Munros 7 and 8 – Stob Coire Raineach and Stob Dubh 16/05/2010:
How slow does time go when you’re waiting on something really exciting, this year’s Munro venture seemed to take an age to come around. This time would see me tackle some of the peaks in and around the much loved Glencoe area.
First on the list were these two Munros, collectively known as Buachaille Etive Beag. Once again I was blessed with great weather, and great views. I remember the view I got of Buachaille Etive Mor from the bealach between these two Munros as being pretty special.
This image was taken while on route to the summit of Stob Coire Raineach looking back over to Stob Dubh which I would tackle second.
No real difficulties in bagging either of these summits. This one was taken from the summit of Stob Dubh looking east across the vast glen of Lairig Gartain towards Buachaille Etive Mor.
Munros 9 and 10 – Stob Coire Sgreamhach and Bidean nam Bian 17/05/2010:
I was feeling a bit nervous about this walk when I woke up. This was mainly because during the previous day’s walk I could see these summits still had a covering of snow which I wasn’t really experienced with. I was quite prepared to turn back if I thought the snow was a hazard but I’d have to see when I reached it.
This image shows the scale of the central buttress encountered while heading towards Bidean nam Bian. I’m not a climber by any means so these were tackled by walking to the right, and then up a relatively easy but ankle-breaking rocky ridge to gain their top.
When approaching from this direction there is a tricky and fairly lengthy scramble which needs to be tackled to reach the first summit. The scramble is just after the descent from Stob Coire nan Lochan and luckily there were plenty of good solid hand and foot holds so I soon made the top of Bidean nam Bian.
This image is shown just after the summit on the way to Stob Coire Sgreamhach. Luckily the snow was quite soft and I could see where to walk as others had passed this way recently and made footprints for me to follow.
No avalanches were set off so I made it to Stob Coire Sgreamhach without any problems. This is the view from the summit looking back towards Bidean nam Bian.
Now I had a problem though. The usual route down would have been back to the bealach between the two Munros to pick up a steep descent path which would lead down into the famous Lost Valley of Glencoe, and back to the car, however, when I’d passed this point earlier the path was not visible as there was still quite a lot of snow at the head of the valley. I really didn’t want to climb down the snow as with no experience I was unsure how stable it was.
I eventually took my own bespoke route down from just along the ridge of Beinn Fhada. I must admit even going this way I was a bit outside my comfort zone at times. The views from the floor of the vast amphitheatre which is the Lost Valley back to the peaks was worth the effort and danger.
They say this is where the MacDonald clan used to hide cattle from other marauding clans but I don’t know how they did that because the mooing would surely have echoed all around.
No further problems getting back to the car. This was a great walk which took me right into the heart of Glencoe, a very special place indeed.
Munros 11 and 12 – Stob Dearg and Stob Na Broige 18/05/2010
These two Munros are collectively known as Buachaille Etive Mor and I was excited to be doing these so early in my Munro quest. I would guess that most people who visit this area do so from the south where they cannot fail to notice the approach to the glen is guarded by the seemingly impregnable mountain which is Stob Dearg. When viewed from this direction it forms the near perfect shaped triangular mountain.
There is, however, one weakness in it’s armour, for us walkers, and it’s this that I exploited. I took this ‘tourist’ route up through the coire to gain the ridge and before long I had also reached the summit cairn.
As always when in surroundings like this it’s difficult not to stop and reflect on life for a while. I’d driven past this mountain a few times and always looked up in awe, now here I was now sitting at the top of it – incredible. The weather was once again unnaturally hot and I was in no rush so took my time to look around, Ben Nevis clearly visible just to the north.
The next image is taken on route to the next munro, Stob Na Broige, which can be seen at the very end of the ridge.
This is at Stob Na Broige’s summit cairn looking back along what was my best ridge walk to date. Stob Dearg is the reddish peak in the centre, looking a very long way away.
The walk down to the valley floor was quite steep but not tricky. I was so happy to dip my hot feet in the river there.
Munro 13 – Sgor Na h-Ulaidh 19/05/2010
A few days prior to this walk I’d been at the Glencoe Visitor Centre catching up on some of it’s history when I caught sight of the slope of Aonach Dubh a Ghlinne which I intended walking up to get to this summit. It looked incredibly steep as can be seen from this image.
I was right, it was a real leg-burner but taken in small bites I eventually reached the main ridge. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t so kind today and the cloud base was quite low meaning there were no views of the surrounding hills. That was a real shame as I’d heard the views of the Bidean range from this point were a bit special. There was very little wind so walking on my own, in the clag, in near silence was pretty eerie at times. I eventually reached the summit but alas the cloud base was not rising today.
On the way down to the bealach with Creag Bhan I slid down some wet rocks and hit my coccyx which would give me pain for many weeks to come. A small reminder of the need to take care at all times.
Munros 14 and 15 – Ben More and Stob Binnein 20/05/2010
My research on this walk showed I was in for another steep climb to begin with, the north side of Ben More. It begins on a farm track but eventually, when you can’t put it off any longer, you have to break off and make your way up the pathless energy-sapping slope. This was really hard work, however, I was able to pick up a path alongside a low wall and this made the going a bit easier. It wasn’t long before I walked into the cloud base and for the second day I realised I wouldn’t be getting any of the stunning views.
This image is on the summit of the second Munro of the day, Stob Binnein, looking back to where Ben More was hiding in cloud.
Munros 16 and 17 – Cruach Ardrain and Beinn Tulaichean 21/05/2010
I walked this one directly from the Crianlarich Youth Hostel where I was staying. A strenuous walk through the forest on paths which at times were hard to find soon saw me emerge into the open with fabulous views of my first target, Cruach Ardrain.
It was very warm today so no rushing was the order of the day. It was a very pleasant undulating walk along the ridge known as Grey Height and I soon reached my first target as shown below. It shows the summit cairn looking towards the second Munro target which looked quite small from this height.
After a brief break to take in the terrific view of Ben More and Stob Binnein I didn’t see from yesterday I set off. It’s a steep path down but it wasn’t too long before I was on the next summit looking back to where I had just been.
I didn’t fancy the walk back through the forest as the heat had been quite draining so I took a direct line to Stob Glas then down to the River Falloch where I could cool my aching feet once more. This return route meant I had a short walk along the A82 to get back to the Youth Hostel, not the best way to end what had been a great walk.
Munros 18 and 19 and 20 – Beinn Chabhair, Beinn a’ Chroin, and An Caisteal 22/05/2010
This was my last day of this particular Munro outing so I wanted to try another route which would see me bag three summits. The weather turned out to be another cracker so I could take my time and soak it all in. It was probably a bit too hot to be hill-walking but I’d rather have it that way than have no views. Suncream was used in abundance all day.
The first summit was reached by following the Allt a Chuilinn then turning up towards Garbh Bhealach, which was a hard slog. Then I could take it a bit easier with a lovely stroll along the ridge, on a relatively good path, to the summit of Beinn Chabhair.
From here there were great views to the next two summits for today, and to the summits beyond which I had bagged on the previous two days.
The next two looked quite close but there was a big descent and reascent to reach the bealach which sits between them. Still not in any rush so onwards and upwards. Once more I took the ascent in small bites and soon reached the bealach where I could turn right for my next target.
I thought I’d done pretty good research on these hills beforehand so was surprised to reach a tricky scrambly section on the main path. It wasn’t difficult but having not read about it before it was a bit worrying as I wasn’t sure if I was on the correct path, or what else I might encounter. No need to have worried as the summit is soon reached after this.
There is some discrepancy about which is the true summit on this mountain as it has three which are possible. They are only 30 minutes or so apart so I visited all of them just to be certain I had bagged it.
This image is from the first cairn looking towards my next target An Caisteal.
I returned down the scrambly bit to the bealach and continued up to soon reach the summit of An Caisteal.
I could have stayed here for a long time as the views were incredible. I ran through my mind what I’d done this week and was more than happy. Nowhere I’d rather be right now, of course when the weather is as glorious as this it helps. I descended via another great ridge, Twistin Hill, and had a relaxing evening soothing my aching feet before the long drive to Bristol in the morning. Where to next I was thinking already!