Footprints Across Scotland

Why not make a few of your own!

27th to 30th September 2007

A long weekend based at Glen Nevis camp site.
Three long walks covering the Aonach Eagach ridge, the Grey Corries and a day in Glen Etive.

I managed to extend last weekend by a couple of days heading off from Aberdeen on Thursday morning. A good trip across west saw me arrive in Glencoe at the main view point car park ready to start walking at 9.30am. I had stopped briefly when crossing Rannoch Moor to take a few photos across Lochan na h'Acaise to the Blackmount hills and a bit further on for a shot of Buachaille Etive Mor which looms up impressively and greets you when entering Glencoe. The challenge for the day was to be the The Aonach Eagach ridge which is one of the most famous hill walking routes in Scotland and renowned to be a bit of a challenge. It's feared by some, boasted about by others and occasionally described as an epic by those who have dared it in winter. I had been putting it aside for a good day and the early morning sunshine boded well. As I started I noticed another walker about a 100m meters or so in front of me. He was obviously going at the same pace as this distance didn't alter much on the steep ascent up from the road to the first top of Sron Garbh. He was sat on top checking his boots when I arrived and seemed quite pleased to see me as he confessed he may need a bit or morale support for the some of the obstacles ahead. We ended up making the traverse together wondering a little what all the fuss was about but conceding that we wouldn't like to do the tricky parts in bad weather. From the first top it was a short drop down then up to the first Munro of Am Bodach. We both believed this short section of descent was going to be the most awkward bit but taking our time and ensuring we had good hand and foot holds we got down without any real fuss. There was some ice on the paths as we came up but the rock here was ice free but it was very cold on the hands. We met up with another guy later on down the ridge, he seemed to be enjoying watching us clamber over the pinnacles that provide some entertaining scrambling toward the west end of the ridge. We had lunch together on the last top Sgurr nam Fiannaidh, the other guys said they had also been waiting for good conditions to do the walk. The steep descent from here down steep scree and grass slopes was to my mind the hardest part of the day, but I eventually arrived down near Loch Achtriochtan for the walk back up Glencoe valley to the car park.

Aonach Eagach

Aonach Eagach Ridge and Pinacles

I had decided to base myself at Glen Nevis campsite for the duration of my short stay. Another early start was required to allow enough time to walk the grey corries on Friday. I estimated around 10-12 hours so it was going to be a big day. I left the car just before Corriechollie and headed up past the farm and then south along the land rover track to bothy in Lairig Leacach. It was here after two hours walking that I could see the conical shape of Stob Ban, the first summit of the day. I headed along a very boggy path into the corrie below Stob ban before heading onto the eastern ridge. The views opened up at the top with the grey corries ridge to the North and the Mamores to the west. The skies had turned blue and the sun had made an appearance after a rather grey start. There was some cloud and mist about occasionally covering the higher tops. The northern slopes of Stob Ban are steep and rocky so the drop down to the col below required a bit of care. From the col it was a steady climb up long grassy slopes to the top of Stob Coire Claurigh, at 1177m the fifteenth highest mountain in Britain. At the top I enjoyed another fine panorama as the mist cleared. The view west opened up to show the Grey Corries ridge snaking out towards Aonach Mor and Ben Nevis.

Grey Corries Ridge

Grey Corries Ridge

The ridge is about 3km long and undulates up and down but never drops much below the 1000m mark so it was easy savour the views and the sun when it was out. Near the far end of the ridge is Stob Coire an Laoigh and from here another brief up and down led to the top of Stob Coire Easain. The ridge that leads north from here points the way for the long walk out but first I wanted to continue out to Sgurr Choinnich Mhor which lay to the south west. It was a bit of a drop and then steep climb up Sgurr Choinnich Mhor before a food stop and then the return to Stob Coire Easien. After a stop and chat to a fellow walker I set off down and back to the car. Arriving back at the car at 5.30pm saw the completion of an 11 hour round trip and welcome relief when taking my boots off. A half hour drive back to the campsite and it was time for a hot shower and then tea. It had been a while since doing three walks in a row and the start of Saturdays walk was a bit of an effort. I travelled back down to Glencoe and then into Glen Etive to climb Stob Coir'an Albannaich & Meall nan Eun. The guy who parked next to me was doing the same so I said I'd probably see him later. I saw him behind me briefly when entering the birch wood on the lower slopes but then nothing until around the 700m mark after a tough climb up the grassy hillside. The mist was starting to come down so I was just rechecking my map and the route ahead. We ended up chatting and completing the walk together. The mist stayed down around 700-800m and so there where no views until descending down from Meal nan Eun by which time our party had grown to three. David had joined me and Neil while we were having lunch at the top. I suppose we thought if we were going to loose the way we may as well do it together. The last few kilometres were heavy going on the boggy ground which had also been churned up a bit by the resident highland cows. Arriving back at the car we noticed that the tops were now just about clear of mist, a shame it they hadn't a few hours earlier.

The mist's away

End of the day and the mist had magically cleared

Saturday evening I ventured into Fort William for a fish supper and a couple of pints of dark island beer, very welcome after three good days. I didn't have a walk left in me for Sunday so I just took my time having breakfast and packing up camp before taking it easy on the return journey. I stopped for lunch just outside Aviemore at loch Morlich listening to a re-run of Kenny Everett on radio two's 40th birthday celebration, a nice treat for the end of a good weekend.

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