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Inversion over Loch Eil

Inversion over Loch Eil

Postby 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: 789m

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My first report on Walkhighlands! I should explain that I only discovered this website late on in my Munro-bagging journey - but how useful it has been in 2012, especially. This year my wife and I have managed to complete so many memorable walks, including some long sought-after hills in remote locations, and comparing notes with other users here has been so helpful. Thank you.

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.

First view of the inversion

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.

Ben Nevis with cloud-filled Loch Laggan-side in the distance

The walk is now straightforward over the 609 metre top of Braigh Bhlaich, and then finally steepens beside impressive cliffs.

The impressive summit cliff

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.

Summit Pano-r.jpg
Summit Panorama

It almost seemed like we were inhabiting our own private world - just us and the mountains!

Ben Nevis-r.jpg
Ben Nevis

our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Last edited by maninblack on Thu Dec 20, 2012 2:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Inversion over Loch Eil

Postby Stuart Angus » Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:02 pm

:thumbup: Better late than never :lol: tremendous pictures, love em all :thumbup:
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Re: Inversion over Loch Eil

Postby Lenore » Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:35 am

Excellent! Thanks for sharing!!
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Re: Inversion over Loch Eil

Postby kevsbald » Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:45 am

Welcome on board and thanks for posting - looks a cracking wee hill.
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Re: Inversion over Loch Eil

Postby Fudgie » Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:48 am

That was excellent. I was also on the Succoth zig zags earlier this month and my friend who had micro spikes made short work of the icy path. Now that you've mentioned how easy it was with them (I didn't want to wreck my crampons either) I think I'll get myself a pair.
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Re: Inversion over Loch Eil

Postby robertphillips » Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:09 pm

well done good report. :) done this hill last week in similar conditions same route up and down.
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Re: Inversion over Loch Eil

Postby pgrizz » Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:31 pm

That last photo is quite superb, will take some beating if entered in the monthly photo competition on this site.
Always special to get above the clouds like that.
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Re: Inversion over Loch Eil

Postby heatheronthehills » Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:00 pm

Beautiful photos, looks like you had an amazing day!
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Re: Inversion over Loch Eil

Postby Johnny Corbett » Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:18 pm

Nice one and lovely photos. Allways good to read reports on hills still to climb :)
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Re: Inversion over Loch Eil

Postby maninblack » Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:59 pm

Many thanks to everyone for their kind comments.
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Re: Inversion over Loch Eil

Postby clivegrif » Sat Jan 12, 2013 6:26 pm

Great stuff, what a beautiful day! As has been said before, great pic of Ben Nevis above the cloud. :clap:
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