Location: Sgorr na Diollaid, Highland

Grade: Moderate hill walk

Distance: 6 miles/10km

Time: 4-5 hours

I love the approach up Strathglass towards Glen Affric and Glen Cannich – past the wonderfully named Crask of Aigas and on beside the winding river towards Cannich village where I turned right on the road that leads to the Mullardoch Dam.

I was heading for a hill called Sgorr na Diollaid, 818m, a rocky-topped Corbett that I had wanted to climb last autumn until I met a stalking party with similar intentions.

Being a responsible hillwalker I backed off, on the basis that the hill would still be there after the stalking season.

This time I had it all to myself. I parked near the bridge at Muchrachd and set off up the steep hillside. Sgorr na Diollaid, (try skoor na jeel-at) or the ‘peak of the saddle’, is well named for its summit is dominated by two rocky tors with an obvious saddle in between.

The hill is essentially a rocky outcrop on a long and winding ridge that runs west towards the big hills north of Loch Mullardoch – Carn nan Gobhar, Sgurr na Lapaich, An Riabhachan and An Socach.

When we couldn’t climb Sgorr na Diollaid last year we enjoyed part of this undulating ridge instead, from Carn nan Gobhar east to Creag Dubh and Mullach Tarsuinn. Today, I wanted to follow the ridge west, high above steep slopes that dropped north into one of my favourite glens in the Highlands, Glen Strathfarrar.

The ground was saturated after all the autumn rain, but thankfully it was dry overhead and the tops were quickly clearing of morning cloud.

As I climbed the views to the west began to open up – the humpbacks of Toll Creagach and Tom a’ Choinnich looked impressive, their corrie-bitten slopes rising steeply from the southern shores of Loch Mullardoch. Beyond them the hills of Affric rose in a jumble.

I had taken a pretty direct line from where I had set off and soon the grass and heather slopes began to turn more and more rocky.

I found myself zig-zagging through rocky slabs, all in an east-bearing thrust, before a short descent brought me to a boggy col and the steep summit slopes.

I wasn’t too sure which of the two tops was the highest, so reckoned the best thing to do was climb them both. If I were forced to decide I’d say it was the easternmost top, but that’s only a hunch. I think I’d prefer it to be the highest because its ascent, from the saddle in between the two tops, involves a little rock scramble, although you can walk up it easily enough.

It felt unusually mild and I sat and enjoyed my lunch looking down on Loch Beannacharan of Glen Strathfarrar.

Beyond it, steep slopes and open corries rose to the narrow ridge that connects Sgurr na Ruaidhe, Sgurr a’ Choire Ghlais and Sgurr Fhuar-thuill, three of the Munros that make up the Strathfarrar ridge.

It was grand to wander slowly over the ridge above Coire na Feithe Seilich and on towards An Soutar where I sat for a while and watched a massive herd of red deer hinds.

Golden plover were singing their mournful songs and it was good to simply have the time to sit and listen.

Eventually I made my way, down the grassy slopes of An Soutar’s south-east facing corrie to the keeper’s house at Loch Carrie and a couple of kilometres on the road back to my car.

Cameron McNeish


Map: OS 1:50,000 Landranger sheet 25 (Glen Carron & Glen Affric)

Distance: 6 miles/10km

Approx Time: 4-5 hours

Start/finish: Lay-by on the Glen Cannich road near Muchrachd (GR: NH285335).

Public Transport: None to the start.

Information: Inverness TIC, 01463 252401, www.walkhighlands.co.uk

Route: From the road climb N more or less in a straight line, up steep ground initially and then over a jumble of rocky slabs which eventually give way to a boggy shelf just before the climb to the summit rocks. Scramble to the summits of both. Descend W and traverse the tops that are marked on the map as Pt 777 and Pt 713 before turning SW to An Soutar. Descend in a SE direction down steep corrie slopes to the keeper’s house at Loch Carrie. Follow the road E back to the start.

All walks are subject to current restrictions