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Glencoe, a day of firsts.

Glencoe, a day of firsts.

Postby johnscot55 » Sat Jul 28, 2018 10:26 am

Route description: Buachaille Etive Beag

Munros included on this walk: Stob Coire Raineach (Buachaille Etive Beag), Stob Dubh (Buachaille Etive Beag)

Date walked: 24/07/2018

Time taken: 6.75 hours

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:roll: Last summer, during the school holidays, I had some great walking adventures with my grandson, Matthew, who has recently turned 10 years of age. His enthusiasm was lit, and come winter, a Munro book was asked for at Christmas and talks turned to what hills we could tackle next year. Despite never having visited the area he became fascinated by Glencoe and Buachaille Etive Mor in particular. He loved the pictures he could find of the Big Bookle on his tablet and marvelled when once or twice when it appeared on the television (Paul Murton's show is one I remember). Also the small boy in the back of a car in the Channel 5 little film that comes on just at the beginning of a programme. And I have to admit that despite having driven the A82 over Rannoch Moor and through Glencoe, for work and pleasure, more times than I could accurately put a number to, the most adventurous walk I had done in the area was visiting Signal Rock! So a climb in Glencoe really appealed to me too.
Into April this year, and I thought I had managed to douse the flame that had been lit last summer. A season's opener for Matthew on the mist bound and calf deep snow (in places) and bog of Ben Cleuch certainly dampened his spirits and despite summiting OK I knew he hadn't really enjoyed the experience.
ben cleuch.jpg
Ben Cleuch, deciding how much fun this is!
And hills weren't mentioned for some time!
However, a jaunt up Ben A'an, intended to boost his enthusiasm, followed by Ben Vorlich (Loch Earn) to find out if he still had the "Munro Spirit" in him seemed to work and his book was back out and Glencoe was back on the menu.
Ben A'an.jpg
Ben A'an, back in the groove
ben vorlich.jpg
Ben Vorlich (Loch Earn) summit.

This is, however, when my Grandad's concern came into play. Neither Matthew nor I wanted to climb Stob Dearg on it's own. When we attempt BEM we want to do the ridge and both Munros. I was concerned that this was a big step up for him (and me) in distance and time on the hill, so as a compromise and also a test to see how we got on, the Baby Bookle was (reluctantly by Matthew) agreed upon. Tuesday 24th was available and the weather seemed favourable. The day before we headed up to Glencoe I picked up a new mobile phone and loaded the Peak Finder app on to it. My previous phone wouldn't run the app (no gyro), so I was also looking forward to see how well, if at all, it worked.
Excitedly, we set of just after 7am and were soon heading up the M80. The first sighting of Ben Vorlich and Stuc a Chroin with their heads in the clouds was disappointing. I turned of the motorway and headed towards Callander. Matthew began dozing in the seat beside me and maybe it was just as well. It was pretty dull, Ledi was in cloud and just after Callander it began to rain. This was not how it was meant to be! Through Strathyre, Lochearnhead, Crianlarich and Tyndrum if was much the same. Drizzle, lowish cloud. My heart was sinking. I know a hill can still be great in inclement weather, but I so wanted this walk to be clear. Matthew woke up just before Tyndrum and I told him about the Green Welly and asked if he needed to stop. No, so we carried on.
As we climbed out of Tyndrum and headed for Bridge of Orchy the weather took a sudden upturn. The drizzle stopped, it became brighter and the clouds were a bit higher and more broken. Things were looking up. Soon Matthew was getting his first look at Rannoch Moor and eventually the Big Bookle. He was mightily impressed, and as we rounded the bend with the traditional SMC hut and BEM view I promised him we would return if it went well today.
We parked in the carpark opposite the beehive cairn, and at that point we were the only car there. We selected which clothes we were going to take with us, split the cool bag goodies and set off at about 9.15. The first half hour or so eases you in before the path cuts more steeply into the side of BEB and heads up to the bealach between the two Munros.
Not long started..jpg
Not long started
Matthew was excited to be walking in Glencoe and repeatedly said how much he was enjoying it, which was good to hear.
the scary (I've read) Aonach Eagach ridge.jpg
The scary (so I've read) Aonach Eagach ridge
Bit steeper now.jpg
Bit steeper now
Heading for the bealach.jpg
Heading for the bealach
With only one short stop for a gulp of juice, we reached the bealach and then had to make a decision whether to go right or left. We chose right towards Stob Dubh whose summit at this point is hidden behind the lower summit at the northeastern end of the summit ridge. It is a steep climb now but when a cairn is reached the ridge and summit of Stob Dubh is laid before you. Matthew's reaction was WOW but a second or two later, "It looks kind of narrow. Especially the part leading up to the summit!"
Stob Dubh now in site.jpg
Stob Dubh now in sight

It did indeed, but I assured him that it wasn't as narrow as it appeared from where we stood. At least I hoped it wasn't! I took a picture of Matthew with Buachaille Etive Mor behind him the we set off along the ridge.
Matthew and Buachaille Etive Mor.jpg
Matthew and Buachaille Etive Mor
The assumption was correct. Although there are steep drops on both sides and a bit of minor scrambling was needed on the final pull, the summit was reached with no scares.
looking back at Stob Dubh ridge.jpg
Looking back at Stob Dubh ridge
I let Matthew get to the cairn first and told him to give it a kiss and he placed a small stone on top of the cairn to make Stob Dubh just a little higher! Munro No.6 for Matthew. Time for our first food break.
break on Stob Dubh summit.jpg
Ist break on Stob Dubh
We hung about the summit for around half an hour, but this coincided with a period of cloud cover coming and going but in the clearer periods we had great views. During this time (and a few times later) I played with my Peak Finder app and found it to be pretty good if a little fiddly. For £3.99 worth a try. We jumped across to the second cairn which supposedly has a great view, but I say supposedly because this coincided with a thickish cloud rolling by slowly and the view was negligible.
Time to begin the return journey back to the bealach. By the way, if your wondering what kind of converations a 63year old man and a 10 year old boy have during a 5/6/7 hours walk, well we do have some good conversations, but, in general, I can hardly get a word in edgewise. Matthew can talk uninterrupted for half an hour on a range of topics from dinosaurs, to severe weather systems and, especially in this case, the ins and outs of the European summer transfer market with special emphasis on his beloved Arsenal (no idea why)! Watch out Jeff Stelling! Anyway, it passes the time!
On the way back to the bealach, we passed and chatted briefly with a group of older Americans headed for SD. They were to come in handy later. One thing I've learned walking with Matthew is that he (unlike me) is actually slower descending a hill than ascending. He has a walking anomaly that requires him to wear splints on both legs while at school etc and I think, for him, this affects his agility in coming down. But I also think he has a tendency to just dawdle when coming down!! We eventually reached the bealach and took our second food break before going for Stob Choire Raineach. At this point I realised that I had somehow missed my Mars bar and Belvita biscuits from the cool bag, so I asked Matthew if he would half his Mars bar with me and I would return the favour back at the car. No way was the reply. Really? Again No! Thanks Matthew. :roll:
At the beginning of last year I would have looked at the pull up to SCR and with an OMG, but I seem to have gotten some hill legs now and don't see the steeper pulls as the insurmountable hurdles I looked at last year. There are a few paths on this ascent and basically it's hard to go wrong.
beginning Stob Coire Raineach with Stob Dubh behind.jpg
Heading up Stob Coire Raineach with Stob Dubh behind
The cairn was soon in sight and again Matthew ran, kissed and heightened the cairn with another small stone. :clap: Munro No7 for Matthew and his first double summit.
Stob Coire Raineach summit.jpg
Stob Coire Raineach summit
summit selfie.jpg
Summit selfie
from one summit to the other.jpg
From one summit to the other
It was a bit colder here so we didn't hang around too long but before we left Matthew ran over towards the Big Bookle and shouted " Buachaille Etive Mor, I'm coming back for you! :lol:
As we descended from SCR we saw the Americans coming down from SD and we reached the bealach shortly before them. We began the journey from the bealach back towards the carpark and I was able to use the Americans to spur on our descent. "You don't want to be overtaken by a bunch of American pensioners, do you?" OK, a bit ageist maybe but it worked. Although a final pitstop was required we managed to stay ahead of the Americans.
final pitstop.jpg
Final pitstop.
heading down and the three sisters carpark below.jpg
Heading down with the Three Sisters carpark below

We arrived back at the car some 6.75 hours after we left. It's not a race! We high-fived and agreed it had been a great day, and the weather had behaved itself. Digging in the coolbag I found my Mars Bar and biscuits and in a grand selfless gesture I offered Matthew the biscuits but scoffed the Mars bar myself! :lol:
mission accomplished.jpg
Mission accomplished.

I took a picture at the back of the car and said I would take him the short trip to view the Three Sisters then into Glencoe village for an ice cream. He loved the Three Sisters and as he posed in front of the info board, I took out my new phone to take a pic. Dead as a dodo! All that Peak Finding without properly closing the app had taken it toll. What was worse, I hadn't realised my new phone had the new type c micro usb socket, so neither my car lead or emergency charger that I have in my rucksack were any use. Where is a phone box when you need one? Never mind, his mum and gran will just have an anxious wait till we turn up. We got an ice cream in Glencoe then set off for home. Matthew was asleep by Bridge of Orchy. He woke up at Callander. We talked and agreed, weather permitting the Big Bookle was on before the end of summer. Bring it on!
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Re: Glencoe, a day of firsts.

Postby yokehead » Sat Jul 28, 2018 12:40 pm

Well done to you both on climbing the BEM, it is a fine, characterful mountain in its own right and not just a lesser relation to the BEM!

Looks like you've started a Mars Bar war, I'll be interested to see how this develops on future hills!
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Re: Glencoe, a day of firsts.

Postby Coop » Sat Jul 28, 2018 3:52 pm

Fantastic good to see you're both still out there :clap:
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Re: Glencoe, a day of firsts.

Postby cassieoscar » Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:52 am

Well done you!! I have this in my sights as Glencoe fascinates me - is this doable for a beginner ( only climbed my first munro - Lomond at the weekend!!) worried I will get lost ( I have the GPS app but shamefully no map skills) are the paths easy to follow??
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Re: Glencoe, a day of firsts.

Postby Chris Mac » Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:05 pm

cassieoscar wrote:Well done you!! I have this in my sights as Glencoe fascinates me - is this doable for a beginner ( only climbed my first munro - Lomond at the weekend!!) worried I will get lost ( I have the GPS app but shamefully no map skills) are the paths easy to follow??

Yes very doable for a beginner, easy in my opinion but not the other half although Stob Coire Raineach was the first and only Munro she has climbed. She gave up on Ben Chonzie!


Good paths the whole way apart from a slightly loose scree section at the start of the ascent up SCR. The path to Stob Dubh is good but a little exposed towards the summit so be careful and enjoy, it is a brilliant view from the baby of Glencoe.
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Re: Glencoe, a day of firsts.

Postby johnscot55 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 3:28 pm

Would agree with Chris Mac. Pretty straightforward. Only would add it would maybe be best if you waited for a favourable visibility forecast, both for navigational confidence and, of course, the views.
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