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Game, Set, Match, Buachaille Etive Beag!
by ScottishLeaf » Tue Jul 09, 2013 12:50 am
Route description: Buachaille Etive Beag
Munros included on this walk: Stob Coire Raineach (Buachaille Etive Beag), Stob Dubh (Buachaille Etive Beag)
Date walked: 07/07/2013
Time taken: 5.5 hours
Distance: 8 km
Ascent: 900m2 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
I left an already sunny Stenny at just after 6am, a leisurely Sunday drive later and I was parked up at the Beehive Cairn layby in Glen Coe at 8:15am and out walking by half past. Mine was the 4th car in car park.
The path leaves from the back right hand corner of the car park/layby and immediately crosses a wee burn, from here it's an easy walk up Lairig Eilde, gradually gaining height.
Most of the surrounding peaks were beginning to shed their dawn cloaks of cloud as the searing heat began to build. Even from down low I was awed by the magnificent mountains all around.
Soon the path reaches a fork, with the left hand branch heading obviously uphill.
Being virtually right underneath it, there isn't much of a view of Stob Choire Raineach, but ahead the peak at 902m and Stob Dubh looked fantastic as it shook off morning cobwebs. Over to my right, Beinn Fhada and the Bidean nan Bian massive were keeping their secrets for later, insisting it was too early to emerge from it's claggy covers.
The path dips slightly as it crosses a burn, the only serious burn crossing of the day, but given the warm, dry days of late this was easy. On the other side, the gradient picks up a bit and become fairly steep for couple of hundred metres.
In the warmth this was tiresome, but not too draining, as just when I began to think, "come on!" I realised I was nearing the bealach between 902m and Stob Choire Raineach. Then as if from nowhere, there was suddenly this massive ridge appearing in the distance, over the other side of the glen.... Buachaille Etive Mor in his full glory.
Sort of like the corrie on Lochnagar, you know it's there. You know to expect it, but somehow it still draws your breath from when you when it emerges from behind the back of the bealach.
On most mountains you're happy if you have one thing to look at, Buachaille Etive Beag isn't most mountains.
Keeking through the gap between the end of Buachaille Etive Mor (Stob na Broige) and the bulk of Point 902m (Point 902m deserves a name btw. I nominate Stob na ScottishLeaf) is a glimpse of some of the munros down the east side of Glen Etive.
Then looking back the way you ascended to the bealach is the rather impressive sight of Stob Coire Sgreamhach, Stob Coire nan Lochan and Bidean nan Bian itself.
Then there's the 'small' matter of the Aonach Eagach Ridge across the chasm of Glen Coe.
...and I haven't mentioned the Buachaille Etive Beag itself yet. The bealach even has a nice slap of red sandstone protruding from it, with a cairn on it. I sat on this, taking photos and deciding to tackle Stob Coire Raineach first, giving the tiny fragments of cloud sticking to Stob Dubh the chance to clear, plus the couple of others up the hill in front of me were all heading to Stob Dubh, I'd have Stob Coire Raineach to myself.
Stob Coire Raineach is easily reached from the bealach and I clambered up over the rock in about 1/4 of an hour and as I began climbing up, the back of Stob Dearg over on Buachaille Etive Mor began to look like some sort of giant Sphinx, staring across Rannoch Moor at another great, iconic mountain, Schiehallion.
From the summit the views are simply amazing, Aonach Eagach, The Mamores, The Grey Corries, the Fersit Two and of course Big Bad Ben Nevis and his cronie Carn Dearg Mor. To the west Loch Leven can be seen at the end of Glen Coe, while in the south Stob Dubh dominated the view, with Ben Starav away in the distance over Loch Etive. To the northeast and east The Blackwater Reservoir and Stob Dearg pointed out to the great wastes of Rannoch Moor and distant Schiehallion.
Stob Coire Raineach really was worthy of promotion in 1997, it's a summit with awe inspiring views in every direction, a real gem.
When I had been at the bealach I had met an older chap, who was a Munroist, who couldn't resist a jaunt up one of his favourite mountains. He warned me that on the descent of Stob Coire Raineach there is small flat section. "Keep left onto the grass" he said and it stood me in good stead. (If you keep following it down to the right the path reaches a section of loose scree, making for an awkward and steep descent down into the glen.)
Safely back to the bealach is was time to attack the fairly intimidating Stob na Scottishleaf (formerly known at Point 902!)
It's no really that difficult a climb, the path is well worn and a little loose in places, but without too much effort I was up at Stob na Scottishleaf's summit cairn, looking back at Stob Coire Raineach.
From 902, sorry Stob na Scottishleaf, towards Stob Dubh the narrows nicely. Narrow enough to let you feel up high and let you know you're on a ridge but, not so narrow as to feel airy of exposed. The narrowest part lies, just at the bottom of the climb up Stob Dubh itself. SnS also offers a nice angle on the Buachaile Etive Mor Ridge.
There's two or three wee bumps to gross and some potentially muddy stuff inbetween each bump, but the sun had baked them more or less dry.
The last few yard up Stob Dubh are very rocky with some loose stuff and as I clambered over it, I thought this could be tricky in icy conditions, at nearly 20C, I didn't have to worry about that though and Stob Dubh was soon summited.
The worst thing about walking solo with only an iPhone and GPS for company is there's nobody to take your picture at the summit. This was about the best I mustered!
I crossed over the wee dip to the south top of Stob Dubh, where I found the Munroist, packing up his camera and tripod, he was kind enough to take a proper picture of me at the south before he left.
I sat for half an hour facebooking; looking for Skyfall; wondering which lochan James Bond jumped into; snapping photies; eating lunch but most of all sitting in shear awe at the beauty before me. Glen Etive in all it's glory, I could see all the way to Ben Cruachan... a view I must've seen in reverse when I did that mountain in similar conditions last year. Bidean eventually woke from under it's blanket as well.
From here you could even seen the cleft that gouges a gash out of Sgor na h-Ulaidh's summit.
Eventually, I tore myself away from the views and as I made my way back across the ridge, I could pick people out on Stob na Broige and Stob Coire Altruim across Lairig Galtain and as I gazed around I saw the bright yellow of a Sea King helicopter hanging over the Aonach Eagach, but then it moved on. As I descended it buzzed over a few of the neighbouring hills on what must've been a practice exercise, finally passing overhead when I was down at the car park.
On the way back, I could not resist throwing my arm out of the car window and grabbing a shot of the The Big Buachaille, before racing back home to watch the final two sets of Andy Murray becoming Wimbledon champion... what day
by Unda » Tue Jul 09, 2013 10:06 am
by jonny616 » Tue Jul 09, 2013 2:47 pm
Before you can name something you have to be either first up it or over it eight times so Sgor na SL will need to wait. I'm three ahead of you.
by SMRussell » Tue Jul 09, 2013 2:59 pm
by Tomsie » Tue Jul 09, 2013 5:17 pm
by ScottishLeaf » Tue Jul 09, 2013 10:19 pm
Unda, your man could certainly do Stob Coire Raineach. Probably depends on how bad he is whether he'd go right up Stob Dubh. The narrowest bit is a couple of metres across and on a day like I had presents little problem.
Jonny616, you're just jealous cause you've been up there three times and never thought about naming it! Stob na SL stands lol
SMRussell I was toying with calling this post Pure Dead Brilliant Beag! I went up early enough and it's short enough walk that I was back down before the heat go to baking proportions... Still got burnt though.
Cheers Tomsie, was a cracking day... Plotting a day to get up and do Bidean now!
by rockhopper » Tue Jul 09, 2013 11:19 pm
by Sabbathstevie » Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:15 pm
by gammy leg walker » Thu Jul 11, 2013 8:06 pm
by laconic surf » Thu Jul 11, 2013 11:47 pm