Ring of Maol Chean-dearg

By James Carron


The upland terrain flanking Glen Carron in the north of Scotland is ruggedly remote and wonderfully wild. This route offers a dramatic walk around the quartzite dome of Maol Chean-dearg, a Munro which can be bagged by those who are feeling particularly fit. Others will be happy simply to marvel at its striking stony form.

Leave the road at the bridge and follow the path signed as a public right of way to Torridon. It heads north, following the Fionn-abhainn upstream, passing a white lodge. The way climbs gently through the glen, offering views to some spectacular waterfalls. Three kilometres from the start, the path crosses the burn at a wooden footbridge and stays with the bubbling flow, albeit now on the west side of the water.

The next point of call is the MBA's bothy at Coire Fionnaraich. This is one of the association's grander refuges, a two-storey stone cottage complete with wood panelling, its own solitary ash tree planted by the front door, and a marvellous outlook. This is a fine spot for a breather ahead of harder work to come.

The path continues north, passing by a prominent standing stone called Clach nan Con-fionn (it's marked on the OS map). The name translates from the Gaelic as 'stone of Fingal's dog' and it is said that the legendary figure tethered his mutts here while hunting in the glen.

A kilometre on from the bothy, the path reaches a junction marked by a cairn. Go left here and the way zig-zags up over jagged white quartzite stones to Bealach a'Choire Ghairbh, between Maol nan Ceapairean, on your left, and the peak of Maol Chean-dearg, on the right. For those wishing to tick the Munro off, a steep zig-zagging path rises over the rocky shoulder to the summit.

Remaining on this route, descend south-west from the col on the path to Loch Coire an Ruadh-stac. The route contours round the western flank of Maol Chean-dearg, turning north as it leads to lonely Loch an Eion. Views on this stretch extend to mighty Liathach in the north, Beinn Bhan, over to the west, and Beinn Damh, to the north west.

At the northern tip of Loch an Eion, a junction is reached where the Coulags to Torridon right of way is joined once again. Go right at this point and follow the path along the northern shore of the loch. A short climb over Bealach na Lice is followed by a fairly gradual descent to Loch Coire Fionnaraich. Follow the path south to the MBA bothy and retrace steps from there back down the glen to Coulags Bridge.


Distance 11 miles/18.5km.
Map OS Landranger sheet 25.
Start Coulags Bridge on A890, five miles east of Lochcarron village. GR: NG958451.
Parking In disused gravel pit adjacent to bridge.
Grading A long walk through remote country with some strenuous sections of ascent. Stalking takes place during September and October.