If the tourist board graded mountain bothies, Corryhully would definitely attract five stars. Not only is this cosy old cottage wind and watertight, but it also boasts electricity. Pop 50p in the slot and you have light – and a kettle to rustle up a quick brew without the hassle of gas canisters and open flame.
A short walk or cycle from Glenfinnan, it is perfectly placed as a base from which to tackle the Munros of Sgurr nan Coireachan and Sgurr Thuilm. However, my target, as I stepped bleary eyed from the front door was Streap, an angular Corbett that is by no means overshadowed by its neighbours, peaking just below the magic 3000-foot marker.
Streap – the 11th highest Corbett – is commonly approached from Gleann Dubh Lighe, to the south. Its steep western slopes are clad in an armour of rather hostile, and off-putting, grey rock. However, I was not about to be deterred by this natural barrier and I set off, full of optimism, along the right of way that leads northwest, ultimately to Loch Arkaig.
The gentle ascent broke fresh legs in nicely and, after crossing the col, where a pair of red deer grazed the hillside above me, and dipping into Gleann Cuirnean I was ready to strike over open country. The way ahead was clear of the rocks and crags that had cast a dark shadow over my valley approach and I hauled myself up on to the northern ridge of Streap Comhlaidh, following the ever-narrowing crest to the top of this shapely outlier.
The intricately carved apex of Streap was now within touching distance and I picked my way up through the rocks, pausing occasionally to steal a knee-trembling glimpse down into the rocky cauldron on my right. In no time at all I was standing atop my goal, admiring sparkling mountain panoramas from my elevated position, the early morning haze now all but gone. The little plateau is compact – certainly no place for crowds – and the slopes to the north and west drop away sharply. The southwest ridge, however, offers a gem of a descent. It is slender but not narrow enough to be considered a knife-edge. Some rocky interludes deliver easy scrambling opportunities and the crest is airy but not exposed, with a fine aerial walkway lower down.
At the col below, the ridge widens in preparation for the ascent of Stob Coire nan Cearc, a stiff little pull rising to a rocky dome of a summit. It is worth pausing periodically and casting eyes – or camera lens – back towards Streap for I found some of the best views of the hill are to be found here.
I added neighbouring Meall an Uillt Chaoil to my itinerary before descending into the col to the south of this craggy knoll. I descended west off the ridge, carefully picking my way through a smattering of rocks and staying above the steep burn gully. It is also possible to descend ahead of Meall an Uillt Chaoil, following a second burn channel down, but there is a fair amount of rock to negotiate. The stone speckling my particular bit of hillside soon receded and a grassy slope dropped first to a bridge over the burn at the edge of the forestry plantation and then on to Corryhully bothy, stepping stones carrying me over the burn at the bottom.
I arrived to find enough electricity still in the meter to boil up a very welcome cup of tea and spent a pleasant half hour or so reviving weary feet in the refreshingly cool water of the stream outside the bothy ahead of the track walk back to Glenfinnan.
Distance: 13 miles/21km
Time: 7 hours
Start/finish: Car park at junction of A830 and Glenfinnan Estate track (GR: NM 905808)
Map: Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger sheet 40 (Mallaig & Glenfinnan) or 1:25,000 Explorer sheet 398 (Loch Morar & Mallaig)
Information: Fort William, 01397 703781
Route: walk/cycle N on surfaced track through Glen Finnan to Corryhully bothy (NM 913844). Follow track NE over col and down into Gleann Cuirnean. 1.5km NE of col, leave track, cross burn and climb E over open hillside on to N ridge of Streap Comhlaidh. Ascend ridge to summit, then follow crest W on to summit of Streap. Descend SW ridge and continue over Stob Coire nan Cearc and Meall an Uillt Chaoil. Descend SW into col, then W, following burn channel to top corner of forest plantation. Continue down to Corryhully bothy crossing stream at stepping-stones. Return to Glenfinnan on surfaced track.