Sgurr A’ Mhaoraich: Loch Quoich’s Solitary Munro
Located several miles down the single-track road straddling the shores of Loch Quoich, Sgurr A’ Mhaoraich probably isn’t top of most Munro-baggers’ list. It’s a fair distance from anywhere really notable but this is definitely made up for when you make it to the summit of the mountain – the viewpoint is sublime with Ben Nevis to the south and the seven peaks of the South Glen Shiel ridge looming just to the north.
What’s interesting about this peak is that even though the starting path is right on the shore of Loch Quoich, the peak itself is actually hidden from the loch-side with its grassy flanks (see above) making up the majority of the initial hike. Looking down Loch Hourn, however, gives you excellent views of the entire bulk of a mountain. It’s generally climbed as a single Munro or sometimes combined with Gairich, the ambitious hikers out there could combine it with the neighbouring peaks of Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach.
Sgurr A’ Mhaoraich – 1027 metres (3369 ft) – pronounced SKOOR-A-VAORACH
If you’re searching for this peak online then chances are that you’ll already be an avid hiker, but if you do want to learn a bit more about Scotland’s mountains then check out this post here.
Sgurr A' Mhaoraich Starting Point
As already mentioned, regardless of where you come from then the chances are you’ll have to do a fair bit of driving to get to this Munro. You have to drive a further 21 miles (33.8 km) past the small village of Invergarry, most of this is along a very scenic single-track road.
Coming from the south on the A82, take a left before Fort Augustus onto the A87 and continue through Invergarry and along this road for 5 miles (8 km) until you reach the Caledonian Cabins directly down to your left. This is the single-track road that you’ll follow for 21 miles until you get to teh starting point of Sgurr A’ Mhaoraich. The road is winding and twists its way past Loch Garry and beyond the huge Loch Quoich Dam. Shortly after the dam, you’ll get to a bridge which you’ll cross and right on the other side to the left is a large parking space to leave your car. If this is full then a few hundred yards down the road right next to the starting point there is a layby but this is significantly smaller.
Depending on the time of year that you find yourself driving along this remote road, chances are that you’ll come across several deer. They are among the tamest I’ve ever seen in the wild and I even had one try to lick my wing-mirror as I stopped for photos! Although it is tempting, try to avoid feeding the deer if you can.
I did this Munro when there was still quite a lot of snow on the slopes which made the hike a bit tougher than it normally would be. The stalkers path up the grassy slopes is clear and not too steep. Because it was winter I decided to avoid the steep icy slopes and come back the same way which I also think made it easier than it could have been. The hardest part of the ascent was the final steep stretch up to the summit cairn.
Duration & Length
Duration: 3 – 6 hours.
Length: 7.6 miles (12.3 km) if you return the same way as the ascent. 8.75 miles (14 km) if you do a circuit around Coire A’ Chaorainn.
If you’re in decent shape and do plenty of hiking then I would say 3 – 5 hours is more than realistic. If you like to take your time or make a day of it then I would aim for the region of 5 – 7 hours.
Sgurr A’ Mhaoraich Hike
As already mentioned, park in the layby straight after the long concrete bridge. If this is full then a couple of hundred yards down the road there’s a smaller layby directly opposite the initial ascent. The path itself is clear and passes under the electricity pylons as you start to zigzag your way up the grassy slopes. I actually got to within about 20 feet of two giant stags on the path before they ambled up the hillside, they were in no way perturbed by my presence that’s for sure!
As you continue up the moorland you get some cracking views of Loch Quoich directly behind you and Gairich, which is the munro on the other side of the water. Over to your right are the slopes of Gleouraich and in front of that, the looming seven peaks of the South Glen Shiel Ridge – you really are surrounded by mountains on all sides.
The ascent is a simple case of following the ridge all the way up and over the two small summits of Sgurr Coire Nan Eirichean. For the most part, the path is very clear and on the sections where it semi fades away, you simply need to follow the terrain up, taking care not to venture too close to the steep north-side slopes.
Just past these two summits, you’ll come across a stone wall which is where the ridge becomes narrower and the route much clearer. On a clear day, you can see the summit ahead of you, if it’s obscure then simply follow the ridge all the way up to the summit cairn. The final ascent to the top is steep but if you take your time then you shouldn’t have too many problems.
You should definitely take the time on the summit to enjoy the spectacular viewpoint and absorb your surroundings. As already mentioned, there are mountains all around and if the weather is on your side then you will even see the sea over the Knoydart mountains to your west.
For your descent there are a couple of options. The easiest one and the one you should do in poor weather conditions is head back the same way you ascended. The other option is to follow the other path down from the summit which goes around the Coire a’ Chaorainn. This descent is much steeper than the original way up, especially as you descend from Am Bathaich, and this is why it should only be attempted in decent weather.
I did Sgurr a’ Mhaoraich in winter and it’s definitely a good on to do at that time of year, especially if you have little winter hiking experience. It’s quite a straightforward hike with the toughest section being the final steep ascent up to the summit. Not mentioned in this post is another potential route up the mountain from Glen Quoich which is beyond the northern arm of Loch Quoich. This route is very seldom climbed and is a bit longer.
The views on offer at the top are stunning and if you do get a good day then you won’t be disappointed. As I already mentioned, if you’re really ambitious and have a long summer’s day then you could also do Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach on the same day, this will be tough though. The overall highlight for me was the spectacular views of Loch Quoich as the sun slowly crept higher in the sky.
As always, thanks a lot for reading and please leave your thoughts or any questions you have in the comments box below. 🙂