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Beinn Sgulaird - the second mouse gets the cheese (& sunset)
by smike » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:26 pm
Route description: Beinn Sgulaird
Munros included on this walk: Beinn Sgulaird, Stob na Broige (Buachaille Etive Mor)
Date walked: 14/10/2012
Time taken: 7 hours
Distance: 14 km
Ascent: 1240m5 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).
Now, back to the business in hand. After 3 days of rain and low cloud I’m desperate to get on the hill – finally a half decent forecast! So Beinn Sgulaird is the choice. I’ve never been one for an early start – in fact even in the darkest depths of winter you’ll rarely find me on the hill before 10am (that’s what head-torches are for?!) Plus I’m on holiday with my wife, and we have no intention of getting up at the same time as we do for the daily grind, so we finally park the car at 11.00am. Not a problem though - WH reckons the walk takes between 6-8hrs – I compute that as sunset is at 6.25, as long as we’re not snails then we should avoid walking in complete darkness! It didn’t start too well when I realised that I’d parked in the wrong layby and should’ve parked 500m further down the road – I knew I would be cursing this extra distance later!
We start off in beautiful weather, but after only 1mile and less than 100m ascent, my wife hits me with a shocker “I’m not really sure I’m up for this today”. Like any good husband, I completely ignored the negativity and responded with the positive approach – “let’s just get to [insert landmark here] and see how you feel – we can always turn back there”, along with puppy-dog disappointed eyes every time retreat was mentioned! Hehe, my approach worked. With ever expanding sea views down Loch Creran and across Loch Etive to Cruachan, we finally hit the first 863m top. It was 14.00 at this time, so a quick rest and a bite to eat later, we decided to tackle the surprisingly hard going over the second top to finally reach the 937m summit at 15.05. The views were fantastic in all directions, and with the ever changing cloud and sun and a bit of rain (thankfully this only lasted 5 mins), it felt like we were watching rainbows all day! There was a near-constant sound of distant stags roaring in the glen and we didn’t see another soul all day – magical.
We decided to go back the way we’d come, as although there are certainly alternatives, I’d read that they all sounded like a bit too much like hard work and as we’d be facing out West towards the sea and sunset, I figured that the hard work re-ascent would be worth it. I wasn’t disappointed! Once the two ascents over the rocky tops were done with, the views and ever-changing light were stupendous and we were treated to as fine a light display as I’ve ever seen while on the hill. I didn’t even regret parking in the wrong place, as we walked past an almost mirror-like Loch Creran as the sun disappeared behind the horizon – absolutely beautiful and a fantastic end to a cracking day.
One thing I will say about Beinn Sgulaird – I think it’s the hardest ascent for such a comparatively small Munro I’ve ever done – 1240m in almost 9 miles – that’s a hill that’s not giving up its summit without a struggle!
Sorry, got a bit carried away with the photos. Unfortunately, as we live “Saaf ov the borda” (that’s a dodgy attempt to phonetically display a London accent) I don’t get to the hills nearly as much as I like, so with the MWIS forecast fantastic for the next day – there’s only one option – get out on the hill again. However, we’re up even later than the day before, and my wife wants to do a bit of shopping in Oban first. We’ve got a sleeper train to catch at 19.50 in Fort William and I really fancy getting a pint and some grub at the Clachaig Inn before we head home. I thought we were supposed to be relaxing on holiday - what can we do in such limited time?! It suddenly clicked – I’ve never been up Stob na Broige (Buachaille Etive Mor) – I’ve been up Stob Dearg a couple of times before - once in winter (on an absolutely stunning crisp clear day) and once in May.
Unfortunately, we’re simply not fit enough to do the whole ridge in such limited time (we finally parked the car at 13.00, with an aim of being in the Clachaig by 18.00), so we opted had to go for the relatively boring ascent of Coire Altruim. The toil of the ascent was really worth it once you hit the ridge – quickly up on to Stob Coire Altruim and finally along the fine ridge onto Stob na Broige reaching the summit at 15.25. Again, the autumn colours and late afternoon light were fantastic (which I why I will never be an early bird, in addition to the sleep advantage). When the weather is good (rarely, admittedly – my previous 2 weeks to the highlands were almost constant rain for 7 days) I think that Autumn is one of my favourite times of year for walking – not too hot, amazing light and fantastic colours.
The views all round were fabulous, especially down Glen Etive. I have to say once I was up on the ridge, it was a shame to have to return the same way as we’d ascended, but we had an important meal to eat and a train to catch, so it will be there again for another day- and I shall definitely return for it! As we were descending Stob Coire Altruim we passed a family, who I’d spotted on the top of Stob na Doire whilst we were on Stob na Broige. The two kids were only fairly young and we were dead impressed that they’d walked the whole ridge! They put us both to shame – if you are on WH – much respect from us – we were feeling positively humbled afterwards! As we were descending, the cloud rolled in creating all kinds of fantastic optical effects, a quick ‘glory’ appeared and then disappeared, but I didn’t get my camera out in time. Back down to the car for 17.45 – in the Clachaig for 17.55 – mission accomplished! A venison casserole, pint of Leven Blond and an apple and Blackberry Crumble (with custard, naturally) later and unfortunately it’s time to head back to catch the train home. Goodbye, Highlands, until next time… I may live far away but I’m only 28 – so I’ve still a fair few trips left in my lifetime (with any luck!)
by pigeon » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:49 pm
by smike » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:58 pm
by pigeon » Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:19 pm
by PeteR » Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:23 pm
by dooterbang » Wed Oct 17, 2012 11:44 pm
Last 3 photos of day 1 are great.
Hey you should try sgulaird the way i did it
by smike » Thu Oct 18, 2012 9:32 am
by dooterbang » Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:08 am
Yep, i think a divorce would be on the cardssmike wrote:Cheers, PeteR & dooterbang. dooterbang, I saw your report - very impressed! I don't think I'd have covinced my wife to carry on with that one though
by Fudgie » Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:16 am
The view from Stob Na Broige looking down Loch Etive is fantastic.
by gordon l » Thu Oct 18, 2012 6:51 pm
by dogplodder » Thu Oct 18, 2012 7:22 pm
by smike » Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:32 pm
Fudgie wrote:I take it for granted just how close I live to these hills
I know - I only wish I lived closer - I'd be out every weekend if I was local. Whilst I can't have any complaints about where I live as it's a great place (Oxford), it is rather lacking in height - my nearest hill is a mighty 171m! I have thought about moving, but unfortunately there's not a lot of work up that way for what I do (although my company were talking about opening a Scottish office - here's to hoping!)
gordon l wrote:Enjoyed reading that, great report and pics of 2 quality days- you certainly maximised your time. Haste ye back
Ta, I'm sure it won't be too long . I have an almost annual week in February for some winter wonderland walking with friends - hopefully this will all go ahead as usual - the hills are truly special in their winter coats
dogplodder wrote:I do often wonder if anyone will be bothered to read these rambling tales!
Yeah - I love reading the reports - keeps me sane when stuck in front of a computer
by old danensian » Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:39 pm
You really encapsulated the concept of using the day to the full - and with reflective sunsets like yours ...