Kintail nothing lacks; all things culminate. It is the epitome of the
West Highland scene.’ (W.H. Murray)
stretches from Kyle of Lochalsh in the west to Loch Ness in the east
and from Achnasheen in the north to Upper Quoich in the south.
over into Upper Glen Quoich and Knoydart
rescue boundaries tend to be rather fluid but like most teams we have a
core area that sees most of the incidents. For us, that core area is
Glen Shiel with the Five Sisters of Kintail on one side and The Saddle
on the other.
Duich, looking into Glen Shiel. The Five Sisters are in the distance on
level incidents occur in all corners of our area. Beauty spots such as
the Falls of Glomach and Glen Affric take people into wild country that
may be beyond their experience.
eastern and western extremes have hills of 400m to 700m and substantial
areas of elevated moorland and forest. The central part of the area is
populated from north to south with summits over 1000m. This central
part is characterised by consistently steep and complex ground threaded
by the challenging ridges that the North West Highlands is known for
long mountain ranges terminate around the head of Loch Duich: Beinn
Fhada, the Five Sisters of Kintail and the Cluanie Forest which
culminates in the Saddle. The glens which radiate from Loch Duich
between these mountains, which form the watershed of mainland Scotland
within a few miles of the western sea, are short, steepsided and deep.
They contain burns or rivers which rush and tumble through waterfalls
and pools girt with alder to flow through pastures in the lower glens,
while high corries and ridges contain their upper reaches. It is the
grandeur of the mountains that makes the scenery here so magnificent.
Glen Shiel is dominated by the pinnacles of the Saddle and the
spearlike cone of Faochag. The Five Sisters of Kintail, when viewed
from Mam Ratagan, Letterfearn or Carr Brae, are supremely elegant
peaks, forming a graceful and imposing background at the head of Loch
Duich. The serrated ridge of massive Beinn Fhada towers over Glen Lichd
and Glen Choinneachan." Based on
an extract from “Scotland’s Scenic Heritage”, The Countryside
Commission for Scotland, 1978.
Sisters of Kintail and the South Glenshiel Ridge provide two
substantial high level ridge walks. Neither are technically challenging
in summer but their length should not be underestimated and cornices
are a serious hazard in winter. The Forcan Ridge leading to The Saddle
provides a more technical challenge particularly in winter.
Diollaid (The Saddle) at sunset
facing corries provide opportunities for low and middle grade winter
climbing. Recording of routes in the area has only become common since
the early 1990s.
buttress in Coire nan Eirecheanach
genre of travel books lists special and beautiful places from around
the world. The beauty and spectacle of the North West Highlands is
celebrated in several of these books.
conservation areas designated within the team area are too
numerous to list, far less describe in detail, on this site. The
records of these areas held by our national institutions are awe
inspiring in their number and nature even before you cast your eyes
over the terrain and the life upon it.
National Scenic Areas are designated here: Affric in the north-east,
Kintail in the west and Knoydart along the south-western boundary. Glen
Affric is also a National Nature Reserve.
western sea lochs are Marine Conservation Areas and features of some of
these are Special Areas of Conservation (SAC). There are a number of other SAC and several SSSI
(Sites of Special Scientific Interest).
Affric hills are the highest in the North West Highlands and their
height, latitude and climate help to make them the scene of rare
alpine, sub-arctic and bog habitats.
West Affric, the Falls
of Glomach and Balmacara estates are all owned by the
National Trust for Scotland and include several of the designated
before the era of the nature reserve and the SSSI, the Ordnance Survey
began two centuries of conservation work of a different kind but of
considerable greatness. As a result, the language of the maps of this
area is almost entirely Gaelic. (The area also has as great a
proportion of Gaelic speakers as can be found in any part of the
Scottish mainland.) Many of the names of mountain features in the area
bring as much descriptive character to the map as the contour lines or
features of water or rock. An elementary study of the Gaelic
names of the features of the land and their pronunciation is likely to
bring a special richness to your experience of the area.