This route has been written about many times, but as we disagree with the Cicerone guide’s recommended route and this was the first eight mile plus mountain walk I’d done in 18 months, we thought it worth a celebratory shout. Why just the middle Pap? Because it’s the easiest as you might imagine, looking at the other two; it is a Corbett; and it is a fantastic walk! It starts from Three Arch Bridge, the parking area is just opposite the road to Knockrome. Cross the bridge and pass through the stile and follow the well worn path to Loch an t-Siob’, nearly two miles away. It is boggy, and that is the reason the Cicerone Guide does not recommend it, but it is not worse than our local moors and the Pennines, and the locals said it had been wet lately. It is the most direct route. Just do it! The young and agile can cross the stepping stones just before the Loch, and follow the path ascending gently west, but note the far bank has been eroded and the final step is a long one, and certainly I would not return that way as the final stone is also tilted away from the bank, so a miss would mean an early bath. Or worse. We noted the younger couple ahead thought twice about the final jump, and followed us on the return over the easily jumped Abhainn Gleann an t- Siob’ at the western end of the Loch. The other inflow streams are bridged as a sort of track exists to the “bothy”. Pick the best route from here upto a traversing path and climb the grassy slope to the broad saddle between the two northern Paps. The best route seems to be by the stream on the map which is marked arising on the saddle. Then you will see a diagonal stony path from the grassy saddle climbing leftwards to the start of the right slanting wide rake which is so obvious from the east and south, and which takes you easily right to the northern end of the south-west/north-east aligned summit ridge. There the now stony scree path ascends steeply back to the ridge. The “constructed path” on the summit is made of rough quartzite stones. I’m sure the summit has great 360 views, but the clouds descended on us. Returning from the summit, a straightforward descent at first on grass can be made where a brown volcanic blob lies on the southern ridge edge, to cut the corner to the rake, although you cannot escape some scree. Take time on the descent to savour the fantastic views of the other Paps, the Loch, and the far seascape and the mainland, and once down, celebrate at the wonderful bistro/cafe opposite the shop in Craighouse, before more pleasantries in the Hotel!
Nearly 9 miles, with just over 2500ft of ascent.
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