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Back in White - rebooting 2020 on Stob Ban (Grey Corries)

Back in White - rebooting 2020 on Stob Ban (Grey Corries)

Postby Graeme D » Wed Jul 15, 2020 12:00 pm

Munros included on this walk: Stob Bàn (Grey Corries)

Date walked: 09/07/2020

Time taken: 5.2 hours

Distance: 17.7 km

Ascent: 990m

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Yes, I know, Back in Black would have been a much better title for a report but there was no way in the world that I was heading anywhere near Skye or the Black Cuillin at the current time, so Back in White will have to do! :roll:

Four months off the hills is not a unique situation for me to find myself in. Since I started using this site and regularly posting reports back in 2008, there have been several spells where I have been absent from the hills for a fairly lengthy period of time. I have never really been one of these walkers who goes out every weekend, or even every other weekend or one designated weekend in the month or whatever. I just go out when other things in life allow me to do so. I would be lying if I said that I wouldn't like to get out more often or more regularly but that's just how it is. Maybe it makes me cherish my hill time all the more. So four months of lockdown and being banned from going near anything other than Kinnoull Hill or Moncreiffe Hill probably wasn't the purgatory or radical life altering event that it might have been for some hill goers but it was still tough. I guess what was different was that during this lay off, I couldn't just go at the last minute if I felt like it or got a late pass. This was different. I was actually being banned and so when the announcement came that allowed me to return to the hills, I was raring to go. Better still that it coincided with the start of the summer holidays after a long term of sitting at home and teaching online while looking out at largely glorious weather.

I had a few things to do and sort out during the first few days of the holidays but by the end of the first full week I was good to go. One of those things was to sort out a new car. I had actually just paid the deposit on a new car the week before lockdown was imposed but as that car had to come up from Newcastle, when the brown stuff hit the fan the local dealership said they couldn't guarantee if or when they would be able to get the car up so they refunded my deposit and the whole deal fell through. With the road tax on my old car due at the start of April, I just SORNed it as it wasn't going any further than 5 miles for the foreseeable anyway and we still had my wife's car for "essential travel". With dealerships opening back up at the start of July I got back on the case and ended up buying one up in Aberdeen. My first ever white car was delivered on the Tuesday of that first week of the holidays and so my plan to head away on Thursday swung into action.

With transport sorted out, it just remained to organise child and dog care. With my wife working full time from home and being holed up for long hours in the new home office, she didn't want the dual distraction of child and dog, especially a mental dog, so I arranged for them to be sent to my parents and my brother and sister in law in Auchterarder. My parents used to take Lucy whenever we were in need of a dog-sitter but time has moved on and my dad in particular, having turned 80 during lockdown, is no longer able to look after a bundle of raw energy like Luna. I would have loved to have taken Luna with me but at 8 months she is still too young. I have no doubt that she would happily walk for 5 or 6 hours a day for a few days in the hills but with her joints still developing, it would do her no favours in terms of her long-term health. My brother and his partner are trying to sell their flat at the moment and buy a place in a more rural setting with a garden, in which case they would think about getting a dog themselves, so it would be good experience for them and they were keen to step in and help.

Ultimately I wanted to get up as far north as the Mullardoch Munros, which have proved an awkward stumbling block for me in the past, but they would probably be the target for the Friday, meaning I could do something on the way up on the Thursday. Predictably enough, I was later away than planned and after dropping the dog off with my brother and sister in law and then heading the short distance to my parents to drop off Ailsa for a two night sleepover (and witness her being able to hug her grandparents for the first time in nearly four months), I retraced my steps back up the A9 to Perth and then out to Inveralmond and northbound towards Dalwhinnie, destination Stob Ban in the Grey Corries.

After a nervous last couple of kilometres or so in the new motor on the bone jangling track up to the little parking area above Corriechoille, I was all geared up and ready for the off, ready to give the faltering 2020 a good kick start. A kind of full system reboot, so to speak. There were only three other cars parked up so not exactly the sort of rammed parking area and blocked roads that I imagined might be par for the course in the likes of Arrochar or Glencoe. With no sign of anybody around, I set off up the track and was soon rekindling old acquaintances with the Wee Meenister. :D

Hello Wee Meenister - I'm back!

I met a couple cycling back out just before the gate at the end of the forestry and then I was on to new territory, beyond the spot where Bruce, John and I left the track and took to the hillside on our Grey Corries day back in 2016.

It was great to be back out and at this stage, on a decent track without much in the way of serious gradient, the legs seemed to be coping fine with their lengthy lay off.

Cruach Innse ahead

Dropping down towards the bridge over the Allt Leachdach

Ahead to Stob Coire na Ceannain

Sgurr Innse with Stob Coire Easain peeking out from behind

Looking back to the two Innses from just before the bothy

I met another solo male walker on the track just before I reached the Lairig Leachach bothy, where memories came flooding back of a night I spent there with Lucy, back in her prime hill walking days. When was that now? I thought about it and concluded that it was April 2010 (since confirmed by checking my walks blog on here) - jeezo, over 10 years ago! That was a great two day trip from Fersit over the two Easain Munros to the bothy and then back out the following day over the Innse Corbetts and the Graham of Cnap Cruinn. I laughed at the memory of almost confronting the other human occupant of the bothy that night about him stealing my beer out of the river, before taking one more look in the river and finding it a short distance from where I thought I'd stashed it! :lol: Those were good hill days with Lucy and I thought about the great hill days still to come with Luna once she is old enough - maybe the tail end of this year, certainly spring next year. Fingers crossed our newly won freedom is still with us by then!

Stob Ban rising above the Lairig Leacach bothy

The two Corbetts from the bothy in a reprise of a photo from a report over 10 years ago

I nipped into the bothy which was unlocked and had no sign up about it being closed. Checking the visitor book I noted there had been quite a bit of traffic over the past few months. True, some of it had been estate staff doing work in the vicinity and checking up on the place, but there had also been a surprising number of through walkers during the lockdown period.

Stob Ban from the river crossing

Looking back to what is an easy crossing in these conditions

Once across the river I took almost immediately to the north east ascent ridge of Stob Ban. Now the legs and the lungs started to feel the effects of the lay off but who cares - the freedom and joy of being back out in the big hills more than compensated.

Sgurr Innse

The two Corbetts and great 10 year old memories

The summit of Stob Ban from around 750 metres with the spine of the Grey Corries ridge behind

As always, every few steps seemed to open up greater and wider views - behind me across the bealach between Sgurr Innse and Stob Coire Easain towards Creag Meagaidh and Loch Laggan, across to my right as Stob Coire Claurigh and her corries and ridge lines opened up and to the left towards Creag Ghuanach and Beinn na Lap with the southern end of Loch Treig just visible. In every direction there were great memories of past hill days down the years. 8)

Sgurr Innse now dwarfed by the Easain Munros with Creag Meagaidh and Loch Laggan visible beyond

Stob Coire Easain dwarfing little Creag Ghuanach with Beinn na Lap and the Corrour hills beyond the southern end of Loch Treig

Back down the way up

Stob Coire Claurigh

The Glencoe mountains and the Eastern Mamores from just below the summit

After the flattish section at around 750 metres, the final climb eventually spat me out onto the shattered, almost whitewashed small summit boulder field and I was standing on my first Munro in 9 months. :D

West towards Glen Nevis, the Mamores, the Aonachs and the Grey Corries ridge in the foreground

The Grey Corries and slightly more recent fond memories

East towards Loch Laggan and Creag Meagaidh with Sgurr Innse and the Easains in the foreground

First Munro since last October

Never a fan of the about turn and retracing of steps, I headed down the steep, loose scree to the bealach between Stob Ban and the ridge running up onto Stob Coire Claurigh on the main spine of the Grey Corries ridge, from where I picked up a very faint and intermittent path back down to the bothy, eventually running in a more defined manner alongside the Allt a'Chuil Choirean.

The scree littered south west ridge of Stob Ban out to Meall a'Bhuirich

A rocky descent down to the bealach

Descending back to the track at the bothy

Sgurr Innse and a scattering of bog cotton

Back to Stob Ban from the Allt a'Chuil Choirean

The path climbs above a tree lined gorge for the final section

So a successful first outing in four months had successfully rebooted and tested all hill systems and I was good to go for another two days. It was just a question of deciding where.

After carefully picking my way back down the bone shaker track to Corriechoille, I headed back out to Spean Bridge and then up through Gairlochy to the far shore of Loch Lochy where I found a little spot to camp just above the shoreline a short distance from the cycle path. There was clear evidence of ned activity in the form of old fire pits and scattered litter but I managed to find a flat, clean patch at the far end of the area to pitch for the night. The midge were out in force so midge net was donned and I headed down to the rocky shoreline and enjoyed dinner and a few beers before hitting the hay for a good nights kip.

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Graeme D
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Re: Back in White - rebooting 2020 on Stob Ban (Grey Corries

Postby PeteR » Wed Jul 15, 2020 8:06 pm

I have that bone shaker of a track to drive down at some point when I get round to tackling the two Corbett's. Always been put off with the reports of the potholes.

A cracking hill to mark your return though. I did it from a Glen Nevis approach, with the rest of the Grey Corrie's and remember the descent down the scree to the bealach. Was glad when it was done as it was certainly very loose in places.
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Re: Back in White - rebooting 2020 on Stob Ban (Grey Corries

Postby rockhopper » Wed Jul 15, 2020 11:29 pm

Nice one Mr D - you're reminding me that it's a good few years since I was last on a munro :shock: - cheers :)
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Re: Back in White - rebooting 2020 on Stob Ban (Grey Corries

Postby kevsbald » Wed Jul 22, 2020 1:30 pm

Good to see the Corbetts have'n't changed much in 10 years :o
Well done re-starting the M-point count. I'm in Skye next month - hopefully re-starting myself. What about Knoydart?????
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Re: Back in White - rebooting 2020 on Stob Ban (Grey Corries

Postby Sunset tripper » Wed Jul 22, 2020 4:05 pm

Nice one Graeme, I love that area and Stob Ban is a fine view point. I took the car in once while sheep were being herded down the hill at the start of the track. One jumped over the car. :shock: Also its a great cycle from the bothy to Spean Bridge. :D
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