Any readers of my recent posts will know my niece Kaitlin has been spending more time with me at the gym and out on a wee hike recently around Glencoe. The plan then this weekend with the great forecast (and the early spring cool air promising to keep the midges away) was to do a “proper hill”.
Kaitlin (my own “wee bookil”) continually impresses me with her focus in the gym and her achievements at Uni and now her new career, and I knew she would have no problem with a Munro. Getting her up at 7.45am on a Saturday was probably going to be the bigger challenge but the promise of a roll and sausage and her being able to sleep for the 2 odd hour drive were enough to seal the deal.
Pickup at her flat in Glasgow, with roll and square in hand achieved, we set off for Glencoe and Buachaille Etive Beag (the little herdsman of Etive) or as most of us know it… the wee bookil.
Kaitlin didn’t end up sleeping – instead her, my wife and I chatted the whole road up past Loch Lomond and Tyndrum, up past the Bridge of Orchy and towards Glencoe. The march sun already up, skies blue and excitement all round to get out on a hill on a rare ultra-sunny day.
We parked up and off we set, up the well constructed path to the lower slopes of the wee bookil with the 3 sisters on our right, the Bein Fhada ridge flanking us as we rose.
Out of the sun and in the lee of the hill, it was still very cool on this early spring day so we moved at pace until reaching the large rocky steps which make their way steadily up to the bealach , small snow patches remining at 600m or so. Sun climbing, giving us heat and energy to push on and up.
As usual we stopped for a pre summit lunch (its only 11.30 but hey…) in some sheltered rocks just below the bealach, enjoying the views and chat )Kailtin has a sharp and wicked sense of humour it seems.. a family trait !) and considered our next move – North summit or South.. today only 1 was the plan.
A few guides were out with groups doing winter skills training like walking in crampons, ice axe arrest on the slops of Stob Dubh – essential for winter walking, or for bigger objectives like the alps and something you really MUST do to be safe , and keep your party safe in the mountains.
On reaching the bealach and seeing that the north summit (Stob Coire Reanach) was dry and snow free while its southerly neighbor Stob Dubh was covered from the bealach up , and it being Kaitlin’s first Munro we elected for the quicker, easier North. (its my 5th time up BEB and can confirm the South West ridge to the summit is a superb walk in all seasons , so we will be back!)
Bellies full and energy renewed we made for the rocky path to the summit , stopping to take in the breathtaking views across to Buachaille Etive Mor , its 3 peaks (only 2 counting as a Munro!) and long spine a rarer sight for many than its iconic pyramidal North face seen from the A82 through Glencoe and on many a mountain calendar and photo wall.
Haglofs future model? Lunch time smiles and a 1st Munro summit ahead
Its a steep final push to the top of Stob Coire Reanach (958m) , the path less distinct and rockier than the lower slopes, but soon the summit is reached and the whole of Glencoe and Rannoch Moor are revealed in all their glory.
All you can do is sit on one of the many flat topped boulders and outcrops to drink it all in, from The Big Bookil directly east to Bidean nam Bian west of us , and even north west across the tops and Aonach Eagach to the mighty Ben (Ben Nevis 1344m), today completely banked in snow in a great arc from Carn Mor Dearg summit and along the CMD arete (another spectacular and challenging route) to the Ben summit plateau.
The skies above are blue and the sun is glinting off snow dusted mountain summits all around, there are very few sights more beautiful than Scotland’s mountains, in spring, on a blue sky day with winters snsow hanging on for one final hurrah! ( in my humble opinion ) – and I look forward to many, many more – hopefully with Kaitlin at my side to enjoy them.
Quick descent down the path and carefully across the snow patches to meet Sam my wife who due to a minor surgery on her toes had been chilling in the valley before coming back up to about 500m to meet us.
Car park reached , boots off, comfy trainers on we headed into Glencoe village for the customary and always delightful coffee and cake at Crafts & Things (if you haven’t been make sure you do !) before heading back to Glasgow and a feet up and movie night – best of times!