Travel and Coronavirus
Please check current coronavirus restrictions before travelling within or to Scotland.
Click for details
A hidden gem in Glen Etive
by PeteR » Tue Apr 21, 2015 9:28 pm
Route description: Beinn Maol Chaluim, from Glen Etive
Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Maol Chaluim
Date walked: 19/04/20152 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
With a disturbed night behind me I opted to leave a little later and go for something closer to home, which could be done in reasonable time – Beinn Maol Chaluim was chosen at the last minute, so with WH route downloaded into the GPS I was eventually out the house around 7.30 a.m.
The forecast was for a super day (if not quite up to Saturday’s standard perhaps) so I was hoping my late choice of hill would give me maximum view for the good weather. And I have to say it didn’t disappoint at all
Glen Etive has to be one of my favourite places. Just off a busy main road, yet still giving that feeling of being away from it all (if you ignore the profusion on campers and camper vans on the verges that is )
Parking up and the initial views to the Buachailles and Starav whet the appetite for what is to come. As is often the case though good views need to be hard won and in this regard Beinn Maol Chaluim makes you work from the very beginning
P1170044 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170046 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170053 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
From the roadside it is an immediate steep climb up. There is a trace of a path, but if you miss it (or lose it) it’s just a case of heading up, avoiding crags where they present themselves. I was in no hurry, so took my time, stopping often for a photo opportunity or three.
P1170056 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170060 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
The good thing is that, past the initial steep climb there are sections where the gradient eases before further climbing is necessary. So it wasn’t a continuous or arduous ascent by any means.
P1170076 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170081 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170084 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170087 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
As height was gained the views just got better and better, although the Corbetts most illustrious neighbour – Bidean Nam Bian – wasn’t to come into full view until the main ridge was attained. Until then I just had to content myself with ever improving views of the Buachailles, the Starav group, Cruachan and Loch Etive, Beinn Trilleachan, Beinn Fionnlaidh, Sgur na h-Ulaidh, Criese and Stob Dubh (The Corbett one that is) to name a few.
P1170089 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170091 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170094 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170101 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170096 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170131 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170134 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170149 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170160 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
Man, it was a struggle to be impressed by such paucity of views Beyond the more immediate hills there were many more distant hills poking above the tops. Too many to name, or even try to identify.
Eventually arriving at the main ridge and finally the full extent of Bidean came into view. I was on a hill that just fell short of the Munro height, yet Bidean was a beast by comparison. It looks massive. It is massive, but Beinn Maol Chaluim seems so tiny next to just a lofty neighbour.
P1170163 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170166 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170167 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170177 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
It’s not just the size of Bidean that struck me, but also the steepness of its sides. It is one imposing hill when seem from this side.
Back to my ridge – the summit seemed quite a long way away still, but it was easy going as the route winds gently up an over the odd hump to arrive at the twin cairned summit I was joined by a couple of Golden Plover (looked like a male/female pairing from what I could tell, although I am by no means an ornithologist) to soak up the impressive views down into Glen Coe itself as well as to the surrounding mountain landscape
P1170178 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170181 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170192 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170199 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170202 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170209 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170212 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170214 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170217 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
Beinn Maol Chaluim seems such a reluctant, reclusive star amongst its loftier neighbours. Perhaps it is that reclusiveness that helps it provide such superb views of the surrounding mountains It was a glorious day, yet here I was in the early afternoon and there was not a single other soul about Ok, if I used the zoom on my camera I could spy a couple on the Bidean’s summit, but as for my hill…….I had it all to myself So I made the most of the opportunity and sat beside one of the cairns soaking it all in.
For the descent I chose not to retrace my steps, as the WH route description suggests. Instead I chose to descend the north ridge to the Bealach Fhaolain and then descend into Gleann Fhaolain I had no idea what the conditions would be like or how steep things might get, so it was something of a voyage into the unknown.
Initially it was a steep descent on scree and boulders, but not too bad and it relented soon enough. There were a couple more steep moments on an otherwise relatively easy and short descent down to the bealach. What then followed was a steep descent through some crags (me thinks I left the bealach too early ) and then steep grass. I stayed high above the Allt Fhaolain for the most part as I made my way toward the forestry, dropping down to the river toward the end. Easy going. At the forestry I realised I’d dropped too low as I arrived at an impressive waterfall. I wasn’t sure if I should have been on the other side of the water, but looking at the amount of water coming down, that wasn’t going to happen
P1170240 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170241 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170242 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170258 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170265 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170266 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170268 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170276 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170289 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
A few moments of uncertainty later and I eventually spied a landrover track through the trees. It was a little above where I’d ended up, but once on it it was an easy walk back to the single tack road and then back to the car. As has been the case in much of Glen Etive recently there’s a lot of clearance of the forestry going on and this was one such area. It looked like a bomb had hit the area!!!!! Hopefully it will all calm down in time.
P1170291 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170295 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
P1170298 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
I had wondered as I was walking back down the glen just how much I should sing the praises of this reluctant gem. Perhaps it’s the fact it is ignored for its bigger cousins that gives it its charm. Would I really want to encourage more people onto it and away from the Bidean super highway? Or should I keep it a secret But it really is a superb viewpoint for the many hills round abouts, it would be wrong of me not to advertise its joys
by Collaciotach » Tue Apr 21, 2015 10:42 pm
by Fife Flyer » Wed Apr 22, 2015 10:55 am
by PeteR » Wed Apr 22, 2015 12:11 pm
Collaciotach wrote:Nice one , have not been on this one yet , looks grand
Cheers Colla. I had planned to be in your neck of the woods on Sunday, but did this one instead. Still eying up those hills across Loch Linnhe, but the Met Office suggest this Sunday might not be that great
by PeteR » Wed Apr 22, 2015 12:15 pm
Fife Flyer wrote:Nice one Pete, you would make a good salesman Like you, I also love Glen Etive, I have to head back that way soon to pick off Meall nan Eun, was thinking of Saturday but the weather is forecast to change on Friday
Cheers Martin. I really enjoyed the walk into Glen Ceitlein, but hated the final push up onto Meall nan Eun - it's really not difficult, but I just found it hard work for some reason. Did it as part of a circuit with its neighbour, and taken as a whole it was an excellent walk overall
by rockhopper » Thu Apr 23, 2015 12:53 pm
by PeteR » Thu Apr 23, 2015 12:56 pm
rockhopper wrote:Certainly is steep from the outset but worth it higher up - would agree that Bidean nam Bian does look impressive from this side. Interesting return route - didn't occur to me at all - cheers
My return route only really occurred to me as I started that very steep initial ascent. I wasn't keen on returning the same way, as I imagined it might be very quickly and bumpily if I slipped on the dry, reedy grass that covered the slope And I do like a nice circuit to my routes, if I can get them, rather than up and down by the same route
by Graeme D » Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:20 pm
by PeteR » Thu Oct 26, 2017 12:26 pm
Graeme D wrote:Just read this one while killing some time and to avoid doing other more important but less fulfilling things. I was interested in comparing it with my experience of this hill via the same route from a couple of weeks ago. Now I am going to have to go and kill myself!
Don't kill yourself..............return on a crisp winters day and enjoy
by past my sell by date » Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:31 pm