Stob Coire Sgreamhach and reminiscence in the Lost Valley

Munros: Stob Coire Sgreamhach

Date walked: 26/09/2017

Time taken: 21 hours

Distance: 11km

Ascent: 1168m

Bidean nam Bian was my first munro in July 1981. This was on a school trip to Torridon for the purposes of a DofE gold expedition in which my younger sister was a participant. I went along to fill a spare seat in the minibus, having just finished with school. We stopped at Glencoe YH for a night on the way North and went up Bidean, and on the way South we stopped at Glen Nevis YH and went up Ben Nevis. While the others were off expeditioning the ones who had gone for the ride and the two teachers went up Liathach, including the pinnacles, Beinn Alligin including the Horns, Slioch and Beinn Eighe. Apart from Beinn Eighe when it rained heavily all day we had gorgeous weather throughout. What better introduction to the Munros could there be? Who does school trips like that any more?
Unfortunately I have no photos from that trip. I did have my dad's old and precious camera with me but unfortunately as I jumped down the bank to get to the bridge at the Meeting of the Three Waters, the strap broke and the camera went tumbling into the River Coe. We could see it lying at the bottom of the crystal clear water. We continued our walk through the Lost Valley and up Bidean via Bealach Dearg and back down the same way. Don't ask me how he did it, but the Chemistry teacher Mr W then climbed down into the waist deep river and retrieved my dad's camera - but sadly, it never worked again. Looking at the river this week, I have tried to work out how he got down and back up. The water must have been pretty low in July 1981 but I still cannot make out how it was possible - but I was there and I know he did get the camera back!
The River Coe today. Deep, fast and presumably very cold.

Anyway, since then I've been up the Lost Valley another three times. Once in March 1983 at Easter when three University friends and I went for a road trip round the West Highlands, staying in hostels and looking at lovely places. That day it was very wet and we sat under a big rock to eat our picnic and saw almost nothing. No photos because it was too wet to risk taking the camera out of its plastic bag. The second time was in May 1988 when Rudolph and I camped in lovely weather in Glencoe and went up Beinn a'Bheithir, the Aonach Eagach, Bidean and Buaichaille Etive Mor (where we met Hamish McInnes getting out of a helicopter). At that time Stob Coire Sgreamhach was not a Munro so we didn't go up it. The other time was on my birthday in July 2007 on a beautiful day when we set off on a family expedition up the Lost Valley and ended up climbing Stob Coire nan Lochan, at which the kids were a bit peeved as they climbed up to 1115m and it didn't even count as a Munro! It's time really that it did. Our youngest (known as Coldwetandhungry in these parts) was 8 at the time and her brothers 13 and 15.
top of Stob Coire nan Lochan 23july.jpg
Family picture, top of Stob Coire nan Lochan July 2007

I've long thought it would be a grand place for a wild camp, despite Caberfeidh's advice about falling rocks.
So we actually set off from the Real Food Cafe after having been up Beinn a'Chocuill and Beinn Eunaich with the intention of driving to Loch Lochy for the pair there, chasing a good weather forecast. We had most of the maps for Munros we had not climbed south of the Great Glen but were a bit concerned about the time as we would probably be looking for a camp site in the pitch dark. However as we drove on to Rannoch Moor it was turning into a beautiful afternoon so we quickly stopped at a layby where there was signal and checked the forecast for Glencoe. Not half bad, and although we had not actually brought the paper map for Bidean, we did have at least three versions of electronic mapping and plenty of battery life. As Stob Coire Sgreamhaich was our last remaining Red Balloon in Argyll, it was clearly the opportune time for this expedition.
We parked at the obvious carpark in front of the Three Sisters in Glencoe. Down on the old road was a long line of people on horseback and foot, dressed in old stuff and carrying shields, axes and the like. As we were faffing about (aka getting ready) a helicopter appeared and went back and forth up and down the valley filming the horses and people walking along. We were told they were filming for Robert the Bruce, I thought he was deid!
People dressed as 14th century ruffians/soldiers

Anyway it was very exciting and I took lots of blurry photographs of the chopper flying about. None of them is worth posting.
After meeting no midges at all in our travels this week, despite damp and windless conditions, we had to smidge up in the car park. You can always rely on Glencoe to provide midges.
Leaving the car park a little before six o'clock, it was a beautiful evening as we climbed up the exciting path into the gorge and on to the Lost valley. We decided that even if we saw nothing else on this trip, it would be worth it just for this. It's so wonderful.
Towards Am Bodach and the Aonach Eagach

A' Chailleach

a long waterfall

Clear water, lots of it, needing crossed. Just a wee bit further up there is none!

back to A'Chailleach just after sunset

Someone else had already pitched a tent in the large, flat area when we came over the rise, so we went on the downstream side of some giant boulders out of sight. We were upset to see that previous campers have not had the same "Leave no trace" philosophy that we would hold to, with evidence of several campfires and bits of rubbish here and there. However, it was a beautiful place to stop for the night and we found a lovely flat grassy area in between two sections of dry stream bed.
happy mugs at breakfast looking up to where we are going - Stob Coire Sgreamhach just hidden in cloud on the left.

In the morning, after stashing the tent and sleeping bags in the shelter of a handy rock, we followed the amazingly engineered path which climbs steadily up the West side of the Coire all the way to the bottom of the red screes. Words and pictures really cannot express the grandeur of Coire Gabhail. It was not as hard as we had expected to climb up the screes and reach the Bealach Dearg at last. From there there was sunshine visible on distant hills but not on us.
a'Chailleach is still there

rowan tree

she's still there!

Bidean still in cloud

saxifrage and mosses colonising the screes

Beinn a'Bheithir from Bealach Dearg

A short climb with several false summits took us to the top of Stob Coire Sgreamhach which unfortunately and disappointingly remained just inside the cloud.

and again

We had considered completing the climb to the top of Bidean but as it remained stubbornly in cloud we decided to quit while we were ahead and go home.
Bidean still hiding in the cloud

Lunch spot not long after coming off the screes. Looks like other people have had lunch here as we found an Avocado skin and a teabag.

another shaft of sunlight

I think this is the rock we had lunch under back in 1983

the patch of grass upon which we had pitched our tent the night before

from our camping place, trees growing out of the rock on the left, the one on the right is the one I think we sat under.

We met lots of people as we were coming down and as it was a beautiful afternoon we met a good number of people coming up the path to the Lost Valley, people from all over the world.
Rowan tree, the cliffs of Gearr Aonach, and Am Bodach

As we leave Coire Gabhail, ~Stob Coire Sgreamhach is just about to lose its cloud hat.

I took lots of pictures and it's tricky choosing just 25 but I hope that this gives a flavour of the day.

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Comments: 11

Beinn a'Chocuill and Beinn Eunaich and a camp

Attachment(s) Munros: Beinn a'Chochuill, Beinn Eunaich
Date walked: 24/09/2017
Distance: 15.7km
Ascent: 1360m
Comments: 2
Views: 219

Meall Greigh - 30 years later.. and Rudolph's 200th

Attachment(s) Munros: Meall Greigh
Date walked: 23/09/2017
Distance: 12.7km
Ascent: 900m
Comments: 8
Views: 360

The Monadhliath Bog with a camp and a double ton.

Attachment(s) Munros: A' Chailleach (Monadhliath), Carn Dearg (Monadhliath), Carn Sgulain
Date walked: 13/09/2017
Distance: 26km
Ascent: 1100m
Comments: 7
Views: 369

Not the Lochaber Traverse. (plan D?) Meagaidh & friends

Attachment(s) Munros: Beinn a'Chaorainn (Glen Spean), Beinn Teallach, Carn Liath (Creag Meagaidh), Creag Meagaidh, Stob Poite Coire Ardair
Date walked: 12/09/2017
Distance: 28.9km
Ascent: 1869m
Comments: 11
Views: 415

Geal Charn, Monadhliath. Rain and rainbows

Attachment(s) Munros: Geal Charn (Monadhliath)
Date walked: 11/09/2017
Distance: 13km
Ascent: 658m
Views: 136

Mayar and Dreish with a high camp

Attachment(s) Munros: Driesh, Mayar
Date walked: 02/08/2017
Comments: 3
Views: 401

Ben Chonzie, legs are fine and girls rescued!

Attachment(s) Munros: Ben Chonzie
Date walked: 29/07/2017
Comments: 4
Views: 489

Unfinished business part 4 - Into Affric.

Attachment(s) Munros: Beinn Fhionnlaidh (Carn Eige), Carn Eige, Mam Sodhail
Date walked: 02/05/2017
Distance: 29km
Ascent: 1950m
Comments: 3
Views: 415

Unfinished Business part 3 - the other Strathfarrar Munros

Attachment(s) Munros: Sgurr a'Choire Ghlais, Sgurr Fhuar-thuill
Date walked: 01/05/2017
Distance: 21.5km
Ascent: 1290m
Comments: 2
Views: 258


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Location: north yorkshire moors
Activity: Mountain Walker
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Place: Everywhere
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Ideal day out: waking up in a tent in the middle of nowhere and then doing 2 or 3 munros followed by a hot bath
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