This really is a spectacular walk, and well worthy of its rating. This report describes a route that deviates slightly from the recommended walk, mainly due to the fact that a fresh batch of snow meant that the descent into the lost valley following the second peak would be dangerous without an ice axe. Instead, we took the recommended route up towards the summit of Bidean nam Biam, before turning back and retracing our steps to Stob Coire nan Lochan and then down the ridge to the plateau beneath the Central Buttress. We then traversed the plateau and made our way down into the lost valley before following the route from there back to the car park.
The particularly striking aspects of the walk were the remarkable stillness atop Stob Coire nan Lochan, and the panoramic views all around. The weather was good without being spectacular (a mix of sun and clouds) but relatively speaking conditions were benign. There had however been a lot of snowfall overnight which made navigating the higher parts more difficult.
The two of us (Arlene and I) set off from the popular car park down into the glen and up along the path towards Coire nan Lochan. The path is very good and easy to follow all the way up - there is just one minor scramble required down a sloping rock that will usually be wet. It can easily be negotiated by planting your left foot and hopping down, although the more cautious walker may prefer to slide down (I admit I chose the latter!).
Just before finishing the climb into the coire (forgive my use of plateau to describe this!) there is a fork. Both routes may work, although we chose the right hand fork to climb up into the coire. The path becomes less clear and it is fairly easy to lose it when in the coire. However, the terrain is fairly easy and not too boggy, so it is not difficult to make your way to the right to get up to the ridge. It is fairly clear this is where you need to go, as the buttress towers up right in front of you, with the ridge sloping down in a left to right direction (as you look at it) from the summit of Stob Coire nan Lochan. Once we had climbed to the right most part of the ridge, there were spectacular views to the north west, with a snow covered Ben Nevis towering above everything else.
The ridge itself is rocky, although the snow meant it was a case of following in the footsteps of those that had gone before us. They led us to the edge of a few steep drops but generally kept us out of trouble! Eventually we reached the summit of Stob Coire nan Lochan, where there is a modest cairn. From here, the views all around were excellent, and it was remarkably still. A popular stopping point where we spoke to some fellow walkers both times we crossed it.
From here we descended into the saddle between Stob Coire nan Lochan and Bidean nam Bian before starting the climb to the summit. Given the relative abundance of snow, this was tricky and the route is pretty much unrecognisable when compared to the pictures on the walk description. From the summit the recommended route is to head along the ridge to Stob Coire Sgreamhach, then down into the lost valley from the bealach. We gave this a miss given our lack of experience and equipment, although we did meet someone who had managed to come up that way without any "winter gear". We simply retraced our steps back over Stob Coire nan Lochan and down into the plateau, which was fairly straightforward.
From here, we decided to go off piste slightly, and traversed the plateau (passing round some small lochans) before negotiating a fairly steep descent into the lost valley. This involved some scrambling, but was lower than the snow level so was not too difficult. Some care was required to pick a sensible route, but we were in no rush. We eventually reached the path that was on "our side" of the gorge, and followed it down the valley. There is a picturesque rocky area where the river has been buried. There is some relatively easy scrambling required to get down to where the path starts again, and the stream has to be crossed (although there is a confusing continuation of the path to the right (east) of the stream that leads to a dead end above a steep drop, which led us astray briefly). Eventually the car park is reached, with some man made structures along the way (a rail and a staircase).
Glencoe really is a stunning setting and we enjoyed the views of the three sisters before heading down the A82 back to Glasgow.
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.