Hills: Stob Coire Sgreamhach, Bidean nam Bian and the Four Tops (Reach Out
I'll be There!)
Date: Friday 26th May 2023
Company: Myself and Ann-Marie
Distance: 16.9km, Ascent: 1645m
Time: 8Hrs 55Mins
With a surgical appointment scheduled for yesterday
to excise another skin cancer, I was keen to get out on the hill on Friday
as it will likely be a number of weeks before I can return to the hills
therefore drove to Glen Etive on Thursday evening, where I parked-up for the
night, to allow for an early start. On Friday morning, I drove from Glen
Etive to the Buachaille Etive Beag car park for an ascent of Bidean nam
Bian, Stob Coire Sgreamhach and their four Munro Tops.
some research in advance of undertaking this walk, I knew of two potential
routes from the A82 to gain access to Beinn Fhada's NE ridge. I could either
ascend steeply from Coire Gabhail (the Lost Valley) or ascend steeply up the
nose. I opted for an ascent via the nose.
At 5.40 on Friday morning
we set off walking towards Beinn Fhada's nose.
As we walked towards the nose I studied our intended route of ascent
i.e. a cleft avoiding the crags. While this route of ascent was not
unduly difficult in good weather, I would not have enjoyed attempting a
first ascent of the nose in low cloud. If coming this way, if you find
yourself having to put hand to rock to ascend crag(s), you are not taking
the easiest route up.
Steep nose of Beinn Fhada:
On reaching the Allt Lairig Eilde we had to descend a little to find
a way across.
Crossing the Allt Lairig Eilde:
Beyond the allt, we progressed to the base of the nose before starting
Commencing ascent of the nose of Beinn Fhada:
I found the ascent of the nose easier than anticipated. The only thing I
didn't enjoy was the midge. Gotta love summer in Scotland
Ascending the nose of Beinn Fhada:
Thinking positively, a steep ascent means you gain height quickly and
the views looking down to Glen Coe were pretty good.
View during the ascent of the steep nose of Beinn Fhada:
We had a brief rest on reaching easier ground on Beinn Fhada's NE ridge
before commencing our way along the ridge.
Onto Beinn Fhada's NE ridge:
Beinn Fhada's NE ridge includes two Munro Tops neither of which I had
Traversing Beinn Fhada's NE ridge:
View to Beinn Fhada's tops with Stob Coire Sgreamhach beyond:
At the summit of the NE Top of Beinn Fhada:
The ascent of the main summit of Beinn Fhada is steep but not difficult.
Final ascent of Beinn Fhada:
At the summit of Beinn Fhada:
Beyond the summit of Beinn Fhada and the first Munro, Stob Coire
Sgreamhach, lies the Bad Step. From a distance the Bad Step looks
initimidating and from close-up the Bad Step looks even worse. I am not sure
if walkers ever ascend directly up the rocks here as the grade looks more
like climbing than scrambling. There is however a fairly straight-forward
route up to the left of the crag which is basically a series of rock steps.
This route is still steep and can be wet so care needs to be taken if coming
The Bad Step:
As per the ascent of the nose, I found the ascent of the Bad Step easier
View during ascent of gully left of the Bad Step:
I really liked the view looking back along Beinn Fhada's ridge from
above the Bad Step.
Looking back along Beinn Fhada's ridge from above the Bad Step:
Beyond the Bad Step we encountered a sheep on the path.
Thou shalt not pass:
On reaching the summit of Stob Coire Sgreamhach it was disappointing to
get no views as we were now walking in cloud. It's always easier to navigate
when you can see where you are going, so for the next few hours, walking in
limited visibility, I referred frequently to the map.
At the summit of Stob Coire Sgreamhach:
From the summit of Stob Coire Sgreamhach we made our way down to the col
between it and Bidean nam Bian passing the top of the eroded mess of a track
leading up from Coire Gabhail.
Beinn Fhada ridge during descent of Stob Coire Sgreamhach:
From the col we then commenced our ascent towards the summit of Bidean
Bidean nam Bian from col:
Ascending NW ridge of Bidean nam Bian:
Reaching the summit of Bidean nam Bian brought back some fond memories.
In October 2005, I ascended Bidean nam Bian to complete my first round of
Munros. On now again reaching its summit, I have five Munros remaining to
complete a second round of Munros. While it has taken me eighteen years to
get from completing round one to almost completing round two, I have in
between also ascended all the Corbetts, Grahams, Donalds and Tops, Furth,
and many Munro Tops.
At the summit of Bidean nam Bian:
At the summit of Bidean nam Bian, my final Munro (October 2005):
With two Munro Tops and two Munros now ascended, we next had to
undertake an out and back to ascend our third Munro Top of the day, Stob
Coire nam Beith.
Minor top en-route to Stob Coire nam Beith:
The walk out to the summit of Stob Coire nam Beith and back was
Stob Coire nam Beith:
At the summit of Stob Coire nam Beith:
From the summit of Stob Coire nam Beith we had to return to the summit
of Bidean nam Bian before commencing our descent via our fourth and final
Munro Top, Stob Coire nan Lochan.
The descent from Bidean nam Bian to
Stob Coire nan Lochan is steep!
Looking back at steep descent from Bidean nam Bian:
Ascent of Stob Coire nan Lochan:
Stob Coire nan Lochan is a hill of many boulders.
Ascending Stob Coire nan Lochan:
It was great to reach the summit of our fourth and final Munro Top, Stob
Coire nan Lochan.
At the summit of Stob Coire nan Lochan:
From the summit of Stob Coire nan Lochan, I expected to find the start
of a path leading down. The summit was engulfed in cloud with almost no
visibility. With cliffs all around I put aside my GPS and got out my old reliable
map and compass to ensure
we set off on the correct bearing. Just as I got the bearing, three people
appeared out of the low cloud from the bearing I had just worked out which
was great confirmation that heading down over the boulders was the correct
route and that there was no visible path!
As we commenced our descent
we dropped below the cap of cloud and reassuringly saw our route below.
Descending the boulder-covered NW ridge of Stob Coire nan Lochan:
As we made our way down Stob Coire nan Lochan the cloud decided to lift
above the summits providing great views back to Bidean nam Bian. I wish I
had a pound for every time I have had no views at the summit but on descent
Looking back to Bidean nam Bian and Stob Coire nam Beith:
View down towards Glen Coe:
Looking back to Stob Coire nan Lochan:
We continued our descent out towards Aonach Dubh.
Before reaching the col between Aonach Dubh and Stob Coire nan Lochan,
we made our way down trackless grassy hillside to eventually pick-up traces
of a path before reaching the excellent quality Coire nan Lochan track.
Heading towards Aonach Dubh:
Looking back to Stob Coire nan Lochan:
Once onto the Coire nan Lochan track it was plain-sailing back down to
Onto the Coire nan Lochan track:
On reaching the base we followed a track running parallel to the A82
before having to walk back along the A82. In comparison to tackling the nose
of Beinn Fhada and negotiating the Bad Step, walking along the A82 was by
far the most dangerous part of the day. While most drivers are courteous and
provide space on passing a walker, others are ar$eholes who would happily
En-route to reaching the Buachaille Etive Beag car park we
passed the Meeting of the Three Waters.
The Meeting of the Three Waters:
This was a fantastic day out
Bidean nam Bian is effectively a range of mountains which demand HUGE
respect. There is lots of steep ground
which require appropriate skills and experience. In winter, Bidean nam Bian
is even more dangerous with added