Hike The Saddle via Forcan Ridge

Highland, United Kingdom



8.25 miles

Elevation Gain

4500 ft

Route Type



Added by Gabi Robledo

This classic UK hiking route is an adrenaline pumping adventure involving scrambling, route finding, and dozens of amazing views of the surrounding Scottish Highlands!

This epic hike in the Scottish Highlands might top even the famous Ben Nevis. The hike is among the most greatest mountain range in all of the UK. Not only is this hike gorgeous, but it's also an adrenaline pumping adventure including grade 3 scrambling and legitimate route-finding. There are no trail signs on this route which is why the Scottish carry waterproof (because it's always raining) topographical maps.  I'd recommend following suit and carrying some form of a map. Please don't scramble the ridge in the rain, it gets very slippery. Don't make the same mistake as me and hike it when it's foggy, you really won't get the same epic views.  The hike will take 7-8 hours. Though it is a scramble and a rope isn't necessary, less experienced hikers should bring a short rope (20-30 meters) for one down-climbing section where there an anchor available for rappelling or hand lining.  

The route is a loop but starts and ends just a quarter mile apart along highway A87. You don't have to but I recommend hiking it counter-clockwise that way you are scrambling up the steep side. 

The starting coordinates (N 57°10'34.32" W 5°21'52.52") will bring you to a layby on the side of the A87 with a clearly marked path on the east side of the highway. The path will turn into a trail and begins to switchback up the hill then begins a long walk around the right side of the mountain. When you reach the col, go left and follow the defined path along the right side of the Meallan Odhar ridge. After the ridge you'll come to a fantastic view of lakes and peaks to the right. 

You'll arrive at the bottom of Forcan Ridge, here is where the scramble begins. The entire Forcan Ridge takes 2-3 hours to complete depending on your experience with scrambling. You will see a tiny path along the left side of the ridge. You can take that path but it will avoid Forcan Ridge. The first section is the steepest section of scrambling but is no harder than a grade 3 scramble. The ridge gets progressively more knife's-edge-like so pay attention.  For an hour so you slowly ascend to the highest peak of the ridge, Sgurr na Forcan, where I recommend you take a break for a snack. Next you will begin the downward scrambling section. In this section there is only one particularly difficult section where experienced climbers will have no problem down-climbing, however if you choose to bring a short rope there is an anchor above this section of scrambling. 

At last you will reach a cement pillar marking the Saddle where you will make a U-turn and head down a boulder field to Bealach Coire Mahalagan. At the col you should see a small path to the right where people have walked, you will see a lake/lagoon as well as a line of old metal poles sticking out of the ground, walk along this line towards the hill in front of you. You are going to be hiking up that hill however there are many ways people walk up it. Scout out you path up it as you're walking toward it. Take caution if you choose to hike up the boulder fields, some rocks may be loose and you don't want a boulder to fall on a friend below you. When you reach the top of the hill you will look left and see the ridgeline to Faochag where you will be headed. 

Here you have the option to add 1 mile by going right at the ridge at the top of the hill to go the Sgurr na Sgine peak. Follow the path to the right and the path curves left to a "munro" with more amazing views. Back track to the spot where you turned right and continue straight toward Faochag. 

The trail is direct, following the top of the ridge where the trail ends at Faochag.  Enjoy a rest with beautiful panoramic views of the Five Sisters across from you before the strenuous descent.  I must say one of the steepest descents I've ever done. The descent will take a seemingly endless 2 hours.  At the bottoms of the hill your shoes will definitely get muddy due to inescapable bogs. After two river crossing you are close. The trail comes out on the highway with a bunch of trail signs where you will head north to your parked car. 

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