walkhighlands

Spectres and Spectacles

Route: Stob Ghabhar and Stob a'Choire Odhair

Munros: Stob a'Choire Odhair, Stob Ghabhar

Date walked: 21/10/2016

Time taken: 6 hours

The weather for Friday constantly improved throughout the week, high pressure promising to build and an increase from 30% chance of cloud free munros, to a whopping 90% by Friday! No chance of rain, and zero wind for the day was leading to a great autumn day out. I've had my eye on these two for a while, thoroughly intrigued by the route across Stob a' Choire Odhair to Stob Ghabar.

Leaving Glasgow early doors, I enjoyed the quiet drive up the A82 in the dark, parking up at Victoria Bridge for 7am. A trickle mix of moonlight and early sunlight silhouetted the surrounding hills and apart from a few puffs of cloud, the main bulk of the clouds were high above the tops. Suited and booted I set off about 7.20, initially with the head torch on, but that was quickly put back in the bag as the light improved.

As I turned left at Forest Lodge, in the silence of the morning, my heart jumped as a tiny white jack russell came running out of the darkness barking and hollering. I'd like to tell you I stood my ground and kept walking, patting the dog on the head. But no, I jumped out my skin at the unexpected intrusion on my silent morning. In other words I sh*t it! I had to laugh at the ridiculousness and headed out on the track for the Clashgour estate.

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upto Coire Toag, the straightest path in Scotland??


The sunlight began to scatter, lighting up the end of the glen, a few fog and cloud patches hanging low. It wasn't too cold either, and the brisk walk from the car had me sweating already at this early hour. I turned right at Clashgour hut onto a fairly boggy but well trodden path, turning to face to face the grandeur of Stob Ghabar and the waterfalls to my left, with the bulk of Stob a' Choire Odhair ahead. At this point I felt something was odd about my kit, something not as comfortable as usual. It was only that I had left my glasses on rather than leaving them in the car, not really needing them for walking. Having said that when I removed them I realised perhaps how blind I am and what the views look like with 20/20 vision!! I decided to leave them on and enjoy hillwalking in HD today.

I made good progress up the slope which gradually gains height, amongst the reddening ferns and the invisible stags grunting somewhere within Coire Toaig.

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I was looking forward to the climb of Stob Ghabar and the exposed ridge walk later in the day. I felt it would be some good experience for me and my preparation beforehand probably leaned more to reading all about the steep climb out of the corrie, I hadn't paid much attention to the climb up Odhair. It was therefore probably all psychological that I huffed and puffed up the easier slopes of the day. The guttural roars of the invisible stags continued until I bumped into a heard of deer not far from the top. Through the zig zags and boulders I was on the top for breakfast at 9am.

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across Rannoch Moor


What a view!! Out across Rannoch Moor, a mix of water, moor and cloud with super visibility all around. There were clouds covering the tops of some of the surrounding Munros at Bridge of Orchy and Glencoe, but not this one! The lack of wind meant I was able to rest for 20 mins before feeling the cold and deciding to move off.

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Turning to face Stob Ghabar I was looking forward to what I felt would be the real challenge of the day. What a fine looking mountain from this side, the red ferns combined with the silver rock gave it a real industrial, rusty solid looking bulk. The view east towards the Glen Etive hills and the Bidean massif were really impressive with the great visibility holding out for now.

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Stob Ghabhar


The descent west down to the bealach takes you down over a number of hummocks and rocky outcrops, and with the sun now appearing through the clouds the whole area began to light up in golden autumn colours. As I came up onto a view of the Coirein Lochain though, in typical fashion the cloud started to form on top of Ghabar, looking quite thick and not for budging.

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looking back to Stob a' Choire Odhair


I began the climb up onto the ridge, slightly apprehensive after other WH reports and the walk description as to the steepness and exposure. For some reason I now kept knocking my glasses off either with my hands or on the rocks themselves, and out of fear of losing them down the hillside, I thought it was best to put them away - maybe not the best idea to bring them after all!! I'd sacrifice the views which were about to be non existent anyway !

As it turns out, personally, I found the climb up to be a bit of a doddle (although a little blurry as my eyes adjusted haha!), but the conditions were really good, plenty dry rock for purchase and 'the hard part of the day' passed pretty quick!

Once at the top I was almost in the clouds, but the sun was strong in the sky. The misty clouds were hanging in the corrie to my right, but fairly clear down to the Clashgour estate to my left. As I turned to the right I was presented with clearest broken spectre I've had. It was stunning with numerous glowing rings round my skinny shadow. It held for a good 50m or so and spookily followed me right along to the narrowing part of the ridge.

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Spooky Spectre


Coming up on the Aonach Eagach the ground impressively narrowed in front of me. In all honesty though, I found it quite straightforward, exciting and exposed. Admittedly it may not be everyones cup of tea.

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things start to narrow...


CIMG7244.jpg
...the ridge continues


The trek across the ups and downs, half in the clouds half out, was awesome. Found myself whooping and shouting to no-one, thoroughly enjoying the moment. Following the ridge round and up to the top I was still hopeful the clouds might part and give some kind of a view. The air was still and the wind light so I stopped on the summit for a good 20-30 mins waiting for the views, enjoying a cup of tea and a caramel wafer (or three).

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Don't need the glasses for the view from the top!


Unfortunately the clag never lifted and I turned back down, not before too long bumping into a chap wearing a superb pair of tartan 3/4 length shorts. We stopped for a chat to discuss the disgusting habit of the clouds, before he advised me just to follow the fence posts back the way to descend. I was kind of glad for this direction as I hadn't seen the descent path on the way along the ridge.

Not before too long I came out from the blanket of the clouds and enjoyed the ramble down the hillside with the ground levelling out slightly before the steepness continued down to the waterfalls. The views were extensive looking over to Beinn Dorain and pals although the cloud was still hanging on those tops too. Off to the left Odhair was still cloud free, and the burnt orange of the ferns and grass all around and down to the valley floor confirmed my feeling that autumn is the best season!

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Autumn colours


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Stob a' Choire Odhair & Allt na Coire Muic


I tried to resist the urge to turn and see if the clouds still hung on the summit, and apart from a brief 5 minutes the summit claimed the clouds. Nothing worse than a clearing summit on your descent!!

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The way down was pretty brutal on my knees, but eventually reaching the waterfalls, the pain was forgotten and I scooped a few handfuls of fresh mountain water. I criss-crossed the Allt Coire na Muic for nothing other than fun a few times navigating the bog on both sides. It was pretty muddy in places and a bit slippy so some care was required before I eventually made it back to the path towards the Clashgour hut.

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Clouds holding onto the top of Stob Ghabhar


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Wonderful autumn stuff!!


By this time the dark skies of the morning were replaced with blue and it was a pleasant enough stroll back to the car to complete the round in 6 hours. My plan to stop at Green Welly for a coffee, was halted as soon as I saw the hordes, forgetting it was October week for the schools still. After the solitude of the morning, I wasn't quite ready to interact with the world just yet!!!

The ridge walk in the middle was definitely the highlight, as was the improved views which can only come about from a pair of glasses - Maybe i'll bring them again, now I know what the hills should look like!!

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Comments: 2



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allymacp


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Activity: Hill Bagger

Munros: 68
Corbetts: 12
Grahams: 6
Donalds: 8
Sub 2000: 5



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Statistics

2016

Trips: 3
Distance: 32 km
Munros: 8

2015

Trips: 6
Distance: 22.5 km
Ascent: 1552m
Munros: 10
Corbetts: 1

2014

Trips: 2
Distance: 17.4 km
Ascent: 1796m
Munros: 3

2013

Trips: 2
Munros: 3


Joined: Aug 05, 2013
Last visited: Jun 08, 2019
Total posts: 41 | Search posts