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Beinn nan Aighenan.....the hard way

Beinn nan Aighenan.....the hard way


Postby PeteR » Mon Apr 25, 2011 11:42 pm

Route description: Beinn nan Aighenan, Glen Etive

Munros included on this walk: Beinn nan Aighenan

Date walked: 25/04/2011

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Last week had seen me enjoying the sun, sea and sand of the Kent/Sussex border with my two young lads. Having returned them safely to their mother on Saturday it was a matter of a 500ish mile car journey back home. The short time spent with my boys was great (as always), but having to hand them back is never easy. A wee walk was definitely needed to help pull myself together.

I had had this route in mind for a while, to pick off the last of the 'Etive' hills. Rather than do the usual up and over from Glen Etive I instead opted for the long route from Victoria Bridge into Glen Kinglass and then up the east ridge of the hill. 19 miles, which some might think a bit much when an easier option was available. But this wasn't just about bagging the hill, this was about a little bit of solitude along with the challenge of doing something a bit different and seeing this area from a different perspective :thumbup:

Stepping out of the car at Victoria Bridge was a bit of a shocker from the week previous. From sunshine and mid 20 degrees heat, to overcast and chilly. But I was soon warmed up as I got myself on my way.

I always enjoy the first view as I walk away from the car park toward the abhainn shira
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View to Loch Tulla

The view of the route ahead stays with you almost from the off, which can be both a blessing and a curse of course. It's along walk in (circa 6 miles) and as pleasant a view as it is my target didn't seem to get any closer as quickly as quickly as I would have hoped :(
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Are we there yet ......? An early view of the Etive hills

Although there was plenty of cloud about I could see that the tops were clear, so I was hopeful of some views as I made my way up the east ridge and on to the summit.

The initial section of this walk is excellent , alongside the abhainn shira (as for the walk to Stob a Choire Odhair and Stob Ghabhar). Passing the Clashgour hut the route leaves the landrover track and follows and excellent path through grass alongside the abhainn. I had wondered whether this would be boggy, but for the most part it was absolutely fine.
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Path alongside the abhainn shira

At the point the above was taken I crossed the river and headed through the forest for short section, with some nice views looking back toward the Bridge of Orchy hills.
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Looking back to the Bridge of Orchy hills

Soon after leaving the forest I came to a cracking little bridge which needs to be crossed back over the abhainn :thumbup:
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Bridge over the abhainn shira

After this the nature of the route changed; back to landrover track for the climb up to Loch Dochard. It's all easy going, but with a bit more 'up and down' to the track and I was feeling that the pace I was setting myself was a good one.

Loch Dochard is a little gem 8) It's a great spot for taking in the views of the Glen Etive hills, although unfortunately my initial hope of cloud free tops wasn't looking too hopeful as the cloud was now dropping and it was raining where I was headed :(
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Low cloud and rain on the Etive hills

Got a different perspective on Meall nan Eun, which from it's usual route of assent doesn't necessarily endear itself as the most attractive of hills. I liked the view from this side though.
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Meall nan Eun across Loch Dochard

Despite the overcast weather and the signs that conditions might be getting worse I enjoyed a few moments at Loch Dochard, simply enjoying the silence and serenity of the moment 8) It really is a beautiful, isolated place and one which I could have stayed at longer than I did had I not got a distance still to go.

Views toward Beinn nan Aighenan didn't look hopeful though, as the cloud looked set to stay low for the foreseeable future :shock:
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Beinn nan Aighenan in the mist

From Loch Dochard the track makes steady, but easy, progress up to a high point before dropping down into Glen Kinglass. For some reason though I seemed to lose momentum a little. For a while it became a bit 'stop/start', messing about with waterproofs as the drizzle became more persistent and just generally stuttering along. After a bit of a slient talking to I was getting back into the swing of it and feeling I was back on pace.

Eventually came up to an old, rickety, bridge over the river Kinglass.
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Rickety bridge

Chose not to cross at this bridge, instead following the path alongside the river to a new (safe) bridge, where there were some nice rock slabs with the water tumbling over the them to distract me for a while :)
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Nice water feature

The plan was to follow the track a little further and come off at an ATV track into Corrie a Bhinnein and use that to gain the east ridge. Somehow I managed to miss the start of the track and found myself walking a little further into Glen Kinglass than necessary.
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View into Glen Kinglass

Rather than mess about trying to find the start of the track I chose to head up next to the burn coming down off the hill, cut across to the ATV track and then make my way onto the ridge.
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Start of my route to the ridge

Hitting the ridge and it was time to head into mist. A slight break gave a bit of a view down into Glen Kinglass, but for the most part it was a case of mist, mist and a bit more mist.
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View down to Glen Kinglass

I'm not sure if it was the mist, or the effect of my 500 mile drive the day before, but I suffered a real loss of momentum on the ridge. I seemed to struggle to find the optimum line up the ridge. The 'path' :lol: was nothing more than occasional, so it was a case of following my nose onward and (slowly) upward. I'm sure there was a better line than the one I took, but it's too late now I guess.

Looming ahead of me was a 'hump' which would have to be tackled. In truth it wasn't difficult and I was up and over soon(ish) enough. My lack of focus though was the problem, slowing me down more than I would have liked.
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The 'hump' through the mist

On the other side of the 'hump' the ridge narrowed nicely for a short section. Again, the going was good, with the occasional path here and there to assist.
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Ridge narrowing post 'hump'

Another smaller hump then followed and then it was the final 'push' to the summit :crazy: With the mist I was never sure just how much effort would be needed for the last 'push'. I had it in my head it wouldn't be too long, but everytime I was thinking I was almost there another shadow appeared behind the high point I was aiming for. This was starting to get me down. Walking this ridge was just taking me too long and that in itself was also playing on my mind as I knew I had the small matter of a 6 mile walk back once I was back at the landrover track.

Eventually though I could hear voices (or was this just my mind playing tricks on me? :think: ).

But sure enough a couple of bodies appeared ahead of me out of the mist, along with the long hoped for summit cairn. Stopped for a brief chat with the couple and as they headed off I hung around hoping against hope that the cloud might break and I would get some views, however brief. This was the best I got :lol: Can you see Loch Etive just to the right of the top of the cairn?
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Aighenan summit and view

From the summit I dropped down to the bealach with Glas Bheinn Mhor (it was so good to have a path to follow at last, even if only for a short while) and then dropped off, initially steeply, at the low point into Coire na Caime and the walk alongside the river Kinglass back to the landrover track. This was quite boggy in places, but by now I didn't really care.
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Path off Aighenan to the GBM bealach

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Start of the route home

Given that time was getting on it was a case of putting my best foot forward. I made good progress getting back to the landrover track, although it was back to a pathless trek once again to get me there. Getting to the landrover track it was as if I hit the 'wall'. Perhaps it was relief at getting back to the home run (all 6 miles of it :lol: ) but my legs suddenly felt heavy and it was a real effort to get myself moving on the track. My solution was to engage the use of my MP3 and bang out some tunes to get me motivated. It must have worked, as I was soon making good progress heading back to the car along the route I had come along too many hours earlier :D

A cheeky look back at Aighenan showed that the cloud had eventually lifted :evil: but clearly it wasn't my day for summit views.
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So now the summit clears!

It was one tired walker that arrived back at his car (eventually). Despite my lack of momentum and focus on the ridge I really enjoyed this walk. It was tough, and I probably made it tougher for myself somehow, and it was a shame I didn't get the views higher up. But all in all it was worth the investment in both time and effort and I feel a sense of achievement in meeting the effort required to gain this summit via this approach route.

Will I do it again though? My ar*e will I :lol: If I ever suggest it, just shoot me :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Beinn nan Aighenan.....the hard way

Postby davgil » Tue Apr 26, 2011 5:55 am

Fantastic PeteR!

What a journey for one Munro and I know how you felt after my own efforts here recently.

Well done!
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Re: Beinn nan Aighenan.....the hard way

Postby kevsbald » Tue Apr 26, 2011 10:00 am

I too have this last one to bag in that area and this is exactly how I was going to do it. I might break the journey up with an overnight camp though. Sterling effort sir.
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Re: Beinn nan Aighenan.....the hard way

Postby malky_c » Tue Apr 26, 2011 10:55 am

Great stuff :) . Like Kev I had this one left on its own and went in this way (seems like I made the same route variation on the way back out too - my route). I lived in Dundee at the time so it seemed to make much more sense to have a longer walk and a shorter drive. Plus it takes you into places you don't get to approaching on the conventional route.

My weather was similar to yours though, which was a shame, as a view would have been nice from the summit :?
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Re: Beinn nan Aighenan.....the hard way

Postby ChrisW » Tue Apr 26, 2011 10:59 am

Great report PeteR - can't think of a better remedy for anything than a good solid, long, draining walk and the resulting solitude.

You still got some great pics too,even with the clag, helluva walk - too long for me :D
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Re: Beinn nan Aighenan.....the hard way

Postby Graeme D » Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:30 am

PeteR wrote:I had had this route in mind for a while, to pick off the last of the 'Etive' hills. Rather than do the usual up and over from Glen Etive I instead opted for the long route from Victoria Bridge into Glen Kinglass and then up the east ridge of the hill. 19 miles, which some might think a bit much when an easier option was available. But this wasn't just about bagging the hill, this was about a little bit of solitude along with the challenge of doing something a bit different and seeing this area from a different perspective


Spot on that man. I happen to have been thinking a lot about this one over the last couple of days and this version of it is now firmly on my "wish list" for later in the year. Totally echo your sentiment (and that of others who have subsequently posted) - I will definitely be doing it this way with a wild camp by Loch Dochard which looks like a fantastic spot for it. 8)
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Re: Beinn nan Aighenan.....the hard way

Postby rockhopper » Tue Apr 26, 2011 1:04 pm

Epic stuff Pete - looks to have been a very hard day especially after your drive - well done :D Maybe it won't be long before your sons can go with you on the hills

Have been looking at routes for hills in this area but hadn't thought about your route - looks nice even in the weather you got.
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Re: Beinn nan Aighenan.....the hard way

Postby pollyh33 » Tue Apr 26, 2011 1:18 pm

Wow an epic tale of Greek proportions. I doubt Homer or Sophocles could have done better!! :D
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Re: Beinn nan Aighenan.....the hard way

Postby LeithySuburbs » Tue Apr 26, 2011 8:36 pm

Cheers :) . This route is one I have identified as an overnighter so good to get some feedback on the route and wild camp site.
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Re: Beinn nan Aighenan.....the hard way

Postby gaffr » Tue Apr 26, 2011 10:11 pm

I've only ever accessed Albannaich and Meall an Eun from Forest Lodge....it's much more effort to get out to Aighenan via this long approach. :) A long time back poor old Ton Peters, a Dutchman with a passion for the Scottish hills, took a tumble on this side of Aighenen and lay for several days in a cleft on the hillside, I think with a fractured leg, before manging to attract the attention of folks in an estate vehicle.
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Re: Beinn nan Aighenan.....the hard way

Postby PeteR » Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:07 pm

davgil wrote:Fantastic PeteR!

What a journey for one Munro and I know how you felt after my own efforts here recently.

Well done!


Thanks davgil. It was worth the effort though :D Seeking out my next challenge now for the weekend :lol:

kevsbald wrote:I too have this last one to bag in that area and this is exactly how I was going to do it. I might break the journey up with an overnight camp though. Sterling effort sir.


Graeme Dewar wrote: Spot on that man. I happen to have been thinking a lot about this one over the last couple of days and this version of it is now firmly on my "wish list" for later in the year. Totally echo your sentiment (and that of others who have subsequently posted) - I will definitely be doing it this way with a wild camp by Loch Dochard which looks like a fantastic spot for it. 8)


LeithySuburbs wrote:Cheers :) . This route is one I have identified as an overnighter so good to get some feedback on the route and wild camp site.


Thanks chaps. A camp by the shore of Loch Dochard would be great spot. Such a peaceful place to stop and soak up the silence for a while as I was walking. Loved it :D

ChrisW wrote:Great report PeteR - can't think of a better remedy for anything than a good solid, long, draining walk and the resulting solitude.

You still got some great pics too,even with the clag, helluva walk - too long for me :D


Thanks Chris. A bit of solitude when necessary is certainly a good tonic for me. I should have got one or two decent pictures as well. I took enough :lol: :lol: :lol:

malky_c wrote: My weather was similar to yours though, which was a shame, as a view would have been nice from the summit :?


Cheers malky - true the weather was a bit of a shame as the views of the other Etive hills and Cruachan would have been good, but I'll take what I get so long as I can get out in the hills.

rockhopper wrote: Maybe it won't be long before your sons can go with you on the hills


I have managed Ben A'an with them a few years back rockhopper, and they fair ran up the thing, with me chugging behind. Then the little b****rs ran back down :lol: :lol: They both have Ben Venue in their sights, so that might be next.

pollyh33 wrote:Wow an epic tale of Greek proportions. I doubt Homer or Sophocles could have done better!! :D

:lol: :lol: :lol:

gaffr wrote:I've only ever accessed Albannaich and Meall an Eun from Forest Lodge....it's much more effort to get out to Aighenan via this long approach. :) A long time back poor old Ton Peters, a Dutchman with a passion for the Scottish hills, took a tumble on this side of Aighenen and lay for several days in a cleft on the hillside, I think with a fractured leg, before manging to attract the attention of folks in an estate vehicle.


The thought did cross my mind at times gaffr that I was probably done for if anything nasty happened on this route. I just don't let on the wife. She wouldn't let me out the house :lol: :lol:
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Re: Beinn nan Aighenan.....the hard way

Postby Border Reiver » Wed Apr 27, 2011 5:20 pm

Graeme Dewar wrote:I will definitely be doing it this way with a wild camp by Loch Dochard which looks like a fantastic spot for it. 8)


9 years ago, my girlfriend and I were doing a May walk from Bridge of Orchy to Taynuilt and pitched the tent on a neck of land leading out to a high-water islet in Loch Dochard. At dusk we heard voices and saw lights moving across towards the other side of the loch, then we saw a fire. Later, the voices got louder and we looked out again to see 4 people romping naked by the fire and in and out of the loch. I suppose that's real wild camping. It's a wonder the midgies didn't get them.
Whoever they were, they were gone when we packed up the next morning.
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Re: Beinn nan Aighenan.....the hard way

Postby Graeme D » Wed Apr 27, 2011 9:47 pm

Border Reiver wrote:
Graeme Dewar wrote:I will definitely be doing it this way with a wild camp by Loch Dochard which looks like a fantastic spot for it. 8)


9 years ago, my girlfriend and I were doing a May walk from Bridge of Orchy to Taynuilt and pitched the tent on a neck of land leading out to a high-water islet in Loch Dochard. At dusk we heard voices and saw lights moving across towards the other side of the loch, then we saw a fire. Later, the voices got louder and we looked out again to see 4 people romping naked by the fire and in and out of the loch. I suppose that's real wild camping. It's a wonder the midgies didn't get them.
Whoever they were, they were gone when we packed up the next morning.


Wild camping with entertainment provided! :lol: Good job Caberfeidh wasn't around - he'd not have known what to amputate first! :lol:
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Re: Beinn nan Aighenan.....the hard way

Postby LeithySuburbs » Wed Apr 27, 2011 11:47 pm

Border Reiver wrote:
Graeme Dewar wrote:I will definitely be doing it this way with a wild camp by Loch Dochard which looks like a fantastic spot for it. 8)


9 years ago, my girlfriend and I were doing a May walk from Bridge of Orchy to Taynuilt and pitched the tent on a neck of land leading out to a high-water islet in Loch Dochard. At dusk we heard voices and saw lights moving across towards the other side of the loch, then we saw a fire. Later, the voices got louder and we looked out again to see 4 people romping naked by the fire and in and out of the loch. I suppose that's real wild camping. It's a wonder the midgies didn't get them.
Whoever they were, they were gone when we packed up the next morning.


The Wicker Man Part 2 ?
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Re: Beinn nan Aighenan.....the hard way

Postby davetherave » Thu Apr 28, 2011 8:15 am

Super journey Peter, we came back the very same way for a circuit that we did last year. Some of your picks are very similar to the ones we took on our day. Your report brings it all back quite clearly.

Cheers
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