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Loyalty, betrayal and a double ton x 2 on brilliant Bidean

Loyalty, betrayal and a double ton x 2 on brilliant Bidean


Postby Huff_n_Puff » Sat Aug 27, 2016 6:52 pm

Route description: Bidean nam Bian

Munros included on this walk: Bidean nam Bian, Stob Coire Sgreamhach

Date walked: 16/08/2016

Distance: 11 km

Ascent: 1316m

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“Biggles, Bertie, off my desk ...”.

Two black spaniels sheepishly jumped down, Bertie ran round me grinning and Biggles tried to look haughty. I checked my computer and was about to delete the garbage on screen when I realised that amongst the random letters was a message trying to get out. I started trying to free it. Several hours (and a lot of correction of spelling and grammar) this is what I think they were saying …

Dear Walkhighlands people you must RESCUE us, we are stranded with humans who have BROKEN THE CONTRACT about giving us REGULAR, FREQUENT, LONG HILL WALKS. Not only do they fail on the frequency and regularity – last week they went on a long walk WITHOUT US. You see YOU MUST RESCUE US, we can be found at ….

[at this point a human entered the room!]

Well perhaps they had a point, not only had we raised expectations by very publicly sorting our bags and boots the night before, in the morning we had gone through all the pre-hillwalk rituals but when everything was stowed in the car the dogs were left in the house with a cheery wave and the promise “Sylvie will be round for you soon!” Biggles' look of injured incredulity clearly showed he had been betrayed – this was very definitely not in the contract! (Although I have it from a very reliable source that B&B had a very indulgent day with friends.) In our defence both dogs have had paw issues after long days on the hills this year so we decided that the scree on Bidean nam Bian was not for them, they would have to wait for more grassy terrain.

Bidean nam Bian has been inserting its presence into my plans for the last year. Glimpses of it from the south east on the way up Meall a'Bhuridh last year
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… and from Beinn Maol Chaluim ...
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and Sgor na h-Ulaidh this spring ...
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had made it rocket up the 'to do' list, so when Kathleen (aka Dogplodder) suggested us walking together, along with our son Clem, BnB fitted the bill beautifully. None of us had been up it, it was challenging enough to appeal to Clem and the weather gods decided to indulge us. So an early morning start, we picked up Kathleen in Drumnadrochit and off to Glencoe.

Kathleen passed the double ton mark a few weeks ago but for Roger and I Bidean would mark 200 munros since 1999, achieved in a rather fitful way as and when life and other commitments allowed (you can see we are not really serious about all this). So after an 'anticipatory' family photo ...

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we headed off up the very well made path from the car park into into Coire nan Lochan. What can I say – it was bliss to be out in the hills with friends, enjoying the craik as we walked in the most amazing environment. For me this route captured the essence of Glencoe's mountains and history, right from the car park!

The path climbs quickly, and fairly steeply into the corie, affording stunning views back into Glencoe

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and up to Stob Corie nan Lochan.

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The burn running down the corie cascades like an enormous gash in the hillside,

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creating beautiful pools and waterfalls.

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Being in Glencoe meant we were soon talking history, Kathleen's grandmother was a Macdonald who had very strong views on the events of February 1692. Clem reminded us that the events weren't completely black and white, two of the lieutenants under Robert Campbell broke their swords rather than carry out his orders (the breaking of the swords was a legitimate way to avoid carrying out orders as it rendered the sword owner incapable of fighting). Sadly attempts to allow some of the Macdonalds to escape were thwarted by the weather – but that doesn't get away from the fact that an atrocity was committed that night.

Unable to rewrite history we left the main path just below the box waterfall

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and headed up the grassy slopes into the upper corrie, with stunning views of the great Pinnacle and South Buttresses of Stob Coire nan Lochan.

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By this point Clem and his dad had gone ahead – and were busy solving the world's current problems. Kathleen and I were firmly rooted in the here and now, something that steep terrain tends to encourage, so perhaps that is why she spotted the first stag, just a few metres away from us.

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As we photographed it more stags appeared in the picture, emerging from a hidden dip in the land. We stood watching the stags, they stood watching us. Eventually we realised we were in their path so we moved on a little which let the whole group appear (about 14 stags). The group included a large (and I guess an older) stag, but when he moved it was obvious he had a foot/leg injury so moved slowly, we were intrigued to see that 2 or 3 of the others waited for him and accompanied him at his speed.

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The rest of the herd moved a little further on before stopping to wait for him too. Loyalty indeed, and not quite the battling stags beloved of TV nature programmes.

We'd stopped to admire the stags for so long we realised that we were severely testing the loyalty of our walking companions so we headed upwards and met them at on the north ridge of Stob Coire nan Lochan and admired the views...

... of the Aonoch Eagach

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... Glencoe village and Loch Leven

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... and Bidean itself

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The route from the ridge to the summit of Stob Coire nan Lochan is easy to follow, rather more bouldery than I'd expected from the WH description and required some hands-on in places (at least from me!).

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Kathleen and I were rather more cautious than our companions so arrived at the summit somewhat later than them, time to let Clem have a snooze.

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From here the path to the summit of the magnificent complex Bidean is obvious – and steep.

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The two mountain goats bounded off and K and I followed on slowly.

Did I say the route was steep? Kathleen (bottom right) demonstrating the steepness

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A creative cairn at the bottom of the final pull up to the summit…

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The summit crew

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Roger and I celebrating (thanks to Kathleen for this photo!) ...

Liz & Roger 200.jpg
... a double double ton


… and the views, north to the AER, the Mamores and the Ben

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... east to the Stob Coire Sgreamhach and the Etive herdsmen

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... and south to Loch Etive

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As Clem and Roger were happy moving at a faster pace than K and I we agreed that they would go over to Stob Coire Sgreamhach then head down into into Coire Gabhail and the Lost Valley, back to the car and on to Fort William and meet us back at the car park with pizza. Sounded like a kind offer so they left just as a young Dutch couple joined us at the summit. After a companionable blether we were joined by a group of Scots guys and it was getting crowded at the top – but were were all just happy to be there, or too exhausted to move?? The Dutch couple left, K and I followed them awed by the stunning landscapes around us,

... the eastern end of Glencoe

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... the Lost Valley

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Kathleen, being the observant one of the pair, spotted Clem and Roger at the top of Stob Coire Sgreamhach, but that caused her to miss her footing and fall – not badly but she said afterwards it made her realise how tired she was feeling. When we got to Bealach Dearg Clem and Roger were waiting for us, having reassessed the pizza plan, and were offering to wait for us and accompany us down the steep eroded gully that leads into Coire Gabhail. Now some might find that patronising but I think we were both rather touched (and somewhat relieved – although I'm sure we would have been fine on our own). Kathleen decided that given the steepness of the descent she would rather use what energy she had to get down that safely and come back for Stob Coire Sgreamhach another day. So she and Roger headed down while Clem and I went off to bag Stob Coire Sgreamhach (he offered voluntarily … perhaps another example of loyalty?)

Clem not looking too chuffed with his ma for taking yet more photos …

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… and wondering how to get the ancient one down here :? .

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(I had no doubts that he would succeed!!)

To be honest I did not like the look of the path from Bealach Dearg, if there had been an alternative I'm sure that I, and all the rest of the people we saw eyeing it up very gingerly, would have taken it. There wasn't another option and once started on the downward journey along the pink stone chute it wasn't as bad as it looked from above. There was only one point where I might have got into a glissade to the bottom, but a corrective move from my companion averted that.

Looking back the descent doesn't look that bad …

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… but a mountaineering friend told me a few days later of getting into difficulties coming down here in winter.

Once past the serious stuff Clem decided I needed to practice going faster in the hills, so we did the rest of the walk to meet Kathleen and Roger at the flat part of the Lost Valley (valley - why not lost glen?) at a slow jog. To anyone watching I must have looked comical, arms straight at the side, walking poles parallel to the ground jogging in short steps that looked like a cross between Riverdance and a Chinese porter. But we met the other 2 about 10 mins after they had stopped to wait for us – so 10 mins to do a Munro?? Kathleen did say I looked tired – but I guess she was being polite :wink: .

The lost valley is a beautiful place, but by this time of day (late afternoon) the light didn't allow good photos.

Looking back ...

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… and looking north, and back to Glencoe

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Easy to imagine rustled sheep and cattle being hidden up here, easy to imagine that their owners might seek revenge and tragically easy to imagine the fate of people who fled here for safety in a winter storm. Even so a beautiful spot to return to.

From the Lost Valley there is a well developed path back to the road. An interesting one too that incorporates a bit of scrambling, stepping stones across a river and even a chain walk. A very fitting end to a superb mountain day. (Roger and Clem, who had forged ahead again, tried a variation by going down the river bed and scrambling over person high boulders before deciding that the path on the right was the best option after all.)

Looking back to the Lost Valley from the A82

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Back at the car park there were still lots of tourists taking photos of the landscape and themselves. We must have looked a real sight, sweaty, dirty and tired – but elated. Did I see envy in the eyes of some of the onlookers?

Back at the car – no pizza, but we did have a fish 'n chip 'n ice cream stop in Fort William before heading north. :clap: :clap:

And when we got home our morning betrayal had been forgiven, spaniel loyalty is worth a lot, and a week later Biggles and Bertie got their reward with a visit to the Brothers.
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Re: Loyalty, betrayal and a double ton x 2 on brilliant Bide

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Sat Aug 27, 2016 10:52 pm

Congratulations on your double double ton, a good and very enjoyable description of this walk and great photos.
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Re: Loyalty, betrayal and a double ton x 2 on brilliant Bide

Postby kmai1961 » Sun Aug 28, 2016 8:53 am

Nice report, HnP, and terrific photos of the stags. Congratulations on the double-double as well. :clap:

I did the same route with a friend the day before you, under similar weather conditions. We were SO happy that we'd saved it for a good day. :)
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Re: Loyalty, betrayal and a double ton x 2 on brilliant Bide

Postby kmai1961 » Sun Aug 28, 2016 8:55 am

P.S. Is it just me, or does anyone else think that you and Kathleen look enough alike to be sisters? ('course maybe you ARE...)
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Re: Loyalty, betrayal and a double ton x 2 on brilliant Bide

Postby Gordie12 » Sun Aug 28, 2016 11:15 am

Congrats on hitting 200 :clap: :clap: :clap:

You picked a good day for it, some terrific photos (as usual).
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Re: Loyalty, betrayal and a double ton x 2 on brilliant Bide

Postby SecretSquirrel » Sun Aug 28, 2016 12:38 pm

An excellent pair of hills to have for the 200th, one a my my favorite walks. Ido agree about the path down from the bealach, its very daunting!
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Re: Loyalty, betrayal and a double ton x 2 on brilliant Bide

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Sun Aug 28, 2016 5:02 pm

Cairngorm creeper wrote:Congratulations on your double double ton, a good and very enjoyable description of this walk and great photos.

Many thanks - ... I'm still buzzing about this trip :lol: :lol:

Gordie12 wrote:Congrats on hitting 200 :clap: :clap: :clap:

You picked a good day for it, some terrific photos (as usual).

Thanks Gordie, it was one of those days when everything just worked to perfection :D
kmai1961 wrote:Nice report, HnP, and terrific photos of the stags. Congratulations on the double-double as well. :clap:

I did the same route with a friend the day before you, under similar weather conditions. We were SO happy that we'd saved it for a good day. :)
kmai1961 wrote:P.S. Is it just me, or does anyone else think that you and Kathleen look enough alike to be sisters? ('course maybe you ARE...)

Sorry we missed you, know how you feel about waiting for a good day. Kathleen and I aren't sisters - the mops of white hair are misleading :lol: :lol: , but strangely we met through Walkhighlands a couple of years ago, despite having lived within a few miles of each other as children in Yorkshire and adults in Dundee :shock: :shock:

SecretSquirrel wrote:An excellent pair of hills to have for the 200th, one a my my favorite walks. I do agree about the path down from the bealach, its very daunting!

Yes this route is splendid, its a stunning area and even having come down from the bealach safely, like most people, I'm still shaking my head about how it appears from above :lol: :lol:
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Re: Loyalty, betrayal and a double ton x 2 on brilliant Bide

Postby Jaxter » Mon Aug 29, 2016 7:22 am

Wow some fantastic pictures of a great day :D how did you get your stag photos? They run away from me :lol:
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Re: Loyalty, betrayal and a double ton x 2 on brilliant Bide

Postby dogplodder » Mon Aug 29, 2016 3:26 pm

Brilliant report of a brilliant day on Bidean! :clap:

You're right it's the hair that does it.... but I quite like the idea of having a sister. :lol:
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Re: Loyalty, betrayal and a double ton x 2 on brilliant Bide

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Aug 29, 2016 4:00 pm

Congrats on the 200th!!! :clap: :clap: :clap: I'm right behind you, I should be the next Walkhighlander to celebrate my double ton :wink:

Bidean just as superb as I remember - it's been a while since I did this route, my knees were knackered after that steep descent to the bealach. But it's so worth the pain.
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Re: Loyalty, betrayal and a double ton x 2 on brilliant Bide

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Tue Aug 30, 2016 12:07 pm

Jaxter wrote:Wow some fantastic pictures of a great day :D how did you get your stag photos? They run away from me :lol:

Sheer luck - I've never had the stags stay so still and so close for so long before - perhaps it was a benefit of leaving the dogs behind and walking with Kathleen who spotted them :lol: :lol:

dogplodder wrote:Brilliant report of a brilliant day on Bidean! :clap:

You're right it's the hair that does it.... but I quite like the idea of having a sister. :lol:

I really benefited from your powers of observation as well as the great companionship :D

BlackPanther wrote:Congrats on the 200th!!! :clap: :clap: :clap: I'm right behind you, I should be the next Walkhighlander to celebrate my double ton :wink:

Bidean just as superb as I remember - it's been a while since I did this route, my knees were knackered after that steep descent to the bealach. But it's so worth the pain.


Looking forward to reading the report of your 200th :D I take it you wont choose a BHL??? :lol: :lol:
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Re: Loyalty, betrayal and a double ton x 2 on brilliant Bide

Postby dogplodder » Fri Sep 02, 2016 12:09 pm

Son congratulating his parents on their 200th Munro! :D

IMG_1287-large.JPG
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Re: Loyalty, betrayal and a double ton x 2 on brilliant Bide

Postby Borderhugh » Fri Sep 02, 2016 12:19 pm

Congratulations on reaching the double ton!

Some lovely shots there especially of the stags :clap:

Not done these 2 but your piccies have got me salavating.

Wish I had a time machine to get me to my next free day. The 17th September cant come quick enough.
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Re: Loyalty, betrayal and a double ton x 2 on brilliant Bide

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Sat Sep 03, 2016 1:52 pm

dogplodder wrote:Son congratulating his parents on their 200th Munro! :D


Thanks for the photo - now is he secretly proud of the old dears or embarrassed to be there :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Loyalty, betrayal and a double ton x 2 on brilliant Bide

Postby mrssanta » Sat Sep 03, 2016 10:07 pm

ooh that was fab. Well done to you all!
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