On the last full day of our week in Scotland the weather improved. We’d driven down from Torridon the night before having walked Ben Eighe in low cloud and drizzle. The day broke cloudy but with the promise of something better. Parking in the Devil’s Staircase layby (another off-day for Old Harry?) on the A82 directly opposite the North end of BEM.
We took the route on the website, so no map attached.
Across the River Coupall and into the Coire na Tulaich, the path up was rough and bouldery. We passed six climbers in hard hats, who presumably started a lot earlier than us, they looked pleased with themselves. We made the belach in good time, had a snack and headed Northeast up the pyramid of Stob Dearg (1022m), large boulders and loose quartzite rubble made it a dreary trudge despite the magnificent views. Ahead on the peak there were three figures, two lads who were standing around chatting and one large raven who was lurking. One of the lads, who it turned out were out from Dundee for a day, was wearing a dressing gown. There being no tent visible we had to ask – it turns out it was a bet with his brother that he could climb the Curved Ridge in his pyjamas.
The raven was even more persistent than the one on Aonach Eagach we encountered a week earlier, whichever way I pointed the camera it was there. I fed it a few nuts and raisins and it went off happy.
We headed off South leaving the Dundee lads to chat. The great thing about the Big Bookle is the undulating ridge that twists and turns a little; it’s wide enough to stroll along, and the peaks make it interesting. With every change there are great views, across to the Little Bookle, the AE ridge and Biden nam Biam and the other way towards the Black Mount and Glen Etive. We met several people along the way and chatted, as you do, but it never seemed busy. One of the joys of hillwalking is the chance to meet people who will give you the time of day and are always happy to share their experiences. In three weeks of walking we have only met two people who didn't want to stop and chat; well good luck to them, they are missing out.
We wandered over Feadan Ban, Stob na Doire (1101m) and Stob Coire Altruim (941m) before reaching the second Munro, Stob na Broige (956m).
The view down Glen Etive were stupendous. Time to turn for home (actually the Clacaigh Inn) for dinner. The path down into Lairig Gartain, was well made and came out at the lovely stream which feeds into the River Coupall. In the evening sunshine the whole valley was bathed in a beautiful light, a great end to a great day out in the hills.
Postscript: having no need to get home early, the next day we spent the morning in Coire Gabhail; Ben bouldering and i reconnoitring the route for next years visit. Having noted the streams of walkers going up to Biden nam Bian we opted for the Beinn Fhada ridge as the best approach. Ben got bitten by so many midges he looked as though he had measles, I escaped unscathed. In the car park on the M6 we got accosted by a large crow for snacks, no doubt word had spread what soft touches we were.
A note on pronunciation: according to a Scot I met the day before my pronunciation of the ridge name as Bookalaylee Eteeve Moor was somewhat incorrect. I’m beginning to suspect that this gallic name thing is a wind up for those of us who live South of the border. Coming from Norfolk we are used to an occasional missing letter in names but usually one at a time, not every other one. I expect that the next time I meet a Scot the pronunciation will have changed again!
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.