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Aighenan - the long way of doing it with a bike!

Aighenan - the long way of doing it with a bike!

Postby Delice » Fri Oct 03, 2014 11:01 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn nan Aighenan, Glas Bheinn Mhòr

Date walked: 21/09/2014

Time taken: 9 hours

Distance: 34 km

Ascent: 1838m

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Heading for a rendezvous 8.45 at Victoria Bridge on one of those days when you just KNOW it's going to be good! Driving south up Glencoe with Aonach Eagach looking sharp on a late September morning and just a hint of a cloud on Bidean. Swirls of mist hanging over Loch Ba had the serious photographers leaping around in excitement with their big lenses. Campers emerging from their tents beside the River Orchy to sniff the warming air. Then plunging through the ancient pine trees to emerge at Inveroran. Mr T busy with his bike already in the car park and another wonderful revelation - no midges at Victoria Bridge! :D
This was his idea - let me think we were climbing Ben Starav which I'd been eyeing up for some time, but then he tells me we're going up one on his list instead - Beinn nan Aighenan! And not only that but the long way round from Victoria Bridge instead of Glen Etive! Nearly 10kms on the bike to warm up before even putting a boot to the ground! :crazy: Anyway, who's complaining on a promising day like today?
Beinn nan Aighenan 01a.jpg
We set off about 9, a nice broad track beside the river - cracking views of the mountains on our right - Stob a Coire Odhair and Stob Ghabhar - then uphill through the forest to follow the cycle-able track rather than a narrow pushing route beside the river. It took us through the farm at Clashgour - happy to comply with a sign asking cyclists to dismount to enjoy such a lovely setting. Back down to the river - a couple of crossings by ford, feeling thankful this has been such a dry summer - I wouldn't like to imagine that part after heavy rain.
Beinn nan Aighenan 02a.jpg
Beinn nan Aighenan 03a.jpg
Then onto narrower cycling - following a tyre track doesn't half concentrate the mind! Slowly and steadily gaining height - not too much hard work, but enough to know it's going to make the return journey so much quicker! Loch Dochard making great foreground to the backsides of Meall nan Eun and Stob Coir an Albannaich as the sun began to warm us up.
Beinn nan Aighenan 04a.jpg
My favourite guide book [the Ultimate Guide to the Munros] says this route 'penetrates scenic secret country', and it does feel like that. It reminded my of cycling up Glen Affric but without the trees!
Topping a rise we could see the long eastern ridge of Aighenan rising up ahead of us, and beyond to the right Starav looking majestic. This is where we were leaving the bikes - about 6 miles from the start which the guide book suggested would take 2 and a half hours of walking. We'd got there pedealling - slowly - but still in 1 hour 10. So, good progress so far. The east face ahead of us looked mighty steep with a lot of slabby slippy rocks which I really didn't fancy as an approach, but further round to the left it looked as though you could pick a route between the grass and rocks straight up to the ridgeline. Who needs a path?!
First, a big river crossing over the Kinglass was just a little splash, so we found the sign with an arrow to 'bridge' on the other side rather puzzling. Then the big haul up, with only a bit of scrambling and vegetation-holding!
Beinn nan Aighenan 05a.jpg
Not too bad at all and completely worth it for the view of the ridge proper - nice and broad, curving away to the distant summit, with just the trace of a path between the rocks and grass here and there, and a nice final pull to the top.
Beinn nan Aighenan 06a.jpg
Beinn nan Aighenan 07a.jpg
What a cracking walk!
Beinn nan Aighenan 08a.jpg
Beinn nan Aighenan 10a.jpg
Up on the summit it was really hot though hazy - but still we got good views of Cruachan to the South and time for some sunbathing - first and last time this year for me on a munro. Then it was time to mull over the big decision....whether to go on and do Starav. It didn't look that far away, but weighing up the likely timings together with the shorter daylight already at this time of year it was unfortunately a No from me and Mr T clinched it by pointing out that Starav really justifies a thorough examination from Glen Etive - up one arm and down another. That didn't rule out Glas Bheinn Mhor though, making an obvious circuit back to the bikes - just a nip down to the bealach and back up the other side! :wink: A pretty steep and rocky route down to the bealach - I was glad we weren't dragging ourselves back up that way! The path meandered over the opposite side to the bealach with Ben Starav, but Mr T never takes a path if he can avoid it, and I realised he'd spotted a bit of interesting scrambling ahead. So off we headed straight up the other slope to join the ridge running over from Ben Starav, stopping to admire its impressive eastern flank, before heading east onto the narrower ridge leading fairly gently but steadily round to Glas Bheinn Mhor.
Beinn nan Aighenan 12a.jpg
More sunbathing, admiring Bidean to our north before we turned our mind to the descent. Ditching the path again, we clambered down some good gripping rocky terraces off the south east ridge of the Glas, dropping steeply then contouring round to meet the Sron nan Cabar, coming off Stob Coir an Albannaich, which led us nicely back to the valley floor, just below our bikes.
Beinn nan Aighenan 13a.jpg

Not really in the mood for another bike ride, but even the relatively gentle gradient had us flying!
Beinn nan Aighenan 15a.jpg
Beinn nan Aighenan 16a.jpg
Back down in about 45 minutes - in good time to catch an early evening dip in the warm pools of the Abhainn Shirra just before Victoria Bridge.
Beinn nan Aighenan 17a.jpg
Mmnn Nice. Followed by a swift pint in the Inveroran Hotel. Mmnn even Better! The Guide book says this walk amounts to 'a challenging route that only determined hill walkers will fully appreciate.' That must make me a very Determined Hill Walker, because I'd rate that as one of my best outings to date! ....but I've now got my sights fixed on Starav! Looking forward to that one!
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Re: Aighenan - the long way of doing it with a bike!

Postby Jock McJock » Sat Oct 04, 2014 3:36 pm

Nice report and pics. Had a long standing plan to walk in with my son and camp at Loch Dochard, then climb Aighenan and walk out. Nice to see what it looks like in there. Hopefully get it done in the spring :D
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Re: Aighenan - the long way of doing it with a bike!

Postby Sgurr » Sat Oct 04, 2014 3:50 pm

When we did Beninn nan Lus and Meall Garbh from the Etive side, it seemed a VERY LONG cycle, and I wondered if it wouldn't have been better coming in your way, but am not so sure now, since it is an even longer walk from where you left your bikes...but nonetheless, a cracking way to do Aighenan. Good luck on Starav, it is one of the very few hills I remember when I climbed it, since it was a 60th birthday outing, but won't seem so tough to you.
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Re: Aighenan - the long way of doing it with a bike!

Postby MountainTrail » Sat Oct 04, 2014 6:53 pm

Excellent walk and report. Did Starav from GLen Etive and didn't do these 2. Will dust down the bike and go for this pair.
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Re: Aighenan - the long way of doing it with a bike!

Postby Silverhill » Sat Oct 04, 2014 9:28 pm

Ooh very nice! :D I did this one from Glen Etive combined with a few other munros. The views from the summit towards Glen Kinglas and Loch Dochart were beautiful then and I wondered how the approach from that end would be. I now know! 8)
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Re: Aighenan - the long way of doing it with a bike!

Postby Doigie84 » Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:38 pm

Thinkink of doing a simmilar trip soon - how was the landy track into Beinn Aighenan? pretty rough?
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