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New boots with a pair of Buachailles

New boots with a pair of Buachailles

Postby old danensian » Fri Aug 17, 2012 6:23 pm

Munros included on this walk: Stob Coire Raineach (Buachaille Etive Beag), Stob Dearg (Buachaille Etive Mòr), Stob Dubh (Buachaille Etive Beag), Stob na Bròige (Buachaille Etive Mòr)

Date walked: 08/08/2012

Time taken: 9 hours

Distance: 22.5 km

Ascent: 2045m

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This was my Braemar alternative. I was still able to take advantage of some glorious weather for a dash to take the Etive herdsmen by surprise. I guess what follows is more of a collection of impressions and memories rather than a detailed informative report; there are more than enough of those on the site for these hills.

It was one of those drives on the way up when everything you passed cried out to be photographed. Pull into every other layby and capture everything on display: cloud-capped hills; early morning light throwing gullies and ravines into stark relief; skeins of mist clinging to forests; shimmering reflections as the breeze disturbed the early-morning waters. Bliss: it must be why we moved up here.

Evening light made the return journey equally magical and photogenic, culminating in the setting sun casting Goat Fell into a golden silhouette – but, it’s word pictures only as I restricted the camera to my time on the hill.

The Buachaille welcomes early morning travellers

Having driven past all the photo-opportunities and crested the supposed summit of Rannoch Moor they came into view, standing sentinel, as we all know. I’m preaching to the converted here so there’s little point in waxing lyrical. Simply put, they’re Ronseal hills. They have steep sides. They look just like archetypical mountains should: so what do you expect.

At this stage I’ll continue to mix the metaphors. Starting the climb was like a trip to the dentist. You know the bit I mean. He says “this might hurt a bit – but it’ll be worth it.” The added twist was a new pair of boots on their first outing, hopefully they wouldn’t be adding to the imminent pain.

Coire na Tulaich beckons

Entering the amphitheatre of Coire na Tulaich its back wall rears up unavoidably, the ultimate of being “in your face.” For much of the subsequent hour or so the only view comprises step after step after interminable step at eye-level about six feet in front of you. I moved out of the sun and was gratefully enveloped in shade as sweat began to drip. Rattling stones and the clack of walking poles echoed in the confined space as the sides drew closer. Four tiny matchstick figures zig-zagged above and showed how far there was still to go.

Reluctantly, I re-entered the sunshine as the steps continued to rise, and finally got to the head of the coire to be rewarded by the prospect beyond. Clouds were still clinging to various tops creating a moving patchwork of shadows and the odd wisp still drifted by below.

There's a Grey Corrie or three under there - from the head of Coire na Tulaich

To the east, and to my relief, the summit slopes rose more gently. To the west the remainder of ridge remained hidden behind Stob na Doire, to be gradually revealed as I climbed. Distant views constantly changed as cotton puffs obscured one peak then another, and a cool breeze helpfully kept the worst of the heat at bay.

On the summit ridge I could see why confusion arises about whether or not top has been reached in poor conditions and bad visibility. Two prominent cairns at either end with an unassuming domed hump rising ever so slightly between the two. It didn’t matter though; today was a day when all possible vantage points warranted a visit.

Out to Rannoch Moor from Stob Dearg

South west along the ridge - and across to the Beag

Then the rollercoaster ride across the tops to Stob na Broige began. Saunter, dawdle, meander, amble: whichever word you choose I used it. Plenty of time and no need to push it; it proved to be one of the most enjoyable couple of hours spent on the hill.

South and Glen Etive from Stob na Doire

Stob Dubh and Stob Coire Raineach from Stob na Doire

Stob na Broige from Stob Doire

Cairn Macabre below Stob Coire Altruim

Looking back along the ridge from Stob na Broige

Clouds appear to explode above Bidean

Then it was time to retrace my steps and to drop into Coire Altruim. Time to address the elephant that had been in the room. Another slope reared up across the Lairig Gartain and it had been visible all morning. I could ignore it no longer. The next obstacle would have to be confronted if I was to get both of the Buachailles done in the one day.

At the River Coupall the devil waited.

The Temptation - cool feet an easy walk and an early tea - undermining willpower

Instead of the test he offered the temptation. “Go on, just turn right. Cool your feet in the burn and just wander back to the car. You’ve done two, why be greedy and go for the four.”

Willpower pushed him aside and another stint of “no pain: no gain” began. It proved to be only slightly less steep than the view from across the valley suggested, but 45 minutes saw another gallon of sweat trickle off the end of my nose. No breeze you see.

“You must be a glutton” was the wry observation of the father with a family group waiting at the bealach. In Olympic fervour I said I felt embarrassed to think of the likes of Wiggins and Co. who would not have given up.

“I just think of a pint of lager” he replied.

“If I did that I wouldn’t have even started the second half of the walk” I gasped.

The short sharp shock to reach the ridge leading to Stob Dubh was soon climbed and I began the walk parallel to the one opposite that I’d traversed a couple of hours earlier going out to Stob na Broige. The furthest of the two tops rewarded me with the spectacular view down Glen Etive as well as the surrounding peaks that had been ever-present; the lower of the two supported the gold medal winner for cairn building.

It was worth all the effort - Buachaille Etive Mor in all its glory from Stob Dubh

And the gold medal is awarded to ...

Back at bealach below Stob Coire Raineach the final rise of the day loomed. Here the final appearance of the dental metaphor came to mind. This is the bit when the local anaesthetic starts to wear off and everything starts to hurt again. But, the pain gradually wore off as the gradient began to relent and the top was reached. All four done and I allowed myself the slightest sense of smug self-satisfaction.

The Ben, the Mamores and the Grey Corries - the final specacular view of the day from Stob Coire Raineach

I toyed with the idea of heading back down in the opposite direction from the bealach as the higher slopes on the way up had been particularly steep. However, although I didn’t fancy a misjudged slither through some of the greasier patches, neither did I relish the prospect of the longer trudge back on the road back to Altnafeadh.

So it was back down the way I’d come in a controlled descent back to river.

The walk out quicker than I expected, taking barely an hour before the matchbox cars passing along the A82 grew to life-size vehicles and the road was reached.

At the end of a perfect day - home's out there somewhere

I finally got back to the car at Altnafeadh just on nine hours. Feet were dry and comfortable and I cherished a pleasing sense of achievement that these two iconic hills had allowed me to enjoy them in such fine fashion.
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old danensian
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Re: New boots with a pair of Buachailles

Postby Graeme D » Fri Aug 17, 2012 9:04 pm

Both Buachailles in the one walk! Might as well hang for a sheep as for a lamb as they say! :lol: Lovely pics as well Nigel, and not bad for a Braemar alternative.
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Re: New boots with a pair of Buachailles

Postby gammy leg walker » Fri Aug 17, 2012 9:30 pm

Very fine TR indeed OD.
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Re: New boots with a pair of Buachailles

Postby skuk007 » Fri Aug 17, 2012 10:16 pm

Epic walk OD, making the likes of me feel lazy.
I did these over two days and didn't even think of combining them.

Glad the new boots didn't give you any trouble, long walk for a christening. :)
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