"A well-engineered stalkers path leads upwards to the bealach........."
I used to ask Angela Ryan whether she had met the "well-engineered stoker" and if she approved....... ANYWAY, putting that to one side, Ralph Storer's stock phrase is particularly true at the bottom of Glen Shiel, where a pony trail keeps an even gradient for 1500 feet from the valley floor almost at sea level.
Brian Harrington and Baljit Kumar had been pre-occupied with the Skye Ridge this summer (there are even rumours of a Report) so for a mainland trip I'd suggested this old friend, the Forcan Ridge of The Saddle.
From the place where the well-engineered stalker finished his path, the ridge sweeps up almost another 2000 feet altogether, across the top of Sgurr nan Forcan and on to the summit.
Sometimes its a couple of metres wide, and presents a short wall to scramble up, or a wee gendarme to turn.
Often it narrows to a blade of rock. (There's also an escape path down on the north side however).
The scrambling is just excellent, with some sensational positions, though never too hard.
And its a decent length, taking about 2 hours in total from the bealach to the summit.
"Na zdravi" said Adam, who had only arrived in York from the Czech Republic on Sunday, got himself down to the Fox on Thursday, and did his first Munro on Saturday. Pleasantly surprised by Scotland's mountains (on a day of glorious sunshine and no wind !!!!) he was happy enough to get across to a second Munro at Sgurr na Sgine, and of course we finished in the traditional way down the steep nose of Faochag.
A few pints later, Brian cooked us all a meal and then competently directed further operations from the sofa at Corpach.
Well the weather forecast turned right round ! It was obviously only right and proper for Adam to know that Scottish weather isn't always so relaxing.
We motored east on Sunday morning to Aviemore, and began to think we had outrun the front as we began the stony lower reaches of the Fiacaill Ridge (Fiacaill Coire an t'Sneachda) in fair sunshine.
However cloud soon brushed the hills. We just got to the blocky scramble at the top and "wham" the fog rolled in and it began to rain. Clambering out onto the plateau, visibility was about 25 metres.
I worked round the edge of Coire Sneachda along familiar landmarks in the mist. We stopped for a sandwich, but the rain persisted, so no trip down to Hell's Lum then.
Ach, well, its good to have variety. We settled for a variety of coffees at the ski centre once we got down, followed by a variety of scotch pies at Ballinluig. A good Sunday tea, and a great scramble in Glen Shiel. Cheers ! .... or from Adam, Na Zdravi !!