Forrest Mallard - May 13, 2021

Aonach Eagach Ridge Walk
Highland, Scotland
Start: Parking lot west of Allt-na-reigh
End: Parking lot west of Allt-na-reigh
Distance: 5.75 miles (9.5 km)
Time: 6-9 hours
Difficulty: Strenuous
Surface: Rock Trails, Exposed Ledges

Website: www.walkhighlands.co.uk

Aonach Eagach Ridge Walk - Scotland 01

There is hardly a line of crags anywhere in Great Britain quite like the Aonach Eagach Ridge Walk (aka Aonach Eagach), a linear ridge high above the northerly side of Glen Coe and a Grade 2 rock scramble that ticks boxes you maybe don’t even want ticked – exposure, views, and adrenalin-inducing heights with goat-like trails. At times walking it is akin to threading the eye of a needle or being on a tightrope, so little room is there for error. There are just two ways off it, too, when the going is at its toughest – one at the beginning, and the other at the end. There’s no deciding half-way through that you’re suddenly not up to it, or thinking ‘Well I’ve had enough of this’, and absconding. And as if its knife-edge pinnacles weren’t enough, add to that the vagaries of the Scottish weather, and, well…

There are a lot of stories in the scrambling community about the Aonach Eagach. People who have done it in winter are happy to admit it is dangerous, hard, even scary. If you come here you’ll need a head for heights. Ropes are a grey area. Unnecessary for Grade 1 scrambling but a must-have for Grade 3s, the Grade 2 classification for the Aonach Eagach means it occupies a hazy middle-ground. Most do however prefer to pack a rope or two because rain can instantly turn the trail into something resembling a greasy ladder, not a pleasant thought when you’re passing by a 900-In drop. If traveling in a group, it’s a good idea to have someone who is proficient with ropes. The trail is long and exposed, and if you’ve not had prior scrambling experience prior to setting out, you’d be well advised to get some.

Aonach Eagach Ridge Walk - Scotland 05

Your ascent begins on a track 1 km southeast of Glencoe village, over a burn and along a rising slope up Am Bodach before emerging on to a bealach (narrow mountain pass) then making a left turn on to the ridge, which climbs steeply to Am Bodach’s summit. Descending from the summit can be tricky if you’re not accustomed to down climbing (for some this can be the ‘worst’ part of the entire traverse) as you make your way down a steep and somewhat awkward cliff on to the ridge and towards Meall Dearg (953 m), the day’s list Munro, and a view that is guaranteed to render anyone sober.

Aonach Eagach Ridge Walk - Scotland 02

Once you arrive at Meall Dearg you see what is before you – a series of rock chimneys and a whole series of scrambling sections that are narrow, yes, though not perhaps as narrow as popular myths might have you believe. Nevertheless these are the ‘Crazy Pinnacles’ – a series of vertical goblin-like spires and spikes with grassy slopes plunging away on their northern and southern sides, spires that are best approached head-on rather than trying to go around them. The Crazy Pinnacles give the ridge its reputation and extend all the way to Stob Coire Leith, which is reached after a short, steep descent. With the trauma of the pinnacles now behind you, you can relax on a broad trail as you make your way towards Sgorr nam Fiannaidh (967 m), the second Munro with its wonderful views down over Glen Coe.

There are three possible routes down from Stob Coire Leith – along the rim of Clachaig Gully, though this is an eroded path that has led to several fatalities over the years; or southwards to Loch Achtriochtan, though this also is 21 steep descent with an abundance of scree and is best avoided.

Aonach Eagach Ridge Walk - Scotland Header

The best choice is to turn westwards and continue towards Clachaig Gully, only stay on the ridge along a small ascent before reaching two small cairns where you turn to the right then descend on to a boggy path that zig-zags down from the Pap of Glencoe, the distinctive rounded summit above Loch Leven, itself worth walking to for the great views down Loch Leven to Kinlochleven. Stay on the path until it links up with a road that runs parallel to the A82. From there it’s only a 2-km walk to the Clachaig Inn, a source of hospitality to weary travelers for over 300 years with its staples of venison, prime Scotch beef and Scottish salmon – plus more than 200 varieties of malt whisky, guaranteed to further embellish even the most harrowing of Aonach Eagach tales.

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Image

Hi! I'm Forrest Mallard

In 2005, I moved to Quito, Ecuador with $35 in my pocket and a small handful of online clients. Fifteen years and five continents later, there were moments of absolute glamour, as well as a number of brutal rough patches. But I always felt that a horrible day of travel is infinitely more preferable than a great day at the office. Oh the stories I could tell, and I will try to do that here in Tramposaurus Treks. You'll have access to the good times, the horrifying times, and a few well-deserved moments of travel glamour.

Read more

JOIN THE EXCLUSIVE COMMUNITY OF TRAMPS

Sign up for the monthly newsletter, with the latest travel news and special offers, and receive bonus gifts to get you started.

    reasons to subscribe

    Save on your hotel - hotelscombined.com

    TRAVEL PLANNING

    Travel Planning Resources

    ARCHIVES

    SIMILAR BLOGS

    April 24, 2021

    Art Nouveau in Budapest

    Art Nouveau defines Budapest in much the same way as skyscrapers define New York. Here is a guide that will...

    Read more
    October 30, 2020

    Haunted Hikes

    A thorough list of haunted trails from around the world that I have discovered through the years. From haunted British...

    Read more
    July 19, 2020

    Animated Backgrounds

    A collection of animated backgrounds to make your Zoom meetings, Zoom parties, and Zoom educational experiences a little more fun.

    Read more
    June 10, 2020

    Hidden Gems of Tallinn

    Put on your walking shoes, hit the streets, and discover the Hidden Gems of Tallinn, Estonia. Secret places only the...

    Read more
    May 29, 2020

    Slovenian Mountain Trail

    This stunning, long-distance trail winds across the mountains of Slovenia. The trail passes through this country’s best scenery, including the...

    Read more
    May 29, 2020

    Camino Francés

    The French Way (Camino Francés) and the Routes of Northern Spain are the courses which are listed in the World...

    Read more
    May 30, 2021

    Risnjak National Park

    Risnjak National Park is located in the "great green heart of Croatia" a crescent-shaped mountain range with numerous hiking trails.

    Read more
    May 30, 2021

    Pala Ronda Trails

    The two options you can take on the Pala Ronda Trails: the "soft" trek or the "hard" trek, both of...

    Read more
    May 30, 2021

    Mount Pelmo Circuit

    The Mount Pelmo Circuit, passes the eastern face of Mount Pelmo, which many consider the most beautiful mountain in the...

    Read more