Bidean nam Bian and Stob Coire Sgreamhach - What a Day!!

Route: Bidean nam Bian

Munros: Bidean nam Bian, Stob Coire Sgreamhach

Date walked: 22/07/2021

Time taken: 8.2 hours

Distance: 14.5km

Ascent: 1381m

For the last four years I've been quite content with doing my long distance trails along with some days out in the hills where I've done a number of repeat Munros (mainly in the Grampians) along with some new Corbetts, Grahams and Donalds but recently I have been thinking about taking on some new Munros.

My last "new" Munro was Ben Nevis in May 2017 so it had been a while but the recent weather seemed too good an opportunity to let it slip by and I chose Glencoe as my destination and these two hills as my targets for the day.

On the early morning drive through I stopped off at Crianlarich to spray all my exposed skin in an attempt to be one step ahead of the midgies at the car park. No doubt this would just annoy them and they would teach me a lesson but worth a try. I was beyond Bridge of Orchy before the cloud started to shift from the upper slopes of the hills so hopefully good timing. I was parked up and walking for around 07:15am and things were looking good.

The forecast for the day was for it to be very warm with little in the way of a breeze. I hoped starting reasonably early I would have cooler conditions for the initial climb but it was warm from the start and the climb up into Coire nan Lochan was fairly slow going.On the plus side the views were stunning and there were decent bits of shade to be had as I headed up towards the waterfalls.

The start - looking pretty steep!

Looking back at the A82 and the car park

A good path making life easier

Eventually I reached the point where I could cross the burn (next to no flow so just dry boulders). I was expecting things to get a bit easier at this point but I found the next bit of climbing the hardest of the day. As the path left the route of the burn the gradient was easy but then it turned back towards SCnL and got fairly steep for what seemed like an age but in reality was just a few minutes. Now I was in a flatish grassy area below SCnL and it was here I met the two figures that had been in the distance since the start so stopped and chatted to them for a few minutes before carrying on with the climb.

Stob Coire nan Lochan ahead

A further ten minutes of easier walking took me to the point where the climb of the upper section of SCnL starts and the views across to Loch Leven and Ballachulish appear for the first time. More importantly, there was a gentle breeze blowing so the stuffiness of the initial climb was gone, at least for now.

Looking back towards the road

South buttress of SCnL

Being watched

With the breeze cooling me down I now felt a lot better and climbed the boulder fields of SCnL fairly easily with just a couple fo stops to look around and take in the views.

Zoomed Ben Nevis

Loch Leven


Great views in all directions

The top of SCnL

From the upper reaches of SCnL I could now see the climb ahead of me to reach my 1st Munro of the day - Bidean nam Bian.

Bidean nam Bian

It looked pretty close and fairly steep iin places but first there was an easy descent of SCnL and a good path taking me straight on to Bidean nam Bian.Before starting the climb, I had a good look over at the descent route at Bealach Dearg and first impressions were that it woud be slow and tricky. The climb of Bidean nam Bian was OK, a couple of places where the obvious route was a bit eroded and I had to do a little scrambling but the top was reached fairly quickly.

View over to Stob Coire Sgreamhach and the descent route off Bealach Dearg

Looking back to the drop off SCnL

Bidean Nam Bian

Looking back to SCnL from the ascent of Bidean Nam Bian

At the summit of Bidean nam Bian I had my first proper stop of the day and whilst there I met John who appeared at the summit a quarter of an hour after me. We got chatting and ended up completing the walk together.

The route over to Stob Coire Sgreamhach is obvious (on a day like today) and the drop down to Bealach Dearg is straight forward enough.

Looking towards Stob Coire Sgreamhach

Towards Loch Etive

The odd bit of cloud over to Stob Coire Sgreamhach

We stopped at the bealach to look at the descent route, tricky but do-able seemed to be the shared view. John had a touch of cramp just after this and we agreed that I would carry on to the top and he would give it a few minuted before following on. The climb of Stob Coire Sgreamhach was straight forward compared to the first two climbs of the day and I settled down at the summit to have something to eat and admire the views, after a few minutes John arrived to join me.

Looking over to SCnL

The descent of Bidean nam Bian

The climb up Stob Coire Sgreamhach from Bealach Dearg

SCnL and Bidean nam Bian from the summit of Stob Coire Sgreamhach

Looking down Loch Etive

A ten minute descent and we were down at the bealach arriving at the same time as the two girls I had met much earlier in the day and a solo walker that John had also met earlier so as a group of five we descended slowly. The first part of the descent is badly eroded and mainly compacted dry earth, I chose to go to the right here and descend using the rocks before heading back to the rough path once the worst of the erdod section was passed. From here there was a lot of scree and it was just a case of planting one foot at a time and feeling secure before moving down. At a couple of points I had to bum slide down steep short descents and looking back everyone else seemed to be doing the same so not just me. After a few minutes the gradient eased and a well made path with some stone steps came in to play so the worst was over but it was still a very slow and warm descent to eventually reach the lost valley. On the way we stopped where the path crossed anther burn and found some faster flowing water to drink.

The view to the Lost Valley

And again

Looking back at the descent route

Having read all the history surrounding the Lost Valley it was good to finally see it and walk through it but god knows how they managed to get cattle in there :shock: :clap: :shock:

Surprisingly we still had a breeze but it was noticeably warmer now that we were of the tops and sheltered.

The Lost Valley

One final look back as we leave the Lost Valley

As we were leaving the Lost Valley I managed to hurt my cartilage in my left leg by misjudging a step on uneven ground so that resulted in a few seconds of pain then it thanlkfully cleared and I continued. A bit frustrating, this is a foottball injury from when I was 21 and it's been a few years since I last hurt it. I was to go on and jar it a second time but not as painfully.

Once out of the Lost Valley we followed the path round the lower slopes of Beinn Fhada and descended down through the woods to cross the burn.I had read previous reports where some had just walked through the burn as the stepping stones were under water but that was never an issue on this walk. After the burn crossing, the track was a bit rougher than I expected but after a few minutes things iimproved and there were a lot more people around. We were held up a few times on the descent but I don't think either of us minded as we were both tired.

We continued to descend through the woods and eventually crossed the bridge over the River Coe and this was quickly followed by a steep metal staircase which proved to be harder work than it really should have been.We could now see the car park ahead of us and in a few minutes we were back at our baking cars.

View from near the car parks

A fine walk and great company for the second half of the day. After a gap of four years I couldn't have chosen two better Munros to turn from red to blue balloons With the car temperature at 28.5 all that was left was a 3 hour drive followed by some serious rehydration of the Stella A variety.

Happy days......................

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Comments: 4

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Location: Nr Forfar
Activity: Wanderer
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Munros: 114
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