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A blog of our mountain adventures in Scotland, hiking, biking, rock-scrambling and more !

West of Etive

21 November 2015
Heading up John and Ken were leading our day on Sgurr na h-Ulaidh and Beinn Fhionnlaidh, two of the Munros west of Glen Etive. These mountains can be approached from the west - from Glens Coe and Creran respectively, or from Invercharnan to the south-east. The south-eastern approach means both can be done in a day - so that's for us !

Here's John's thoughts on the day !

We set off up the fairly new forestry track (not shown on OS maps) that which skirts the houses of Invercharnan, and made our way quickly past the unsightly clear-felling to the open hillside after 3k. The weather was cold and wintery, the wind and snow of the previous night having given way to calm and cloudy conditions, but with some wonderful winter light.

Icicles There is initially a boggy approach to Sgurr na h-Ulaidh, but it was improved by being semi-frozen underfoot, and indeed there was a surprising amount of ice around for so early in the season. There are some steeper rocky sections as you gain height, and as any semblance of a path was obscured by snow, we picked our way upwards carefully but easily enough. At the summit we had great views of Bidean nam Bian, Ballachulish and Beinn a'Bhethir, and back to Ben Starav, Ben Cruachan and of course our nest summit.

The direct approach to Beinn Fhionnlaidh is very rocky, so a detour south-west is called for, skirting the crags, before cutting back and onto the north-east ridge. It is steep, but again we were assisted by the frozen turf and made good progress onto the ridge. Here Ken prospected the way towards the summit, skirting the subsidiary top at 841m, and apart from an icy, rocky step, the way was simple enough all the way to the summit.

Glen Etive It felt distinctly wintery on the top, with brooding views interspersed with bright shafts of sunlight, and that special light that you only get at this time of year. After a snack and some photos, we returned to the low point on the ridge, and the good path that drops obliquely down towards Glen Charnan. It was head torches out as we descended, and we carefully crossed the first corrugated iron bridge on the Allt Gaiorean. The second had lost all its iron, and the poles were too icy to balance across, so we gingerly splashed across, being very careful on the iced boulders, but assisted by the poles as a hand rail. It was then just a torch-lit plod back down the track to the cars.

Epic day ! The re-ascent between these hills is not insignificant, and it makes it a good day out, particularly in winter conditions. We were surprised just how icy it was, and along with the weather it made for a splendid first day out of the winter-season for all.

Photos were taken by Andrew Pennill



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