Ciste Dhubh

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Ciste Dhubh
Ross-shire, Inverness-shire
Ciste Dhubh from Am Bathach.jpg
Ciste Dhubh from Am Bàthach
Range: Glen Shiel Hills
Summit: 3,212 feet NH062166
57°11’57"N, 5°12’35"W

Ciste Dhubh is a mountain in the Glen Shiel Hills, the district packed with high hills where Ross-shire and Inverness-shire meet near the west coast. Ciste Dhubh stands on the border of the two shires and reaches a height of 3,212 feet at its summit, and so it qualifies as a Munro.

It stands between Glen Shiel and Glen Affric, a long distance from any centres of population; Kyle of Lochalsh is 19 miles away to the west.


The mountain reaches a height of 3,212 feet and is classed as a Munro and as a "Marilyn". It is generally associated with the Glen Shiel mountains to the west, although it is the most isolated of that group and is often climbed separately.

The name Ciste Dhubh translates from Gaelic as "Black Chest"; one possible explanation of this is that the mountain's summit rocks often show as dark in colour when viewed from a distance even in good light conditions (see picture).[1] The mountain should not be confused with another Munro, Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe, 4 miles to the west.


The summit of Ciste Dhubh, up the south ridge

Ciste Dhubh has a prominent pointed peak with flanks which are predominantly grassy with some craggy areas on its northern slopes. The summit is precipitous and rocky, and the southern ridge is steep and in places quite narrow, it offers few dangers for walkers but care is needed in high winds or under winter conditions. The mountain also has ridges to the northwest and north which descend to upper Glen Affric. There are two small corries on either side of the northern ridge. Ciste Dhubh falls to deep glens on all sides except to the south where the mountain is connected to the adjoining Munro of Aonach Meadhoin by a col with a height of 1,939 feet called the Bealach a' Choinich ('Pass of the Bog'). This pass, which lives up to its name, is strategically important as it also connects to the adjacent hills of Am Bathach and is vital to the walker who wants to climb the mountain with either or both of these adjoining hills.

All drainage from Ciste Dhubh finds its way to the east coast over 50 miles away, though it stands only 9 miles from Loch Duich on the west coast. The mountains north, east and west flanks fall into deep valleys which contain the streams which form the head waters of the River Affric and takes water away northeast to the Beauly Firth. Drainage from the southern slopes of the mountain goes south to Loch Cluanie and then east by way of the River Moriston and Loch Ness to the Moray Firth.


The most common ascent of Ciste Dhubh starts on the A87 road just east of the Cluanie Inn on the shores of Loch Cluanie at grid reference NH082118. From here it is a 2½ mile walk up the valley of the Allt a' Chaorainn Bhig to reach the Bealach a' Choinich; an alternative way of reaching this bealach is by climbing the Corbett of Am Bathach which stands to the east of the valley. From the bealach it is a steep ascent up grassy slopes until the southern ridge is reached which is followed to Ciste Dhubh's rocky summit. It is possible to ascend the mountain from the Alltbeithe youth hostel in upper Glen Affric by climbing the northern ridge.[2] section

The return to Loch Cluanie can include the adjoining Munro of Aonach Meadhoin, which is a 1,300-foot ascent from the Bealach a' Choinich. The view from the top of Ciste Dhubh is very good: the mountain is surrounded by higher peaks but none of them are too close (Ciste Dhubh has a prominence of 1,273 feet) and the nearby mountains of Mullach Fraoch-choire, A' Chràlaig and Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan are well seen in detail.


  1. "The Magic of the Munros" Page 136, Butterfield also says that "Dark Chest" probably originates from the dark summit rocks.
  2. "The Munros" Page 172, Gives details of ascents.

Munros in SMC Area SMC Section 11 - Glen Affric and Kintail

A' ChràlaigA' Ghlas-bheinnAn SocachAonach MeadhoinBeinn FhionnlaidhBen AttowCarn EigeCarn GhluasaidCiste DhubhMam SodhailMullach Fraoch-choireMullach na DheiragainSail ChaorainnSaileagSgùrr a' Bhealaich DheirgSgùrr FhuaranSgùrr na CàrnachSgùrr na Ciste DuibheSgùrr nan CeathramhnanSgùrr nan ConbhaireanToll CreagachTom a' Choinich