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.

Bidean nam Bian & Buachallie Etive Berg via Beinn Fhada

Bidean nam Bian & Buachallie Etive Berg via Beinn Fhada

Postby Verylatestarter » Sat Dec 12, 2020 8:53 pm

Route description: Bidean nam Bian

Munros included on this walk: Bidean nam Bian, Stob Coire Sgreamhach

Date walked: 31/08/2020

Time taken: 12 hours

Distance: 13 km

Ascent: 1916m

4 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).

our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

In my later years I thought I would take up wandering to see the hillier parts of the county. For the third year in a row my son Ben and I headed for Scotland in the Summer; previously this had been at the end of the University year but Covid 19 put paid to that in 2020. When rebooking the accommodation we thought there would be a window of opportunity between the Scottish schools going back and a potential ‘second wave’ of the virus, so the first week of September was pencilled in for a week of big ridges (itinerary – Bidean >Liathach>Eighe>Gillean>Blaven>Steal). Somewhat ambitious for someone who only does this once a year!

We arrived in Glencoe Saturday afternoon, having driven up from Norfolk, and immediately headed towards Glen Etive as a reconnaissance for the walk the next day. The Glen was packed with tents, a lot more than last year, clearly a reaction to the lack of accommodation. We parked and walked up from Dalness to the end of the Little Bookle to view three of the ridges we would be walking on next day. We passed a group of lads playing in the Lairig Eilde a somewhat hazardous activity given the steps in the stream bed. I then mistakenly misdirected a couple of walkers who had just come off the South end of the Big Bookle, up the wrong path back to the A82 car parks, only later realising I had done so when we tried the same path they should have gone on; luckily we never saw them again, maybe they are still out there. My apologies if they read this.

1 - North end of BF ridge.JPG
North end of BF ridge

1.1 - Route accross Lairig Eilde and up the slope.JPG
the route across the Lairig Eilde and up the slope

The Sunday morning was almost windless, with high cloud cover. We parked at the layby on the Coe bridge and set off across pathless soggy country towards the Lairig Eilde path, which we picked up after about 10 minutes, thinking the path split and re-joined we took the left-hand path that turned out to be the route up the Little Bookle. Once high enough to realise our mistake, we set off across the bog to the correct stream crossing; we probably lost about half an hour. The intended route was to pick up the East slope of the Beinn Fhada ridge, and then South along to Stob Coire Sgreamhach. The East slope of the BFR is alternating bands of rock and steep grass with no discernible footpaths, having read enough walk reports and the Circconne guide we knew there was a way up, albeit with effort. After zig zagging through the rock bands we made the ridge next to the small prominence indicated as height 811 on the OS maps.

2 - A long drag up.JPG
A long drag up

4 - Rocky bands on the BF ridge.JPG
Rocky bands on the BF ridge

5 - Nearing the top.JPG
nearing the top

6 -   Footpaths on N end of Gearr Aonach.JPG
Footpaths? on the North end of the Gearr Aonach

7 -The BF ridge broadens out.JPG
The BF ridge broadens out

8 - A stroll along the top.JPG
A stroll along the top

9 -  BnB from BF ridge.JPG
BnB from BF ridge

10 -  Point 778 & Lairig Eilde.JPG
Point 778 & LE

11 - BF ridge looking South to SCS.JPG
BF ridge looking South to Stob Coire Sgreamhach

The ridge was a welcome sight after the ascent, broad, grassy and relatively level with a nice taper and rise up to SCS. A little bit of scrambling over Beinn Fhada at 931m bought us to the bealach at 876m between it and SNS and the ‘bad step’, a wall that was unclimbable by me. There is an obvious by-pass to the East side and the guides say go for about 30m then up back on yourself. We must have gone too far as we ended up scrambling up a muddy/grassy chute; I never have confidence in relying on soil and grass instead of rock, but we made it onto the solid platform at the top. Looking round, there we no obviously marked alternate routes, so maybe we took the correct one. I would not recommend the route we took going the other way as the steep slope would be unstable and there were few holds.
I am reliably informed that we went too far along the bypass path and should have turned up a rocky groove with good holds (see Circerone guide pg 199 & 200). Thanks to jmarkb for the correction.

12 - The bad step.JPG
The bad step, the path can be seen lower left, Ben gives scale

13 - The bypass gully from top.JPG
The bypass gully seen from the top

14 -Point 778 viewed from BF ridge.JPG
Point 778 viewed from the BF ridge

15 - BF ridge looking North to point 811.JPG
BF ridge looking back North to point 811

16 - Beinn Fhada - 931m.JPG
Beinn Fhada -= Munro Top at 931m

17 - BF ridge looking North from above the bad step.JPG
BF ridge looking North from above the bad step

19 -  A busy day on SCS.JPG
A busy day on the SCSg

18 - The Poles conquer SCS.JPG
The Poles conquer SCSg

The route up to SNS was rocky with some scrambling and we were alerted to what was to come by a drone buzzing around. Having seen no-one else (I wonder why?) on our route there seemed to be crowds on the peak; the highest point being occupied by a group of Poles, waving their national flag and taking group photos; having been to The High Tatras I had previously noted the poles tendency to form a human pyramid on high peaks. Not wanting to disrupt their fun we carried on through heading down the West slope towards Bidean nam Bian. There was a fair amount of cloud clinging to the South face of the East-West ridge obscuring any views Southward.

20 -BnB from Belach.JPG
BnB from the bealach

21 -  BF ridge from BnB.JPG
BF ridge from Bnb

22 -  Ben finds room on SCS.JPG
Ben finds room on SCSg

The route down was (unsurprisingly) rocky and fairly busy; at the Bealach Dearg was the red chute, the exit off the ridge for WH route, there were a number of people dithering about the best way to get down it. Fortunately, we did not have to worry about it as we were heading for the second Munro of the day, BnB. A series of false summits lead to the rocky Munro summit, which was in cloud; there were walkers all over the nearby hills. Lunch on BnB, which was more spacious than SCS, took about ½ hour and we then set off East again, retracing our steps up to SCS and our fourth summit of the day. By this time the cloud was rolling over the ridge from the South and visibility reduced. It was surprisingly quiet on the summit and from there to the end of the day we only encountered two more walkers.

23 - Descent of E ridge of SCS.JPG
descent of the East ridge

24 - Start of decent into Lairig Eilde.JPG
Start of the descent into the LE

25 -  Accross Lairig Eilde to Stob Dubh.JPG
Across the LE to Stob Dubh, we aimed for just below the lower rocky outcrop.

26 - Lairig Eilde towards BF ridge.JPG
LE looking towards BF, we cross the stream in the wide dip

27 -Stob Dubh from Glen etive.JPG
Stob Dubh fro Glen Etive, the path goes striaght up the hip

We headed off the summit South eastwards keeping away from the precipices (Sron na Lairig) that face Lairig Eilde for some way down; the slope was fairly easy being patches of grass and rubble. Ahead of us we could see the wide bealach, with a red band of rock, at 750m and a rise to point 778m (on the OS map), which we were headed for. The plan was to come off the hill at the bealach and angle Northwards through the rocky bands and gullies and pick up the valley path as high as possible. There was no clear route, but we aimed for a ford over one of the streams. Noting the area between that and the main path as obviously marshy we swung Eastwards along the 500m contour and picked up the path close to where it crossed the stream. After about 150m along the path we crossed the steam at an accessible point where the banks were less steep and proceeded along the 400m contour on the South slope of theLittle Bookle aiming for just below a rocky outcrop.

28 - Glen Etive from Stob Dubh.JPG
Glen Etive from Stob Dubh

29 -  From stob Dubh looking north into Lairig Gartain.JPG
from SD looking North into Lairig Gartain

30 - Stob Dubh peak.JPG
SD peak - Munro at 958m

31 - Route down from point 778.JPG
Route down from point 778 bealach seen from SD. Top left down to bottom right and then back left just below the deep cut stream

32 -  Beinn Fhada & SCS from Stob Dubh.JPG
BF & SCSg from SD

33 -Stob Dubh.JPG
Stob Dubh

The contour traverse was somewhat gruelling, and I split my right boot with the constant pressure on my right side. We started to ease up the slope past the outcrop and turned up the hip of the hill where there was a vague path. Feeling very tired and with the glass slope seeming going on forever we stopped at a large flat rock about ½ way up. The grass gradually gave way to boulder scree and after that the summit came up surprisingly quickly, having to work through the unstable scree must have kept us distracted. The low cloud had cleared and the views from Stob Dubh at 958m were wonderful, especially down into Glen Etive. We proceeded along the ridge NE debating whether to tackle the second Munro. The ridge seemed to go on for a long way (so much for the Little Bookle) and by the time we got to the Bealach at 750m we surmised that we had insufficient time to complete Stob Coire Raineach and have dinner at the Clacaig. Not for the first time did we sacrifice achievement for a good meal and not until the last day of our visit, did we get back on plan.
The path down to and along the Lairig Eilde was superb, brought us out on the A82 just up from the layby. The whole walk took just over 12 hours. If we hadn’t lost time early on and dithered a bit on the first two peaks we would have made the last one but we were well pleased with having achieved our hardest day in the hills so far, unscathed (except for the boot that is). On the other hand, I am unlikely to return to these peaks so a bit of dithering, and lots of photos, can be justified.

34 - BF ridge, SCS & BnB.JPG
BF, SCSg & BnB

35 - The one that got away - Stob Coire Raineach.JPG
The one that got away, Stob Coire Raineach
21.1 -  BF ridge from belach.JPG
BF ridge from the bealach
Last edited by Verylatestarter on Sat Mar 06, 2021 11:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Mountain Walker
Posts: 69
Munros:26   Corbetts:4
Joined: Oct 14, 2020
Location: East Anglia

Re: Bidean nam Bian & Buachallie Etive Mor via Beinn Fhada r

Postby jmarkb » Sun Dec 13, 2020 10:30 am

Nice report on an interesting day out - nice to see something other than the normal routes on these hills. You might want to fix the title, though!

I have made the same mistake on the Beinn Fhada scramble - the guidebooks are correct, though, you do need to cut hard back on yourself a short way beyond the wall, up a sort of chimney/groove, but it is not marked or obvious! Unusually, it's easier to find the right line in descent. And, yes, those are footpaths on Gearr Aonach, it's the line of The Zigzags (another good scrambly route).
User avatar
Posts: 4949
Munros:241   Corbetts:98
Grahams:81   Donalds:31
Sub 2000:46   
Joined: Oct 28, 2011
Location: Edinburgh

Re: Bidean nam Bian & Buachallie Etive Mor via Beinn Fhada r

Postby Verylatestarter » Sun Dec 13, 2020 6:40 pm

Thank you for the tip about the title, if you think that's bad you should hear my pronunciation.

So we went too far along the path. I might add a comment in my report; i'd rather not direct people the wrong way.

It looks like the Gearr Aonach route might be added to my to do list, we missed out on Stob Coire nan Lochan and Aonach Dubh, combining the three looks good and brings us down nearer the pub.

Thanks Again
Mountain Walker
Posts: 69
Munros:26   Corbetts:4
Joined: Oct 14, 2020
Location: East Anglia

Re: Bidean nam Bian & Buachallie Etive Berg via Beinn Fhada

Postby Sunset tripper » Tue Dec 15, 2020 9:19 am

Great stuff and I agree good to see the less travelled routes. So many options on Bidean nam Bian - one of my favourite hills.
All the best. :D
User avatar
Sunset tripper
Posts: 2559
Joined: Nov 3, 2013
Location: Inverness

4 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).

Walkhighlands community forum is advert free

Your generosity keeps this site running.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by donating by direct debit?

Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: KatB and 30 guests