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Scotland has the monopoly on the Britain's great mountain ridge traverses. England may have the Edges of the Lake District and Wales has Crib Goch, Nantlle and the Glyders in Snowdonia but Scotland has a list as long as my arm. And then some. The Cuillin Ridge of Skye is the undoubted King, but what is the finest ridge on the mainland? The Northern Highlands have a clutch of pretenders to the throne: castellated An Teallach, the behemoth Liathach, the celebrated Forcan Ridge and The Five Sisters of Kintail all fit the bill. South of The Great Glen there's the Carn Mor Dearg Arete leading to Ben Nevis and in the Mamores there's the classic Ring of Steal.


However, one ridge has a reputation to trump all of these: Glencoe's Aonach Eagach or The Notched Ridge. The whole range stretches some 10km above the Pass of Glencoe, from the Devil's Staircase to the Pap of Glencoe but it is the central section between the Munro of Meall Dearg and the top of Stob Corie Leith that gives it its fearsome reputation. It is a narrow, airy arete with numerous rock towers and chimneys for the scrambler to negotiate. The most infamous of these are the Crazy Pinnacles, three towers of rock that must be negotiated with great care, as the exposure is dizzying. There is no escape from this section of the ridge, so once on the ridge the sense of commitment is daunting.


It is a grade two scramble, unlike the famous traverses south of the Scottish border. As if the winding, narrow, undulating ridge were not enough, the surroundings are stunning. In the far distance, the distinctive peaks of pointy Schiehallion and bulky Ben Alder can be seen. Closer by is Ben Nevis, the Mamores, the Buachailles and Beinn a'Bheithir. However, the show is stolen by the immense mass of the Bidean Massif and it's complex maze of ridges and corries. It is huge and mightily impressive, staring back across the void with impunity at its Notched Ridge sibling.


My day on the Aonach Eagach was incredible and, whilst I have not yet set foot on any of the other aforementioned Scottish ridge traverses, it will take something special to pursuade me that this is not the finest mountain ridge on mainland Britain.

The Aonach Eagach

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