Hills: Stob Ban, Mullach nan Coirean and Bidein Bad na h-Iolaire
Date: Sunday 17th June 2012
Company: Just myself
Distance: 19km, Ascent: 1475m
Time: 7Hrs 15Mins

I set out yesterday on the monthly MMC Bus Meet, destination Glen Nevis.
Instead of my usual indecision on the bus as to what to do, and who to join, I had a route planned out a few days in advance of the meet .

With a seven and three-quarter hour walking window available, I knew that an ascent of Bidein Bad na h-Iolaire (Marilyn) on its own was going to be far too short a day. I therefore looked into combining it with a second-round ascent of Stob Ban (Munro) and Mullach nan Coirean (Munro) in the Mamores.

On paper, using Naismith’s rule, it certainly looked achievable in the allotted time. My only time/terrain uncertainty was the descent via the North Ridge of Mullach nan Coirean.

I decided to go for it - a hill cocktail of two Munros and a Sub2000ft Marilyn.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

I knew that time was going to be precious so I went straight into sixth gear from the outset, only stalling once to take off my fleece.

Setting off along the track from Achriabhach:

I had only walked along this track once previously, in August 1997, en-route to Sgurr a’Mhaim.

Allt Coire a’Mhusgain waterfall:

Looking back along Glen Nevis:

After passing the turn-off towards Sgurr a’Mhaim, it was new ground for me.

Looking back from track alongside Allt Coire a’Mhusgain:

Except for sub one-minute stops to have a drink, check the map, take photos and add/remove layers, I didn’t stop throughout the walk, as I didn’t want to miss the bus back or be late .

Heading for the col between Sgurr an Iubhair and Stob Ban:

Heading for col between Sgurr an Iubhair and Stob Ban:

My log from 1997 states, "the steep cliffs on the North-side of Stob Ban are quite spectacular". In 2012, I am glad to say that this is still the case .

Stob Ban:

Allt Coire a’Mhusgain waterfall:

On reaching the col, between the ex-Munro Sgurr an Iubhair and Stob Ban, it was nice to get some views to the South across to Garbh Bheinn , Mam na Gualainn and the Aonach Eagach.

Aonach Eagach ridge from col between Sgurr an Iubhair and Stob Ban:

From a distance, the ascent of Stob Ban looks a bit intimidating however in reality there are no difficulties or exposure just a few sections of very easy hands-on.

Stob Ban:

Glen Nevis (zoom):

Ascent of Stob Ban:

Final ascent to summit:

At the summit, I had to get my compass out to confirm the correct way off as the summit was capped in cloud. No summit views .

Cairn at the summit of Stob Ban:

During the descent from Stob Ban onto the ridge towards Mullach nan Coirean, it was interesting to see the change in rock type from grey quartzite to red granite.

During the descent, I said a quick hello to a few others from the Club who were ascending Stob Ban via its North-ridge.

Descent from Stob Ban:

Looking back towards Stob Ban:

Bypass skirts around this section:

As I made my way towards Mullach nan Coirean, I passed a nice crag that looked like it had some good climbing on it.

Nice wee crag just below ridge:

Looking back to nice wee crag:

Kinlochleven (zoom):

By the time I reached the Munro Top of Mullach nan Coirean, I was back into low cloud.

Mullach nan Coirean (SE Top):

In the cloud, I got to within a few feet of a guy standing eating a sandwich before he noticed me. I think I gave him a fright .

Grassy walk from SE Top towards the summit of Mullach nan Coirean:

After climbing on top of the large cairn at the summit of Mullach nan Coirean, I continued along the ridge to have a look at my potential descent via the North-ridge.

Large cairn at the summit of Mullach nan Coirean:

The descent looked really good, so my intended route was still a goer.

Descent of North Ridge towards Bidein Bad na h-Iolaire:

North Ridge descent towards Sgorr Chalum:

During the descent, I got the closest I have ever been to a Ptarmigan with four chicks .
I took numerous photos of the parent bird, but didn’t want to get too close to the chicks in case they ran too far off.




Ptarmigan chick (zoom):

Seeing the Ptarmigan was the highlight of the walk for me.

Looking back to Stob Ban and Mullach nan Coirean:

The descent of the North-ridge was quite pleasant, mostly down grassy slopes.

Descending the wide North Ridge:

Looking towards Bidein Bad na h-Iolaire:

During the descent I was confronted by a six-foot deer fence. However, a short distance away I could see a stile over the fence so I took a slight detour to use the stile.

Deer fence with stile:

The final descent of the North-ridge changed from being pleasant to being quite unpleasant – fairly steep, knee-deep heather and bracken and lots of pesky flies.

Unpleasant descent to West Highland Way track:

Before reaching the West Highland Way track, I also had to climb over a very rusty deer fence. Once on the West Highland Way track, I was able to step back up a gear as the knee-deep heather had slowed me down. The area surrounding the West Highland Way track was a bit like a war zone. A complete mess of felled trees, with all the branches left lying on the ground with no re-planting. Don’t know who manages the forest here but they would appear to be a bunch of numpties. I spoke to a couple of walkers on the track, just about to complete the West Highland Way, who commented on the mess.

On the West Highland Way track:

Looking back at steep descent:

Next I followed the West Highland Way to the start of the ascent of Bidein Bad na h-Iolaire. The ascent was quite unpleasant, via knee to waist-high bracken.

Start of ascent of Bidein Bad na h-Iolaire:

On reaching the top of the bracken, I stopped to brush off numerous ticks that I could see climbing up my clothes – was glad I was wearing a light t-shirt. Horrible things!

Looking back at the horrible ascent through high bracken:

Conscious of the time, being a bit behind Naismith’s reckoning, I ascended Bidein Bad na h-Iolaire as quickly as I could.

Bidein Bad na h-Iolaire:

Looking back along the route back to Stob Ban from Bidein Bad na h-Iolaire:

Quite a nice wee hill, except for the short section of high bracken during the ascent. Interesting to find another change in rock type this time from granite to slate.

View from the summit of Bidein Bad na h-Iolaire:

View from small viewpoint cairn West of summit:

Looking across to Ben Nevis from the small viewpoint cairn:


During the descent, I used my walking pole like a machete to trash some of the bracken out of my way.

Looking down towards Youth Hostel from West Highland Way track:

On reaching the West Highland Way track, I followed it out to the Youth Hostel with just enough time for a quick pint in a Glen Nevis pub before being picked-up by the bus.

West Highland Way track:

Glad that my route went according to plan .

Respect to four Club Members who set off up Ben Nevis, climbed Tower Ridge in wet, misty conditions and got back down to the bus on time .