Am Bathach and Ciste Dhubh

Our favourite places – part 3b

And so to the end (for now at least) of this series on our favourite places. It has to end with the Scottish hills. They are why we lived in Inverness for 16 years, and they are why we decided to buy a hostel in the Great Glen.

On its day, Scotland must be the most beautiful country in the world. The scenery is why, and the best of that scenery is in the Highlands. Here then is a magnificent seven of our favourite Scottish hills. They may not be the highest or necessarily the most beautiful (we haven’t climbed every Munro or Corbett) but they mean something to us.

  • Ben Lawers – Approached from the east via Meall Greigh rather than from the visitor centre car park, it’s a magnificent day’s ridge walk, with great views back to Loch Tay. Ben Lawers itself is saved as the last summit. This was the first big walk we did as a couple so it has a special meaning for us.
  • Beinn Eighe – A huge mountain, it can be undertaken as an epic ridge walk taking in all its tops or maybe picked off in chunks over repeated visits. The rest of Torridon, of course, has enough other famous hills to keep you amused for days more.
  • Ciste Dhubh – We could have picked many other hills in Glenshiel, but we have chosen to climb this one several times. It certainly isn’t the most technical hill in the glen but there is something singular about the steep and regular initial climb over the Corbett of Am Bathach en route to its summit. We’re very lucky now to live so close to it and all the others on both sides of the road.
  • Quinag – There is something about the hills of Assynt which keeps drawing us back over and over again. Some of them (such as Suilven) aren’t really that big by Munro standards but the landscape of rocky mountains sticking up out of what seems like a flat landscape filled with lochs is like nowhere else in the country. The multiple tops of Quinag are our personal favourite. Some day we will carry out our plan to wild camp on the flat section between Spidean Coinich and Bealach a Chornaidh.
  • Beinn Bhan – This may seem like a strange choice. The summit is only at 895m and because of the approach it doesn’t even feel like a normal summit ascent. However, it is more than worth it for the magnificent hidden corries and buttresses you pass on the way. They are all worth a side trip to investigate. Coire na Poite, in particular, must be our runner-up choice for the most dramatic wild camping spot in Scotland.
  • Beinn Mheadhoin – A gem of a hill, it’s hidden behind Cairngorm on the opposite side of Loch Avon. The approach walk is beautiful; you go over the south west side of Cairngorm itself, down to Loch Avon, round part of the loch and then back up again. And when you get to the top you can play on the numerous tors and take in the panoramas all round.
  • Ben Tee – Now that we live at Saddle Mountain Hostel this has become our local Corbett. It towers over Glen Garry and when seen from the north has a lovely pyramid shape. Just now it looks even better in the snow. The normal route up is from Kilfiinnan, but if you have the time there’s a much more beautiful and rewarding approach route from the north. It’s walkable from our front door, if only it wasn’t for all the hostel chores!

Not everyone will agree with this list (it would be a surprise if anyone does). Luckily there are enough hills in Scotland to keep everyone happy. If you have any other suggestions then let us know via our Facebook page.

Helen and Greg
info@saddlemountainhostel.co.uk
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