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Revelations on "The Creche of Glencoe"

Revelations on "The Creche of Glencoe"


Postby Sabbathstevie » Fri Jun 21, 2013 4:09 pm

Route description: Buachaille Etive Beag

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

Date walked: 11/06/2013

Time taken: 5.5 hours

Distance: 8 km

Ascent: 900m

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"Revelations” is possibly an over-ambitious title for this post given how popular these hills are, and how many of you will have already savoured their delights however the lasting impression I have from this day is a feeling of massively exceeded expectations – something that’s beginning to become a recurring theme for me in the Scottish mountains. Of all the Munros which tower either side of the A82 as it snakes its way through Glencoe, those which comprise Buachaille Etive Beag probably attract the fewest “oohs” and “ahs” as most eyes are inevitably drawn to the more immediate drama of the surrounding peaks.


It is partly this subservience to its neighbouring mountains which gave rise to the other half of the report title. I was fortunate indeed that my partner Becca had agreed to accompany me (suspiciously, without a bribe of some sort of retail recompense I might add! :think: ) but that skewed my walking plans which were starting to form around the sudden spell of good weather we’d enjoyed. I’d originally earmarked the weekend for a chance to test my fitness on a longer circuit somewhere in the Mounth – perhaps a round from Glen Ey or Glen Isla. Those plans were swiftly cast aside when Becca expressed an interested in coming along for the day, so I needed to find a walk that was short enough that I wouldn’t be met with too many protestations but also spectacular enough to give Becca some indication of why I’m more than happy to leap out of bed at 5am of a weekend and disappear up north :) . BEB in Glencoe was a little further up the road than I’d hoped, but seemed to perfectly fit the bill, and I’d been captivated by the views from its bigger, more famous brother back in November and was keen to return to the area. When I tried to create some excitement by showing Becca some pictures and maps of where we’d be heading, she seemed less than impressed that we would only be tackling the “little herdsman of glen Etive” or, as she flatly put it “so while everyone else is climbing the big spiky one, we’ll be fannying around on the Créche of Glencoe!” :lol:


We set off from a sunny Edinburgh a little before 6 am – the promise of a McDonalds breakfast en route was Becca’s only condition of such an early start. We made good progress on the road north, with the traffic only really starting to build up after the road from the south west joins the A82 at Crianlarich. The early morning haze was beginning to clear as the Bridge of Orchy hills started to appear, the views now opening up to the wonderful mountains all around. As we progressed towards Glencoe itself, mighty Stob Dearg was attracting the kind of attention you would expect of a sunny Saturday morning – it was 08:15 and the car park at Altnafeadh was already almost full. This did nothing to change Becca’s mind that I was placating her with an “easier” walk, with the more modest peak of Stob Coire Raineach rising very much in the shadow of its neighbour. By contrast, the “beehive” car park we pulled into held only another two cars and, given my feelings about tackling the hills in great convoys of colourful walkers, I was delighted. :D


We set off from the car park at 08:30 on the well trodden path into the Lairig Gartain, before branching off and climbing almost immediately up the steepening slopes. Even at this earlier hour, the sun which occasionally pierced through the patchwork morning cloud was making things very warm, and having been painfully seared coming off Stuchd an Lochain a week prior, I covered my insta-burn skin in some factor 3000, though an asbestos suit might have to be donned for future walks. :lol: Apart from an annoying abundance of huge crane flies which seemed desperate to fly into my mouth and a single toad who seemed fairly unflustered by the attentions of Maggie, our mad Jack Russell, the local fauna wasn’t proving too much of a problem – even the midges hadn’t managed to put in a good showing despite the windless heat providing the perfect feeding grounds. The well constructed path/stone steps leads almost directly up the slopes towards Mam Buidhe but proved more of a slog than it looked – perhaps owing to the directness of ascent and the lack of a muscle-loosening “walk in”. The compensation for this was the ever improving views over towards the Aonach Eagach and behind us to Bidean Nam Bian – reason enough for a few drink stops. I’d learned on our horseshoe of the hills around Glen Skeaudale on Harris that Haribo was another condition of Becca joining me on the hills - a packet of Tangfastics was skilfully deployed to aid the ascent which was probably a lot tougher than it would have been had it not been so warm. Note that from this point on, Becca would never again refer to this ridge as a “Créche”! :lol:


Aonach Eagach looking benign!.JPG
Aonach Eagach's friendlier side



We reached the bealach and stopped briefly on the large pinkish slabs that marked the lowest point on the ridge to savour the views. Behind, the views up to Bidean Nam Bian were good but would improve later with more height. Looking across to the Aonach Eagach was also fine, though from this angle it looked surprisingly benign, with the chimneys and ridges appearing far less narrow than they must do in anger. Unsuprisingly, the bulk of Buachaille Etive Mor stole the show from directly in front of us – though the best features of Stob Dearg are out of the line of sight from here, the rest of the ridge including the central top of Stob Na Doire and the steep sided Coire Altruim looked especially good, along with the views of almost the entire the length of the Lairig Eilde from the A82 down to Glen Etive.


Down to the Lairig Eilde.JPG
Down to the Lairig Eilde


Down the Lairig Gartain.JPG
Down the Lairig Eilde


Across to Coire Altruim.JPG
Across to Coire Altruim


Stob Dearg and Beinn a Chrulaiste.JPG
Stob Dearg and Beinn A'Chrulaiste



The hard work wasn’t quite over and we soon set off up the rocky south west face of Stob Coire Raineach. Despite some unpleasantly loose scree patches (most of which could be avoided by sticking to the dry, scrub like grass) and the odd spot of premature summit celebration, we made our way to the top of the munro fairly quickly, where we paused for a longer break to enjoy a rare moment of solitude. The long, gentle drop to the north east of the summit down slowly to the nose of Stob nan Cabar certainly doesn’t share the same jaw-dropping effect as the views from the summit of Stob Dearg looking across the Rannoch Moor, but that isn’t to say that is a peak without drama. Peering beyond the edge of the wall of rock to the north of Glencoe could be seen a grand panorama of the Lochaber mountains – Ben Nevis, the Aonachs and the Mamores all resplendent in the early summer sunshine. Behind us, the entirety of the ridge to the second munro of Stob Dubh promised a far more exciting second half of the walk, so we quickly made our way back down to the bealach past a number of walkers who had joined the hill and were heading in the opposite direction.


Maggie at Stob Coire Raineach.JPG
Maggie at Stob Coire Raineach


Me, wonderstruck.JPG
Me, wonderstruck


Stob dubh and Glen Etive.JPG
Stob Dubh & Glen Etive



The climb from the bealach back up to the ridge was now in full-on sunshine, but somehow didn’t seem as exhausting it looked it would - I assume all hillwalkers get this second wind on the hill, where the tough burn and frequent stops of the initial ascent are now replaced by a steady, gradual climb that doesn’t seem nearly so demanding. The path however certainly required a little concentration - the spell of good weather had left the gravelly scree incredibly dry and loose, offering almost no grip at all on the steeper parts and best avoided where possible. The gradient soon eases at 900 metres where the best part of the day is left before you – the delightfully narrowing, climbing ridge to the pointed peak of Stob Dubh. Though the last part of the climb is fairly steep and rocky, there’s nothing of any difficulty. The views as the smaller summit is reached are among the best I’ve seen – down the length of beautiful green Glen Etive with Ben Starav towering above Loch Etive in the distance. Though a stunning view, my attentions was increasingly captured by the Bidean, appearing as a great hulking mountain of some complexity with vertical cliffs, steep corries, pointed peaks and an absolute command of the entire area. The Bidean has most certainly climbed higher up my ever growing list of to-do hills and I’m looking forward to dedicating a long day to it soon.


Stob Na Doire on BEM.JPG
Across to Stob Na Doire


BEM.JPG
Buachaille Etive Mor


Lairig Eilde & the Big Ben.JPG
Lairig Gartain & the Big Ben


Bidean from Stob Dubh slopes.JPG
The Bidean from Stob Dubh's slopes


Stob Dubh.JPG
Stob Dubh


BEB Ridge.JPG
BEB Ridge



We descended a little to the south to find a quiet spot away from the cairn where we could enjoy a more leisurely break and something to eat. Maggie collapsed onto a perfectly doggy sized rock to devour her Caesar, completely oblivious to the lone deer that was also munching away below us on the southern slopes of Stob Dubh. We spent a long half hour here enjoying the heat and the stunning views before making our way back up to the summit, from where the views back along the ridge are almost as good as those in the ascent of it.


Maggie at Stob Dubh.JPG
Stob Dubh Maggie


Glen and Loch Etive.JPG
Glen and Loch Etive


Bidean.JPG
Bidean Nam Bian


Down from Stob Dubh.JPG
Down from Stob Dubh


Interlocking glens.JPG
Interlocking Glens


Back along the ridge.JPG
Back along the ridge


Maggie on Descent.JPG
Maggie Descent



Though the dry scree parts of the path were even more treacherous in descent, we made good progress back to the bealach and then back on the stone “steps” down the side of the hill into the Lairig Eilde. We arrived back at a now packed car park after a respectable 5 and a half hours. The long trip back to Edinburgh was, thankfully, interrupted for some absolutely necessary ice cream in Tyndrum, giving a perfect ending to what was a memorable day, though I’ll admit to getting a bit sleepy by the time we were ploughing back down the M9 with a happy Becca and Maggie snoozing happily beside me! :roll:


The revelations? That you don’t need to be climbing the most impressive hill to get the best views. And in fact that, in some cases, you’ll always get the best views of the most impressive hill(s) by climbing it’s lesser appreciated neighbour. I’d completely underestimated how good this one would be and, were it not for that single view from the top of Stob Dearg, I’d almost say this was a more enjoyable outing than Buachaille Etive Mor. The Bidean however looks like the best of both worlds, and is one that I can’t wait to explore. So many hills and so little time!!! 8)
Last edited by Sabbathstevie on Fri Jun 21, 2013 4:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Sabbathstevie
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Re: Revelations on "The Créche of Glencoe"

Postby kev_russ » Fri Jun 21, 2013 4:29 pm

Bootiful pics as per usual Steve :thumbup:
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Re: Revelations on "The Creche of Glencoe"

Postby Driftwood » Fri Jun 21, 2013 8:47 pm

Some superb views, shown at their best - this has the "little" shepherd and its neighbours fighting higher on my list of must-do hills. It's no wonder that the ever-photogenic Maggie looks so in her element, especially that shot on Stob Coire Raineach.
Great pics, good reading - and superb walking, from the look and sound of it!
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Re: Revelations on "The Créche of Glencoe"

Postby Sabbathstevie » Sat Jun 22, 2013 9:16 pm

kev_russ wrote:Bootiful pics as per usual Steve :thumbup:


Cheers Kev, too kind as usual! :)
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Re: Revelations on "The Creche of Glencoe"

Postby Sabbathstevie » Sat Jun 22, 2013 9:18 pm

Driftwood wrote:Some superb views, shown at their best - this has the "little" shepherd and its neighbours fighting higher on my list of must-do hills. It's no wonder that the ever-photogenic Maggie looks so in her element, especially that shot on Stob Coire Raineach.
Great pics, good reading - and superb walking, from the look and sound of it!


Cheers Driftwood, was a cracking day. Think Maggie loves the hills as much as I do!

Aye, the list just keeps growing!
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