Weekend Wonders: The majestic Mamores

Words and images I've submitted to Adventure Travel magazine for publication in their 'Weekend Wonders' section (a regular 2-page spread where they share some 'cracking UK adventures to help people make the most of those precious two days').

Alex Haken in the Mamores, descending Na Gruagaichean, a Munro in the West Highlands of Scotland.

Alex Haken in the Mamores, descending Na Gruagaichean, a Munro in the West Highlands of Scotland.

One of the joys I find in backpacking (aside from poring over maps as you plan a trip) is staying up high in the mountains and walking right to the very end of the day, knowing you'll very likely be the only folk left on the hill.

Many times over my hill-walking career I've experienced the solitude of being the 'last man standing' on a mountain. Backpacking has enabled me to camp on a number of high bealachs and summits in superb regions of Scotland such as Glen Torridon, Glen Coe, the Cairngorms and Glen Affric, as well as further afield in the Alps and Patagonia.

One of my favourite backpacking locations is the Mamores in the West Highlands of Scotland. Totalling 10 Munros (Scottish mountains over 3,000ft/ 914m high), the Mamores are grouped into 3 sets of hills, all easily tackled by a number of different routes.

The central Mamores are characterised by great ridges, including the narrow arete on An Gearanach and the ominously named Devil's Ridge on Sgurr a'Mhaim. Shown here is us descending off the sweeping ridge of Na Gruagaichean one November, headed for a wild camp on the bealach between An Garbhanach and Stob Coire a'Chairn. We had started our trip the previous day in Glen Nevis, planning to climb only Binnein Beag, Binnean Mor and Sgurr Eilde Mor, but good stable weather meant we were able to continue over Na Gruagaichean and put ourselves into position the next day for an easier round of the more well-known Mamore peaks that make up the Ring of Steall.

How to get there

The Mamores are usually accessed from Glen Nevis, near Fort William, for the western and central Munros, or Kinlochleven for the eastern ones. OS Explorer Map 392 covers all 10 Munros, as does Harveys Superwalker XT25. 

Alternative options

It's possible to climb all 10 Mamore Munros in one day.The very fit can also pair them up with the Lochaber traverse, backpacking what is known as Tranter's Round, a classic 24-hour hill-running challenge that covers all the Mamores, the Grey Corries, Aonach Mor, Aonach Beag, Carn Mor Dearg and Ben Nevis. With an overall ascent of 18 Munros and 20,000 foot of climbing, it must rank as one of the best backpacking trips in the UK.