The Five Sisters of Kintail

Christian Aid’s 70 Munros Challenge built to a climax with two big days on either side of Glen Shiel adding a further ten summits, leaving just Ben Vorlich and Schiehallion to go to complete the total. The first of the trips to Glen Shiel was planned around a traverse of the Five Sisters; one of Scotland’s iconic ridge walks, taking in three Munros, and a further four subsidiary tops along the way.
The weather has really done it’s bit to enhance the challenge this year, with snow lying across many of our routes until well into May, and a mix of high winds and rain have put many of the days firmly at the ‘character building’ end of the scale. The Five Sisters trip was no exception, with a week long period of high pressure and calm sunny days coming to an abrupt end as we gathered in Glen Sheil, replaced by stinging showers of heavy rain driven along on gusty winds that were forecast to reach anything up to 70mph in the early part of the day.
Wendy had enticed her four brothers over from Ireland for this trip, which added a bit of good-natured sibling rivalry into the mix for the day, and there was a fair bit of lively banter going on in the car park, although it all quietened down when we set off up the unremittingly steep path up onto the main ridge. I’d usually take in the ‘Peak of the Spaniards’ as part of the 5 Sisters but on the is occasion, I opted to traverse below it to keep the group out of the wind until it had eased off a bit. We popped onto the ridge onto the narrow bealach just west of Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe, and began to make our way west along the ridge.
Conditions eased as we made our way along the ridge, the wind dying back to a blustery breeze over Sgurr na Carnach, and the rain had all but disappeared as we arrived on the summit of Sgurr Fhuaran. At the start of the day, I’d outlined the option of dropping down the NW ridge of Fhuaran if the conditions were proving troublesome, but with clearing skies and everyone drying off nicely, there was a consensus in the group to continue along the ridge to Sgurr na Moraich and enjoy the improving views. Although the northern end of the ridge is fairly low level, it offers the more  dramatic walking, with big craggy buttresses and a little mild scrambling to tackle before the ridge opens out and ends in the grassy slopes of Coire na Criche. The sun emerged as we arrived at the descent, encouraging everyone to shed layers with gusto, and unfortunately also bringing out the midges, which in turn inspired everyone to keep up a brisk pace down towards the waiting minibus and a lift back up the glen to starting point.
With everyone down and safe, it was time for Cat and I to head over to Skye for a few days to chill out and see if the weather was going to permit some fun and games in the Cuillins.