The Brothers Ridge Of Kintail
Deep down in Glenmoriston, the Brothers Ridge of Kintail is a surprisingly stunning hike which is nowhere near as popular as some other routes in the region.
These munros are modernly referred to as the Brothers Ridge due to their close proximity to the more famous 5 Sisters of Kintail. Some may also refer to it as the North Glen Shiel Ridge which also includes Ciste Dhubh. This munro can be hiked in addition to the 3 covered here but that will add a significant distance.
- Saileag – 956 metres (3136 ft) – pronounced SAL-IG
- Sgurr a Bhealaich Dheirg – 1036 metres (3399 ft) – pronounced SGURR-A-VYALICK-YIRIG
- Aonach Mheadhoin – 1001 metres (3284 ft) – pronounced AWNICK-MYANN
If you’re unsure what a munro is or would like some more information on Scotland’s mountains then, before reading on, check out my article specific to the mountains in Scotland.
For those of you that are familiar with the area then this will be fairly straightforward. Kintail is home to several of Scotland’s epic munro hikes such as the Five Sisters of Kintail and the South Glen Shiel Ridge.
Coming from the north or south, follow the A82 until you reach the small village of Invermoriston where you take a left/right (depending on your direction) onto the A87 towards the Isle of Skye.
The starting point of this hike is 30 miles (48 km) past Invermoriston. These are some of the final munros on this stretch of road, taking you past the first Kintail munros and the majority of the South Glen Shiel Ridge. Carry on along the road until you reach a large lay-by on your right-hand side, there’s a green sign with ‘Glen Shiel’ and this is your starting point.
Check out the map at the end of this post for the exact location.
The hardest part of this hike is, without a shadow of a doubt, the climb up to the ridge itself and the peak of the first munro. After this, it’s a case of following the ridge with some short climbs and descents. You need to take extra care following the ridge along to the second peak. This part is extremely rocky and narrow in places, the conditions in winter would make this part of the hike rather treacherous so be careful.
If you haven’t planned accordingly then a walk back along the road to the car park will make the hike a lot longer than it needs to be. Another option is, if you go alone, to retrace your footsteps back along the ridge from the third peak.
Duration & Length
Duration: 5 – 8 hours.
Length: 7 miles (11 km).
If you’re a fast hiker then 5 hours is a realistic time, whether you’re descending the third munro down to the road or decide to retrace your steps back to the car park. For those of you who prefer to take your time or don’t hike regularly then 7 – 8 hours is more realistic.
Where To Stay
The best option in terms of proximity is most definitely the Cluanie Inn. This is a popular guesthouse for hikers and travellers alike.
If you prefer a more budget-friendly option then the Shielbridge Campsite and Caravan Park is 6 miles (9.5 km) along the road towards Kyle of Lochalsh.
Wild camping is also a popular option in this part of the country, particularly if you plan on walking over to Glen Affric but if this is your plan then remember to keep an eye on the weather!
Head back onto the main road out of the car park and take a right. Follow the road for about 30 metres until you see the path heading up the steep slopes on your right. This is the path you’re going to follow all the way up to the Brothers Ridge.
Before I did the hike, I read from certain online sources that this is a ‘one-way’ hike and that you must have transport organised on the other side (or walk back along the road). Given Scotland’s right to roam I thought that this claim was ridiculous and decided to rebel and, once finished, head back along this one-way track (I live life on the edge, I know….). Needless to say, there was nobody there to tell me what to do so, if you do see this online, I wouldn’t worry too much about it being enforced.
This is an exceedingly steep climb for about 500 metres (1640 ft) which doesn’t cover much distance but feels like an eternity. Follow the path until you get past the forestry line where it starts to sweep east. Come off the main path and head straight up the slopes ahead of you. I zigzagged my way up, choosing the driest patches and trying to avoid the very boggy sections. Eventually, the path becomes clearer and you can follow it up to the ridge above.
Once you get to the ridge you’ll see the jagged peaks of the 5 sisters to your left. The ridge to your right is the Brothers Ridge and there is a clear path leading you up to the day’s first munro, Saileag. There’s a small cairn on the summit but all in all this peak is the most insignificant of the 3.
Sgurr a’Bhealaich Dheirg
Follow the path down the first small descent and then along the ridge. Continue across a few small ascents and descents before reaching a small lake approximately a mile (1.6 km) past the first peak. This is the start of the steady climb up to the day’s highest peak, Sgurr a’Bhealaich Dheirg.
Whatever you do, don’t be fooled by the first rather convincing cairn that you see when it feels like you’ve reached the summit. Carry on a short distance and you’ll see there’s a rocky ridge protruding out to your left. A short scramble along this ridge is the true summit with a huge cairn to stop you scrambling too far.
2 down and 3 to go! Retrace your steps back to the main ridge and follow the path down an initially steep slope. Stick to the path on your left (you’ll see another one heading off to your right) and carry on up the path on to a steep climb to the false summit. After reaching this top, the path dips down again slightly before the final climb up to the real summit of Aonach Meadhoin with an elevation of 1001 metres (3284 ft).
From here you have a couple of options which both depend on your situation. If you left 1 vehicle and the end of the hike then continue along the south-eastern ridge all the way back down to the road. You will have to pass over a couple of minor summits as the ridge has a steep drop on either side. If you only bring 1 car then the difficult option is that you can head down to the road and hitch/walk the several miles back to the car park.
If not then you can retrace your steps back across the ridge and descend the same way you came up. This is what I did and, to be honest, I enjoyed it almost as much as the initial crossing simply because of the stunning views on offer.
Please note that retracing your steps actually only works out about half a mile longer than finishing the route down to the main road. This is because after the third summit there is still about another 2.5 miles (4 km) to go until you reach the road.
Although never as popular as their big ‘5 sisters’, the Brothers Ridge of Kintail is by no means inferior. On its day, the ridge offers stunning views of Kintail and beyond.
It’s definitely not one of the area’s easier hikes and should be approached with caution by the complete beginners. It’s one I would recommend doing with a friend and taking 2 cars to save you the walk back along the road.
Thanks a lot for reading and if you have any questions or things to add then please drop me a comment in the box below. 🙂