Ever Decreasing Circles - Sgurr Eilde Mor
by BobMcBob » Sun Aug 05, 2012 9:57 pm
Munros included on this walk: Sgurr Eilde Mor
Date walked: 04/08/2012
Time taken: 6.75 hours
Distance: 17.4 km
Ascent: 1311m3 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
And I guess there is a bit of a story behind it too, so I'll endeavour to tell it with the help of this small bottle of Talisker I have here.
Last year I set out to follow a walk in one of my guidebooks, called "The Eastern Mamores". This was supposed to take in 4 Munros, of which Sgurr Eilde Mor was the first. Those of you who know the area will doubtless know what the other three were. Those of you who don't won't mind if I don't tell you I'm sure. It's not very relevant. The relevant fact is that on that occasion I decided not to climb Sgurr Eilde Mor on account of the fact that it's a very long walk, that one, and I'm a big Jessie.
I did, however, spend a lot of time looking at Sgurr Eilde Mor that day and deciding that it was one of, if not the prettiest peak I'd ever seen. And I knew therefore that I had to come back and climb it one day. Pretty things are a bit of a magnet for me. And so I found myself in Glencoe, looking at a weather forecast which was for a lovely morning and a wet afternoon and thinking, "I could get up Sgurr Eilde Mor before it rains". Consequently I was parked up in Kinlochleven at 8:15am, which for me is the middle of the night.
One of the reasons I started recording the route on this walk is that I remember full well from last time getting very confused by the plethora of paths leading up from that car park. I've learned over the years that my inbuilt sense of direction only works on the way down. Even in complete whiteout I can find my way to the car without even thinking, but finding my way up - you might as well spin me round and ask me to pin the tail on the donkey when the donkey is in a different room. I made my first wrong turn after 10 yards, turning right when I should have gone left. But once I realised and backtracked, and missed another turn and backtracked again, things started to improve. For a while. I have to say, for all my old-fart-ish "I prefer a paper map and compass" (and I still do, I LOVE maps), at times like this I praise the engineers who had the lunatic idea of putting up satellites to tell us where we are.
It's something of a slog up through the birch woods out of Kinlochleven and even at this early hour it was hot and humid, but once out of the trees the rewards are some of the best views. This is probably my favourite view in Scotland, out over Loch Leven.
From this point on I remembered the route very well. To be fair you'd have to be walking backwards to get lost on this one. The path is very good. It climbed gently and then more steeply upwards, past the southern flanks of Na Gruagaichean, up and round the southern end of Sgor Eilde Beag and into Coire an Lochain. This place... this wonderful, remote, beautiful place. If I could write poetry I could fill a book with lines devoted to how it looks and how it makes me feel. I'll try to let some photos do some of that.
Sgurr Eilde Mor
I wandered around taking photos of the prettiness from every conceivable angle, and you'll now start to understand why the route becomes a bit unpredictable at this point But eventually I decided I had to get up there and I set out, following the path up the western side. This wasn't pretty at all. The character of this peak changes significantly from this angle. It becomes a rocky pile of scree and loose mud where I had to employ my hands on several occasions, but not for scrambling per se, just to stop myself sliding backwards down the slope. I'd hate to attempt this in the wet, it would be awful. But at least it's not very long, it's less than 300 meters vertically and it was over mercifully quickly. I hate to talk in such terms about such a pretty place, but the facts is the facts.
And well, the views from the top... ooooooh. What a great viewpoint. More pictures.
Just when I thought the views couldn't get any better, while I was on top admiring the distance, a very pretty young woman appeared over the south-eastern flank of the summit. We got chatting, as you do. She said she was working. She also said she was a fish biologist. Now, I don't know a lot about fish but given that they live in rivers and that I was on top of a mountain I wasn't sure which statement I thought was the bigger lie. Actually she'd come up to get a photo of the reservoir. That was her excuse anyway Nice work if you can get it.
After a too-brief chat she set off down the way I'd come up. I set off down the way she'd come up. But as I got to the bottom something drew me back round towards where I'd gone up from. I really can't explain what it was. As I wandered around, not quite sure what I was doing, I came across a tent which was occupied by a very pretty Dutch girl, with whom I chatted for while. It was all getting too much. I wandered off and sat on a rock for a bit. What is a man supposed to do in these circumstances?
After a packet crisps, two sandwiches, a Snickers bar, and half a litre of water, I realised that what a man of 41 is supposed to do in these circumstances is go home before it rains because it'll only make your knees hurt if you get damp
So I set off, past the Dutch girl and another chat, down past some waterfalls and along the landrover track, where it started persisting down. I found my way back down through the various tracks using my inbuilt directional radar. Viewranger crashed slightly before I reached the bottom, but never mind the route was almost done.
So that's how I ended up walking around in circles surrounded by more prettiness than one man could cope with. I love it up there, and I'm pretty sure I'll be back.
by Alan S » Sun Aug 05, 2012 11:23 pm
by Graeme D » Mon Aug 06, 2012 12:34 pm
by MarilynMunro » Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:48 pm
Wot no Swedish girls
by LeithySuburbs » Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:51 pm
by tomyboy73 » Mon Aug 06, 2012 2:39 pm
by malky_c » Mon Aug 06, 2012 4:45 pm
Enjoyable report too
by BobMcBob » Mon Aug 06, 2012 7:17 pm
malky_c wrote:Stunning photos - how do you get so much colour in them? I assume you must have had the same lighting conditions (near enough) as I did on Saturday, but I struggle to get much light into mine (even with a bit of manipulation afterwards). Additional exposure always seems to lead to a horrible washed-out effect instead.
Enjoyable report too
Thanks I shoot in RAW, then postprocess in Lightroom. It's time consuming but I quite enjoy it. If you shoot JPEG you've got much less 'overhead' to play with. With RAW you can adjust the contrast to some quite extreme levels, which is how I got the detail into the Buachaille Etive Mor shot, for instance. I also used a polarizer on that one to cut through the haze - it doesn't always work but when it does it can be very effective - and always use a grad filter to darken the sky - otherwise you get a dark landscape or a washed-out sky. Also I never use automatic exposure, I learned to set exposure manually years ago with a film camera and a spot meter, and I still use much the same technique today.
All this technology in my camera and I'm still using it in the same way I used a 35mm camera in the '90s
by Bod » Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:11 pm
by yellowone » Sun May 08, 2016 8:34 pm
The hill was worth it though. A bit of a scramble to get up - mostly boulder field and a bit of awkward scree - but the views were pretty special. The paths to it make navigation easy but are hard on the feet.