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The Grey Corries: Concerto in B Positive

The Grey Corries: Concerto in B Positive


Postby gordon l » Fri Oct 12, 2012 8:41 pm

Route description: The Grey Corries

Munros included on this walk: Sgurr Choinnich Mor, Stob Ban (Grey Corries), Stob Choire Claurigh, Stob Coire an Laoigh

Date walked: 07/10/2012

Time taken: 10.5 hours

Distance: 25.3 km

Ascent: 1950m

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hrey.jpg

Ah the Grey Corries, you sound a little like an aging folk-band tribute act, but you are lovely.

This ridge was one that I had been meaning to do for a long while now but I wanted to wait until the forecast was most favourable. No plodding along in clag, head down and mentally turning red dots blue. No scurrying around in a hurry, desperate to get out of sodding wet clothes and escape to the pub. Nope, I knew this was a walk to be savoured. Sunday’s forecast gave me and my compadres Tom and Colin the chance to see for ourselves just what they had to offer and they surpassed our expectations. The live performance was much more impressive than the album, so to speak. Simply put, they are inspiringly beautiful and ruggedly alluring. I'll certainly be back.

After picking up the lads at Dumbarton we were assessing our options in Fort William’s McDonalds by 8am. Turns out if you are a vegetarian like Tom you don’t really have any. So whilst he demolished 5 hash browns we discussed the walk ahead.

Our initial thought was to walk clockwise over the ridge from the carpark with the possibility of adding Stob Ban when we reached Stob Coire an Laoigh. If we had properly researched our route we would have realised what a counter-intuitive approach this would have been: the descent off and retracing of our steps back onto the ridge would have been plain daft. Fortunately we met a group of lads as we were setting off from the carpark who had the much more sensible plan of heading up Stob Ban from the bothy and then moving across the ridge. One of the guys was going to be doing his first munros on the walk; his mates will be hard pushed to plan the follow up to that.

We had been considering the merits of a fast-paced four munros with few stops versus a more leisurely three with plenty of photo stops. Tom loves his photography and he is good at it. He also takes a lot of photies. They say a picture is worth 1000 words? Well Tom took a veritable Marcel Proust novel worth on this walk. Anyway, we were not “in search of lost time” we were in search of a good time so we decided to adjust our route and take on the longer approach. The day was one to make the most of.

First: a health warning. Drive with caution. The road from Coirechoille is a horror show, absolutely pitted with pot holes enough to leave a mountain goat with travel sickness.
road.jpg
Leave your sports cars at home. After 1.2 miles of this lunar terrain we reached the start point for 9am, spirits soaring and suspension intact.

The next scary thing is the carving of the wee minister who greets you at the beginning of the walk. Definitely wouldn’t want to bump into him in the clag.
3 at thestart.jpg
2 wooden-looking figures and the wee minister

We literally paid our respects and headed up the track towards the Bothy, revelling in the views that were already presenting themselves- not of the ridge but east towards the Fersit munros and past a cracking looking Sgurr Innse on our more immediate left. Hadn’t been aware of that little beauty in the past, but it’s now straight on to the to-do list for another day.

We bumped into the 3 Ayrshire boys again at the Bothy.Our paths were to cross many times during the course of the day to the point that one of them asked, "Could you not just have been burds?" Had a wee chortle as we went off on our separate ways, to meet again, and again.
boty.jpg


We took a right onto the faint path towards Stob Ban in the distance, keeping the Alt a Chuil Choirean on our left as we ascended by the gorgeous gorge.
back to s.jpg
view back to sgurr innse

There is a less-direct route over the bridge just past the bothy but we opted to head up beside the gorge. Should really have stopped to put on the gaiters here but the allure of the Grey Corries just pulled us up.
gorge.jpg
It was a really enjoyable (though boggy) ascent from this side and we could see why a solo trip around Stob Ban would make for a nice day out but we had much more on our agenda. As Colin succinctly put it, the whole area is sublime. Wordsworth eat your heart out. By midday we were perched on the cairn of Stob Ban, relishing the close up sight of the Grey Corries ridge ahead.

But, wait a minute, the clouds that had been hovering benignly in the distance were gradually getting closer and lower. What had appeared to be the perfect day for this walk was beginning to change. The Corries were beginning to go off key. No one wanted to voice what we were all thinking: It was going to be one of those days. Last month we had one of them on Sgurr Thuilm at Glenfinnan where you think, hmm we know this must be a great walk but we’ll just have to imagine it for ourselves.
not moc.jpg
imagining views on sgurr thuilm or was it sgurr nan coireachan?

Compare and contrast with the best weather I've experienced so far this year: a perfect Stac Pollaidh.
stac poll.jpg

Aye the clag, or absence of it, can do some strange things.

Anyway, spirits were sagging as we descended Stob Ban (carefully, mind the scree)
ghostly stob.jpg
a ghostly looking stob ban
and as we eventually popped up onto the beginning of the ridge we were met by a view of… well nothing. Elvis had left the building. The anticipated view had disappeared and what we found was the summit cairn of Stob Coire Claurigh shrouded in cold cloud soup. Had we short changed the minister? Incidentally this was the part of the day that Tom found most difficult: the ascent up to Stob Coire Claurigh is certainly fairly steep (the 14th highest summit in the UK) although not rocky like the final peak of the day.
clag fever.jpg
we dealt with the clag maturely

So we waited. Tried to think positively. Be positive, it might blow over, said Colin. Some chance, I thought. But then as we grimly munched our lunches the band began to play. From the west the clouds began to thin and disperse showing us peeps of the ridge ahead. The Eastern Mamores emerged from the glaur. Slowly, to our great delight, the whole ridge appeared, snaking off for what seemed like miles. So off we went to begin our traverse of this tremendous ridge. It’s just an absolute pleasure to walk.
the traverse begins.jpg
the walk begins as the clouds blow south

click.jpg
click heels to disperse clag

views improve more.jpg
views get better

Stob a Choire Leith… Stob Coire Cath na Sine…Caisteal…Stob Core an Loaigh…Stob Coire Easain…Sgurr Choinnich Mhor...what a set list, hit after hit! Supporting The Corries at this point were The Stags, who seemed like a rather horny group. They honked and bellowed their best chat-up lines from the glens below as we traversed the various tops, their lusty boasts and promises echoing and bouncing off of the peaks we passed. The clarity of the autumn air seemed to accentuate the strange colour of the ridge, the sun bringing out a contrast between the ridge and the blues and greens above and below.
magnificent ridge.jpg
the ridge stretches out before us

looking to glen spean.jpg
towards spean bridge

to caisteall.jpg

cliffs.jpg
cliffs

clouds rolled.jpg
the clouds rolled over

morre ridge.jpg
and over...



The witches-hat peak of Sgurr Choinnich Mhor seemed deceptively distant from Stob Coire Easain at the end of the ridge but there was never any question of us leaving it out for another day. The descent to Bealach Coire Easain is lots of fun with some simple down-climbing on large and tightly-packed boulders an option if you fancy. One last push and we reached our summit at 4pm
Colin on the way to the last one.jpg
Colin heading for the last one

By then I was knackered, even after dumping my rucksack at the top of the first piece of ascent of Sgurr Choinnich Mhor to save bit of energy for the way back down. I was glad of the wait for the boys from the car park to catch us up so we could pose for the obligatory final cairn shot. The views back along the ridge and across to the Aonachs and Carn Mor Dearg were incredible. On a day like this though, we had spectacular views in all directions, over the Great Glen and up to the Fannichs and back to Crianlarich and beyond. It had taken us 3 hours to traverse the ridge, probably half of that taken by photography and general standing and admiring. Why would you want to rush a walk like this though?
final cairn.jpg
the final cairn: good name for a pub?


We also took our time on the way down, hundreds more photos composed and shot, plans hatched for our next walk.
way back.jpg

Colin demonstrated fantastic agility to stay on his feet on the muddy, tussocky slope down to the track but eventually his steel toe-capped boots betrayed his faith in them and they literally let him down with a flourish. Internally we sympathised; externally we laughed. The final task is to negotiate the river........... We had been advised that it was in spate but it didn't present any difficulties; a wee bit of wet feet at this stage was no problem, and we were across just south of the dam in no time.
tom and dam.jpg
tom attempts to make river-crossing easier

It was one of those days on the hills that you don’t really want to end. You want to breathe it in and save it for when you are stuck back at work or when MWIS tells you that heading for the hills would bring you more pain than gain. The walk ended in the dark along the track in Leanachan Forest for 2 miles, head torches lighting the way. It was a brilliant 10.5 hours on the hills. Even had time to stop and admire the Milky Way streaking across the sky above Rannoch Moor. Colin struck a sour note at that point by stating that the Andromeda Galaxy is due to collide with ours in 5 million years and there is no way to avoid this catastrophe.

In short, we are all doomed. But be positive: there is just enough time left to get a clag-free round of the Munros done.The photos from the day give a great record of the walk but the real impression of the day will be in the mind’s eye. The Grey Corries have to go down as one of the best gigs of the year. Cheers to Tom and Colin for the company. Looks like our next walk together will be into the Cairngorms. No doubt a monumental clag-fest beckons. “Oh Grey Corries, when will we see your likes again?”

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Last edited by gordon l on Sun Oct 14, 2012 1:06 am, edited 5 times in total.
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gordon l
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Re: The Grey Corries: Concerto in B Positive

Postby Paula Hubens » Fri Oct 12, 2012 9:29 pm

That was a very good read and some great pictures. :D
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Re: The Grey Corries: Concerto in B Positive

Postby Meatball » Fri Oct 12, 2012 9:45 pm

Cracking report, photos and hills!
I think I'll do these again!
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Re: The Grey Corries: Concerto in B Positive

Postby Graeme D » Fri Oct 12, 2012 10:23 pm

I wonder what they're putting in the breakfasts in that branch of McDs in the Fort???? :lol: :lol:

gordon l wrote:Colin struck a sour note at that point by stating that the Andromeda Galaxy is due to collide with ours in 5 million years and there is no way to avoid this catastrophe.


Better get up the Grey Corries soon then eh? A few reports on them recently have caught my attention. 8)
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Re: The Grey Corries: Concerto in B Positive

Postby Bod » Sat Oct 13, 2012 12:29 am

Said hello to you boys on Sgurr Choinnich Mor! Great report........What a great day we all had! :wink: :D :D
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Re: The Grey Corries: Concerto in B Positive

Postby Lenore » Sat Oct 13, 2012 9:07 am

Great photos and love your writing style as well!
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Re: The Grey Corries: Concerto in B Positive

Postby gordon l » Sat Oct 13, 2012 1:15 pm

Lenore wrote:Great photos and love your writing style as well!

Thanks Lenore, enjoyed putting the report together, hopefully some more pics to add too.

Bod wrote:Said hello to you boys on Sgurr Choinnich Mor! Great report........What a great day we all had! :wink: :D :D


good to bump into you on the final ascent, could have done with some of that tablet for some extra energy. great day though and enjoyed reading your report of it too :D
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Re: The Grey Corries: Concerto in B Positive

Postby mrssanta » Sat Oct 13, 2012 6:35 pm

fantastic report I really enjoyed that.
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Re: The Grey Corries: Concerto in B Positive

Postby dooterbang » Sun Oct 14, 2012 12:08 pm

No longer a virgin and hep b positive!!! :lol:

Well done on your first TR Gordon.

Enjoyed reading this, you really should think of teaching English :wink:

Very much an enjoyable day. We did the Lochaber Traverse (6 munros) from Nevis car park, finishing with Stob ban, and i remember it being a fantastic ridge.

Loving the Stac Polly shot, still my favourite moontin 8)
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Re: The Grey Corries: Concerto in B Positive

Postby gordon l » Sun Oct 14, 2012 6:28 pm

Meatball wrote:Cracking report, photos and hills!
I think I'll do these again!

cheers meatball, would love to do them again, but include the innses too :D
dooterbang wrote:No longer a virgin and hep b positive!!! :lol:

Well done on your first TR Gordon.

Enjoyed reading this, you really should think of teaching English :wink:

Very much an enjoyable day. We did the Lochaber Traverse (6 munros) from Nevis car park, finishing with Stob ban, and i remember it being a fantastic ridge.

Loving the Stac Polly shot, still my favourite moontin 8)

hey i popped my cherry on cruach ardrain!
Paula Hubens wrote:That was a very good read and some great pictures. :D


thanks paula, all photos from the very talented tom :D
Graeme D wrote:I wonder what they're putting in the breakfasts in that branch of McDs in the Fort???? :lol: :lol:

gordon l wrote:Colin struck a sour note at that point by stating that the Andromeda Galaxy is due to collide with ours in 5 million years and there is no way to avoid this catastrophe.


Better get up the Grey Corries soon then eh? A few reports on them recently have caught my attention. 8)

get there while you can; great day out :D
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Re: The Grey Corries: Concerto in B Positive

Postby gordon l » Mon Oct 15, 2012 8:08 pm

mrssanta wrote:fantastic report I really enjoyed that.


Sory mrssanta, missed you out when saying thanks: THANKS :D
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Re: The Grey Corries: Concerto in B Positive

Postby mrssanta » Mon Oct 15, 2012 8:33 pm

gordon l wrote:
mrssanta wrote:fantastic report I really enjoyed that.


Sory mrssanta, missed you out when saying thanks: THANKS :D

pleasure's all mine :thumbup:
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Re: The Grey Corries: Concerto in B Positive

Postby Sabbathstevie » Tue Oct 16, 2012 12:37 pm

Wonderful report and pictures to match - thank you for sharing! :clap:
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Re: The Grey Corries: Concerto in B Positive

Postby Steve B » Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:05 pm

All been said above. Great report and pictures. Thanks :)
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Re: The Grey Corries: Concerto in B Positive

Postby Fudgie » Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:56 pm

A great read with some great pictures of what looks like a great day :thumbup:

The only thing thats putting me off doing these is that road in :shock:
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