Aonach Eagach, the narrowest ridge on the British mainland

Good things come to those who wait!

I was both excited and nervous for this challenging ridge, mainly because I had never tried exposed scrambling before and this was 6 miles of it! We parked at a small car park 300m west of Allt-na-reigh on the A82. The ascent to Am Bodach was a very steep but quick path up the spur.

“Good things come to those who wait.” Was the moral learned on this hike. As we approached Am Bodach we met climbers on their descent who said they had waited 15 minutes for the mist to clear but no joy.

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We got to the top and it didn’t take long for the epic ‘Chancellor’ to come into view. This rocky pinnacle definitely tested the water for my fear of heights/falling.

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This was my first real scramble and the whole walk was a playground of ups and downs. I absolutely loved it. Back climbing was the hardest part because the feeling of turning around on top of a cliff is so unnatural, but it is by far the safest and most easiest way. If you ‘bum shuffle’ there are all different kinds of risks; like getting your bag caught. The first real scrambling comes on the descent from Am Bodach. It is clear to see how difficult this would be if it was wet but with hardly any rain the week before we had perfect scrambling conditions.

The ridge becomes narrower until Meall Dearg (953 m) is reached. This was the last Munro to be climbed by Reverend A.E. Robertson, who became the first man to complete the Munros back in 1901. Here the views of the surrounding range are incredible and the ridge ahead is a frightening prospect.

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From here there are many ups and downs on incredibly narrow paths.

The crazy pinnacles is famed to be the most fearsome part of the ridge and I could definitely see why. With such a narrow crossing and 1000m drops on either side, you did not want to make a wrong step. But at no point did I feel unsafe, as long as the concentration is maintained.

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From Stob Coire Leith the ridge continues easily with a broad path to the second Munro, Sgorrnam Fiannaidh (967 m). This ridge walk for me gave the most epic views. All the cloud had lifted and there was a panorama of peaks. Even Ben Nevis has its head out of the clouds for once.

 From the final summit we head west along the ridge.

We passed scramblers heading down a scree slope to the left but we turned left at a small cairn which was a path leading to the Clachaig Gully, which I was very unsure about because of Walkhighlands statement –

‘Do not attempt the descent along the rim of Clachaig Gully, which has an extremely eroded and very dangerous ‘path’, the scene of several fatalities (as well as the danger of sending stones down which could endanger the lives of others).’

But Mark had done it twice before and was certainly right when he said it wasn’t that bad. The danger is ending up in the gully itself but if you stick to the path you do not feel unsafe. It is however very hard going on your knees and the scree makes not sliding a terrific challenge.

“The best form of walking is fell walking and the best part of fell walking is ridge walking.”

A Coast to Coast Walk


Munros: Meall Dearg and Sgorr nam Fiannaidh (Aonach Eagach)
Distance 9.5km / 6 miles
Time 6 – 9 hours
Ascent 1100m 
Start Grid Ref NN174567


Photos curtesy of Pauline and Mark – Thank you for an epic day!

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