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Blue, green, white and gold in the Grey Corries

Blue, green, white and gold in the Grey Corries


Postby zatapathique » Sun Aug 04, 2019 10:49 am

Route description: The Grey Corries

Munros included on this walk: Sgurr Choinnich Mor, Stob Choire Claurigh, Stob Coire an Laoigh

Date walked: 10/06/2019

Time taken: 11.8 hours

Distance: 27 km

Ascent: 1778m

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Altitude profile

The past four days, I had been able to enjoy the fantastic view from my cabin at Corriechoille (can be found via the Walkhighlands website), but always went elsewhere for walking. Today would be different - no drive, but starting at my own doorstep. Destination: the Grey Corries.
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Cabin view

I was looking forward to the long and comfortable walk-in to the Lairig on the good track running past Corriechoille. If I thought "no sweat" on the track, I was badly mistaken. Even if it was still early in the morning (before 8 am), sweat ran down my face in streams in the sunshine, and no wind at all.
After half an hour, I turned around a bend in the track, and startled! Even though I knew he would be there, the sudden appearance of the Wee Minister gave me a little fright.
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Wee but nice

The carving is well done, the expression on his face is brilliant - optimistic, friendly, determined, but also a wee bit impish, depending on the angle. I felt a bit sorry for him because he no longer can see Glen Spean for all the trees that have grown along the track. After taking several selfies with the Reverend, I walked on and entered the "real" hillside through a gate.
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The wee ... minstrel?

Soon after, I had to leave the track to the right and walk around a fenced area through boggy grass to start climbing the slopes of Stob Coire Gaibhre, a Munro top. The grassy slopes provided for good walking, and I was surprised to be on top of Stob Coire Gaibhre so soon. From up here, there was a magnificent view over Coire na Ceannan with its little lochan to Stob Coire na Ceannan.
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Stob Coire na Ceannan from Stob Coire Gaibhre

It was clear from the beginning that I would include Stob Coire na Ceannan in the walk - the mountain looked so majestic from my cabin down below that I just had to climb it. It's a shame that it's only a top and not a full Munro.
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Stob Coire na Ceannan from the main ridge

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The main ridge from Stob Coire na Ceannan

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Panorama from Stob Coire na Ceannan: Cruach Innse, Sgùrr Innse, the Easains, the Lairig Leacach, Stob Bàn, Stob Choire Claurigh. Click to see large.

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Onward to Stob Choire Claurigh

After this 40 minute detour, I continued along the main ridge to soon reach the first Munro of the day, Stob Choire Claurigh. The view stretched over four parallel ridges right up to the Ben, well visible and looming over it all.
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The ridges. The Ben behind Aonach Beag and Aonach Mòr

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The... Big Ben? Aonach Beag to the left

All the time I was considering to include Stob Bàn in the walk. On top of Stob Choire Claurigh, I finally was able to decide to omit it. It was just too far away and would have spoiled the ridge walk. And how small it looked from up here!
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Dwarf-like Stob Bàn behind Coire Ràth and its lochan from Stob Choire Claurigh, the Easains to the left

The alternative for one of the next days was to combine Stob Bàn with Stob Coire Easain and Stob a' Choire Mheadhoin. I used my elevated position for some scouting with the binoculars, and it looked perfectly feasible from the Lairig Leacach, if a bit far to walk.

The next section on the twisting and turning ridge all the way to Stob Coire Easain (the one of the Grey Corries, not the one from the photo above) was pure delight, definitely on my list of favourite ridge walks.
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Panorama: a real treat - the Grey Corries Ridge. Click to see large.

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Looking back to Stob Choire Claurigh

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Looking back from another angle, with the Easains and Stob Bàn visible

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Approaching Stob Coire an Laoigh

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Panorama: Stob Coire an Laoigh, to the left of it Sgùr Choinnich Mòr, to the right Aonach Beag and Ben Nevis, Stob Coire Easain below the Ben. Click to see large.

All the time two ravens kept me company, always settling down a few hundred metres ahead, as if to show me where to stop and enjoy the views. The colour palette included different shades of sky blue, dotted with fluffy white clouds, the green of the grass, ranging from dark to light, with the odd patch of old yellow grass. The ridge itself, although grey, glittered as if there was gold in these hills. My knowledge of geology is limited to distinguishing, say, schist from sandstone, so I don't know what he many smaller stones with the golden sheen were. Is there pyrite in these hills? How does pyrite even look? :lol:

The moment I arrived on Stob Coire an Laoigh, another man arrived as well. It was 2 pm, and he said he was late. He had started out from Glen Nevis, and his plan had been to go on to Stob Choire Claurigh and Stob Bàn, then back. Now he was on the verge of abandoning his plans and going back directly. He went on anyway, and I did not see him again, even though the ridge was well visible all the time. Strange. Before he left, he advised my to take care when descending Stob Coire Easain towards Sgùrr Choinnich Mòr.
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The third Munro of the day in view, Sgùrr Choinnich Mòr

Indeed the descent was not straightforward. Not really dangerous or impossible, just cumbersome, and it took me half an hour (the re-ascent later would take only 20 minutes...).
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The annoying descent from Stob Coire Easain, Stob Coire an Laoigh to the right

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Sgùrr Choinnich Mòr's defence buttress

The ascent to Sgùrr Choinnich Mòr was slow as well, but at least a bit more fun. All in all it took me almost two hours from Stob Coire Easain to Sgùrr Choinnich Mòr. Much more than I had planned. It was good I had not made the detour via Stob Bàn, and including the top of Sgùrr Choinnich Beag behind and below Sgùrr Choinnich Mòr, which I had briefly considered, was now also out of the question.
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From Sgùrr Choinnich Mòr: Sgùrr Choinnich Beag, behind it possibly Sgùrr a' Bhuic, and An Gearanach in the distance

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Looking back to Stob Coire an Laoigh and Stob Choire Claurigh

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Panorama: Sgùrr Choinnich Mòr summit, the Grey Corries ridge, Stob Bàn with the Easains behind it, Meall a' Bhùirich. Click to see large.

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Binnein Beag and Binnein Mòr

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Panorama: the wide valley of Abhainn Rath. Schiehallion visible as a tiny cone above Meall a' Bhùirich. Click to see large.

As I was preparing to leave and babbling to myself about not wanting to stop anymore on the way down, a man arrived on the summit from the Sgùrr Choinnich Beag side, his face showing surprise about who I might be talking to. He was from England, but living in Edinburgh. He had gone ahead of a buddy of his. Both of them were at around 160 Munros each, and it had taken them 3.5 hours from Glen Nevis to come up here. Afterwards, they would go back down again, as his friend had already done the Grey Corries. The summit Cairn of Sgùrr Choinnich Mòr included painted stones, one of "The Magnificent Seven", and a blue one. He wondered about these stones, and it seems there is some controversy about this kind of "Kilroy was here" on the mountains.
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Aonach Beag and Aonach Mòr behind Sgùrr Choinnich Mòr's summit cairn with painted stones.

When I finally left after a nice chat, the man's friend still hadn't arrived, but I needed to go on to make the long descent to Corriechoille.

Going this way was so much easier - it took me only 50 minutes instead of the nearly 2 hours the opposite direction had taken me. As I found out, when going up or down Stob Coire Easain, the trick is to always stay on top of the ridge, not trying to go around seeming obstacles.
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Just go straight up. Stob Coire Easain and Stob Coire an Laoigh

All in all, when walking the Grey Corries again, I would omit the Sgùrr Choinnich Mòr part. Except for the views from Sgùrr Choinnich Mòr, it spoiled the whole experience a bit.

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Panorama: The Grey Corries from somewhere below Stob Coire Easain. Click to see large.

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Ben Nevis through the gap between Aonach Beag and Aonach Mòr

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Panorama: Looking back to Stob Coire an Laoigh and Stob Coire Easain. Click to see large.

After a last Munro top on Beinn na Socaich, the way back down was quite long with 9 km and tired legs. It was quite a relief to arrive at the edge of the forest, where the gradient was less steep. The sounds changed as well - all day in the hills, it had been quite silent except for the noise of the wind, but on the summits even the wind was gone. Here in the forest, the birds sang and completely changed the ambiance. Even if it is a planted forest, the birds say thank you and come living there. The first section in the forest along the Allt Choimhlidh was very slippery, then the forestry track was easy to walk on fast. The beautiful "tree tunnel" seen in the "official" walk description here on WH, which I had been looking forward to as a final treat on this walk, is gone unfortunately. Judging by the machinery standing around in places, it hasn't been gone for long...
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I guess this is where the "tree tunnel" was...

All in all, the walk was a highlight to be repeated (possibly without including Sgùrr Choinnich Mòr) - 3 Munros and 7 Munro tops, not bad at all.
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zatapathique
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 76
Munros:72   Corbetts:4
Hewitts:19
Wainwrights:26   
Joined: Sep 3, 2014
Location: France

Re: Blue, green, white and gold in the Grey Corries

Postby katyhills » Mon Aug 05, 2019 9:50 am

Terrific. I really enjoyed reading that. Beautiful set of photos. They're a stunning set of hills. I found the walk out a bit of a trudge, which slightly took the edge off, but the ridge is a fantastic walk.

You can do the last one [S.C.Mor] from Glen Nevis, which is a nice day out for a single hill, and it means you can add Stob Ban in at the start. Saves going back to do it on it's own, as it's not the most thrilling day out unless you get a clear day for the views.
katyhills
Walker
 
Posts: 352
Munros:119   Corbetts:28
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Sub 2000:3   
Joined: Jul 7, 2015

Re: Blue, green, white and gold in the Grey Corries

Postby zatapathique » Mon Aug 05, 2019 6:02 pm

katyhills wrote:Terrific. I really enjoyed reading that. Beautiful set of photos. They're a stunning set of hills. I found the walk out a bit of a trudge, which slightly took the edge off, but the ridge is a fantastic walk.

You can do the last one [S.C.Mor] from Glen Nevis, which is a nice day out for a single hill, and it means you can add Stob Ban in at the start. Saves going back to do it on it's own, as it's not the most thrilling day out unless you get a clear day for the views.


Thank you. :)
In the end, I combined Stob Bàn with Stob Coire Easain and Stob a' Choire Mheadhoin, starting from Corriechoille where I had my cabin. The walk report for this will follow in I guess 3 weeks or so.
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zatapathique
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 76
Munros:72   Corbetts:4
Hewitts:19
Wainwrights:26   
Joined: Sep 3, 2014
Location: France

Re: Blue, green, white and gold in the Grey Corries

Postby dogplodder » Mon Aug 05, 2019 7:09 pm

Enjoyed that - great photos and useful informative report. I've still to do the two western ones on the ridge and have been pondering the best way to do it and avoid the drive up that bumpy road which my better half isn't keen on for what it might do to the car's suspension! :o
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Posts: 3661
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