walkhighlands

Grey has my Inner Goddess doing cartwheels...

Munros: Sgurr Choinnich Mor, Stob Ban (Grey Corries), Stob Choire Claurigh, Stob Coire an Laoigh

Date walked: 03/08/2019

Time taken: 14.5 hours

Distance: 27km

Ascent: 1900m

I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror. Darn my hair - I must not sleep with my Bobble Hat on! I must not sleep with my Bobble Hat on! Reciting this mantra several times, I do my best to perfect my coiffure in the Glen Nevis Youth Hostel bathroom mirror, in breathless anticipation of my big date with Grey.
Grey has been the object of my desires ever since I first glimpse that craggy profile and those sinuous, muscular ridgelines during an idle browse through the books in an outdoors shop … the SMC Munros book, it may have been. All of a sudden, my Inner Goddess sits up and takes notice, and after dutifully ploughing through the dullest bits in Section 5 (yes, A' Bhuidheanach Bheag, that means you!), I find myself furtively flicking back with sweaty palms to Pages 85 to 87....
Weeks and even months later, I still can't shift those images from my fevered brain. Visions of Stob Coire Cath na Sine and Caisteal distract me from my work, and keep me awake at night. I have to face it - I am powerfully attracted to Grey. Full name "Grey Corries": a range of four Munros in the central Highlands. How will I break this one to my wife :shock: ?
Another couple of months pass, and the realisation gradually dawns on me that the only way that my Inner Goddess is ever going to give me peace is for me to spend a couple of nights in close proximity to Grey.
...So I make some hurried excuses to my family, and book myself in to the recently refurbished Glen Nevis Youth Hostel for a Friday and Saturday night.
Now, I've heard that most of Grey's previous suitors have tended to favour the northern approach from Corriechoille in Glen Spean, but that makes it rather awkward to get all four Munros done in one day, particularly for those of us not in the first flush of youth :oops: . And I have to be honest with myself: only the Full Monty is going to satisfy me. I therefore opt for the less conventional Glen Nevis approach, hoping to catch Grey unawares.

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Now, whenever I've ever booked accommodation for a hill walk well in advance in the past, that has been a guarantee for a named storm to sweep in from the Atlantic, and for the telly to turn deep orange with Weather Warnings …. This time will be different, however. As I try to perfect that hairdo very early on the Saturday morning, it is clear that the sun is going to shine on my illicit liaison... The early morning view up Glen Nevis is nothing short of spectacular.
WR1 - delicious morning view down glen from just east of Youth Hostel.jpg

Soon enough, I've driven up to the car park at the Glen Nevis road end and I'm setting off down the Nevis Gorge path, breathless with anticipation!
WR2 - Nevis Gorge path with ferns and boulders.jpg

Although I've walked the Nevis Gorge before (en route to the Aonachs and the Ring of Steall), my senses are all of a quiver this time, and the sudden, startling emergence from the gorge onto Steall Plains, with the huge waterfall sparkling in the early morning sunshine, is almost too much for me!
WR3 - sudden startling view of Steall Falls in early morning sunshine.jpg

Perhaps it's for the best, by way of giving my Inner Goddess a chance to mop her fevered brow, but the big disadvantage of the Glen Nevis approach is that it is a Very Long Walk In indeed before Grey is even glimpsed :roll: ! So I do my best to keep myself calm, enjoying the truly monumental scenery on offer. First up is this impressive view of A' Mhaighdean and Binnein Mor of the Mamores. I am just a bit worried that they still have their summits in early-morning Clag, however. What if the Clag doesn't lift, and I don't even get to have a proper look at Grey :( ? The disappointment will just be crushing!
WR4 - A Mhaighdean and Binnein Mor.jpg

Next up is An Gearanach of the Ring of Steall, looking impressively precipitous (though clearly not as shapely as Grey). Is that clag never going to lift, though?
WR5 - An Gearanach with head in clouds.jpg

Finally - finally (I'd been walking for HOURS!) - I approach the mouth of Coire Rath at the very head of Glen Nevis, and get my first tantalising view of Grey's naked shoulder! (The rounded prominence in question is Meall a' Bhuirich, which is the Corbett Top at the end of Stob Ban's south-west ridge, to the right of this photo.)
WR6 - a tantalising view of Grey at last.jpg

At this point, Binnein Beag does its best to tempt me off-route, getting all up close and personal! I hate to disappoint the poor thing, but a lowly Mamore is never going to distract me from Grey....
WR7 - Binnein Beag up close and personal.jpg

Grey is playing very hard to get, however, placing a substantial waterway between us - the Abhainn Rath. Thankfully I find a bit at a meander where I can get across with only slightly wet feet.
WR8 - slightly wet feet at the Abhainn Rath.jpg

My heart is hammering, my pulse is racing and I am getting all steamed up! (Admittedly, that is perhaps because I am slogging up the very steep grassy western flanks of Meall a' Bhuirich to reach the bealach with Stob Ban :roll: .) That glimpse of Stob Ban's summit in the distance really has my Inner Goddess quite undone!
WR9 - almost on Stob Ban ridgeline with just a glimpse of the summit.jpg

What can I say! Grey has taken me to the Heights for the first time, and with the promise of lots more fun, deliciously leavened with physical pain, for the whole of the rest of the day! Yes, I am standing at Stob Ban's summit cairn, with a huge view stretching out to the south-east...
WR10 - a huge view SE from Stob Ban summit.jpg

I look back down Coire Rath, across Glen Nevis to where Mamores a-go-go are showing off in the sun. Well, I daresay they're attractive enough in their way, but let's face it, they're just not Grey!
WR11 - looking back down Coire Rath with Mamores a-go-go.jpg

Now Grey gives me my first taste of strict discipline: I am taken to a Place of Torture. Apparently, it is known as "Stob Ban's north ridge". I do my best to make my way very carefully down the ever-shifting scree path, whimpering quietly as I land on my backside for the third time :roll: ...
WR12 - the Place of Torment on Stob Ban.jpg

Thankfully, down at the bealach with Stob Coire Claurigh, I am finally shown some mercy. In fact, I am treated to this delicious view of Grey's butte! Apparently it goes by the name of "Sgurr Innse". Well, each to their own, I suppose.
WR13 - a fine view of Grays butte from the bealach.jpg

Grey insists on keeping me disciplined, however, and I am given this view back to Sgurr Ban's north ridge from the scenic lochan at the bealach, to remind me just now nasty things can get if I don't behave...
WR14 - looking back to Stob Ban from halfway lochan.jpg

The steady ascent to Stob Choire Claurigh isn't as steep as that descent from Stob Ban, but it goes on and on, and my thighs are throbbing. Only the promise of sampling more of Grey's delights enables me to put up with the pain. Finally, however, I reach Stob Choire Claurigh's summit - the fifteenth-highest hill in the UK, no less. And this is surely as good as it gets. I am treated to what may well be the best view in Scotland. The Clag has completely lifted by now, and every inch of Grey is completely exposed, exquisitely framed by the Back Corries of the Aonachs ridge with Ben Nevis in the distance. I swear, my Inner Goddess very near faints dead away...
WR15 - possibly best view in Scotland with Grey Corries ridgeline then Aonachs and Ben with some Mamores on left.jpg

Once I get my breath back, however, Grey has my Inner Goddess doing cartwheels!
WR16 - BHK with Inner Goddess doing cartwheels.jpg

The pleasure just goes on and on. I am taken on a stupendous ridgewalk, crossing three Munro Tops in what feels like no time (but actually takes a good couple of hours). First up is the minor rise (but official Top) of Stob a' Choire Leith. The next Top is more impressive, with a large cairn and a grand view back to Stob Ban, which is looking a bit tiddly from up here. Unfortunately, however, I have earned Grey's displeasure :? . I am reminded sternly that this Top is named Stob Coire Cath na Sine, apparently meaning "Peak of the Corrie of the Battle of the Elements", and that I must NOT, under any circumstances, EVER refer to it again as "Stob Coire Barry Sheen"!
WR17 - Stob Ban looking diminutive from Top summit cairn - need to work out which Top.jpg

Grey is almost ready to take me to the Heights for a third time … However, before being allowed to reach Munro Number Three, I am taken up one more Top, this one called Casteil, and then it is time for some more discipline, with a scary view of Stob Coire an Laoigh's precipitous northern cliffs :shock: !
WR18 - impressive cliffs on approach to SC an Laoigh summit.jpg

Finally, however, I am at Stob Coire an Laoigh's cairn, desperately trying to calm my racing heart and to slow down my breathing.... But what is that shapely peak to the west? Surely Grey can't be expecting to take me to the Heights a FOURTH time? I sigh in submission and make my apologies in advance to my quadriceps, as I gaze onwards to the fourth Munro of the day, Sgurr Choinnich Mor, with its mini-me western Top Sgurr Choinnich Beag visible to the west, and pointy Sgurr a' Bhuic (a Top of Aonach Beag) visible in the distance.
WR19 - SC Mor and Beag and Sgurr a Bhuic from SC an Laoigh summit.jpg

Can I really manage a fourth Munro? I'm not entirely sure, but my Inner Goddess is pulling me onwards towards the next Top, Stob Coire Easain, and Grey is clearly not in a mood to be gainsaid!
WR20 - BHK with SC Mor and Aonachs and Ben in background.jpg

Yet more discipline awaits, on the steep descent from Stob Coire Easain to its bealach with Sgurr Choinnich Mor, with the first real scrambling of the day! I console myself with the thought that one possible translation of "Sgurr Choinnich Mor" could be "Big Kenny's Peak", so really I just have to grit my teeth and climb the thing. (The more prosaic, and probably more accurate, translation is of course "Big Mossy Peak" :roll: .)
WR21 - steep descent from SC an Laoigh with lovely view of SC Mor.jpg

It is only slightly less steep on the other side of the bealach, but somehow I manage to bear the agony that Grey inflicts on my thigh muscles, and eventually top out on the fourth Munro of the day. From the cairn, I look back fondly along the full length of Grey's shapely ridgeline...
WR22 - looking back along ridge from SC Mor summit.jpg

Just as I am sighing with relief at having nothing else to climb, I realise that Grey has not yet done with me. Yes, I am tapped on the shoulder and reminded of that western Top, Sgurr Choinnich Beag. I beg, I plead, but Grey is relentless. Beag has to be climbed too :shock: !
WR23 - Sgurr Coinnich Beag and Sgurr a Bhuic from SC Mor summit.jpg

Finally, I summit the last peak of the day, and at Sgurr Choinnich Beag's bijou cairn I am permitted to enjoy a delicious glance back to shapely Sgurr Choinnich Mor.
WR24 - looking back to Sgurr Coinnich Mor from Beag.jpg

Grey's work with me is finally done, and I am to be permitted to make a slow descent back down to the Glen Nevis path via the bealach with Sgurr a' Bhuic, aching deliciously from top to toe from Grey's punishments as I take the long and winding road all the way back through the Nevis Gorge to the car park and back to the hostel.
And now here I am back in my office on a dreich Friday afternoon, gazing wistfully out of the window with only memories of Grey to keep me going...

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Comments: 13



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bobble_hat_kenny


User avatar
Activity: Walker
Pub: Kilchoan Hotel
Mountain: Cir Mhor
Place: Arran
Gear: walking poles
Member: none at present
Ideal day out: A multi-peak walk with good views.

Munros: 187
Corbetts: 33
Grahams: 34
Donalds: 19
Hewitts: 2
Sub 2000: 23



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Statistics

2019

Trips: 8
Distance: 171 km
Ascent: 11425m
Munros: 13
Corbetts: 3
Grahams: 2

2018

Trips: 19
Distance: 296 km
Ascent: 22547m
Munros: 27
Corbetts: 7
Grahams: 3
Sub2000s: 3

2017

Trips: 15
Distance: 291.5 km
Ascent: 17620m
Munros: 18
Corbetts: 3
Grahams: 7
Hewitts: 2

2016

Trips: 13
Distance: 287.6 km
Ascent: 17600m
Munros: 26
Corbetts: 3
Grahams: 4
Donalds: 1

2015

Trips: 16
Distance: 283.65 km
Ascent: 16707m
Munros: 24
Corbetts: 3
Grahams: 3
Donalds: 3
Sub2000s: 5

2014

Trips: 18
Distance: 299.4 km
Ascent: 20155m
Munros: 14
Corbetts: 6
Grahams: 9
Donalds: 5
Sub2000s: 5

2013

Trips: 15
Distance: 185.25 km
Ascent: 12412m
Munros: 15
Corbetts: 2
Grahams: 3
Donalds: 1
Sub2000s: 5

2012

Trips: 22
Distance: 313.75 km
Ascent: 20595m
Munros: 27
Corbetts: 3
Grahams: 5
Donalds: 6
Sub2000s: 4

2005

Trips: 1
Distance: 4.5 km
Ascent: 350m
Sub2000s: 1


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Last visited: Aug 24, 2019
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