With this being a long day I decided to get an early start but at 8:15 I was still pacing up and down in front of the public toilets in Kinlochleven although a clear sign said open from 8 until 6. I was starting to think about heading for the hills when eventually a very grumpy looking woman shuffled along the road jangling a set of keys. I tried a cheery hello with no response but thanked her anyway as the relief was mine, not even a grunt of acknowledgement. Grumpy woman or not public toilets are getting very thin on the ground in Scotland so I was still grateful.
Finally I got round to the carpark bagging the last space and booted up ready for a long day in the hills. The mist was down pretty low but I was hopeful that the rain would keep off even although I was pretty much walking in the wettest part of Scotland. The walk starts up hill immediately passing close to the Grey mare’s tail waterfall. As the path heads up through the trees it soon comes to a fork. Following the sign for Loch Eilde Mor it is a straightforward, if extremely eroded, path to the tree line.
I followed the mist as it gradually rose just ahead of me revealing the outline of Sgor Eilde beag in front. It’s a good path all the way to the track and as I turned back there were some great views looking down to loch leven. I crossed the main track to another smaller track which continues to skirt around Sgor Eilde Beag. By now 5 young fit walkers were passing me to head up towards Binnean Mor. When I asked where they were going the first guy said he hadn’t a clue he was just following me!! But the last two boys said they were headed round to Binnean Mor. They soon left the path and headed straight up the spine of Sgor Eilde Beag disappearing into the mist.
I continued on in the mist with a partial view of Sgur Eilde Beag. It looked intimidating even in the mist but I was going to save this for the way back and see how I got on with the scree. I told myself even if I scored one munro today I would be happy as these mamores were so remote.
Just as the rain came on I could see a figure making their way off the hill. I pulled on my waterproofs and checked the map and by then it was bucketing rain and the walker had reached me. He had gone up the opposite side of Sgur Eilde and come down the scree but found it pretty steep. This did not fill me with confidence. He’d had enough for the day and was heading home. The two of us were chatting under dripping wet hoods. I thought I’ll just head down into the valley a bit towards the stream crossing and see if I can see how far it is to Binnean Beag.
The heavy rain gradually subsided as I decended and as I reached the stream it completely stopped. Once over the other side I could see the path heading up to the small lochan at the foot of Binean Beag although I couldn’t quite see the lochan. So the waterproof trousers came off and I continued back up the other side of the valley. I could see a bright orange walker ahead. I couldn’t see the lochan till I was almost on it. Now in the distance bits of blue sky were beginning to appear and a lovely view of the mountains beyond although my goal kept appearing and disappearing in and out the mist.
There was a good but steep path all the way up Binnean Beag although it disappeared at times across the bigger boulders but I kept mainly to the right and was just about at the top when it started snowing. The walker ahead of me must have decided to come straight back down as I met him about 5 minutes from the summit. I reached the summit as the snow began to fall so not much of a view but I put on my gloves and decided to wait a few minutes sheltering behind the cairn just incase. Sure enough the cloud lifted and I could see back to Loch Eilde Mor glinting in the distant sun and then north to the great ridge of Aonach Beag and Aonach Mor now sprinkled with the first snow of the season. It had been well worth continuing through the weather. The was also a great view down into Glen nevis.
I looked across at Sgur Eilde Mor and decided it didn’t look nearly so intimidating from this angle. So I walked back down the hill a bit for some shelter and a sandwich and continued back towards my next goal meeting another lone walker on the way. He had completed 2 mamores already and was just about to bag Binnean Beag. I continued back up to the loch and as I reached it the same lone walker passed me heading toward Sgur Eilde Mor. I decided to keep him in my sights as a gauge to how tough the scree was and so quickened my pace. I passed the Eilde lochan and skirted around to the left picking up the path on the larger scree to begin with. This didn’t seem too difficult and I gradually made my way up to about half way.
Further up I could see the scree changing colour to red. At this point the walker in front seemed to slow down so I thought I might catch him up but he disappeared over the horizon. I reached the red scree looking a lot steeper and a little more difficult. This was a little more of a case of two steps forward one back. I speeded up just to get beyond it by this time my quads absolutely burning. I reached an easier path to the side which gave me a bit of respite. Further up the scree had pretty much gone with a steep gritty path in it’s place. I managed to negotiate this and reached the ridge with a huge sigh of relief. It was about 5-10 minutes along the ridge and up to the summit.
I was so delighted I punched the air. If the walker in front had still been at the top I think I would have hugged him so maybe just as well! That was my first experience of scree so I was so pleased to reach the top. I took in the view and took a few photos until my camera completely died. I must remember to charge my battery the night before next time. I didn’t stay long on the summit thinking about the steep precarious ascent back down but as I started on the steep section it didn’t seem quite so tough as the ascent and I quickly managed to pick my way down to the bottom of the scree. I passed by the loch again and from here it was 2 hours return of beautiful views back down to Loch Leven. You’ll have to take my word for it this time without my photographic evidence. I enjoyed every step of the way without rain battering in my face and bounding along the clear path without having to navigate. I made such good time I even had a stop on the way home for a cup of tea and an empire biscuit in the Glencoe café.
Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
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.