Monday, May 7, 2012

Sunny Escape to Glen Coe and Glen Etive

At rather short notice I found that I had a few "free" days near the May day bank holiday, also, after a rather dull and bleak interlude of weather the forecast indicated that things might look up! I decided to jump in the car and head up to Glen Coe to attempt a few of those Scottish mountains which I have not climbed.

My luck was in! The first morning I was there parked near the helipad in Glen Coe. There is a fine view of the sisters of Glen Coe but this morning was special. The high peaks of Glen Coe were holding back a bank of mist which was rolling in from the east. With the sun already burning I headed up the path into Coire nan Lochain to climb Bidean Nam Bian.

Black dots on the map above show my route.

The day was glorious I really enjoyed the ascent up to Stob Coire Nan Lochain it just doesn't get better than this. The main path gets quite steep and scrambly as one heads into Coire Nan Lochain. At this point it levels off and I aimed for the col between Gearr Aonach and Stob Coire Nan Lochain. The ridge was followed south west and eventually turns west and leads to the summit of stob coire nan lochain. This final westerly section of ridge was a most enjoyable scramble.

The views from the summit of Stob Coire Nan Lochain ( Grid Ref. NN148548 ) were fantastic it was great to be back in the mountains!
A view of of Ben Nevis with its characteristic Whales back.

The fun continued with some fairly straightforward scrambling leading to the summit of
Bidean Nam Bian Grid Ref. NN143542. As I carried on towards the summit of Stob Coire Sgreamhach I felt my legs becoming weaker and started reciting the mantra "I must start cycling to work again".

View back towards Bidean nam Bian
Grid Ref. NN151537

Stob Coire Nan Lochain

The descent from Bidean was interesting my route guide had indicated a suitable descent route from the Beinn Fhada ridge into Coire Gabhail, this looked very steep and I was unsure. The alternative was to descend from the col between Stob Coire Sgreamhach and Bidean Nam Bian. There was a a lot of snow on the col but I managed to find a path through the crags to the left of the col. I picked my way carefully and eventually made it to the snow connecting with the col and slid on my bum to the main path.

The remainder of the walk returned me via the well known Hidden valley route... I was very sun burnt but I had and excellent first day in the mountains.

There was significantly more cloud on the following day I had 3 peaks in mind Ben Starav, Beinn nan Aighenan and Glas Bheinn Mhor. This fairly long day started from Glen Etive near a cottage called Coileitir. There is a very long ridge ascending the northern flank of Ben Starav Grid Ref NN126428. But it's well worth the effort its a lovely mountain with excellent ridges.

Glen Etive near Coileitir Grid Ref. NN139136 (looking north towards Stob Coire Sgreamhach)

Ridge leading to Stob Coire Dheirg Grid ref. NN131428

From Stob Coire Dheirg the route proceeds to the remote peak known as Beinn nan Aighenan Grid ref. NN149404. The visibility was good but I realised that in poorer conditions good navigation would be required to negotiate the contours which lead you to the col between Beinn nan Aighenan and Glas Bheinn Mhor Grid ref. NN152429

The view west from the campsite at Inver Coe, a good campsite which is comfortable and well kept. When I arrived at the campsite this evening there were more arrivals for the Bank holiday weekend. One group of people were from a filming crew for the newly opened Stevenson way. Based on the tale told in his book "kidnapped" the walker goes from Mull to Edinburgh following the adventures of David Balfour and his aquaintance Alan Breck. Filming for the opening of this new footpath included a redcoats chasing after David Balfour.

My final day in the hills for this trip was an ascent of Stob Coir an Albannaich Grid. ref. NN169442 and Meall nan Eun Grid ref. 192449. This route once again started from Glen Etive and the cottage called Coileitir. There is a path proceeding directly up the hill side to Beinn Chaorach its quite a steep pull up the side of a burn but quite well defined and OK.

I reached the top of Stob Coir an Albannaich at precisely 1030 with gentle flurries of snow blowing in the air, a pleasant and atmospheric experience. Making the summit of Stob Coir an Albannaich didn't pose any difficulties to reach Meall nan Eun Grid ref. 192449 from this summit provides an interesting problem. Descending the east ridge of Stob Coir an Albannaich we had to identify a gentle shoulder which has the most gentle descent to the col leading to Meall Tarsuinn. This is quite a steep route and in bad visibility would be difficult to identify. Once on the col the route leads up to Meall Tarsuinn and then onto Meall nan Eun.

Looking south towards Ben Starav.
A final view looking west from Inver Coe.

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