Inversion over Loch Eil
by maninblack » Wed Dec 19, 2012 7:40 pm
Route description: Stob Coire a' Chearcaill, from Loch Eil
Corbetts included on this walk: Stob Coire a'Chearcaill
Date walked: 18/12/2012
Time taken: 5.5 hours
Distance: 14 km
Ascent: 789m3 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).
So when I spotted that this hill had no report, I thought it might be an idea to add some notes. And what a day it turned out to be!
I am fortunate that I am now only working half-time, and my wife is retired, so a mid-week getaway is often a possibility. Watching the BBC Countryfile weather report for the week confirmed that Tuesday looked like being the best day, and further research on Monday suggested that the area near and west of Loch Linnhe was likely to be mostly cloud-free. That suggested Stob Coire a'Chearcaill which we hadn't previously climbed. I don't know about other users, but I tend to look at quite a lot of weather forecasts beforehand - in this case MWIS, Met Office mountain forecast and synoptic charts, as well as the BBC weather forecast video - available at any time online, and good for a general picture of what is going on.
Driving up from Helensburgh and over to Ardgour via the Corran Ferry, and with a walk so close to the shortest day, I also made sure I knew exactly where to go. Here Google Maps are so handy. The satellite view clearly showed the hill tracks, and Streetview let me "drive" along the road, and make sure I would recognise where to park when we got there. Blaich is a long string settlement, but the large turning from the road is unmistakable, and there is plenty of room for parking, making sure not to block any gates. The track up the hill has a local deer management group sign to its right, which declares that walker are welcome, which is always good to know! This track follows close to another on the other side of a fence going to various properties. Ignore side turnings to the right, including a third one - not mentioned in the route guide - going straight on here again, past an old shieling.
The track continues up to the deer fence at an elevation of about 175 metres.
I should say that at this point we were already quite excited! Approaching the Corran Ferry we had been under blues skies, but soon saw the fog over the loch. The drive up the Ardgour side was completely in fog, and so the prospect of getting above the cloud seemed certain. We were not disappointed. Once beyond the deer fence we could see over the cloud, and this blanket of cloud, covering Loch Linnhe, Loch Eil and the whole of Corpach and Fort William stayed put all day.
After the fence, climb up the steepening zig-zags until a small cairn is seen on the edge of the ridge. Climb to this, crossing a small stream. Once the broad ridge opens out, wonderful 360-degree views appear, with the Mamores, Ardgour Hills, Corryhully Horseshoe, Gulvain, and of course The Ben, prominent.
The walk is now straightforward over the 609 metre top of Braigh Bhlaich, and then finally steepens beside impressive cliffs.
At this point we experimented with our new 'Microspikes'. These had been purchased after a very frustrating day on the Cobbler earlier in the month. Good weather should have meant a great day, but the path was just sheer ice the whole way. The choice was between trashing crampons on the rocks sticking through the ice, or hopping from one bit of firm ground to another. At least two people were wearing these mini crampons made by Kahtoola, and seemed to be making light of it. Today they worked well, and were useful later on the descent of the icy path. I wouldn't recommend them on really steep ground, where the front points of 'proper' crampons would be needed, but very handy, and of course not very heavy, for less serious stuff.
Needless to say the summit views were superlative.
It almost seemed like we were inhabiting our own private world - just us and the mountains!
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by Stuart Angus » Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:02 pm
by kevsbald » Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:45 am
by Fudgie » Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:48 am
by robertphillips » Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:09 pm
by pgrizz » Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:31 pm
Always special to get above the clouds like that.
by heatheronthehills » Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:00 pm
by Johnny Corbett » Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:18 pm
by maninblack » Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:59 pm
by clivegrif » Sat Jan 12, 2013 6:26 pm