Autumn perfection in Glen Etive

Corbetts: Beinn Mhic Chasgaig, Stob Dubh

Date walked: 22/11/2015

Time taken: 7.25 hours

Distance: 15.5km

Ascent: 1690m

Corbetts: Stob Dubh, Beinn Mhic Chasgaig.
Date: 22/11/2015.
Distance: 16.5km.
Ascent: 1690m.
Time taken: 7 hours, 15 minutes
Weather: Sunny, calm, clear. Fresh snow above 700m

I had resigned myself to dull activities this weekend, with perhaps the possibility of a couple of hours out on a local hill somewhere. Fortunately when I looked at the weather forecast on Friday evening the outlook had improved greatly, particularly further south. It looked like there would be enough motivation to head further afield and go up a couple of previously unclimbed hills on Sunday :) . I had promised to drop Gill at the gym at 8am, so no pre-dawn starts, so after an attractive drive down to Glen Etive, I was parked up and ready to walk by 10:30am. Despite a suggestion that the strongest sunshine would be further south still, things were looking pretty good in Glen Etive.

Cloud rising from Loch Ness on the drive down:

Buachaille from head of Glen Etive:

Glen Etive.gpx Open map in GPS Planner  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

The infamous gate was unlocked, and I decided to ignore diversions around Altachaoruin, instead following the driveway to the house. As no-one was in residence (are they ever?), I didn't have any concerns about doing this. A footbridge led me over the river and onto the start of the steep ascent up An Grianan. This was clearly going to be one of those rare brilliant days, with the last of the autumn colour still about and the first snows upping the attraction factor.

The way up via An Grianan:

Up Glen Etive:

The sun was still on the wrong side of the sky to fully appreciate the symmetry of the corries either side of Aonach Mor, but the views out across the back of Glencoe more than made up for it. It seemed rude not to visit the summit of An Grianan - rising barely 30m above the surrounding hillside, but impressively steep and bobbly. I get quite used to just wandering wherever I fancy these days, but for a change, the steep hillsides and crags kept me focussed on the obvious lines (too much wandering in the gently inclined, marshy hinterlands of late, I think).

Coire Ghiubhasan and Coire a’ Chaolain – Aonach Mor in between:

An Grianan:

Beinn Maol Chaluim and the back of Bidean:

It took me some time to work out what the spiky peak to the west was - Sgurr na h-Udlaidh. Most of the familiar Glencoe peaks look different from this direction, meaning it gets to stand out as one of the more impressive ones. It mainly brought home to me how rarely I had been on the Glen Etive hills in decent weather.

Sgurr na h-Ulaidh:

Back down to Altachaoruinn:

Bidean from the gap:

Buachaille Etive Mor and An Grianan:

The ridge rose in lumps and bumps before broadening out at Beinn Ceitlin. Some snow here but only autumnal fluffy stuff for the most part. There was the odd icy rock surface to watch out for though.

Along the ridge to Beinn Ceitlin:

The Black Mount:

Sgurr na h-Ulaidh:

Bidean again:

Black Mount:



Sgurr na h-Ulaidh:

The summit of Stob Dubh looks a long way away from here. Somehow in trying to keep the best scenery close by (the sun was glaring too strongly from the other direction), I skipped out on the actual summit of Beinn Ceitlin. I thought I could spot a couple of other folk on the summit - I met them on the final steep ascent.

Finally the summit of Stob Dubh, with Beinn Sgulaird and Beinn Fhionnlaidh to the right:

…and Bidean:

Fhionnlaidh and Sgurr na h-Ulaidh:

Approaching Stob Dubh:

People on the summit of Stob Dubh:

Buachaille Etive Beag and Mor:

I couldn't have asked for better on top - snowy scenery, clear skies and t-shirt and shorts weather - all in the typically rubbish month of November 8) . I enjoyed a good 30 minutes on top. At one point I had planned to start up the ridge from Dalness, but looking down that way, I would have been in gloom and shadows for the entire ascent.

Unseasonal greetings:

Stob Gabhar with the Crianlarich hills behind:

Beinn Trilleachan and Loch Etive:


I retraced my first few steps from the summit, before dropping down Coire Dubh-mor. My preference for this round would have been the complete circuit of Stob Gabhar and Clach Leathad before finishing on Beinn Mhic Chasgaig, but I would have needed to be walking by 7am to manage that (I was barely out of bed at 7am!). Therefore it was the inferior descent to Allt a' Chaorainn before regaining all of that height onto Beinn Mhic Chasgaig. Messy looking on the map, but in this perfect weather it didn't matter. I doubt I'll do the full circuit now, as the constraint of including both Corbetts has been removed, and I am most likely to head for the ridge of Aonach Mor next time down here.

Dalness Lodge:

Black Mount:

…and up Glen Etive:

The mixture of slippery snow, the odd patch of ice and steep gradients made the descent a little slower than normal, but it was straightforward enough. A slightly boggy descent of the lower glen gave me time to appreciate the ridges and corries around here. I picked up a vague path, then dropped down to cross the Allt a' Chaoruinn and Allt Coire a' Chaolainn in quick succession. I didn't see any sign of the bridge shown on the 1:25k map, but then I didn't know about that until afterwards.

Beinn Mhic Chasgaig and Aonach Mor:

The path on the east side was better for a spell until I headed up into Coire Ghiubhasan. Then it turned into a swampy quagmire.

Initially wanting to climb up the western side of Coire Aiteil, I almost tried to cross the gorge-like river at this point. Sensibly I followed the path further into the corrie, at which point the gorge ended and there was a perfectly reasonable route up the eastern side. Steep and sweaty, but on good ground.

Looking back to An Grianan from Coire Ghiubhasan:

Nose of Beinn Mhic Chasgaig:

Stob Coire Sgreamhach:

The light was definitely starting to go as I approached the summit of Beinn Mhic Chasgaig. The shadows had been long all day, but were even longer now. The already red rock glowed crimson and the snow sparkled in the last rays. It had been worth the late start for this (although some would probably say I could start earlier and just go slower or further :wink: ).

Buachaille Etive Mor:

Moon over Creise:


Sunset from Beinn Mhic Chasgaig:


Stob Gabhar:

With the light dimming, temperatures were also plummeting. I had been hot and sweaty in my t-shirt and shorts on the way up, but in the minute or so it took me to dig out my hat, gloves and jacket, my fingers just about dropped off! I stopped for coffee, but only hung around for a few minutes on this summit. Shame, as it was probably even more impressive than the last one. Didn't stop me from doing a circuit of the summit area for views and photos though.

Getting a bit chilly for this now:



I started dropping down shortly after 4pm. I had favoured a more direct line to the car, but had seen quite a few crags barring the way earlier. Complicated navigation combined with icy rocks and failing light quickly had me settling on following my route of ascent back down. Although icy in places (and getting increasingly so as the temperature dropped, I knew it would be quite straightforward. No need to break out the axe or crampons (there rarely is at this time of year, especially on the lower hills).

Sun lower now:








Time to head down:



That’s all folks:


The light had just about gone as I reached the floor of the glen, but when the moon reappeared around the shoulder of Creise, it was one of the brightest I had seen. I would love to have walked out under it (it was even casting my shadow on the path in front), but the path was a little too lethal for that, so I dug out the torch.

…but the moon is ridiculously bright:



Again, maps and reports appear to show a bridge on my route out, but I didn't see it and splashed across the river again one last time. I had hoped the path would improve closer to Alltachaorain, but it probably got worse. Between the knee deep pools, there were lovely smooth slabs that would normally be a dream to walk over. However a film of ice and slime meant that I was always a step away from slipping and cracking my head on them.. Still, the joy of a walkout on a crisp moonlit evening could not be ruined. An almost perfect end to the day.

So enjoyable even this couldn’t ruin it:

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Comments: 9

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Location: Inverness
Occupation: Civil Engineer
Interests: Walking, Scrambling, Cycling, Mountain Biking
Munro rounds: 1

Munros: 282
Corbetts: 207
Grahams: 206
Donalds: 46
Wainwrights: 81
Hewitts: 205
Sub 2000: 130

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