walkhighlands

The Scotsman & the birds - making hay while the sun shines

Munros: Meall nan Eun, Stob Coir an Albannaich

Date walked: 13/04/2019

Time taken: 6.8 hours

Distance: 17.7km

Ascent: 1430m

After my weekend in Gairloch at the very start of the school Easter fortnight, I had been confined to base camp for the next week on childcare duties while my wife went galavanting to Krakow with her mum and sister. The second week of the fortnight she was back home and back at work but I at least had the possibility of farming Ailsa out to my mum and dad for an overnighter while I headed to the hills. The weather looked settled for the week ahead and into the weekend so the questions were where and, more importantly, when. I could tell that Debbie was a bit snowed under at work after a week off and I sensed that me downing tools and heading for anything more than a brief out and back on the same day might not go down too well. I arranged to drop Ailsa at my parents on Friday afternoon after her swimming class with the notion that I would be packed up and ready and just head straight from there. I was by now firmly eyeing up Stob Coir an Albannaich and Meall nan Eun from Glen Etive. These two have often been on the short list but had thus far remained unticked and with all sorts of stories raging about controversial plans to "develop" Glen Etive for electricity generation schemes, maybe it was time to get back in there and finish up sooner rather than later, certainly before any heavy machinery starts moving in! :( Needless to say I was also straining at the leash to get my first new Munros under my belt since July of last year and a thoroughly miserable day on Gulvain.

In the end, guilt must have gotten the better of me because I decided to ask Debbie if she wanted to join me. I sent her a text at work on the Thursday, highlighting the excellent forecast for Saturday, and asking if she wanted to go hill walking. "Yes. Where?" came the straightforward reply. I knew she wouldn't want to camp on the Friday night so I quickly searched for some no-frills accommodation in the Tyndrum to Glencoe area but with no joy. It looked like it would be an early start on Saturday then.

Debbie being Debbie, and having walked with me on the odd occasion in the past (some of them very odd occasions it has to be said!), had wanted to know chapter and verse on how long the proposed walk would take. I told her I reckoned about 6 hours, but I have to admit that this was a pretty cursory, off the cuff estimate. By that evening however, I could hear alarm bells ringing in my head as she asked how long the journey to and from Glen Etive would take and responded to my answer with something about not understanding what was wrong with Ben Vrackie! :roll:

By Friday evening, with both of us packed, she was reminding me of "the time you said we were doing a 6 hour walk and it turned out to be 12 hours". Although more than a slight exaggeration, I knew she was referring to our eventful day on the Five Sisters of Kintail back in 2012, which I still take flak for to this day, although I did nothing wrong! I then made the fatal mistake of saying that although timings can never be taken 100% for granted on a walk such as this, it should be no more than 7 hours. 6 hours had become 7 hours and in her mind I'm pretty sure she was thinking 12 hours! :roll: Next thing I knew she had bailed and I was kipping on the sofa in the extension downstairs so as not to wake her with my early Saturday morning start.

My alarm went off at 6am and as I crept around the kitchen making some coffee and breakfast, she appeared at the door. I apologised if I had woken her but she said she was awake anyway and so she might as well come along! :shock:

We were off by 6.45 and exactly two hours later I was pulling onto the wide verge on the Glen Etive road next to the gate that leads down to the bridge near Colleitir. There were about half a dozen other cars scattered along the verges already, including one next to me with a couple getting suited and booted. They were heading for Starav and Glas Bheinn Mor, having done our route two weeks previously.

We were off on the stroke of 9 and down the track and over the bridge where I had stopped and taken a group shot of my walking colleagues (including Debbie) on a beautiful September day some years before at the start of a day on Starav and Glas Bheinn Mor. I tried to think back to when that was - was it 2013? Maybe 2012? Did we have Ailsa at the time? Can't remember...….. :? Turns out it was 10 years ago - 2009! :shock:

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And they're off - down the track towards the bridge with a distant view up the Lairig Gartain between the Bookils and a closer up view of Stob Dubh

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Ben Starav from the bridge over the River Etive - 10 years on!

We tackled the Colleitir bypass bog and then risked the direct line cross country to meet the Allt, cutting out the corner. The couple who had left just moments after us delicately negotiated the river crossing while we tackled the initially rough, rather eroded section of path which climbs up to the 738m bealach between Glas Bheinn Mhor and our first target, Stob Coir an Albannaich. It was a blisteringly hot, sunny day, more reminiscent of August than April and I was glad we were on this ascent path and not with the many walkers we could see tackling Starav via its formidable north ridge.

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Beinn Trilleachan across Loch Etive

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Glas Bheinn Chaol, Stob Coire Dhearg and Coire an Fhir Leith

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Looking up the Allt Mheuran to Glas Bheinn Mhor

We had appeared to have the ascent to the bealach all to ourselves but a short distance before reaching it, we were passed by a couple of young whipper snappers, one running, his pal behind part running, part walking very fast. They soon broke off to the right and headed off up Glas Bheinn Mhor and that was the last we saw of them.

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Back down to Glen Etive from the GBM-SCaA bealach

We took a well earned pit stop at the bealach before bearing north east then north up onto the large plateaued area to the north west of the summit of Albannaich. It was a pleasure to be walking over large, well consolidated snow patches on a glorious spring day such as this and suddenly, almost without warning, we were standing above the huge cornice clinging to the cliffs on the north east face of the mountain that plunge down into the coire that gives the mountain its name. We both stood and gazed for a good 10 minutes or so, the views north east towards Glencoe and the Nevis range in particular taking the breath away. Debbie may even have acknowledged that this was a better shout than Vrackie, or maybe it was just the sound of the stiff breeze playing tricks on my sense of hearing! :lol:

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Cornice and coire rim shot # 1

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Cornice and coire rim shot # 2 - Bidean and Nevis dominating the skyline to the right

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Looking to the pointy summit of Albannaich and views over Meall nan Eun to the mountains of the Clachlet Traverse - about to do my first new Munro in 9 months!

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Glas Bheinn Mhor and Ben Starav from the summit of Stob Coir an Albannaich, with Cruachan just visible far left

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Debbie hunkering down by the summit cairn

After a bite to eat in the relative shelter of the summit cairn, we dropped south east down the long arm of the mountain that extends down towards Loch Dochard. Instantly we were grievously assaulted by a vicious wind whipping across the ridge that put an end to any feelings the fine sunny weather may have instilled in us that this was summer.

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Heading into the teeth of the gale Bridge of Orchy Munros beyond a just visible Loch Tulla in the distance

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Clach Leathad and Stob Gabhar across Meall nan Eun

It was as bitter and ferocious a gale as I have yet had to stand up to on any mountain at any time of year, and I could tell that Debbie was struggling both with the wind chill factor and also physically staying on her feet. Perhaps she was dreaming of Vrackie :wink: . Anyway, despite being almost literally blinded in both eyes by the stinging gale, I managed to locate the small cairn at the top of the second rake that offers safe descent down into Coire Albannaich.

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Looking back to the summit of Albannaich - it looks benign but the wind was tearing us to shreds!

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Descending down the second rake into the coire of the Scotsman

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Meall Tarsuinn and Meall nan Eun

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The twin peaks of Buachaille Etive Mor from the flanks of Meall Tarsuinn

It was a blessed relief to get down off the ridge and into the shelter of the large coire. The wind chill had left Debbie almost unable to feel her hands, despite her woollen gloves. I gave her my silk liners which I had been using and stuck on my sealskinz instead and before too long the feeling had returned and she was no longer dreaming of being on Vrackie! :roll: I wondered if the severe wind chill had also affected her mind as on a couple of occasions she turned back looking for the man and a dog that she had seen descending behind us. I could see no sign of either man or dog and wondered if had simply been me and the ghost of Lucy that she had been seeing! :shock:

The coire of the Scotsman is a magical place, dotted with tiny lochans and large boiler plate slabs and it felt that we had walked through another door and were back in summer again. Debbie now decided that she was going to give Meall nan Eun a miss, so we traversed Meall Tarsuinn and made a bee line for the narrow cleft that eventually forms into the upper reaches of Coirean Riabhach. I popped the emergency shelter into her backpack and arranged to meet her further down the coire. I knew she wouldn't go too far and that in any case, she had a pretty much clear line of sight all the way back down. It wouldn't take me long to nip up to the summit of the Hill of the Birds and follow her down.

As I climbed the gradual slopes up onto the large, flat summit dome of Meall nan Eun, what did I see ahead of me but a man. With a dog! :shock: He reached the summit cairn a few moments ahead of me and we had a bit of a blether once I caught up. His little dog seemed impatient to crack on so he bade me farewell and headed off, while I headed back towards the top of Coirean Riabhach to catch up with Debbie and reassure her that she wasn't losing her marbles and that there really was a bloke with a dog after all! :lol:

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Stob Gabhar and the Wall of Rannoch Munros

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North to the mountains of Glencoe, the Mamores and Fort William

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Stob Coir an Albannaich with Glas Bheinn Mhor and Beinn nan Aighenan to the left, Cruachan range again prominent in the distance

I caught up with her about halfway down the slopes of the coire for the very pleasant wander back out Glen Ceitlein to the bridge over the Allt Ceitlein and the kilometre or so back along the track to the start.

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Stob Dubh

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Glen Ceitlein

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Stob Dubh again with the prominent cleft on display

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Glen Etive and Glenceitlein cottage from the bridge over the Allt Ceitlein


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Comments: 11



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Graeme D


User avatar
Location: Perth
Occupation: Teacher
Pub: Moulin Inn
Mountain: Too tough to answer
Gear: Paramo gilet/Scarpa boots
Member: MCofS
Ideal day out: No such thing as a bad day out on or amongst the hills - only degrees of goodness.
Ambition: 2b sent home on full pay!

Munros: 212
Corbetts: 101
Grahams: 64
Donalds: 22
Wainwrights: 27
Hewitts: 36
Sub 2000: 55
Long Distance routes: West Highland Way   



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Statistics

2019

Trips: 7
Distance: 100.4 km
Ascent: 6570m
Munros: 2
Corbetts: 4
Grahams: 4

2018

Trips: 18
Distance: 350 km
Ascent: 18085m
Munros: 6
Corbetts: 4
Grahams: 3
Donalds: 1
Sub2000s: 4
Hewitts: 14
Wainwrights 21

2017

Trips: 19
Distance: 209.4 km
Ascent: 17090m
Munros: 9
Corbetts: 11
Grahams: 2
Sub2000s: 3

2016

Trips: 26
Distance: 352.85 km
Ascent: 25760m
Munros: 18
Corbetts: 4
Grahams: 7
Donalds: 4
Sub2000s: 2
Hewitts: 15
Wainwrights 6

2015

Trips: 23
Distance: 451.7 km
Ascent: 24468m
Munros: 18
Corbetts: 6
Grahams: 10
Donalds: 9
Sub2000s: 3

2014

Trips: 28
Distance: 450.3 km
Ascent: 24390m
Munros: 16
Corbetts: 10
Grahams: 5
Donalds: 1
Sub2000s: 8

2013

Trips: 30
Distance: 355.5 km
Ascent: 24877m
Munros: 12
Corbetts: 14
Grahams: 8
Sub2000s: 6

2012

Trips: 29
Distance: 393.5 km
Ascent: 23469m
Munros: 20
Corbetts: 8
Grahams: 4
Donalds: 5
Sub2000s: 5

2011

Trips: 37
Distance: 478.9 km
Ascent: 28081m
Munros: 25
Corbetts: 9
Grahams: 7
Donalds: 1
Sub2000s: 16

2010

Trips: 48
Distance: 569.5 km
Ascent: 24365m
Munros: 30
Corbetts: 21
Grahams: 11
Sub2000s: 7
Hewitts: 6

2009

Trips: 19
Distance: 271.4 km
Ascent: 15243m
Munros: 27
Corbetts: 7
Grahams: 2

2008

Trips: 3
Distance: 60.1 km
Ascent: 3488m
Munros: 4


Joined: Oct 17, 2008
Last visited: May 02, 2019
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