Forcan Ridge

Page Type
United Kingdom, Europe
Route Type:
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Time Required:
Most of a day
This is a UK grade 2 scramble, which equates to Alpine F - I'm not sure about equivalent American grades
Rock Difficulty:
5.0 (YDS)

Route Quality: 1 Votes

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Created On: Feb 14, 2006
Last Edited On: Apr 14, 2006


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The Forcan ridge is a clasic Scottish scrambling arete in a rugged West Highland setting. Not hard, but with some exposure, decent rock and several interesting moments. Difficulties can be mostly avoided if you're so inclined.

Getting There

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From the layby on the main A87 road through beautiful Glen Shiel at OS grid reference (NG968143) follow the well-made path up onto the flank of the minor peak Meallan Odhar. The path skirts its NE slope to reach a saddle (not The Saddle!). It now doubles back SW around the rim of Choire Chaoil to gain a wide boggy pass immediately below the rock peak of Sgurr nan Forcan. The Forcan Ridge passes directly over this summit to reach The Saddle.

Route Description

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Summer conditions: grade 2 scramble. Winter conditions: grade II climb.

Follow well-trodden ground up out of the pass to reach the first rock on the ridge, a fine slabby corner. It's short, and as hard as anything found further on. Continue on the crest in an increasingly exposed position, taking the interesting rock steps direct, or skirting around them on an obvious path if you're not feeling brave: this is a wasted opportunity! Beyond Sgurr nan Forcan's dramatic pointed summit, a short sharp descent bars your way. Tackle it direct on polished rock (good holds) for the best fun. Less pleasant is top try and avoid it by gullies on the side: pointless, given that the step is much easier than it looks. More ridge-top fun follows, including at one point an avoidable hand traverse along a clean rock spine. After descending from another minor summit, the trig point on the top of The Saddle is easily gained.

Descent: quickest return to the road is to drop SE into a shallow bowl, a path then leading to the tiny lochanon the Bealach Coire Mhalagain. This then makes a descending traverse of the slopes below (south of) the Forcan Ridge crest, to regain your approach route close to Meallan Odhar.

Essential Gear

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Hillwalking kit. Rope unnecessary in summer. In winter you'll probably be tackling the ridge as a classic Alpine climb, moving together on the rope. Bring a few rock runners and slings. Two axes might help.

External Links

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Reading material

Scotland's Mountain Ridges, Dan Bailey, pb.Cicerone : the eagle-eyed will have spotted that this is actually written by me. It covers ridge scrambles, summer rock and winter ridges all over Scotland, including probably the most detailed description of the Forcan Ridge currently available. Nothing beats a bit of shameless self promotion, eh? Buy it, it's great. Good photos too...!

Forcan Ridge

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