Maps used Landrangers 50 and 41. Both 1:50.000
It had been the usual long, tedious overnight run up from the south. Something I have never mastered is to sleep on long distance coaches. A change of buses in Glasgow, no chance of getting some breakfast, it was straight off one bus and on to the next. The advantage of using night buses is that days are not wasted on travel. Got off the bus at Kings House, a rather grey, drab sort of day but that was fine for me, I was just darned glad to get off the bus. A tad jaded, I set off down Glen Etive. Road walking is not something I enjoy and I tried to thumb a lift several times. No one stopped, how things have changed, at one time many folk, myself included, often hitch hiked, always certain someone sooner or later would stop for you. People now seem to be hermetically sealed inside their little cocoon, fearful of strangers getting in their car.
It seems an awful thing to say, but those miles down the glen were more of a route march. Little time was spent admiring the scenery. The last time I had come this way, I recall coming off the hill, heading down toward Alltchaorunn. My intention had been to cross the river Etive by the bridge. It had been a shock to find a large, barb wire topped gate barring the way. By the looks of it someone else had hit the same problem. Looking closely, I had noticed that somebody had cut a couple of strands of the barbwire. It had been an awful tussle, but I had managed to peel back the strands of wire and finally, with some difficulty and bad language got over the gate. Before anyone asks, I did climb back up to bend the wire back to where it had been.
Coming around byCoilleitir and feeling hungry I stopped for a break. A squashed pasty went down well, followed by a cheese sandwich. Fortunately I had picked up some extra food when the night coach had made its statutory stop at the motorway services. The steep, rocky slopes of Ben Starav looked a wee bit intimidating, possibly even a little sombre. I noticed a path marked on the map that led up through one of the corries. However, I had opted for a north east ridge which looked doable.
In actual fact, it was not too bad at all. The ground was steep but I made steady progress. The last bit up through a jumble of boulders was a bit more difficult. Thin, wispy grey clouds swirling around had me getting the waterproofs out. Loch Etive, far below, appeared and disappeared. Visibility was poor but I was well aware of the craggy rocks all around me. A narrow spine of rock led me over to Stob Coire Dheirg. Continuing on across to Meall nan Tri Tighearnan I stopped at the bealach, time was running on and I was tired and felt it safer to find a spot for the tent and camp. The ground was boggy but I found a dry'ish spot.
Rain during the night and when I looked out in the morning, everything was grey and wet. Thick cloud drifted over the bealach, dreich. Did the sensible thing, had a brew and settled back for a snooze. By late morning things began to clear. The midges were bad but I was glad to get out of the tent and head up the hill. It was going to be a lazy day. Followed the ridge up to Beinn nan Aighenan. Despite the glowering, scudding clouds, the views were fantastic, far below blue grey lochs and lochans dotted the floor of the glens. Rough country indeed! Once back at the tent, I packed up and made my way back to the ridge I had turned off yesterday. As odd as it may seem, I quite enjoyed working my way up Glas Bheinn Mhor. Drifting damp mist swirled around, coming and going, offering glimpses of the glen far below. The descent called for care, picking my way down through rough rock and boulders. Stopped on the Sron nan Cabar bealach. Found a nice spot for the tent. There was a breeze that kept the midges at bay. The weather has turned colder but the rain has eased off. A short but good day.
Woke to a drizzly morning, but at least it was not clagged in. Spotted a group of deer on a nearby ridge as I packed up. Headed up the hill, how can step slopes hold so much boggy water? My first objective was Stob Coir an Albannaich. It was delight to see the sky clearing and at last I was able to shed the waterproofs. Wonderful views, the river Etive a silvery ribbon, a car moving on the road appeared miniscule from my heady perch.. This is lovely backpacking country, challenging at times and care has to be taken, but it offers so so much scope. The corries and ridges in this area run east-west and I was heading north-south. Thus I had to work carefully with map and compass to find the best route, often up and down steep, rocky ground. There is much pleasure and satisfaction in this. A steady drop off the top and then very carefully eased down a rocky gulley to a watery bealach to then ascent back up to Meall . From there it was a case of working my way down and then up to Meall nan Eun on a broad, rather featureless ridge. Back tracked a little, somehow I had to make my way over toward Meall Odhar, it meant a very steep descent and an equally steep ascent. Heading down to the bealach was not as bad as it seemed, the easiest way was to follow a narrow gully, a lot of the slope was saturated grass and bog, very slippery. The bealach was quite wide small pools, bog and boulders. Working my way up to the ridge was a tussle. Toward the top it grew tricky, I had to hang on to tufts of grass to prevent a fall. An undignified scramble and finally I was on the ridge. That had been the hardest part of the trip. It was worth the effort though, the way on was gentle walking following the ridge over to Stob Bruaich leith and on to Stob Ghabhar. Camped on the Aonach Mor ridge. The weather had been closing in but I managed to get the tent up before a few heavy showers passed through. Watched a buzzard quartering the opposite hillside. Camping high has meant a lot less hassle from the midges.
The rain cleared away early last night, but a heavy dew meant having to pack a wet tent, a nuisance on my last day. Once again I faced another steep descent in to a narrow corrie. The ascent looked doable. Once down in the corrie I then made my over to bealach Euar Choirean. It was then a matter of threading my way uphill through a jumble of boulders to Clach Leathard. The area was devoid of vegetation it was all bare rock. Low cloud was brushing the tops. A quick check of map and compass and then it was a matter of following an undulating ridge over to an unnamed top (1100). Carried on to take in Stob Ghlais. From there I turned back the way I had come. There was a way down off the ridge, a really splendid narrow, curved rocky spine with steep corries on both sides. It dipped down and then rose up to Meall a Bhuiridh. The weather had cleared up and the views where fantastic. Rannoch Moor stretched out in to the distance, its many lochans and lochs glinting in the afternoon light. A vista of hills all around. Unfortunately the ski tow and the accompanying detritus where something of an eyesore. With a bus to catch, I could not linger long. Followed the line of the tow down the hill. The lower section was still operating, carrying tourists up to the first station. The place looked busy, and I got a few odd looks as went through the car park.. Made it Kings House in time to catch the 15:25 bus down to Glasgow. It will then be a wash and clean up in the coach station loo and a fish supper. and finally on to the coach heading south.