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A Black Mount Bimble on a Beautiful Day

A Black Mount Bimble on a Beautiful Day

Postby WeeHills » Fri Jul 02, 2021 11:48 am

Route description: Stob Ghabhar and Stob a'Choire Odhair

Munros included on this walk: Stob a' Choire Odhair, Stob Ghabhar

Date walked: 28/06/2021

Time taken: 9 hours

Distance: 16 km

Ascent: 1239m

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Holiday season is upon us and I have decided to run away for a couple of days peace and quiet at the Black Mount. An area I've never got round to exploring. Not sure why really, I've driven past it often enough, but never bothered to stop and investigate. With the forecast set for 'El Scorchio' and Mr Hills happily occupied watching the fitba (I did invite him, he looked at me like I have three heads) now seems like a good time to correct this omission.

For the first day I have settled upon the two munros, Stob a' Choire Odhair and Stob Ghabhar. I set off early as I intend to take things real easy. I have all day after all. It is 7.15 when I arrive at the Victoria Bridge car park and the midges are out in force. After a leisurely coffee I get organised and head off about 8. It is a misty morning, still cool, for which I am grateful, be good to get some distance on the clock before the promised heat settles in for the day. A gentle stroll along the banks of Abhainn Shira and soon the wee green hut emerges from the fog. Hang a right and onward through the low cloud. The path is dry, everything is dry, so passage is easy. Somewhere up there are the mountains. After a time I arrive at the fork. Allegedly there is a waterfall over to the left to be descended later but I can't see it.

Misty morning, water level low

Take the right hand fork, apparently there's a waterfall over to the left, and possibly some hills

I take the right hand fork and continue on my way. A short time later and the mist disipates. I now get my first glimpse of Stob Ghabhar's Aonoch Eagach Buttress, and, more importantly, the zig-zag path up the shoulder of Stob a' Choire Odhair. Good thing the gloom had cleared as the turning up to the shoulder isn't that obvious and it's nice to know I'm definitely on the right track. The ascent isn't too strenuous and looking back Ben Lui has emerged above the cloud. It is time for a first coffee stop of the day to enjoy the inversion, an added bonus I was not expecting and it is glorious.

Aonoch Eagach Butress appears as mist disipates

Ben Lui above the clouds from my first coffee stop of the day

As I sit the cloud rolls up the valley and the buttress is once more enveloped in mist. I've half a mind to allow it to catch up with me, it is already warming up and the pull up to the first munro is next on the agenda, but as I set off I find myself a step ahead of it. Ambling up the zig-zags I pause often to take in the views as more hills emerge. The Crianlarich hills appear and is that pointy Cruachan over there? Why yes, I do believe it is. The ascent is easy, the views wonderful over the mist and soon the zig-zags end. Time to head for the summit.

Heading up the zig-zags and Cruachan emerges

Crianlarich Hills as I near the top

I pick my way across the rocky ground to the top. The mist has now pretty much burnt off for the day and there before my lies the open expanse of Rannoch Moor. It looks pretty dinky from up here, but wonderfully watery and sparkling in the sun. A fine point to settle down for a first picnic of the day, until the midges arrive for their own feast. A quick shift round to the other, breezier side of the cairn puts paid to their fun. From this vantage point I am gazing over to Meall a' Bhuiridh and Creise, the open moor in my peripheral vision. It is a mighty fine spot and there is no rush to leave.

Creise and Meall a' Bhuiridh

Hello Rannoch Moor

Looking northish

And southish

After a time I am joined on the summit by a gentleman up from Cumbria. We discuss the route ahead to Stob Ghabhar and I confess to being a little apprehensive about the steep upward 'path' and ridge to follow. I'm not the best with exposure, there is no way in hell you catch me on the Aonach Eagach. He assures me I'll be fine, and while I'm aware he has no more experience of these hills than I do, I believe him. Some people just exude reassurance and he is one. As he heads on bidding me well for the rest of the day I feel a whole lot more confident about what is to come.

Summit cairn looking towards Stob Ghabhar

What lies ahead for the day

I linger for another ten or fifteen minutes before following in Cumbria man's footsteps. There is absolutely no need to hurry today and I am putting off the inevitable down. I hate down. It has to be done however, so eventually I make a start, plodding slowly and carefully down to the bealach. Once there I pause to take in the view down Coire Toaig that were hidden earlier in the day. I don't stop for long though as I have decided to take my next coffee break at the bottom of the steep ascent to come. It seems a good time to refuel and the spot I select has a fine view of the, rather low, Coirein Lochain and the burn running from it towards the Ba. It is barely a trickle today. Everything really is very dry.

The route ahead is clear from the bealach

Where'd all the water go?

Back down the valley I couldn't see earlier

Route descriptions suggest the ascent to the ridge is perhaps the hardest part. I have steeled myself, just one foot in front of the other, take your time, don't rush, be sure each foot-placement is secure. I needn't have worried. I actually find it straightforward. Yes it is steep, and yes hands are used at times, but it really isn't that bad, or that far, or that difficult. Truth be known I am having a great time carefully picking my way up. I soon reach the top, and turn around, and 'hello big boy!', Ben Nevis comes into view in all his glory accompanied by Carn Mor Dearg and the sweep of the arete. Oh my. What a stunning view which will accompany me across the 'other' Aonach Eagach and on to the top.

Ascending steeply, where I'm going

And where I've been

Hello Big Boy

Now comes the ridge, the bit I've been worrying about for days before. I needn't have. It is marvelous, not too narrow, not frightening at all. And the views, dear lord, the views. It couldn't be a better day for it. Warm and dry and not terribly hazy for the time of year. I saunter across very slowly soaking it up. Pausing to take a photos and just admire. I never feel uncomfortable and enjoy every last second. All too soon it is over and the cairn marking the downward path is reached, but that is for later, right now there is still the wee pull up the fence line to the very top of Stob Ghabhar ahead of me.

Starting along the ridge

Rather enjoying this

Back towards Rannoch Moor

Last pull to the summit

It doesn't take long and with each step the view just gets better until I reach the summit cairn and I can see everything. It is glorious, magnificent, stupendous, there aren't enough superlatives to express how fine a spot it is. I sit, remove boots and socks, pour coffee, enjoy a second picnic. I gaze over the big Buachaille to the biggest Ben. There's Bidean from a new angle, the Etive munros, Cruachan and friends, Tyndrum, Crianlarich, Bridge of Orchy hills, Ben Lomond (doesn't look as fine from the north as my usual southside view), Ben Ime, so many more. And Rannoch Moor looks even better from here than the first munro of the day. I could sit here forever. I take a bazzilion photographs, none of which do it the slightest justice. Maybe it's the weather, maybe I'm just in the mood for it, maybe Cumbria man was just who I needed to meet today, I don't know but it is a long time since I've enjoyed a new hill quite so much. I've a feeling Stob Ghabhar is one I'll return to. It is a cracker.

Nearly there, Buachaille and Ben

A different view of Bidean

Gazing west from Stob Ghabhar summit

And east

Looking down to Coirein Lochain from my summit perch, water looking low

Stob Ghabhar cairn

The sun is warm but not overly so. There is not a breath of wind, but the dreaded midges don't appear, too hot for them perhaps. I laze for a solid hour just enjoying doing nothing on a beautiful summer's day atop a magnificent mountain. I really don't want to leave. After a time two young lads appear. They sit the other side of the cairn and don't disturb my peace. Still I linger. There is really, really no rush today, but all good things must come to an end and eventually I haul myself away. Time to head down.

Did I mention I hate down? Return to the cairn, follow the fence, how hard can it be? It is awful. Loose stone and gravel on tired legs. I am not enjoying this and dreading the descent by the waterfall. I didn't get a preview of it this morning due to low cloud and given how hard I'm finding the supposedly gentler part in my mind it is going to be hellish. When I arrive I find a spot to cross part way down the falls. Largely because I have just about run out of water. I can see the downward path opposite and after replenishing sit a while by the water refuelling and rehydrating. I am not looking forward to this but what goes up must come down, here goes..........and, it's OK, loose and stony and a bit steep but I don't find it significantly worse than the rest of the descent. So horrible, but doable, and I'm relieved when it's over.

Heading down, Loch Tulla views

Falls crossing and final pit stop of the day

Made it to the bottom, phew!

Relaxing with a beer and a no bad view for the evening

Now there is just the steady plod back to the car and finding somewhere to pitch for the night. It has been a long and wonderfully bimbly day. I've earned the beer I enjoy with my tea and the pleasing view from my tent. That was fun (except the down!).
Posts: 72
Joined: Jan 7, 2021

Re: A Black Mount Bimble on a Beautiful Day

Postby jayedubya73 » Tue Jul 06, 2021 2:23 pm

Thanks for a very honest report! This one is on my list to do next few weeks, and I have found the route description a bit intimidating as you mentioned as well. But I feel a lot more confident in seeing your photos and your report. So thank you - really appreciated :clap:

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Re: A Black Mount Bimble on a Beautiful Day

Postby WeeHills » Wed Jul 07, 2021 9:47 am

Thanks John, I was surprised how much I enjoyed Stob Ghabhar, was a bit worried by the 'this is for serious hill walkers' comment on the description, not sure I'm a 'serious' anything, but it was grand. Hard work coming down but I'm pants at down so don't let that put you off. And Stob a' Choire Odhair was very straightforward. Just hope the weather is as fine for you as it was for me.
Posts: 72
Joined: Jan 7, 2021

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