Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Glen Sannox Horseshoe

A full round of the Glen Sannox Horseshoe is no mean feat especially when the days are getting shorter so Graham, Wally and I set off at sunrise yesterday morning to tackle this magnificent ridge.
As we climbed the lower slopes towards the Devil's Punchbowl, we could hear stags roaring in the glen below, and were bathed in beautiful early morning sunshine.
By the time we were on the ridge of Cioch na h-Oighe, the sun was up and a cold wind was whipping across the knife edge ridge.

The scramble up the Cioch is an entertaining ramble amongst granite slabs and blocks.  The Cioch itself forms a hook on the prow of the ridge.From here, gentle undulations broaden out on to Mullach Buidhe (below).

The northern slopes of Mullach Buidhe give way to a steep climb up on to North Goatfell. The route turns right here, and begins a long descent past granite tors in to the Saddle below Cir Mhor.

The climb back up out of the saddle is energy sapping, and once on the summit of Cir Mhor, it was sobering to think we were only half way round. The going gets easier for a while after this however, with a gentle descent form Cir Mhor (below), and a steady climb back up to the summit of the Castles (Caisteal Abhail), the highest point on the "Sleeping Warrior" ridge that bounds the northern flank of Glen Sannox.

The picture below shows the view form the summit of Caisteal Abhail, looking back towards Cir Mhor at the right of the picture.

Finally, the ridge narrows once more and there is plenty more fine scrambling to be had.

Negotiating the steep loose slopes of the Witches Step can be tricky in poor conditions.  The main difficulties of the climb out of the step are avoided by descending north in to the gully and picking up a traverse path that winds over steep rock back up to the ridge. We were fortunate that although there were squalls of snow and hail forecast, they passed us by.  Besides a bitterly cold wind, we were treated to near perfect weather.

To find out more about guided walks in Arran's Mountains, visit my main website:

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