A few days in and around Glencoe

Munros: Beinn a' Chlèibh, Beinn Chabhair, Ben Lui, Bidean nam Bian, Sgòr na h-Ulaidh, Sgòrr Dhearg (Beinn a' Bheithir), Sgòrr Dhònuill (Beinn a' Bheithir), Stob Coire Sgreamhach, Stob na Bròige (Buachaille Etive Mòr)

Date walked: 26/08/2017

This was of course not a walk over a single day - it began from Ardlui on 26th August, when I got down from the sleeper train from London, and ended on Saturday 2nd September in Glencoe. This was a trip to do several Munros on the way between Ardlui and Ballachulish that I'd had to skip from plans or even abandon on the way up on previous trips.

From Ardlui I walked to Beinn Chabhair via Beinglas farm. Beinn Chabhair was an abandoned one. I'd attempted it in winter conditions and had made a navigational mistake on the way up, and by the time I realised and corrected it was too late to continue. I don't know how I managed to make the mistake since basically all you have to do is follow the line of Beinglas burn until heading north onto the ridge, but I did. My pack was heavy - I was carrying everything needed, including food, for sleeping out for 8 days - too heavy in fact. After I got about 2/3rds of the way up and knowing I was coming down the same way, I decided to leave it by the path and continue without it. I also decided there was no way I'd be carrying it up and down Munros all week, and that I'd need plant my tent at suitable places along the way and just walk up with only the gear needed for the day, returning to the tent in the evenings. I finished Beinn Chabhair without incident or deviation this time, and made my way to from Inverarnan to Tyndrum by bus, where I planted my tent at By The Way.

Nearing the summit of Beinn a Chabhair - of course, it was in cloud when I got there.
Nearing the summit of Beinn a Chabhair

On Sunday I did Beinn a'Chleibh and Ben Lui from Tyndrum. I'd hoped to hitch from Tyndrum to the car park on the A85 for the route up to the bealach, but it was not to be. I walked nearly all of it - it took me over 2hrs just to reach the start. I hesitated as to whether to take my boots off to ford the river, but decided crossing the boggy ground on the way up would probably give me wet feet sooner or later, so just waded across. It was about a foot deep.

By the time I'd got back to the bealach from Beinn a'Chleibh my legs felt like they had lead weights attached to them, and only the thought of walking back along the A85 compelled me up Ben Lui, which I did slowly. These were also Munros I'd previously abandoned in winter conditions, but I got them done this time. I returned to Tyndrum via Connish. By the time I'd descended from Ben Lui, the thought of the remaining kms with tired legs was worrying me, but then I remembered - I had an MP3 player with me. I don't normally walk to music in the hills, but this time I walked with the hills alive to the sound of music and it really helped! :) I had a bed in the hostel for my second night in Tyndrum.

The clouds were hanging over the summits again, but a little way down from Ben Lui the long walk back to Tyndrum was revealed:
Long walk back to Tyndrum

Monday dawned with pouring rain, and because of how tired my legs had been the day before, I decided it should be a rest day. I made my way by bus to the White Corries and walked over to the new Kings House bunkhouse, where I spent the rest of the day and that night. The new bunkhouse is very good, there's a cafe next door to it and nothing else - a pretty boring place to spend a day actually. But it was a welcome refuge for a lot of West Highland Way walkers that day, for a while :)

Tuesday was a pretty nice day. I walked along the West Highland Way until it almost meets the A82, and then along the A82 and into the Lairig Gartain to do Stob Na Broige. I'd already done Stob Dearg (via Curved Ridge) again in winter conditions and again Stob Na Broige was an abandonment - I'd had to descend from the gully after Stob Dearg without doing it. I was happy with my energy levels, but also needed to save them for getting to Bidean Nam Bian so I only wanted to do Stob Na Broige. For the third Munro day in succession, despite it being a reasonably clear day, my summit was in the clouds clearing only after I'd started descending :( Summit completed I walked along paths beside the A82 to reach the car park which is the typical starting point for Bidean Nam Bian. I went down from the road to the river and found a flat spot, mostly out of direct view from the road, to plant my tent for the night.

Looking back towards Stob Na Broige - now in the sun. Of course, it had been raining and covered in cloud a few minutes before when I'd been on the summit:

Camped below Bidean Nam Bian:

Wednesday was Bidean Nam Bian day - the only Munro in this trip that I'd neither included in a previous plan nor abandoned on the way up. The weather was ok, cloudy on the tops but not raining. On the way up towards the Lost Valley I made my first mistake - instead of crossing the river I continued straight ahead up a stone chute. I climbed a fair way up before I looking to the left and realising my mistake. The descent was quick enough but I lost time and energy. After that the route was uneventful until I reached the second Munro, Bidean Nam Bian itself. It was in cloud. I wanted to descend into Coire nan Lochan, but took the wrong path off - my second mistake. I descended a steep scree path that ended above a steep boulder field that ended in the valley that leads out to Achnambeithach. I thought that I could regain the better route back to my tent by climbing the ridge on the other side of the valley by a rising traverse - my third mistake. Again there was a lot of scree and after climbing 100 or 150 metres my legs were protesting and I realised the better option was just to descend from the valley I was in and walk along the road back to the tent. More time and energy lost.

The Lost Valley, and clearing skies on the way down, but the summits were again in cloud:


I got back to my tent about 7pm, but had to pack it up and carry everything over to the Glencoe youth hostel, which I didn't reach until 9pm, the day finishing at least 2 hours later than it would have done had I not made the mistakes. I felt so tired I almost resolved never to do another Munro again. I started to check timetables and fares and see whether I could head back to London the next day. But then I checked the weather - Friday looked like being a good day, in fact the best day of the trip - if I stayed :D And after that there was no question that I would. :D But I decided I would have another rest day on Thursday, just walking at low level around Glencoe village. I stayed again at the SYHA and on Friday morning took myself and tent over to the campsite at Invercoe before walking to Ballachulish to do Beinn a Bheithir.

So Friday was Beinn a Bheithir walking from Invercoe and on Saturday I did Sgor na h-Ulaidh, also walking from Invercoe. Saturday ended up being a better day than the Friday and the views were a-ma-zing. 'Awesome' is an overused word, but truly they were awesome. Sgor na h-Ulaidh might sometimes be called a 'forgotten' munro, but it really doesn't deserve to be forgotten.

Sgorr Dhearg looking towards Ballachulish - at last the clouds are above the summits!
Sgorr Dhearg.jpg

Sgorr Dhonuill:

View from the summit of Sgor Na h-Ulaidh - the photo really doesn't do justice to the clarity of the sky and extent of the views:

On Sunday I headed back to London. I'd planned to catch the bus from Glencoe to Glasgow, but hadn't booked a seat and the bus I needed to catch was full. Hitching had been impossible all week, but this time, when I really needed it, it worked! I was extremely lucky to get a lift nearly all the way to Glasgow within a few minutes, in time for my train to London, from a wonderful couple who only have one Munro left to do which they'll be doing at the end of this month. I didn't ask if they were on Walk Highlands - if you are, you know who you are and I am so, so grateful. Thank you so much.

So that was it - nine munros in 8 days, two rest days, 4 nights in my tent, four in a hostel or bunkhouse, a lot of walking, a trip that took me from the point of almost giving up and cloud on all the tops, to feelings of elation with the best views I've ever had in doing the Munros. 244 down and 38 to go :D

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Comments: 3

Bike and Hike Easter Adventure

Attachment(s) Munros: Beinn Fhionnlaidh, Beinn Sgulaird
Date walked: 15/04/2017
Views: 1326

A wee walk in the Cairngorms

Attachment(s) Munros: An Sgarsoch, Beinn a' Bhùird, Beinn a' Chaorainn (Cairngorms), Beinn Bhreac, Beinn Bhrotain, Ben Avon, Monadh Mòr, Mullach Clach a' Bhlàir, Sgòr Gaoith
Date walked: 16/09/2015
Distance: 100km
Ascent: 5000m
Comments: 6
Views: 4361


User avatar
Activity: Mountain Walker
Place: The Highlands
Ideal day out: Bag a Munro on a cloudless, low wind day in the perfect direction for flying off and returning to the start (or to the next hill on my route). Still waiting :-)
Ambition: To paraglide off a Munro

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Trips: 2
Munros: 11


Trips: 1
Distance: 100 km
Ascent: 5000m
Munros: 9

Joined: Sep 23, 2015
Last visited: Jun 21, 2021
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