The Ring of Steall
Area: Fort William to Loch Treig and Loch Leven
Munros included on this walk: Am Bodach, An Gearanach, Sgurr a’Mhaim, Stob Coire a’Chairn
Date walked: 02/07/2011
Time taken: 6 hours
Distance: 16 km
For this weekend Ben Avon in the Cairngorms was my target however with the approaching weekend it was clear the weather was turning for the better and therefore I decided to do The Ring of Steal instead. This walk is best left for a sunny day and I wasn’t to be disappointed.
After an early start I arrived at the lower falls car park, paid my £3 parking fee, and was on my way walking at 0725. Now the usual route starts from Steall Falls and finishes coming down the steep 1050m descent from Sgurr a Mhaim. However I did not fancy that steep descent on my dodgy knees so I decided to go the reverse way around the route attacking Sgurr a Mhaim directly. This approach is not for the faint hearted or the unfit as it is a long and testing ascent.
After a good 1hr 40 mins I arrived at the summit of the first Munro, Sgurr a Mhaim. The sun was out and it was warm. There was very little wind and the views were impressive. With the Aonach Eaghach and the Beauchailles to the South, Beinn a’Bheithir to the South West, Ben Nevis the Aonachs and the Grey Corries to the North and North East and Binnein Bheag and Binnein Mor, Sgurr Eide Mor and Na Gruagaichean to the East. Fantastic views. Words escape me. Lovely view to Stob Ban also. I stop for a good break to recover from the ascent.
Its now onwards down and along the Devils Ridge. This was my first time along here and it’s an easy grassy ridge with a good path all the way along with only a couple of slabs/rocks to either clamber over or go around. In fact it’s similar to the ridge on the approach to Mullach Fraoch-choire only easier. Looks impressive though and would be a challenge in the snow/ice or strong winds. The walk takes you up and over Stob Choire a Mhail and Sgur an Lubhar then on to Am Bodach. After the devils ridge the rest of the higher paths consist of steep ascents and descents over rocky scree ridden terrain. Not much fun on the knees hahaha. I am soon on Am Bodach summit. There are two cairns here only 20m apart so I visit both and marvel at the superb views. I am going well and pleased with the walk so far although it is very warm and I loosing fluid faster than I can replace it.
So now I head down the uncomfortably steep scree/rocky path descending Am Bodach. I meet my first walker of the day. After a good chat I am on my way again and it doesn’t take long to get to the summit of Stob Coire Chairn. I meet a host of walkers from here to the end of the walk. It’s now just a slight backtrack from the summit and down onto the Beallach to tackle the An Garbhanach ridge. This is quite a steep and airy in places but there is a good path all the way along so it presents no issues whatsoever. Another quick flattish ridge brings me to the summit of the last Munro. Its now 4hrs 20mins from the start so it’s been a quick walk. I had tried jogging along so of this walk but my right knee is still not working properly not only that the terrain is not particularly runable. Another good break and I am on my way down the hillside to Steall falls. The down path meanders left and right and is easy going on the knees so I am happy with my decision to go this way round. Its only 50 mins to get down to the Waters of Nevis. I decide just to walk across the burn and avoid the Steall Bridge hahaha. Another 50 mins and I am back at the car at the lower falls.
The path from the upper car park through the deep cleft in the rocks is tremendous. I am always amazed by the rock formations in the Water of Nevis here where the water has carved its way through the sandstone over the centuries. It must be a geologists dream. This valley is well worth a visit any day of the year.