Bidean Nam Bian and friends from Glen Etive
Area: Loch Linnhe to Loch Etive
Munro’s: Beinn Fhionnlaidh, Bidean nam Bian, Sgor na h-Ulaidh, Stob Coire Sgreamhach
Corbetts: Beinn Maol Chaluim
Date walked: 02/06/2012
Time taken: 8.45 hours
Distance: 26.7 km
Saturday was approaching and the weather forecast was fine. I was debating with myself whether or not to have a walk this weekend or just rest because I have been busy bagging lots of munros on quite big walks this year so far and after suffering badly last Saturday on Mullardoc, a couple of weekends off wouldn’t do me any harm. However, with the forecast good weather and the planning of another good round lighting up my few brain cells another good walk was planned. I text Scraggles and Andrew and asked if they had recovered from last weekend and would they like to come for a walk in Glencoe. Scraggles quickly replied that he was otherwise engaged and there was no immediate word from Andrew. So looked like a solo walk again. Good, I can take my time on this one.
Ok, where to go. I didn’t want to travel too far and therefore Cairn a Mhaim from Braemar or 4 Munro’s in Glencoe. Lets plan a new route around Bidean Nam Bian and its close friends. I would start in Glen Etive at the parking area just past Dalness, walk directly up Stob Coire Sgreamhach, onto Bidean nam Bian, find a way down then climb Beinn Maol Chaluim, onto Sgor na h-Ulaidh, then Beinn Fhionnlaidh and walk back to the car park. If I was feeling good I could add Beinn Sgulaird to this walk but that would add 800m of ascent and another 13km so that would be a big ask. So after producing the route, packing my kit and settling in ready for a 0300 alarm Andrew sent me a text saying he was in. Oh dear, this is now going to be tough.
Ok left house at 0400 and arrived at the car park at 0600. Andrew arrived shortly after and we headed through the gate and directly up the steep pathless hillside, rocky at first but then grassy, for the 1000m ascent up to Stob Coire Sgreamhach. The first 600m is tough going and I am quite pleased to see Andrew taking his time following me up. There are a few crags to ascend but in the main it’s not bad and we soon arrive at the Bealach below the spot height and head up the final two steepish ascents arriving at the summit of Stob Coire Sgreamhach after 1hr 40mins from the car. The summit clears as we arrive and the views are extensive.
It’s now an easy walk for 20mins following the path down and then ascending the second munro Bidean nam Bian. Again the views are excellent. Numerous Mountains all around from Beinn a’Bheithir to the West, Aonach Eagach and the mamores and the Ben to North, The Buchailes, Creise and the Clachet Traverse to the East, The Ben Starav round to the South with Ben Sgulaird South West. Awesome views.
Next in the plan is the Corbett Beinn Maol Chaluim. However to get to it there is a very steep pathless descent. It would be too dangerous to try to descend directly to the Beallach below Bidean nam Bian so instead we continue onwards North West for 800m past Bidean nam Bian’s summit and then start heading down the steep boulders and scree for 300m and then traverse South to the grassy Beallach. This route is not for the fainthearted or the inexperienced walker. We now climb up for 50m before dropping the sacks and climbing the quite steep 100m to the summit of the corbet Beinn Maol Chaluim. Its only 0912 in the morning and the sun is blazing. Superb.
We quickly head back down to the sacks and then head down the grassy steep West face of the Corbett heading South West for 800m to the Bealach Fhionnghaill. Looking back up to the Corbett it is clear that my route is the way to go because there are huge cliffs on the Corbett South West face that I would not like to climb never mind try to descend. Its now a steep climb up towards Stob an Fhuarain. Approximately 50m below this spot height we Head directly East across the hillside to the Bealach and then ascend to the summit of Sgor na h-Ulaidh. We have a good stop here taking in the views and having a feast, reflecting on walks, past and the present.
Ben Sgulaird will not be attempted today so only one Munro left to Ascend. However, there is a 500m descent followed by a brutal 400m ascent which certainly proves testing today. We leave the summit and head West for 400m or so to the the Bealach below Cor na Beinne. We had intended to continue on and follow the ridge down to the Bealach 500m below but I decide to take the direct pathless grassy descent down the Corrie. Its easy going, the grass is dry and I am feeling good and have a little run down the grass in places. We arrive at the Bealach and look up. Geez it looks steep. I had planned on ascending South up the ridgeline to the spot height at 841 but it looks like a real beast so instead I pick a line heading West below the cliffs/crags and then South picking my way up through the crags up to the Bealach below Beinn Fhionnlaidh. This is hard work. It takes us 40mins to ascend just over 1km to the Bealach. Its now a reasonable climb up to the summit of Beinn Fhionnlaidh. Another rest is required for the young man. Just don’t know what is wrong with him this week. You would think he had walked a massive walk last week or something and hadn’t recovered.
What a great day. We joke about continuing onto Sgulaird but its not for today. We head back for 1km almost to the point where we ascended to the Beallach and then head South down to meall nan Gobhar. We pick up a good path which takes us down to the dodgy bridges, through the forest and the 3.5km walk back to the car. A fair bit of the tarmac is uphill and Andrew must be feeling energetic as he increases the pace. However I am walking at 7km per hour and that just about keeps the youngster in his place. (This is probably the only time I will get to see him in pain so I am enjoying it)
Another grand day in the hills with a new route and great company.