The Mountain's Silhouette

Hiking and backpacking in the mountains of Scotland

Buachaille Etive Beag

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Time: 3hrs 8 mins
Distance: 8.79km
Ascent: 920m
Munros: Stob Coire Raineach (925m), Stob Dubh (958m)
Weather: Early cloud and mist, clearing with sunshine later
Route: Click to view

I wanted something short to round out my weekend in Glen Coe and after perusing a few reports and the maps, settled on the “wee Buchaille” or Buachaille Etive Beag as a good target. There were rumours of a very boggy approach but I am pleased to report that the NTS have completed their pathwork in this area and there is now a brilliant approach path and staircase all the way up the mountain. This now has to be one of the easiest and most approachable Munros for all abilities. It was so good that I made it up and down in just a shade over three hours and didn’t see anyone until I was on my way back down! This was great as it gave me two empty summits.

The walk starts from the large parking place just off the A82. I was the first car there at about 8:30am. The tops all around were shrouded in cloud but the forecast promised a slow clearing during the course of the morning so I was optimistic. I threw a waterproof, a bit of food and some water in my daysack and headed off up the path.

This was the same track I used a couple of years ago with my Uncle on our approach to Bidean nam Bian via the nose of Beinn Fhada. The hills around were still shrouded in cloud but I was getting increasing views down Glen Coe.

A short distance up the track there is a clear branch. The right hand branch continues down the Lairig Gartain. I took the left hand option which very soon after turned into a long, steep series of rock steps that climbed quickly all the way up to the Bealach. The cloud was still quite persistent so without much of a pause I continued left and up to the summit of Stob Coire Raineach.

There was a good path all the way up the shattered rock terraces. With the place to myself I continued north for some distance to get views into Glen Coe and down Rannoch Moor. The clouds were beginning to shred into tatters but it was a slow process as I sat patiently munching on an apple.

I did get a view from time to time but after ten or so minutes decided to continue on my way. I dropped back down to the bealach and then continued south up the steep slope of the Buachaille’s unnamed middle top. There was a badly eroded section near the summit at 902m but otherwise there was very little to trouble me. As I climbed the conditions improved and there were glimpses of blue sky.

I now had a view down the rest of the ridge which was steadily clearing. Behind me there was a view back to Stob Coire Raineach as well as across the Lairig Gartain to Buachaille Etive Mor.

The rise to Stob Dubh was impressive, the culmination of a winding ridge that climbed steeply up at the very end.

It didn’t take too long to bimble along the ridge and then climb up the final rocky slopes to the summit.

I paused briefly at the summit cairn before continuing on south to get the much praised view down over Loch Etive. With the clouds now clearing nicely the view lived up to the expectations. This is one incredible viewpoint and I had it all to myself. I sat down here and had a third breakfast whilst enjoying the views. The cloud now was only really hanging around the Bidean massif, and even that was now clearing.

After this it was time to head back - I still had the long drive back to Aberdeen ahead of me. I reversed my outward route back along the ridge, passing through a small cloud and then dropping down the steps from the bealach. Here I met the first other punters of the day, all heading up towards the bealach.

I took my time going down, enjoying the views up to Bidean but before too long I was back at the much more crowded car park. It had taken me just over three hours for the two Munros. After a quick change of shoes I was back in the car and driving off. Rain continued to make Glen Coe and Rannoch Moor interesting and I stopped to get a quick shot of the Buachaille.

The drive home was broken up by delicious fish and chips in the Real Food Cafe at Tyndrum where it was hot and sunny. It definitely seemed like the east was getting the weather better today.

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