I've only got into hill walking and munro bagging in the last few months - my previous experience of hills was taking countless photos of them on trips round Scotland. One of my favourite ones to photograph has been Buachaille Etive Mor, as I'm sure it is for countless other photographers! I must have taken thousands of this iconic mountain in Glen Coe, and have often dreamed about being at the top of Stob Dearg and thought the view would be incredible. So, it was an obvious choice for me to get up this one early - and I wasn't disappointed.
This might sound a bit crazy, but honestly, this turned out to be one of the best days I can remember - a very hard but indescribably rewarded walk.
I'd done Beinn Dorain & Beinn an Dothaidh the day before, so the thought of another big mountain and early start was a challenge - but on driving down the A82 from Rannoch Moor, and seeing this site, the aching legs and tired mind from the day before seemed to disappear!
On arrival at the Altnafeadh lay by, I was one of the first cars there (the benefit of doing it on a Monday!) - my only real company were the copious amounts of midges, but once I crossed the road and headed down the path, the midges were far from my mind as the view started to unfold:
The ascent up Coire na Tulaich looked pretty ominous and it was tough going - I'm nowhere near as fit of many of you on Walkhighlands who would no doubt skip up this!
On the plus side, this steep climb meant the views back down were pretty spectacular pretty quickly. But then looking at my car in the layby, I couldn't help but wonder if I'd locked it!!
There was a lot of loose scree on the way up and it did get very steep in parts, so it was very welcome to reach the ridge, it already felt like a great achievement! The path to the first munro of the day, Stob Dearg, was clear from here:
After a bouldery but not difficult climb up, the top was eventually reached and honestly, it was proper take-your-breath-away lump-in-the-throat scenery. I was so lucky with perfect weather and the summit all to myself, other than the seemingly ever present crow!
Rannoch Moor seemed to stretch for countless miles from the precipitous east face of Dearg - just sensational:
This guy was hanging around for crumbs from my sandwiches!
Usual 10 second timer iPhone "yes, I did make it to the top" selfie:-
And another with me, gobsmacked and transfixed at the views
It was then back down the bouldery path of Stob Dearg and along the wide ridge to Stob na Doire, a munro top. Here, the views back to Stob Dearg were sensational:
The walk along the ridge afforded sunning views in all directions - it was very undulating and each time you thought you were near a top, there was another climb! Like this on the way up to Stob Coire Altrium
And finally, reaching the welcome end of the ridge presented even more stunning views - all the way the Ben Nevis in the North and this view back along the ridge - a great sense of achievement!
Well, that great sense of achievement dissipated rather quickly when realising you were now 8km from getting back to the car! The bit I hadn't been looking forward to was the extremely steep hike back down Coire Altruim - this was pretty much vertical in parts and not good on the old knees!
Finally at the bottom, there was the long but fairly flat and smooth path along Lairig Gartain.
And the final section of the walk was a rather fret walk back along the busy A82!
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