The Unfinished Business of Stob Coir an Albannaich

I have a confession to make: I find great, some might think perverse, pleasure at times in bypassing Munro summits. It is the source of profound liberation -- once the need to 'bag' is overcome, a whole new world opens up in the hills, endless possibilities for exploring, leading to all kinds of interesting and unexpected places. Plans laid out in advance become mere sketches, to be refined and adjusted on the go and on a whim. »

Eagle Rock and Ben More Assynt

The south ridge of Ben More Assynt has been on my mind for a while, ever since I laid eyes on it a few years back from the summit. It's a fine line. Today is perhaps not the ideal day for it, it's fairly windy and likely to rain for a bit, but at least for now the cloud base is, just, above the Conival summit. »

Fraochaidh and Glen Creran Woods

The hills on the west side of Glen Creran will be particularly appreciated by those searching for some peace and quiet. None of them reach the magic 3,000ft mark, and so are of no interest to the Munroist, while the relatively small numbers of Corbettistas follow the advice of the SMC guidebook and approach their target from Ballachuilish. Yet, the lower part of Glen Creran, with its lovely deciduous woodland, deserves a visit, and the east ridge of Fraochaidh offers excellent running. »

Glen Affric: Carn Eighe Horseshoe

The Lochness Marathon is approaching fast, and with it my turn to be the support crew. Because of the race logistics there is a fair bit of hanging around ... but Glen Affric being just down the road, I know the perfect way to 'kill' the time -- the Carn Eighe loop is just the right length to be back at the finish line in a good time! A run along a great natural line, without any significant technical or navigational challenges, yet offering stunning views, on the edge of one of the more remote feeling parts of Scotland. »

Coigach Horseshoe

The Coigach hills provide perhaps the single best short run in the entire Coigach / Assynt area. The running is easy on excellent ground (if at places exposed -- not recommended on a windy day!), the views are magnificent in all directions, and the caffe in the Achiltibuie Piping School provides excellent post-run cakes! »

Round of Crianlarich Munros

The ridges formed by the seven Crianlarich Munros provide for excellent running thanks to the tracks hammered out of the mica schist by myriads of boots. However, tackling the whole group of seven together presents a much bigger chalenge than one might expect in the light of its compact nature. Although the as a crow flies distance between the outlying Ben More and Beinn Chabhair is just 9km, the four ridges these hills form are separated by fairly deep bealachs, and the transitions between them are hard going due to rough ground, steep gradients, and no paths or tracks (not even sheep tracks).


Round of Beinn a’Ghlo

The Beinn a'Ghlo group near Blair Athol, while easy enough to access from the Central Belt, provides some very fine running on excellent ground, with entertaining terrain around the summits, and only small amount of heather bashing on the final descent. The views are excellent -- these hills have far more character than one might expect looking at them from the glens below. »

Ben Ledi - Ben A'an Horseshoe

Among Scottish hills, Ben A'an is one of the leading contenders for the least-effort big-views prize (only closely beaten by Stac Pollaidh in Assynt, I reckon). It also offers a fun, if somewhat short, run on a (mostly) rocky path. If only there was some way to incorporate this fine wee hill into a bigger run ...

Well, there is! A closer look at the map betrays a natural ridge line linking Ben A'an to Ben Ledi. Apart from the two terminal points, this provides an outing over ground less trodden -- mostly off track, with a sense of remoteness that makes one forget that Stirling is just half an hour down the road.


Ben Vorlich / Stuc a'Chroin / Beinn Each

Alongside Ben Lomond, Ben Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin are perhaps the two Munros easiest accessible from the central belt, which makes them very popular. While the usual way up is from Loch Earn to the north, a southern approach is, in my view, much to be preferred -- not only it takes one away from the crowds into a more remote feeling country, frequented mostly only by deer and birds of prey, but there is some exceptionally good running to be had on the south side of these hills. »

Ben Lawers and the Tarmachan Ridge

In terms of scenery, the Tarmachan ridge is right out there with Scotland's other iconic ridges, such as the famous Aonach Eagach in Glencoe. But from a hill runner's perspective it also provides first class steady running along its entire length, save a short scramble on the western side of Meall Garbh. An outing of a good length can be had by taking in Beinn Ghlas, Ben Lawers, and Meall Corranaich, before ascending the Tarmachan along its northern ridge by the magical Lochan an Tairbh-uisge. »