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Is this the West Highland Way?...

Is this the West Highland Way?...


Postby BlackPanther » Wed Aug 02, 2017 6:08 pm

Route description: Stob Ghabhar and Stob a'Choire Odhair

Munros included on this walk: Stob a' Choire Odhair, Stob Ghabhar

Date walked: 08/07/2017

Time taken: 7.5 hours

Distance: 18 km

Ascent: 1212m

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After a short break in TR posting mainly due to my spinning head, it's time to catch up with the backlog. Today's report will take us to Stob a'Choire Odhair and Stob Ghabhar - "Gava and Ova" as I say sometimes. If there was ever any doubt whether a certain Eva can climb Ova and then traverse to Gava, it is gone now. She not only climbed both but had so much fun, laughing, meowing and jumping about, that her husband was close to putting her on a leash!

The reason for my uncontrolled giggling was a strange encounter and conversation we had on the ridge between the two hills, but we'll come to that :D

Kevin has done Gava and Ova before and in early spring when the ridge was still covered in snow, and he didn't remember anything difficult about them. Plus I was assured by other WH members that the ridge connecting the two mountains is not technically hard. So I was full of hope.

When we drove past Bridge of Orchy, Kevin said "I remember I wild camped here once - by the bridge". Well, I don't know if camping 100m from the village is actually WILD, but I kept quiet. Later there was more from him: "O, I remember walking that path" or "I remember crossing that stream". It was over 20 years since he visited the two Munros, but I guess hills don't age as quickly as people :D

So our route followed the standard approach to the duo, up Stob a'Choire Odhair first, then along the ridge to Stob Ghabhar. No scrambling required, just some steep and eroded sections of the path.

Track_STOB GHABHAR 08-07-17.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


It was still cloudy when we started from the car park, but it was said to improve later in the afternoon.
Ready for adventure:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 007.JPG

We walkled on the tarmac to Victoria Birdge and turned left by Forest Lodge. There is a board there with stalking info during the shooting season:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 015.JPG

We overtook two young lads with full backpacks. I thought that they might be walking WHW but they turned left along Abhainn Shira as well. We were much faster with daypacks and going on the track was easy, our target hills looming above us:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 017.JPG

The beginning of the path along Allt Toraig is very boggy:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 022.JPG

...but the path improves later on and as we walked, weather began to improve, too:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 033.JPG

There were other walkers heading for the hills and some of them overtook us for a change, when we stopped to take off extra tops (it was warming up nicely). So far, I have paid little attention to the two lads with backpacks, who were obviously following the crowd. Now I noticed that they also turned up Allt Toraig path and were aiming to climb the mountains. Will be hard work with those heavy sacks, I thought, but very soon I forgot about the Rucksack Duo and had to concentrate on fighting more bog:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 034.JPG

The path goes into Corrie Toaig and then it divides, one branch heading for the col between the two Munros, the other climbs Stob a'Choire Odhair:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 045.JPG

The climb to Ova is a bit of a slog really, but weather was clearing as we gained height and Stob Ghabhar across the glen looked splendid:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 051.JPG

Higher up, the path is more rocky:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 061.JPG

...but the views are so much better...
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 062.JPG

...that I didn't dare complain about anything...
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 066.JPG

...and soon we reached the summit of Stob a'Choire Odhair, where I posed for a traditional summit snap with wee Lucy:
Image2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 073 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
We stopped on the summit for a longer break, conditions have improved. It was windy-ish and surprisingly cold as for summer, but we couldn't miss the opportunity for a lengthy photo session :D
North to Meall a'Bhuiridh and Creise, looking so close:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 075.JPG

Glen Etive mountains (the big one I think is Ben Starav):
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 077.JPG

Stob Ghabhar in its full glory, waiting to be attacked!
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 078.JPG

View to the south:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 085.JPG

Orchy Munros across Loch Tulla:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 088.JPG

The vast emptiness of Rannoch Mor:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 090.JPG

Really a superb viewpoint, and what's more important - so many of the hills here are still on our to-do list, so the subject of our conversation was mostly about which mountain will we do next and up which route, etc. I guess many of you have the very same issue - when up on the hills it is hard to talk about anything else but the hills. Every subject always comes down to "and next week if weather smiles we're going to climb Beinn Whatever" or "...and do you remember when we climbed Carn Blahblah and it was raining so heavily..." :lol: :lol: :lol:
We had something to eat and continued the traverse by descending via an obvious ridge towards Stob Ghabhar:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 105.JPG

The descent was stony but no scrambling - so far so good. I was getting mentally ready for the final... wait, how much?... 500m of ascent :shock:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 108.JPG

Looking back to Stob a'Choire Odhair:
Image2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 121 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
From the lowest point of the ridge, the ascent route doesn't look too bad:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 123.JPG

...but on closer inspection, we found some loose scree and generally, the path was eroded:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 139.JPG

Kevin was mesmerized by Coire Lochain and the little loch at the bottom. The steep cliffs of Stob Ghabhar reminded us of Triple Buttress on Beinn Eighe:
Image2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 137 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Image2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 141 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Looking down from half way up the slope, with Ova to the right:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 144.JPG

We reached a little "saddle" in the slope - from here, another 100m of ascent up to the ridge, called Aonach Eagach (the very sound of it makes me shiver :sick: gulp!). As this photo shows, the slope is steep with some rocky /bouldery sections, but it actually looks worse than it is:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 146.JPG

As we pushed on, we lost the path and charged straight up, there was enough grass to make the ascent easy:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 154.JPG

View down to the corrie:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 158.JPG

From the Aonach Eagach ridge, views are good in all directions, including south-east to Loch Tulla:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 168.JPG

Having arrived on the ridge we stopped to have something to drink (we were all sweaty ant dehydrated after that steep push) and suddenly as we stood there sipping water, the two lads with big backpacks approached us. I was surprised (to say the least) when they stopped next to me and asked politely:
"Excuse me, is this the West Highland Way?"
:shock: :shock: :shock: :wtf: :wtf: :wtf:
Their accents definitely sounded foreign (I'd say French or maybe Dutch). I was so shocked I lost my tongue. I just stared at them with big eyes :shock: Kevin saved the situation, taking out the map and showing the Rucksack Duo where we actually were. They seemed completely oblivious to the fact that they wandered miles away from WHW and that they arrived on a ridge 50m below the summit of a Munro. It turned out, that they saw us and other walkers going up the mountain path and followed, thinking that the whole crowd was also doing WHW. While we (and everybody else) clambered up the stalker's path to Stob a'Choire Odhair, they continued on the path to the col between the two Munros and then somehow made their way up Aonach Eagach. They only found out it was NOT the WHW when they met us again on the ridge. They had no map of the area and they looked exhausted - no wonder with such heavy load!
The Rucksack Duo and Aonach Eagach:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 174.JPG

We had a look at each other. We knew we had to do something here, as these two were obviously lost. Having found out about their mishap, they looked rather scared. So we explained to them, with our map, how to get down the mountain. Sending them back down the steep slope we came up would be suicide, so we guided them to the Stob Maol shoulder and showed them the path that would later also be our descent route. We hoped that they would be able to follow that path and the slope back down into the glen, as weather was good and visibility was fine, too.
Stob Ghabhar in the sun:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 175.JPG

The Aonach Eagach ridge:
Image2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 183 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
The whole situation was so comical that I struggled to stay calm. The poor lads were very polite and they looked so embarrassed, that I didn't want to be rude and laugh in their face. But as soon as we separated, I began to giggle like mad :roll:
Giggling Panther on AE:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 186.JPG

Looking back at the wider section of AE ridge:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 188.JPG

The ridge itself was nothing technical, just walking on a narrow path. No problem.
Facing Stob Ghabhar:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 190.JPG

AE and Ova from the final ascent:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 194.JPG

Gazing down into the corrie below:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 196.JPG

Still giggling, on the summit of my 212th Munro!
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 204.JPG

Some summit views:
Image2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 205 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Image2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 215 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Image2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 217 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Image2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 221 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Image2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 223 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Another pair of walkers arrived when we were sitting by the cairn. We started chatting and we simply could not stop ourselves from telling the story of the Rucksack Duo. We spent some time laughing together :lol:
Eventually, after a long rest on the summit, we began our descent down the Stob Maol shoulder. The path is obvious, it follows a line of old fence posts:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 226.JPG

Following the instructions from WH walk description, we crossed Allt Coire na Muic above the waterfalls:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 233.JPG

The final descend by the falls is on very eroded path, care should be taken here:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 239.JPG

The upper waterfalls. Kevin again was joking about skinny dipping, but someone was already there waiting for his turn :lol:
Image2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 241 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
A few snaps of the falls:
Image2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 254 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Image2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 258 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Image2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 263 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
The path eventually descends to Allt Toaig, crossing the gorge of the river. We scrambled out of the gorge to the path on other side, where to our content, we spotted the Rucksack Duo making their way back to the track. So they got down safely. Uffff.
Looking back at the slope and the waterfalls:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 268.JPG

Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh from Abhainn Shira:
2017-07-08 stob ghabhar 275.JPG

As we walked back to the car park, I admired the line of the Dorain/Dothaidh ridge. Kevin suggested that next time we come to Bridge of Orchy to climb them - he hasn't done them either. So the next Sunday saw us marching up Coire an Dothaidh, but this is a subject for another story :D
Last edited by BlackPanther on Thu Nov 28, 2019 11:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is this the West Highland Way?...

Postby Driftwood » Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:58 pm

In your photo of "Glen Etive mountains (the big one I think is Ben Starav)",I'm pretty sure that the biggest hill in the middle of the photo is Bidean nam Bian - I know that because I had that same view back in June, also on a day of good weather (then walked it the next day in breezy clag).
The Ben Starav group would be out of view to the left (hidden by the bulk of Stob Ghabhar; they're sort-of-joined by a long ridge running west from SG).
The hills on the left of your photo include Beinn a' Bhethir, peeking over the top of other hills running southwest from Bidean nam Bian.

Some fine views and photos (as ever). I particularly enjoyed these two hills as they let me catch up with views I'd missed (and some that I was to miss the next day) :lol:
And nice to see (photos of) the waterfalls - I took a different descent route, so only got a glimpse of these across the glen. And not even a glimpse of anyone cooling off in the pools.

As for the two WHW hikers ... wow! Good to hear that you set them right and they got back down safely and at least they got some different views than the usual route.
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Re: Is this the West Highland Way?...

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Aug 03, 2017 10:45 pm

Driftwood wrote:n your photo of "Glen Etive mountains (the big one I think is Ben Starav)",I'm pretty sure that the biggest hill in the middle of the photo is Bidean nam Bian - I know that because I had that same view back in June, also on a day of good weather (then walked it the next day in breezy clag).


Aah, thanks for that, I'm not good at hillspotting for southern Scotland (maybe because I haven't climbed much in this corner, too far from home :wink: ).

I don't want to sound patronizing or put myself in a position of a mountain hero, we had our mishaps, too (once we climbed the wrong hill by accident) but in case of the Rucksack Duo I was stunned... How the hell did they not realize, having fought all the way to the AE ridge, that they were not on WHW??? I dread to think what could have happened had they not met us. They were actually looking for a descent route down the northern side (into Coire Lochain) and we had to explain to them that there was no path in that direction.

I hope they learned from the experience 8)
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Re: Is this the West Highland Way?...

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Fri Aug 04, 2017 9:05 am

I enjoyed that! And some good photos. I think these two are the among the best mountains south of Glen Coe by far :D . Must be the silly season in the hills, we seem to be meeting people who are misplaced or ill prepared and not sure where they are going on every trip just recently, sometimes worryingly so :crazy: .
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Re: Is this the West Highland Way?...

Postby BlackPanther » Fri Aug 04, 2017 10:55 am

Cairngorm creeper wrote:I enjoyed that! And some good photos. I think these two are the among the best mountains south of Glen Coe by far :D . Must be the silly season in the hills, we seem to be meeting people who are misplaced or ill prepared and not sure where they are going on every trip just recently, sometimes worryingly so :crazy: .


Thank you :D I haven't climbed a lot south of Glen Coe but agree this pair is surprisingly good, especially the traverse between them. Defo to visit more than once. We did Dorain and Dothaidh a few days later and they seemed boring compare to Gava & Ova. I'm thinking about Beinn Challum this weekend - looks like another long slog...

What worried me most about the incident with the two WHW lads, was that they had no map and compass, they simply followed the crowd. Proves my point that even when doing easy low level walking, a map is essential. So is thinking. Paths can be misleading. These two were lucky that visibility was good. What if they wandered onto the ridge in thick cloud? Scared to even think about it.
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Re: Is this the West Highland Way?...

Postby prog99 » Fri Aug 04, 2017 2:17 pm

Interesting, the bits of the WHW i've come across all seem well waymarked but maybe not to the extent that your new continental friends would have been used to. Even so when in europe we take a map to ensure things like you described dont happen.

I know of a party of WHW travellers to have ended up in the area of curved ridge after taking the wrong fork.
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Re: Is this the West Highland Way?...

Postby jmarkb » Fri Aug 04, 2017 2:55 pm

I've encountered lost folk around that way before: a couple who had got most of the way to Clashgour Farm before realising they were off route, and some folk on the top of Stob Ghabhar using the Not the West Highland Way book who were not wanting to carry on to Creise, and unsure of any alternative.

BlackPanther wrote:I'm thinking about Beinn Challum this weekend - looks like another long slog...


You can make Beinn Challuim into a more interesting circular walk by taking the track from Auchtertyre up Gleann a' Chlachain and making for Bealach Ghlas-Leathaid and up the NW ridge. The forestry marked on the map is not densely planted. Or, if feeling energetic, include the Corbetts Beinn Chaorach and Cam Chreag.
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Re: Is this the West Highland Way?...

Postby BlackPanther » Fri Aug 04, 2017 7:12 pm

Thanks for the comments and thoughts... I suspect that the Rucksack Duo got confused when crossing Victoria Bridge. WHW goes right and the route up Stob Ghabhar turns left (my second photo). Just behind the stalking info board there is another one, pointing right "Walkthrough path to Glen Etive" or something like that. They probably assumed that the walkthrough path = WHW. And of course everybody else was heading this way (to climb the hills) so they simply followed.

jmarkb wrote:You can make Beinn Challuim into a more interesting circular walk by taking the track from Auchtertyre up Gleann a' Chlachain and making for Bealach Ghlas-Leathaid and up the NW ridge. The forestry marked on the map is not densely planted. Or, if feeling energetic, include the Corbetts Beinn Chaorach and Cam Chreag.


I like the idea of combining BC with the two Corbetts :D but that's over 1400m of ascent. I've been a bit unwell recently and I'm not sure how well I recovered, so might leave that out for another day. Weather's looking wet, too. Might do Beinn Mhanach instead, we'll see.
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Re: Is this the West Highland Way?...

Postby Mal Grey » Sat Aug 05, 2017 2:27 pm

Great stuff, and well done for helping out the Lost Lads before you collapsed into giggles.

Still have these to do, they look good!
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Re: Is this the West Highland Way?...

Postby Graeme D » Sun Aug 06, 2017 10:50 pm

I wonder where those guys are now? :crazy:
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Re: Is this the West Highland Way?...

Postby BlackPanther » Wed Aug 09, 2017 12:30 pm

Graeme D wrote:I wonder where those guys are now? :crazy:

Ha ha ha, I'm asking myself the very same question. I hope they learned from the experience and bought a map when they reached the nearest village!

Mal Grey wrote:Great stuff, and well done for helping out the Lost Lads before you collapsed into giggles.
Still have these to do, they look good!

Thanks :D I 'm proud of myself - I managed to stay serious for the length of the conversation :lol: I didn't want to hurt anybody's feelings...
You will like this pair. They might be even better done with snow on the ridge. Here's a snap from Kevin's previous visit in April 1995, summit of SG:
Image
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Re: Is this the West Highland Way?...

Postby Beery Hiker » Wed Aug 09, 2017 12:44 pm

I had a similar experience with a WHW backpacker who found himself almost at the summit of Ben Lomond, but that is a much tamer place to escape from - I remember having to think a little about whether to suggest turning round or trying to follow the Ptarmigan path...
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