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Bridge of Orchy to Taynuilt, big weekend in big hills!

Bridge of Orchy to Taynuilt, big weekend in big hills!

Postby IanEzzi » Sun Jul 03, 2016 6:55 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Mhanach, Ben Starav, Glas Bheinn Mhòr, Meall nan Eun, Stob Coir an Albannaich, Stob Ghabhar

Date walked: 03/07/2016

Time taken: 25 hours

Distance: 80 km

Ascent: 4650m

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Day 1 - Beinn Mhanach + Bridge of Orchy pub crawl - 35km 1700m

I had three days at my disposal so decided to take the opportunity to tick off Beinn Mhanach as it was an otherwise awkward one to combine with any other routes. A quick but rain-soaked ascent got me to the cairn between Dothaidh and Dorain and then a slightly slippy and pathless traverse to the bealach between Dothaidh and Achaladair. Looking back there appeared to be a better path than I was on but it wasn't obvious at the start.

A much better path traversed from the bealach to the bealach between Beinn a'Chuirn and Achaladair, where a hiker I had met earlier had pitched his tent.

Followed the fence line to the summit of Mhanach and then crossed over to a'Chuirn as well, distracted by the wee flock of Golden Plover nervously popping their heads up as I passed.

No photos from the hills as there were frequent showers passing and I was trying to conserve phone battery after wasting 50% arguing about the referendum result on the train that morning! :oops:

It had been a quick ascent to this point and I felt like time had slowed down as it was only mid afternoon and all I had left to do was retrace my steps, get dinner at the pub and hike to Ba Bridge, which I fancied would only take a couple of hours or so from the Bridge of Orchy Hotel.

With time to kill I decided to follow the Allt an Loin down to the bottom of the glen and follow the Kinglass out to Auch, then the WHW to Bridge of Orchy.

I made the pub too early for dinner so was *forced* to nurse a pint and read yesterday's newspapers until the time came for another pint and delicious burger. Kudos to the Bridge of Orchy for providing such good hospitality, pays to be on the WHW I guess!

I headed up and over to the Inveroran where I met a few guys who I had seen in the Bridge or Orchy. I shared a pint and some polite debate about Europe before heading off across t'moor.

All this strategic time wasting (and my slightly tipsy legs) meant an eventual 9pm arrival at my chosen camp site at Ba Bridge. The midgies were apocalyptic to I didn't take long to fill my water bottle from the river, pitch tent and dive inside!

Day 2 - Bridge of Ba - Inverghiusachan - 30km 2400m

The meat of this weekend was the traverse over the Kinglass Munros to Starav. I had already climbed Stob a'Choire Odhair so was happy to omit this in favour of following the River Ba into the immense and wild feeling coire below the Black Mount hills. The coire felt like a wide and flat meadow with the river meandering lazily through the bottom and towering hills surrounding all sides. An amazing spot and worthy detour off the WHW.

From here I was determined to get up Sron na Giubhas, I had seen this short ridge from various angles and (particularly in Winter) it looked like a worthy alternative approach to Stob Ghabhar.

Sron nan Giubhas and Stob a'Choire Odhair

I wasn't disappointed as the ridge offered a stiff but entertaining climb, almost even yielding some easy scrambling. I was more worried about my legs though which were feeling yesterday's efforts more than I had anticipated! I resigned myself to a slow day which suited me fine, an early arrival at Loch Etive side would just mean an evening of sheltering from midgies!

From Stob Ghabhar I followed the ridge over Meal nan Eun, Stob Coir'an Albannaich and onto Glas Bheinn Mhor.

Glas Bheinn Mhor from Stob Coir'an Albannaich

Etive corbetts and Bidean

The landscape of Glen Kinglas felt extremely 'grand' with large, scooped out coires and particularly large and prominent (especially to tired legs) summits. I was struck by how I hadn't experienced this sense of scale elsewhere in Scotland, other than perhaps the Cairngorms and the Lairig Ghru.

Looking back on Glas Bhein Mhor

View from the summit of Stob Coire Dheirg - rainclouds over Glen Coe!

The rain clouds blowing in gave me added impetus as I wanted to see the view of Loch Etive from Starav before it got clagged in! I enjoyed the brief but sharp little arete between Stob Coire Dheirg and Starav, taking the direct line where I could although tired legs and floppy trail running shoes weren't the recipe for any dynamic or impressive scrambling moves! At no point since the first climb of the day had I entertained the out-and-back to Aighenan and nothing I saw as I passed it by could change my mind. Plus it made a mess of an otherwise neat looking traverse on the map!

I made the summit of Starav with time to enjoy the views.

Starav summit

Looking back on Stob Coire Dheirg and Glas Bhein Mhor

Loch Etive and Trilleachan

Loch Etive towards Bonawe

My 'descent' still required the ascent of Meall Cruidh and Stob an Duine Rhuaidh. The rain had caught up with me at this point which was no big deal but I was finding my trail running shoes a bit of handful on wet rocks and grass. This put me off the planned route of Stob an Duine Rhuaidh as the final plummet to sea level looked like an unbroken 700m descent down steep wet grass and rock.

Stob an Duine Ruaidh

I descended instead into Coire a'Charadh and thence into Coire Ghuisachan, although I found even this terrain a little tricky in my flimsy trail runners, which I henceforth resolved only to use where there were guaranteed trails, as off piste traverses and descents are obviously not their forte... or perhaps I was just getting tired and clumsy! :roll:

The final descent to Inverghiusachan was truly stunning, I finally started joining together stretchs of well trodden deer track so could lift my head to the the beautiful gorge with impressive waterfalls down to my left, and the unfolding scenery of Loch Etive straight ahead. If it weren't for the clouds of clegs that were bothering me it would have been truly idyllic.

I stopped for a bath in the river and then started looking for a campsite, short, flat grassy areas seemed limited, but as I headed for a promising looking grassy spot on the shore a little head popped up out to sea. I kept watching and was delighted to see a wee otter casually swimming around and diving down to fish. I stopped where I was and started to cook dinner, leaving my search for a campsite for when the midgies eventually got too bothersome!

View from the tent

Another view from the tent

It was a truly fantastic spot and one I will look forward to returning to, perhaps pre- or post- midgy season though!

Day 3 - Inverghiusachan - Taynuilt - 15km 500m

I needed little excuse to abandon my original plan to ascend the backside of Cruachan and descend over Beinn a'Bhuiridh, although thankfully my tired and now sore legs (pre-existing knee 'thing') gave me all the excuse I needed to get up and out early into the morning midgie swarms and then head south along the lochside to Taynuilt.

This was a nice enough walk in its own right, everthing to Ardmaddy was fairly undeveloped and wild, and then there was a good landrover track all the way to Inverawe. Such was my early start I even had time to sit for a second breakfast on a little jetty near Invernoe, thankfully unmolested by the midgies this time.

Inverghiusachan bay

Sandy beach

River Kinglass

Postcard 'Ardmaddy View'

Breakfast stop

Brilliant weekend and lots of spots that will merit revisiting, I'm already thinking of Beinn nan Aighenan from Inverghiusachan taking in Stob an Duine Ruaidh :clap:

Lessons Learned

1) Trail running shoes get quickly out of their depth off trail...

2) I'm not quite ready for successive big days with camping gear over multiple summits, time to revisit my Alpine plans in September... :oops:

3) Scotrail 'rail replacement' buses are basically the leftover buses that no bus operator could normally get away with putting on the road otherwise, cue leaks, over heating and non-closing toilet doors for three hours to Glasgow... :roll:
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Re: Bridge of Orchy to Taynuilt, big weekend in big hills!

Postby malky_c » Tue Jul 05, 2016 11:12 pm

I was on a couple of the Grahams either side of Glen Kinglass back in April and was reminded how great this area is :) . At the time I was wishing I had my tent and the time to traverse back out to Victoria Bridge via Ben Starav. Something much like this actually. Looked like a great weekend, if a bit long on the second day :D
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Re: Bridge of Orchy to Taynuilt, big weekend in big hills!

Postby Silverhill » Thu Jul 07, 2016 9:49 pm

Wow what a trip 8) ! Quite fancy doing that myself, but perhaps not including Beinn Mhanach.... :wink:
I love the first picture, that gracefully curving ridge of Stob a' Choire Odhair with the river snaking down. Beautiful! :D
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Re: Bridge of Orchy to Taynuilt, big weekend in big hills!

Postby IanEzzi » Fri Jul 08, 2016 8:48 am

I wish I'd taken a photo earlier, the River Ba looked beautiful meandering through the coire floor to the Bridge of Ba.

I would love to have explored each and every corrie to be honest, they all seemed to hold some big meaty rivers and waterfalls, could spend a lifetime just tracing the course of each river.
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