Hiking Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach: Loch Quoich
Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach are 2 rocky munros which sit between Loch Quoich and the famous South Glen Shiel Ridge in the Lochaber region of the Highlands.
They are in a fantastic setting which offers some really spectacular views in the right weather conditions. They were also the first munros I have ever climbed where I’ve not met a single person.
It’s another one of those fantastic ridge walks of which there are so many in Scotland.
Each munro can be climbed individually but it feels like a bit of a no-brainer to do both at the same time. They can be tackled from either side, it doesn’t really matter which one you decide to do first.
- Gleouraich – 1035 metres – pronounced GLOWER-ICH
- Spidean Mialach – 996 metres – pronounced SPEAKIN-MEOW-LICH
If you’re not a munro bagger, or not at all familiar with the Scottish mountains, then check out my article on the mountains in Scotland which will give you a detailed overview of what a munro is and much more.
Like many of the munros in Scotland, these peaks do take a fair bit of driving.
On the A82 road coming from the south turn off left straight after the Invergarry castle, or from the north turn right straight before the bridge which is 7.5 miles past Fort Augustus.
Now on the A87 follow the road for 5 miles before taking a left turning onto a single track road. 15 miles along this slow, winding road is the lay-by directly opposite the start of your hike.
It’s a clear lay by about 2 miles past the Loch Quoich dam with a path directly opposite leading up onto the hills.
The drive along this road really is stunning and, if you’re not familiar with the area, a few photo stops may be in order! Keep your eyes peeled for herds of deer by the roadside.
For the exact location of the starting point, check out the map at the end of this post.
This is undoubtedly one of the easier munro hikes in the area. The hike has a clearly marked path for the vast majority of the route and isn’t as boggy as a lot of munros.
There are a few sections that require a bit of a rocky scramble but, apart from this, the munros shouldn’t pose too many problems.
Duration & Length
Duration: 4 – 7 hours
Length: 7.2 miles (11.6km)
If you consider yourself a relatively experienced hiker or in good physical condition then 4 – 5 hours is a more than realistic time to aim for.
If you’re new to hiking then 5 – 7 is probably more likely.
Either way, the hike is not too taxing and is suitable for most levels of hikers.
Where To Stay
This place is a fair drive from any nearby accommodation unless you decide to camp.
The closest place to stay is in the small village of Invergarry, which you most likely passed through on your way to the munros. In Invergarry there’s a variety of B&B options and even a campsite up behind the village.
You can do this hike from the Gleouraich side or from the Spidean Mialach side, it’s entirely up to you.
I did it from the Gleouraich side so will base this article on this route. I imagine that this route is slightly easier with more defined paths on the ascent.
Straight opposite the lay-by is the beginning of the path leading up towards Gleouraich. The first 5 minutes or so are almost jungle-like with branches in your face and high vegetation on either side of the path.
As you follow the path up into the open, the views of Loch Quoich behind you begin to get more and more spectacular.
Over to the west, you’ll be able to see the peak of neighbouring munro Sgurr a‘ Mhaoraich, and beyond that the Knoydart munros.
Simply follow the clear path as it zigzags its way up the hill until you reach the shoulder of Gleouraich. Here you have absolutely stunning views of Loch Quoich to your left and down below, as well as the disappearing ridge of the South Glen Shiel Ridge straight ahead.
The feeling of vastness and emptiness was possibly the best I’ve had to date on any of Scotland’s mountains.
Make your way up the shoulder where you’ll very briefly dip down before the final ascent up to Gleouraich‘s summit cairn. This is a steep climb with some rocky sections which may involve a careful scramble.
From the summit of Gleouraich you may be able to catch a glimpse of Spidean Mialach in the distance. If the weather doesn’t permit this then don’t worry, the route forward is fairly self-explanatory.
Follow the rocky path down until the terrain becomes slightly easier going. This dramatic section of the hike is definitely worth a few photos as you enjoy views of Kintail to the left, and Loch Quoich down to the right.
Take care as you zigzag your way down the rocky slopes, straight ahead is the looming climb up to the second munro of the day.
At the top of this steep, slow climb is the summit of Fiar Bhealaich, which is the final peak before the top of Spidean Mialach. You may want to catch your breath here because the climb is quite unrelenting.
Straight ahead, if you have adequate conditions, you’ll be able to see the 2 summit cairns of Spidean Mialach across the final ridge. One of them had me convinced that it was actually a person because of its shape.
Congratulations! This is your second and (probably) final munro of the day.
The cairns are perched right on the cliff edge on the northern side of the summit.
The descent is a relatively straightforward route all the way back down to the road.
From the summit itself follow the path which heads south-west down the side of the munro. There is a fairly distinct path but it may have semi-disappeared in a couple of boggy sections. I found these sections easy to bypass because the terrain wasn’t very challenging.
You should be in close proximity to a stream and, if you have any doubts about which direction you should be going, just follow the stream.
As the terrain becomes less steep, a clearly marked stalkers path begins again. Follow this path all the way back down to the road, passing under some electricity lines on your way down.
Back at the road turn right and the lay-by where you started is about 400 metres further along.
Hiking Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach is a fantastic option for the rookie hiker. It’s also a great hike in general and, weather permitting, offers truly stunning views of the remote Scottish highlands.
For the super fit it’s also possible to cram in Sgurr a’Mhaoraich which is located further along, as the road veers to the right away from Loch Quoich.
As always, thanks a lot for reading and if you have anything to add, any questions, or would like to share any experiences of your own then please feel free to leave any comments below. I reply to everything. 🙂