At last! After several years of walking, failed attempts on Ben Chonzie, several Corbetts, Grahams and even Marilyns the last few years, I managed to get Y up her first Munro and what a choice of mountain, Stob Coire Raineach of the wee Buachaille!
Having had the time of my life on Curved Ridge a few weeks before, followed by an uninspiring trudge up to Black Hill last weekend, I felt an urge to return north and take Y with me as she also hadn't been up here since childhood. I had an alterior motive too... I wanted to get another look at Stob Dearg and Curved Ridge because I was still in awe at scrambling up it 2 weeks before! From there the Wee Bookil had looked good and I thought it would be well within Y's capability even if she was out of practice.
This walk ticked boxes, good path the whole way, not too steep or scary, an easy summit from the bealach and the option of adding in a second Munro. I'm sometimes accused of taking Y on boring walks (she wouldn't have enjoyed Black Hill!) and in the shadow of Stob Coire Sgreamhach, Bidean nam Bian & Aonach Eagach for most of the walk you would struggle to find a more moody and spectacular setting so with all of this in mind we set on off north on Glasgow Fair Monday....
We left just before midday and enjoyed an easy drive up, stopping off at the Green Welly for a break where we were surprised to bump into my mate Disco Stu who I had enjoyed some Whisky with in Edinburgh the weekend before! He was working, driving tourists back to Edinburgh on a Bus after a day trip up north and was glad to have some brief company and a good blether as the bus load weren't the liveliest!
Before long we were on the way again and heading along the A82... I looked up at Stob Dearg and pointed out curved ridge as we drove past and admitted I had climbed up the pyramidal peak front on on my recent visit, the response that I was in the bad books!
I said not to worry, it wasn't as hard as it looks and we wouldn't be doing anything like it for our walk!
I parked a car park too soon and we put our boots on before I took a photo of Bidean nam Bian and noticed so a quick drive along again to the bee hive cairn car park and we were off up the hillside on the well made path, Stob Dubh and it's north top visible high on the ridge, Stob Coire Raineach on our left:
DSC_2668 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
DSC_2669 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
On the right Beinn Fhada looms menacingly as I spot a faint path up and harbour delusions of grandeur about heading up and along the ridge to Stob Coire Sgreamhach where I saw a scary looking path heading to the summit, one for another day out with Iain and Michele maybe, definitely not present company!
DSC_2670 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
West up Glen Coe, Aonach Eagach on the right:
DSC_2671 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The Aonach Eagach would provide a superb close up view behind us to the right as we headed up the well maintained path. It was overcast and nothing like the wall to wall sunshine the forecast had said it would be but some stray sunbeams still hit the notched ridge, making it look lovely and providing a nice prelude to the sinister but spectacular change we would see in it later on...
DSC_2677 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
It's a nice easy gradient to begin with before it gets a lot steeper but stone steps assist the ascent:
DSC_2685 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Some clouds were flirting with Stob Dubh's summit in another preview of what was to come later on while the main summits of Bidean nam Bian were completely covered:
DSC_2687 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We made good progress up the path and I had no compaints other than this being a first walk in a while for Y so the fitness wasn't quite there yet and a few stops for a breather were had allowing me ample photo opportunities:
DSC_2696 20180716_150923 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Stob Coire nan Lochan peeking out now:
DSC_2699 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Aonach Eagach, it was hard to tear my gaze away from it...
DSC_2703 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
No it wasn't, look at Beinn Fhada's ridge and the rest of Bidean nam Bian! Another mountain i'm dying to explore now having seen it close up:
DSC_2705 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We continued up the steep steps and neared the bealach between Stob Coire Raineach and Stob Dubh's north top seen here:
DSC_2707 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We passed a fair few people coming down up to this point, looks like we might be the late starters and last on the mountain, plenty of daylight to enjoy so no worries there as it was only half 3.
On our left the rocky final ascent up to Stob Coire Raineach. I decided the best course of action was definitely to tackle the closer Munro first, I wasn't sure the second would be an option since it was further away and Y was tiring having not done a big walk in ages.
DSC_2711 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We finally reach the bealach and the view east to Buachaille Etive Mor suddenly fills our vision and I enjoy pointing out our route along the ridge that we did in glorious sunshine a few weeks back, except I don't mention the sun since it looks like we're not getting any today!
DSC_2713 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
DSC_2718 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I'm enjoying the contrast in conditions as I look south from the cairn towards Stob Coir' an Albannaich and the Corbett Stob Dubh:
DSC_2722 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Stob Dubh North top to the south:
DSC_2723 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Enjoying the view (not boring!):
DSC_2724 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I ask Y if she wants to head the way shown above on a good path to the further Munro or up the closer Munro to the north:on a not so good rocky path:
DSC_2732 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We head up and there are several rocky and scree filled paths to choose from, we take the one on the right and the view back soon reveals the summit of Corbett Stob Dubh with Glas Bheinn Mhor summit poking out in the distance now:
DSC_2734 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
On the ascent we found ourselves seemingly on the edge of a weather front... on the right to the east and Rannoch Moor it was bright with bursts of sunlight but lots of clouds...
DSC_2743 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
On our left and stretching from Loch Etive along Bidean nam Bian to Aonach Eagach and byond was a large low lying cloud covering all the higher peaks::
DSC_2761 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Aonach Eagach now looking scary!
DSC_2767 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
About halfway up the path levels and behind me I am asked if this is the summit... erm...
DSC_2778 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Looking south from false summit #1:
DSC_2780 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
A nice couple descending that said hello and were all smiles, obviously loving their surroundings, no wonder!
DSC_2782 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
As she reaches me I almost lose Y as false summit fever hits, my response is she needs to get used to them as most hills have them and don't worry the next section really is the last one... I have no idea if it is, it looks like there is yet another part to go after that!
Once she sees the cairn euphoria will replace pain as summit fever takes over! At least I hope it will...
We press on, still sunny on one side...
DSC_2786 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Mordor on the other, just don't you come any closer and don't even think about chasing us down with any lightning shenanigans, i'm not going through that again!
DSC_2793 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Higher up now and the path gets rockier as we approach the summit, i'm ahead and behind us Stob Dubh's summit is now in view along with Bidean's hat:
DSC_2796 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Summit cairn ahead, superb, now just to wait for the Munro debutant, finally walking higher than she has before, although technically Goatfell from sea level was a larger ascent but i'm not a picky prominant peak person:
DSC_2797 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
What a contrast from the start of the walk, the full Aonach Eagach ridge looking spectacular:
DSC_2798 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Close up it looks even better, I imagine a few walkers and scramblers are having nightmares on there just now!
DSC_2800 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Further north to Ben Nevis and the Mamores it's looking even more moody and evil:
DSC_2802 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
DSC_2808 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
North east towards Blackwater Reservoir:
DSC_2810 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
A contrast again as sunbeams hit Stob Dearg and illuminate the red sandstone:
DSC_2814 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
From Loch Etive to Loch Linnhe:
DSC_2816 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We heard a noise... a helicopter was flying about again, we had briefly seen it earlier and now it flew from west to east with the Mamores providing a moody background as it went past. Y found it hilarious that we were up as high as a helicopter!
DSC_2848 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
DSC_2858 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Looking west to Ardgour:
DSC_2872 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
After taking some more photos of a triumphant Y who was loving the view from her first big hill, we snacked and chatetd then decided to head back down. I didn't think Y would have the energy to go for Stob Dubh too, right now it was looking like it didn't want any visitors...
DSC_2874 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We headed back down to the bealach, taking care on the scree sections of the path and heading down the right side path:
DSC_2879 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Stob Coire nan Lochan:
DSC_2885 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I asked if a second Munro was an option and Y said no she'd just head back down but I could go for number two if I wanted. No need to tell me twice! I provided a rough estimate of time it should take me then set off up the good path as Y headed back down to the car:
DSC_2896 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I'm at the summit cairn of Stob Dubh North Top in no time, nice view!
DSC_2906 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
It shouldn't take long to head along there and back...
DSC_2913 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
It seemed to be clearing up briefly, Bidean nam Bian was now more visible:
DSC_2914 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
So too was the view north:
DSC_2917 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Nevis now more visible:
DSC_2919 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Binnein Mor looking grand, another big mountain I can't wait to explore:
DSC_2920 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Looking back on Stob Coire Raineach:
DSC_2922 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Satisfied with the view to the north, it's time to head to the summit of Munro number 2 for the day and check out the view down Glen Etive, although it looks like I have a race on my hands to beat the clouds...
DSC_2934 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
No no no....
DSC_2953 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Time for a quick panorama on the way:
DSC_2955 20180716_170812 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I reach the start of the summit ascent up the small rocky ridge...
DSC_2956 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
...at the same time as the clouds reach it... it's a draw, dammit!!
DSC_2958 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The north has vanished:
DSC_2959 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
As for the view south that I was waiting for...
DSC_2960 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I decide to head along to the cairn further along the ridge, maybe the view will clear...
DSC_2962 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
That was exactly what happened!
DSC_2963 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
DSC_2966 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Perfect timing, I headed back to the summit cairn:
DSC_2971 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Sunlight was now teasing me:
DSC_2978 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
DSC_2980 20180716_172129 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Time to head back down, I don't want to keep Y waiting for long at the car. Luckily the number of times i've been left to add another hill then catch up (or summit while someone gave up ) means i'm pretty fast at descending now:
DSC_2985 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
On the way back along the ridge and at last, Bidean nam Bian decides to make an appearance:
DSC_2987 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Then I hear another loud and sustained drone... no chopper this time, it's a plane flying over Aonach Eagach and down Lairig Eilde!
DSC_2997 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I follow it along, what a backdrop! That must make for an exciting flight...
DSC_3003 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
DSC_3005 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
DSC_3013 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Up amongst the clouds and air traffic on a very atmospheric day, it's been a good one! Heading back down now at a fairly brisk pace:
DSC_3027 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Cheerio Stob Coire Raineach:
DSC_3029 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Enjoying the view on the way back down:
DSC_3030 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Stob Coire Sgreamhach says hello at last, another cracking peak I'm looking forward to climbing:
DSC_3033 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
A final look at Aonach Eagach, i'm gunning for you sometime soon!
DSC_3036 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
In no time at all i'm back at the car...
DSC_3039 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
DSC_3044 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Beinn a' Chrulaiste further up the Glen, car park not so busy now:
DSC_3051 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Y had only been waiting for 20 minutes which was pretty good going and we prepared to set off for Glasgow again. Just before we did a kind gent in his car ran up to me in the car park and stopped me leaving as I had left my sunglasses on top of the car, cheers mate!
Another 2 big hills in the bag for me and a momentous first achievement for Y with a great first Munro, one for people to consider as it's very straightforward and not one most will think about doing. You certainly cannot beat the setting though, Glen Coe is spectacular, definitely not boring!
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