Knoydart - Sgurr Mor to Sgurr Na Ciche

8th August 1987

Never before had I seen this rugged and uninhabited part of the Scottish Highlands; Knoydart fulfils the desire to find a place where man has made little impression.

On the Friday night our tents were eventually pitched beside an old deserted tin house near Strathan Farm, at the head of Loch Arkaig.
The 'tin house' near Strathan
Myself, Paul, John and Stephen and new member Colin, slept soundly after a tiring drive from Glasgow. Originally we had made the mistake of driving as far as upper Glendessary until an angry farmer and the great Scottish midges chased us back to Strathan. The midges also slept soundly and were hovering about in the early morning sunshine, waiting for their breakfast to emerge form the tents. Colin being the first morsel.

We met the others, who had camped down the road a little from us, after breakfast, and we decided to do the Sgurr Mor - Sgurr na Ciche ridge. It would be a long day; an estimate of 7 o’clock on the top of Sgurr na Ciche with a three hour walk back to the tents puts the outing into perspective.

The weather was perfect, the walk through to Glen Kingie warming us up for the slog up to the col and onto Sgurr Mor. Then it all lay below us, a friendly gesture of greeting.
The ridge at last!
With a warm sun and cotton wool clouds giving a peaceful and relaxing feeling that only a day in the hills seems to bring, the day ahead touched the horizon as we dropped down to Sgurr Beag.
Sgurr na Ciche - our destination
We continued along the ridge until we reached Sgurr nan Coireachan where the party split up, the ones who had had enough headed back for a long walk to the tents.
The 'rough bounds' of Knoydart
Some clouds floated around us, golden from the rays of the warm afternoon sun. We took a bite to eat and started off toward Garbh Chioch Mhor. It took ages to walk this part of the ridge, or maybe it was just because I was feeling tired and couldn’t concentrate on time.

We rested our weary and hungry bodies near the summit; I lay back against a huge piece of flat rock and closed my eyes. Taking deep breaths, I listened to the slow wind and the others chatting away while sorting out the food rations. As usual Paul had no emergency grub and had to be subsidised!

From the summit of Garbh Cioch Mhor we could look out to splendid views past Loch Nevis and could clearly make out the Island of Eigg, floating on a hazy shimmering sea.
Garbh Cioch Mhor with Island of Eigg in the distance
Following a small stone wall, we headed for Sgurr na Ciche; the sun baked down on us and as I had run out of water, I could hardly wait to reach the stream running from Sgurr na Ciche to the col. We eventually reached the col, deposited our rucksacks and after a drink and a bar of chocolate, scurried up to the summit of Sgurr na Ciche.
Sgurr na Ciche summit - 7pm

Loch Hourn peeped out through scattered white clouds below us. It was a great feeling of achievement just standing there looking at where we had come from (which reminded us how far we had to walk back).
View back along the ridge to Sgurr Mor
We sat at the col and sorted something to eat. I still had loads of food left to sustain me back to the tents. Paul was the only one who had not a thing left. (Roni gave him a salad roll which he gobbled before heading down).

It was a long walk now in darkness back to the tents. For a while we walked in silence before starting a sing-song to keep our minds off the miles. We arrived back at the tents after eleven o’clock in the evening and cooked our well-earned dinner and drifted off to sleep……..

David Lockhart.

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