First snows of winter on Cruachan

Route: Ben Cruachan and Stob Daimh

Munros: Stob Daimh

Date walked: 30/10/2019

Distance: 11km

I ate far too much for breakfast (as you do when you're in a B & B) then we drove to Dalmally, stopping at the Green Welly to pick up a sandwich....and never have I felt less in the need of a sandwich - even if it was for later!

We were first at the parking spot at junction of the A85 and B8077 so Ruth had a choice where exactly in that spot to place her car. The gate across the road was open so off we went along the track, looking for the heilan coos I saw the last time I was here to climb Beinn a' Chochuill and Beinn Eunach back in 2011, but they were not to be seen.

On track with Beinn a' Chochuill and Beinn Eunach filling the landscape

Ridge we planned to walk up straight ahead

Dalmally Horseshoe with a little cloud on top

It was Black Panther who put the idea of this walk into my mind, aided and abetted by tweedledog who had offered an apres hill cuppa at his place so we could meet the venerable whippet. I'd decided if it was clear we'd do what's known as the Dalmally Horseshoe the way BP did it, going up the NE ridge and down the SE ridge (missing out the Corbett which BP did).

In the absence of a WH description I found a description of the route the way I wanted to do it on another walking site and printed that out. It said to follow the landrover track towards the mouth of Coire Chreachainn, as far as the bend where it climbs left beside boulders and at that point to leave the track to find a hidden bridge.

In search of a bridge

So when we reached a bend beside boulders (although that wasn't definitive as there were so many boulders strewn around) we left the track and followed a faint path in the direction of the river. River duly reached there was no sign of a bridge so we continued upstream until we reached a pipe crossing. I vaguely remembered BP had included a photo of the bridge and it was a proper bridge, not a pipe crossing, and on the other side there was no sign of any path heading up the ridge. This clearly wasn't it.

Not a bridge

Close to the pipe crossing there was a track coming down from the original track so we decided to abandon our search for the bridge and head up by the SE ridge instead.

Rather than waste any more time we returned to track

Tops now clear

The track led over a bridge (not the one we didn't find) and we looked out for a suitable point to leave it to reach the SE ridge. We could see what may have been an animal track traversing the side of the ridge (albeit in the wrong direction) so climbed up to investigate but as we gained height it made more sense to cut the corner and go straight up. It was steep but easy enough and not too long before we were on the ridge and could see a couple of walkers on the way up ahead of us. They must have parked after us but had made better time without the detour we had searching for the hidden bridge.

Short cut to SE ridge

View other way

Nice ridge once on it

Beinn Eunaich over NE ridge (our planned ascent route)

Around the time we crossed the snow line we sat down to don microspikes, which were helpful and meant no slips. The only snag with them is the build up of snow underneath, like wearing platform soles, which has to be regularly banged off. But for the extra stability they give I'd not be without them.


Zoomed to Loch Awe in the gap

Munro top Stob Garbh, Stob Daimh, then top Sron nan Isean

Pockets of snow were more than knee-deep

Other parts were wind-scoured

Our objective Stob Daimh

Cruachan reservoir

The wind had strengthened and we could see dark cloud moving in from the north. I wondered if we'd have any views from the top but we made it in time and were in the clear.

Stob Daimh summit (998m)


SW to Loch Awe

West to Ben Cruachan

Sron nan Isean and NE ridge

SE to Dalmally

South to Stob Garbh

SW to Beinn a' Bhuiridh and Loch Awe

Loch Awe with Paps of Jura visible on horizon to the right

One option was to continue over Sron nan Isean and descend by the NE ridge but the dark cloud in that direction wasn't inviting. It was cold and we needed to find some shelter from the wind to eat our Green Welly sandwich so the more sensible option was to retrace our steps. The top part of the SE ridge was steep and snow-covered but at least we'd been up it and could follow our tracks down. So after chatting to a guy doing the more usual Cruachan round we dropped down to find a sheltered spot for lunch.

Handy rocks to sit on and sheltered too

Ben Cruachan from lunch spot

Stob Daimh

Start of the descent

Back down the ridge we came up and steeper than it looks

In a few places indulged in a gentle glissade

Dalmally in the sun

Zoomed to Ben Lui and Beinn a' Chleibh

We eventually came across the traversing deer track we'd seen earlier and followed it down until it fizzled out, from where it was a short yomp over rough ground to the vehicle track. At that point I had that feeling we were home and dry... but we both found it a longer walk from there back to the car than it had felt in the morning.

Pink cloud above where we walked

We'd had a great walk in the snow and had topped our target hill - but the icing on the cake was still to come. When Andy (tweedledog) picked up we were planning this walk he had suggested we call in for a post hill cuppa and more importantly to meet 'The Whippet' who has featured in a number of reports I had commented on. So once we were debooted we made our way towards our rendezvous with Andy and Azul and were treated to a very welcome mug of coffee and very good lemon drizzle cake."This is not just lemon drizzle cake this is M & S lemon drizzle cake" and 14 year old Azul had eyes for nothing else!

Azul with eyes firmly on cake

Thank you Andy for the hospitality and gift of your recently published novel "The Zeno Effect" - set in 2029 when the United Kingdom is no longer united - and which I'm looking forward to getting into. Don't know yet what the connection is with Buachaille Etive Mor, but it's good to see it on the front cover!

Not sure if I'm allowed to do this but here's a gratuitous plug.


After seeing no deer all day and not hearing any bellowing (which you expect to hear in October) I'd concluded it wasn't a red deer area but Andy confirmed that it is. He said the bellowing had stopped four days earlier. When not outbellowing each other in the rut a bachelor herd normally hangs out in a field near Castles Farm and as we left Andy's a stag crossed the road in front of us. They must have some serious catching up to do as they have no time during the rut to eat and perhaps with the early autumn they were exhausted and hungry and couldn't quite make it to the end of the month!

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