. The last time I visited the island I didn’t get any; mind you I was mainly exploring the shore and living on board Silurian, the research and eduction yacht of the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust.

      The tick removers are all hopeless at removing the small ticks, although the tick twister type is a little better than others.

  6. That looked a fantastic walk amongst some great scenery. People are always drawn to the Munros beyond Loch Arkaig but those Corbetts also look superb hills. Great pictures and story!

  7. These are great hills Sheila. I’ve done most of the hills around Glen Dessary and all the munros and corbetts are top drawer. The walk into Sourlies is also excellent through a superb rocky valley and there is a cracking wild camp spot at the head of Loch Nevis. A few photos on my Flickr site here:

  8. Great photos. My McPhee ancestors lived throughout this area from time immemorial. I will be touring Glendessary in August 2013. I am curious to know how accesible it is to go from there to Glenkingie. I thought your route up Coire nan Uth between Sgurr nan Coireachan and Sgurr Cos na Breachd-laoidh was the most direct. There must be a pass right there. How navigatable is it?

    • Hi Cecil, yes, there is an obvious pass between these two hills. We started by following the burn that flows from Coire nan Uth, then we branched off to go up the shoulder of Sgurr Cos nan Breachd-laoidhe). From the summit we could see down into Glen Kingie and it looked straighforward to navigate. Later in the day we passed a woman who had backpacked through from Glen Kingie, although she was walking over the two hills we did.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s