Last year I had a first taste of Glencoe with a fine walk on Buachaille Etive Mor. The views from there convinced me that Bidean nam Bian should be added to the top of my to do list.
So 12 months later, I was about to set off up Coire nan Lochan on a fine day. The way ahead was clear, but looked rather steep.
The noisy A82 was soon left behind as the well-made path gained height quickly.
Impressive waterfalls accompany the path all the way up the valley with Stob Coire nan Lochan above.
My intended approach was along the north ridge from Aonach Dubh, so I branched off of the main path on a small track to the right and headed for the upper coire near a last steep cascade.
The path seemed to vanish in the upper coire, but the direction was obvious and the terrain not difficult. The only other walkers around seemed to be using a drone for some aerial photos. On reaching the ridge, interesting vistas opened up.
Stob Coire nan Lochan appeared to be well guarded by impressive crags. I hoped there was a viable route behind them.
Eventually, the summit of Bidean appeared for the first time - still an alarmingly long way off.
The going was rather rough over rocky terrain, but more fine views opened up through the crags.
The two lochans in the coire were briefly visible, with Buachaille Etive Mor in the background and Schiehallion on the horizon.
From the summit of Stob Coire nan Lochan, Bidean reared up to the south.
The route ahead obviously involved a steep descent and then an even steeper climb to the top. I took a few minutes to consider my options for returning after reaching Bidean. Retracing the outward route back over Stob Coire nan Lochan seemed unappealingly arduous; the top of the Lost Valley looked rather steep and eroded; maybe a western route over Stob Coire nam Beith would be best? While I was contemplating, the people with the drone arrived. I noticed that one of them was wearing a kilt.
The final approach to Bidean was indeed steep, but in superb surroundings.
As you would expect, the views from the top of Bidean were fantastic in all directions.
While I was wallowing in all this magnificence, the unmistakeable sound of the bagpipes erupted from a nearby high point. It was the guy in the kilt, with the performance and the superb views being recorded by the drone. Later research revealed that I had been sharing the top of the mountain with the Munro Bagpiper! He had certainly picked a fantastic day for it.
Eventually I decided to head back via the delightful west ridge. I appeared to have it all to myself in the afternoon sunshine, and new perspectives were revealed at every turn.
Unsurpisingly, much of the descent from Stob Coire nam Beith was steep and rough, although there was a clear path most of the way. At the top of the Coire nam Beithach Glencoe and the A82 appeared a long way off.
The crags of Stob Coire nan Beith were impressive from below.
Water began to dominate the valley as it plunged steeply downward.
At some point the path disintigrated into a rough track close to the flow of the stream and on a couple of occasions I had to cross the stream to find a way forward. However, as I emerged from the narrow part of the valley into the sunlight a well engineered path swung in from the left. Was this the path I had been on earlier, and had I wandered off it somewhere? Still, the walk along the stream was good fun.
At last Glencoe was within striking distance.
The Coire nam Beithach looks superb from near the road in Glencoe. Did I just come down from there?
At this stage I could have done without the long walk back along Glencoe to where my car was parked, but this was a small price to pay for a fantastic day in the hills. And the Clachaig Inn is just round the corner.
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