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The Bookil and the Beast

The Bookil and the Beast

Postby Silverhill » Thu Feb 06, 2014 11:32 pm

Route description: Buachaille Etive Mor

Munros included on this walk: Stob Dearg (Buachaille Etive Mor), Stob na Broige (Buachaille Etive Mor)

Date walked: 07/06/2013

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 13.4 km

Ascent: 1185m

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Catching up on trip reports....

When walking from Glasgow to Cape Wrath nine years ago, I remember standing on top of the Devil’s Staircase and watching in awe as people were making their way up Buachaille Etive Mor. It looked very rough, steep and dangerous. Surely they would need climbing gear for this?
That was in an era when I wasn’t interested in the munros. Going up a 3000ft hill was way out of my comfort zone.

Today, 69 munros later, sizing up the Big Bookil from the car park at Altnafeadh, I was again awestruck. This hill sure looks the part! Walk descriptions for today’s route reassuringly hadn’t mentioned any tricky sections nor the need for climbing equipment. Nevertheless, from my vantage point the shepherd was not letting his guard down.

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Buachaille Etive Mor

A group of walkers was just setting off from the car park as I was getting ready. Judging by their kit they were up to something even more exciting. I was hoping to catch up on them, so I could ask. Making quick work of the first flattish bit towards Coire na Tulaich, the gap between them and me was indeed closing. But, after a rather lumpy section of the terrain, they had disappeared, meaning they must have gone off towards the curved ridge or some other scary approach. I might try that, but not today!

There is a clear path all the way up the Coire na Tulaich, on the right hand side of the burn. First it stays close to the burn, but higher up it moves away, avoiding the worst of the scree. Ahead was a group of three walkers. They had decided to stick to the burn. I could hear the clattering of rocks and boulders as they were slowly trudging up the steepening slope. After drawing level with them I called out that there was a path my way. They nodded friendly and continued for a while along the burn, before finally giving up on the scree and trying the path.

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Looking down Coire na Tulaich

It later turned out that one of the party was the guy who I had met yesterday on Beinn a’ Bheithir, the one who had sprinted up and down Sgorr Dearg. Today he was with his girlfriend and her dad. Well, the mountain goat made short work of Stob Dearg too, with girlfriend and dad trailing behind.

The ascent to Stob Dearg was longer and steeper than expected, but nevertheless good fun on the bouldery path. On the summit my plan to also do Buachaille Etive Beag today was quickly shelved. The views were stunning. It would be rude to not enjoy them for as long as possible. I ditched the rucksack at the cairn and continued to the end of the ridge to get closer to the view over Rannoch Moor. Breathtaking! The cherry on the icing on the cake were two planes crossing over, leaving an imprint of the Scottish flag in the sky! 8)

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Summit Stob Dearg

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The Saltire in the sky

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Bidean nam Bian

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The Mamores and Ben Nevis

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Stob na Doire

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Rannoch Moor

After an extended lunch break, taking lots of pictures and chatting with the group of three, the legs started itching for the second munro.
Back at the bealach I had a long chat with a chap who had huffed and puffed his way up from the corrie. It turned out he was a mate of the group in the car park. They indeed had set off for the challenging way up Stob Dearg, and he was going to meet them at the summit. In fact, whilst we were chatting he got a phone call from his friends to say they had arrived!

Onwards to pt. 902 and Stob na Doire, which was promptly re-named Big Beast of Etive. OMG what a brute! I know why it is not a munro (distance, drop and what not), but could the Keepers of the Tables perhaps reconsider please, thank you?! On the upside, after the relentlessly steep up and down climb of this hill-which-is-only-a- top, the walk to the second munro was a breeze.

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Stob Dearg from Stob na Doire

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Buachaille Etive Beag and Bidean nam Bian

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Stob na Broige from Stob na Doire

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Looking back to the Big Beast of Etive

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Oh dear....

I had noticed the patch of snow at the head of Coire Altruim, where the way down to Lairig Gartain was supposed to start. Blocking out flashbacks of a certain dreadful descent a few days ago, I kept my eyes firmly on the next munro, which indeed was easily reached. This time I had the summit to myself.

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Summit Stob na Broige

I can’t think of any superlatives to describe the feeling of being slap bang in the middle of some of the greatest awe-inspiring Scottish hills: Bidean nam Bian, Buachaille Etive Mor, Aonach Eagach, Ben Starav and Ben Cruachan in the far distance. :D Wow, wow, wow! Looking through my pictures at home, it turns out I took lots showing the same views. Well, they were definitely stunning!

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Ben Starav, Ben Cruachan

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Bidean nam Bian

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Ben Nevis and Aonach Eagach

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Hopefully not searching....

Now then, the return leg. The snow patch at the head of Coire Altruim wasn’t too big and to the left and right of it were clear marks of others having made their way down. Okidoki, here we go, very slowly down the steep gravelly slope. After a short stretch of bum sliding I got to the proper path. Still steep but much better without the gravel. At around 600m the path goes onto an impressive rock slab with the stream cascading down it, very pretty. Sadly I didn’t take a picture of it, too busy trying not to slip.

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Looking down Coire Altruim

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Lairig Gartain

Down in the Lairig Gartain I had a long chat with a couple who were on a photography holiday and a bit further on with a group who were wildlife spotting. They kindly lend me their binoculars to spy on two deer. Then it was a leisurely stroll back to the car park, with the mighty Bookil overlooking the glen.

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Stob Dearg from Lairig Gartain

What a relaxed day! I am glad I left Buachaille Etive Beag for another time.
Last edited by Silverhill on Thu May 01, 2014 9:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Bookil and the Beast

Postby ilovescotty » Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:32 pm

Excellent report, tons of good photos. Looks like a great day weather wise too! I will be up in this area in June, can't wait to get some of the big 'uns under me belt!
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Re: The Bookil and the Beast

Postby Silverhill » Sun Feb 09, 2014 1:03 pm

Thank you ilovescotty! I’m sure you will enjoy your trips in that area. The hills there are fantastic! :D
I’m back to bagging in June too. I really need to finish last year’s trip reports by then! :roll:
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