A late-night special in Glen Etive

Munros: Beinn Sgulaird
Corbetts: Beinn Trilleachan
Sub 2000s: Beinn Mheadhonach

Date walked: 06/10/2018

Time taken: 11.3 hours

Distance: 24.5km

Ascent: 2000m

Munros: Beinn Sgulaird.
Corbetts: Beinn Trilleachan.
Sub 2k Marilyns: Beinn Mheadhonach.
Date: 06/10/2018.
Distance: 24.5 km.
Ascent: 2000m.
Time: 11 hours, 20 minutes.
Weather: Cold and sunny with some showers - more persistent rain and clag later on.

Saturday was looking pretty fantastic in the forecasts through the week, so it seemed worth making some kind of plan. Jackie had a rare Saturday morning off, so we came up with something halfway between us. Among the plans discussed was one of her routes taking in Beinn Trilleachan and Beinn Sgulaird from Glen Etive. I had been looking at similar combinations from the Loch Creran side, so easily persuaded her that we should take in Beinn Mheadhonach and An Grianan as well - after all, the first was practically en-route. I don't go down Glen Etive nearly often enough, so we agreed to meet at the head of Loch Etive.

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It was a lovely drive down, and not too slow either, and I was parked up at the head of the road by 10:30am, slightly surprised to have arrived first. Jackie turned up 20 minutes later, also surprised to see me there already - obviously my reputation for being lazy precedes me. So much for the earlyish start then :lol: .

Buachaille from the top of Glen Etive

Loch Etive and Ben Cruachan

Etive Slabs

We were finally ready to start walking by 11:15am - probably late enough to be doing the last little bit in the dark, but we weren't too concerned. There's no messing about on the way onto Trilleachan - within 5 minutes you are crashing through boggy undergrowth, even if there are traces of a path to show the way. With weather and views like this though, it was impossible to care too much.

Stob Dubh from the head of Loch Etive

Back up Glen Etive to various Stob Dubhs

Buachailles and Stob Dubh

Ben Starav across Loch Etive

Glen Etive

Beinn Sgulaird from Glen Etive

On Meall nan Gobhar

Beinn Trilleachan

Head of Loch Etive

The intermediate summit of Meall nan Gobhar is crossed first, before a steep rocky descent to the main body of the hill. The rocks were still a bit damp here and there was the odd slide on the way down.

Ben Starav

Descending Meall nan Gobhar


Head of the loch

Looking down to the head of Loch Etive

The walk to the summit was easy from here, over massive granite slabs. Unlike my previous visit with my dad, the views this time were excellent in most directions. Clouds and heavy showers could be seen moving up Loch Linnhe though.

Starav from Trilleachan

South down Loch Etive

Beinn Sgulaird from Trilleachan

Now it was time to move away from the usual route (where we had seen no-one anyway) and drop down into the hinterland between Beinn Trilleachan and Beinn Sgulaird. We both took synchronised slides on the steep part of this (I could guess to the second when Jackie would blame her worn-out boots, even though she had a new pair sitting in the car :roll: :lol: ), but on the whole it was easier than it could've been. Having looked at the map earlier, I couldn't really tell how craggy the descent was going to be, but we found a relatively grassy way through.

At the foot of the slope, Lochan an Lair was an appealing spot, especially with the sun out. It suddenly felt really warm. The lochan had a little sandy beach at the head, and Ben Cruachan was well framed in the glen. Not a bad camping spot actually.

Beinn Meadhonach and Lochan an Lair

Loch Etive

Beinn Sgulaird

Sgulaird reflected

Ben Cruahan from Lochan an Lair

Sunbathing at Lochan an Lair

Beinn Fhionnlaidh

A short steep pull on the other side of the glen took us to the broad northern ridge of Beinn Mheadhonach. An easy stroll led us to the summit, which had a lovely feeling of isolation. A great spot for a summit camp, we thought (probably about the third time we had thought that today!)

Lochan an Lair and Beinn Trilleachan

Glen Etive hills

Beinn Trilleachan from Beinn Mheadhonach

Back of Bidean

The descent off Mheadhonach was much shorter than Trilleachan, but equally steep - although we didn't feel like we were going slowly, it had taken us quite a time to get to here. Descents in particular weren't fast.

I had originally thought to go straight up the back of Beinn Sgulaird to the summit from here, but we spotted a track coming over from Coire Buidhe which I hadn't realised existed. I think Jackie had it on her map, but it certainly wasn't on mine (mind you, neither was the road bridge over the Loch Creran narrows)! A rough path from it extended all the way down to the Allt Easach which we picked up. Mind you, it was pretty swampy, and probably harder going than the ground either side.

Shower moving in from the SW

Back to Trilleachan

Cloud cap on Trilleachan

At the col, we discussed adding Creach Bheinn on. Well we didn't really - this had been mentioned earlier on, but there was nowhere near enough time for it now. Instead, we cut diagonally up the SW face of Beinn Sgulaird to reach the main summit ridge, and also a decent path. The mist was starting to blow in now, but we hoped it would clear again for the summit.

Loch Creran from Coire Buidhe

Appin and Lismore

Ben Cruachan

Loch Creran

Loch Creran through the mist

We passed the only other people we saw out on the hill up here - they were heading back down. I was damn sure that the cairned summit we reached was the top - it felt like we had gone far enough along the ridge - but I had a very vague memory (I was last up here in 1994 on one of our notorious family walks, where we did most of the descent in the dark) of a massive cairn. Maybe I was wrong, or it had been knocked down.


A sliver of Fraochaidh

We had to carry on along the ridge anyway, and it didn't come as a great surprise to find more ascent...and a massive cairn :lol: . It was a shame the views had gone, as this is one of the more spectacular Argyll summits. I can only assume it gets the nickname of 'The B.astard' because it is a much more extensive hill than it seems initially. With the sea and island views and rocky ridges, it has more in common with the hills of Kintail than some of the other hills around here.

Now we really were descending, and there was only the sketchiest of paths. The going was pretty rough - I was surprised (but not that surprised) that my dad had decided this route up would make a great family walk all those years ago! To echo last time, the light was going as well, and the rain came on as well - this was supposed to be a nice clear evening!

Rim of Coire nan Tulach

Descent towards Stob Gaibhre

Not much light now

We didn't mind - we knew that some of the descent would be in the dark - just not this much. Rather than cross over Stob Gaibhre, we dropped SE towards the Ure, which seemed more sensible. While I had been going on about still including An Grianan in the circuit, it was clear that it would be getting missed out now! At around 8pm, we hit the River Ure, which sounded way more epic than it actually was. Time to put on a torch! To be fair, we met it at a waterfall where it did look rather ferocious. Nothing really seems to phase Jackie apart from slithery river crossings...and this one in the dark too. However, we soon found an easy way over and were across in no time.

I naively thought it would take us an hour or so from the crossing - after all it was only a couple of miles in a straight line! The ground was rough but not too bad, but the route wove around all over the place to avoid spurs and bumps, and wasn't fast. To compensate, when turning off the torch, the rain had stopped and there was an impressive array of stars.

The ground got worse as we got closer to the edge of the forest and the final descent to Glen Etive. We had been sharing a torch but I kept wandering off on my own, leaving Jackie stumbling in the dark! Eventually she dug hers out as well, just in time for mega bracken. The bracken was head-height with tussocks and boulders underneath - tedious in the extreme. I heard a yelp and turned around to find Jackie sprawled out in a patch of bog - I found it funny at least :lol: .Somewhere nearby were traces of the path we had used to go up Beinn Trilleachan, but we couldn't find them. The going seemed to get harder the closer to the end we got, and the lights from a couple of caravans parked up below never seemed to get closer.

Smile -we’re almost back!

Eventually the bracken disappeared and we were spat out onto the road a minute or so from the carpark -phew! It was now getting on for 10:45pm - slightly later than planned! Although we probably weren't keeping up with Naismith earlier on in the day, the lower sections in the dark took twice as long as they would've done earlier. Somehow we'd avoided getting annoyed at each other, and even enjoyed most of the final part. While I don't tend to plan to cross such rough ground in the dark, it's good to do a bit of it occasionally, just to remind yourself what it's like.

Earlier in the week we had considered vague plans to camp in Glen Etive, but had discounted this earlier on as really grotty weather was due to roll in on Sunday morning. I couldn't have been bothered to put up a tent and cook with the remainder of the evening anyway, so was glad to be heading up the A82 with virtually no traffic. I finally rolled into the house just after 1am.

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Comments: 5

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This post is not published on the Walkhighlands forum
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Location: Inverness
Occupation: Civil Engineer
Interests: Walking, Scrambling, Cycling, Mountain Biking
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Munros: 282
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Grahams: 219
Donalds: 71
Wainwrights: 102
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Distance: 1227 km
Ascent: 69055m
Munros: 16
Corbetts: 21
Grahams: 14
Donalds: 28
Sub2000s: 31
Hewitts: 51
Wainwrights 20


Trips: 59
Distance: 1009.8 km
Ascent: 54765m
Munros: 27
Corbetts: 11
Grahams: 9
Sub2000s: 36
Hewitts: 23
Wainwrights 9


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Distance: 1132.8 km
Ascent: 59985m
Munros: 18
Corbetts: 20
Grahams: 20
Donalds: 4
Sub2000s: 33


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Ascent: 58815m
Munros: 10
Corbetts: 18
Grahams: 35
Donalds: 5
Sub2000s: 26


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Ascent: 56245m
Munros: 11
Corbetts: 23
Grahams: 43
Donalds: 33
Sub2000s: 23


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Ascent: 52310m
Munros: 9
Corbetts: 23
Grahams: 36
Sub2000s: 26


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Distance: 1911.9 km
Ascent: 64050m
Corbetts: 8
Grahams: 16
Sub2000s: 19
Hewitts: 95
Wainwrights 16


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Ascent: 45165m
Munros: 5
Corbetts: 21
Grahams: 31
Sub2000s: 11
Hewitts: 18


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Ascent: 49290m
Munros: 7
Corbetts: 33
Grahams: 32
Sub2000s: 10
Hewitts: 4


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Ascent: 35725m
Munros: 8
Corbetts: 35
Grahams: 14
Sub2000s: 5
Hewitts: 1


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Distance: 540.5 km
Ascent: 37865m
Munros: 15
Corbetts: 22
Grahams: 18
Donalds: 3
Sub2000s: 6


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Distance: 471.5 km
Ascent: 30550m
Munros: 22
Corbetts: 19
Grahams: 7
Donalds: 3
Sub2000s: 4


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Distance: 472 km
Ascent: 32785m
Munros: 39
Corbetts: 7
Grahams: 4
Hewitts: 1


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Distance: 464 km
Ascent: 27635m
Munros: 29
Corbetts: 7
Grahams: 1
Sub2000s: 2
Hewitts: 5
Wainwrights 8


Trips: 43
Distance: 839.4 km
Ascent: 47975m
Munros: 60
Corbetts: 6
Grahams: 2
Donalds: 2
Sub2000s: 1
Hewitts: 1


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Distance: 798 km
Ascent: 51905m
Munros: 68
Corbetts: 5
Hewitts: 5


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Distance: 634 km
Ascent: 42245m
Munros: 46
Corbetts: 3
Grahams: 3
Hewitts: 24


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Distance: 738.5 km
Ascent: 59035m
Munros: 45
Corbetts: 1
Sub2000s: 1
Hewitts: 53
Wainwrights 23


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Distance: 512.5 km
Ascent: 42190m
Munros: 19
Corbetts: 2
Sub2000s: 1
Hewitts: 55
Wainwrights 26


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Ascent: 43786m
Munros: 23
Corbetts: 1
Hewitts: 48
Wainwrights 4


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Distance: 378 km
Ascent: 33525m
Munros: 12
Hewitts: 46


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Distance: 512.1 km
Ascent: 44205m
Munros: 19
Corbetts: 4
Grahams: 1
Donalds: 2
Hewitts: 63
Wainwrights 6


Trips: 40
Distance: 476.5 km
Ascent: 40740m
Munros: 12
Corbetts: 2
Hewitts: 75
Wainwrights 17


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