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Buachaille Etive Beag(les) at sunrise

Buachaille Etive Beag(les) at sunrise


Postby FourLeggedPal » Mon Jun 03, 2013 1:05 am

Route description: Buachaille Etive Beag

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

Date walked: 29/05/2013

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 8 km

Ascent: 900m

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My wife has had her eye on Buachaille Etive Beag for some time, but had reservations about the seemingly narrow ridge you have to walk along to do both summits. The perfect solution (or so my wife told me) was for me to go on a solo hike to test it out. Then, assuming no great hazards were encountered, I'd do the walk a second time with my other half and our two intrepid Beagles.

Being a keen photographer I had no interest in doing the walk during "normal" walking hours, so I set my heart on being on the summit of the nearest peak, Stob Coire Raineach, in time for sunrise. After reading other walkers' reports, I calculated that I'd need to start the walk at or before 3am (!!!) to be sure of being on the summit with my camera all set up by 4:40am (sunrise). In the end, I was heading out of the car park and up the trail at 2.45am. I was armed with a head torch and and an extremely powerful hand torch, but didn't need either of them; even at this very delicate time of the morning there was ample light to follow the path.

The walk to the "bealach" started off gently, but the higher I got the steeper it got, and as I was trudging up the rocky steps I was strongly reminded of The Cobbler, which has a similarly quad-killing segment. At about 45 minutes into the walk I saw a very bright light up ahead of me. I figured it was torchlight from some intrepid campers up on the bealach. "Blimey that's brave" I thought, but a few steps later and I recognized this ball of light for what it really was: the moon! Minutes later I arrived at the little cairn on the col.

Image
IMG_2367 by GammyKnee, on Flickr

In theory I now had enough time left to make it to the farthest peak - Stob Dubh - before sunrise, but I decided to stick with my original plan of going for SCR first, leaving me plenty of time to scout out the more photographic locations.

Heading left, I found the climb up to the summit to be far easier going than the walk up to the bealach. It took me barely more than twenty minutes, but I was soaked in sweat from the effort and I started feeling the windchill almost immediately. Fortunately experience has taught me always to pack a spare dry thermal top. No matter how much you pay for these thermal things, the moment you get them wet and stop walking they suck the heat right out of you!

Much warmer after my change of top, I took the obligatory shot of the summit cairn..

Image
Summit of Stob Coire Raineach on Buachaille Etive Beag, pre-sunrise [IMG_2382] by GammyKnee, on Flickr

However, to my eyes the best views were to be had further on and lower down from the summit.

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The minutes left till sunrise passed quickly and before long the sun was starting to poke its head up over the horizon:

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The higher the sun rose, the better the view became.

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Image

Image

This was easily the most beautiful mountain-top sunrise I've ever witnessed; it took no small amount of effort to turn my back on it and return to the bealach.

On the way up, the path to the summit of SCR is unmistakable, but on the way back down it's surprisingly easy to miss it and end up on a winding scree slope. Consequently my descent to the bealach was faster and more exciting than it should have been. As they say on Top Gear, "a bit of poo came out" :)

Image
Looking back to Stob Coire Raineach from the bealach [IMG_2517] by GammyKnee, on Flickr

Soiled underpants notwithstanding, I was still in good shape for the walk to the farther summit, Stob Dubh. This starts by winding up what looks like a prohibitively steep hill but it's nowhere near as bad as it appears. Keep plugging away and you're soon at the top! From there, it's a pleasant undulating stroll to the second summit. I'm not particularly brave when it comes to heights, but I found nothing scary about the walk along the ridge. It's wider than it looks on approach, and mostly rolls away gently from the path rather than presenting you with a sudden drop.

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Including photography breaks I took a little over an hour to reach the summit cairn of Stob Dubh, but once again I found it to be less photogenic than a second cairn further on but lower in height. The wind was picking up speed now and it was chilly enough to make my nose run, even in full sun. I reached for a hanky and discovered I had half a Tesco dog biscuit knocking around in one of my pockets. I symbolically placed this on the second cairn, ready and waiting to be grabbed by one of my ever-hungry Beagles the next day.

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IMG_2575 by GammyKnee, on Flickr

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IMG_2610-2612_Blended by GammyKnee, on Flickr

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IMG_2616-2617_Pamo by GammyKnee, on Flickr

On the return journey some clouds blew over and there was even a short-lived attempt at rain, but it made for some pretty dramatic views back towards the true summit and beyond that, the ridge and SCR.

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IMG_2670 by GammyKnee, on Flickr

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IMG_2676 by GammyKnee, on Flickr

That concluded my first trip up Buachaille Etive Beag, but of course at 3am the next morning I was at it again, this time accompanied by my wife Susan and our two hounds. My legs weren't nearly as fresh as they had been the previous day, but assisted by Beagle pulling power I still made it up to SBC comfortably before sunrise. This time around the sun was obscured by cloud, but it was still very beautiful.

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IMG_2738_39_40_fused by GammyKnee, on Flickr

Susan's even less keen on heights than me, but she had no trouble with the ridge, even daring to walk it with two crazy Beagles tied to her belt!

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IMG_2764 by GammyKnee, on Flickr

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IMG_2776 by GammyKnee, on Flickr

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IMG_2803 by GammyKnee, on Flickr

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IMG_2821 by GammyKnee, on Flickr

On reaching Stob Dubh our Beagles searched high and low for the biccie I'd told them about, and during the course of this search the cairn itself took a little, er, damage. Fortunately Susan was able to effect repairs..

Image
IMG_2849 by GammyKnee, on Flickr

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IMG_2825 by GammyKnee, on Flickr

Sadly the biccie was nowhere to be found, but our two were still willing to pose for the summit photo, albeit with a little coercion!

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IMG_2828 by GammyKnee, on Flickr

The next morning I didn't get up until 11am and was walking around like Robocop for the rest of the day :)
FourLeggedPal
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Re: Buachaille Etive Beag(les) at sunrise

Postby GillC » Mon Jun 03, 2013 10:24 am

Awww, fantastic pictures, Great to see Beanie and Biggles having fun on the hills. Great report, :clap:
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Re: Buachaille Etive Beag(les) at sunrise

Postby Fudgie » Mon Jun 03, 2013 10:49 am

Some desperate and hungry hillwalker has probably scoffed that biscuit :lol:

Fantastic pictures as always :clap:
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Re: Buachaille Etive Beag(les) at sunrise

Postby Cairngormwanderer » Mon Jun 03, 2013 11:14 am

Great pics, but that's one scary way of keeping the dogs reined in, with the leads tied to your waist. :shock: Don't they pull you off balance?
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Re: Buachaille Etive Beag(les) at sunrise

Postby FourLeggedPal » Mon Jun 03, 2013 12:12 pm

Thanks Fudgie & GillC!

Cairngormwanderer wrote:Great pics, but that's one scary way of keeping the dogs reined in, with the leads tied to your waist. :shock: Don't they pull you off balance?


Yep that can happen, but if you hold onto the lines then it's no worse than a regular lead, and you still have the option of going completely hands-free if you need to. And we have reassurance of knowing that if we have a stumble there's no way those two crazy hounds can get free, 'cos if they did, that'd probably be that last we'd ever see of 'em!
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Re: Buachaille Etive Beag(les) at sunrise

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Mon Jun 03, 2013 1:05 pm

Some truly magical pics there :clap:
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Re: Buachaille Etive Beag(les) at sunrise

Postby Julie » Mon Jun 03, 2013 3:02 pm

Fabulous pictures, thanks very very much for sharing
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Re: Buachaille Etive Beag(les) at sunrise

Postby naepace » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:31 pm

WOW those pics are fantastic. Great report and lovin the Munro bagging beagles !
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Re: Buachaille Etive Beag(les) at sunrise

Postby smalltounboy » Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:13 pm

WOW, those photo's are brilliant, might try a couple of twilight walks myself now
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Re: Buachaille Etive Beag(les) at sunrise

Postby SMRussell » Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:37 pm

Jaw dropping photos. Looks like a corking day in the hills :D
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Re: Buachaille Etive Beag(les) at sunrise

Postby Fife Flyer » Mon Jun 03, 2013 8:28 pm

What can one say, great report & some superb photo's :clap: :clap:

You certainly put the effort in & you were well rewarded by the weather gods :o
Not sure about doing the same walk/climb 2 days running, there aren't too many of us who would contemplate such a thing :lol: :lol:
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Re: Buachaille Etive Beag(les) at sunrise

Postby FourLeggedPal » Mon Jun 03, 2013 9:48 pm

Thanks everyone, glad you like the photos. I got so very, very lucky with the weather that morning! :D
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Re: Buachaille Etive Beag(les) at sunrise

Postby Scotjamie » Mon Jun 03, 2013 9:59 pm

As has been said, great report and smashing photies...well done indeed 4LP
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Re: Buachaille Etive Beag(les) at sunrise

Postby footwork » Fri Jun 26, 2015 10:55 am

Spectacular!
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Re: Buachaille Etive Beag(les) at sunrise

Postby Alteknacker » Fri Jun 26, 2015 11:22 pm

Glug!!! Those photies are barely believable. Simply awesome, in the true sense of the word: you could enter pretty well every one in the photy of the month competition and win outright.

I his, lahk, blown haway mon!!! :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:
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