Trip report- 9th August 2011 -Bidean nam Bian & Lost Valley of Glen Coe

Route : Glen Coe Campsite- A82-Loch Achtriochtan- The chasm of An t-stron – An t-stron –Stob Coire nan Beith -Bidean nam Bian- Lost Valley of Glen Coe-Meeting of the Three Waters- Achtriochtan-A82- Glen Coe Campsite

In sharp contrast to my previous walk in Wester Ross, the weather was partly sunny and warm as I left the campsite in the morning.  As we were travelling with our motor-home, I walked from the campsite to the edge of Loch Achtriochtan. This meant a walk along the roadside verge of the A82 and I left the side of the carriageway at intervals to take the path which appeared at random along stretches of the road. It would have been nicer to have had a footpath all the way along, but despite the A82 being one of the main arteries of the road network going north in Scotland, it was not that busy.

Walking along the A82 at Glen Coe

My main objective today was to climb Bidean nam Bian (meaning Chief of the Hills in Gaelic) and pronounced  Beed-yan nam Ee-yann.   A Munro and at 1150 metres (3773 feet) the highest peak in the Glen Coe area and the 23rd highest of the 284 Munros.  A Munro a term well-known to British walkers and climbers  but possibly not to readers outside of the UK is a mountain in Scotland 3000 feet or higher (914m +) named after Sir Hugh Munro  who devised the original list.

My return would be by the Lost valley of Glen Coe, reputedly a hiding place for cattle stole by the McDonald clan.  History & Gaelic lessons over and back to the walking!

After 3 km (1.8 miles) I turned off the road on to steep rocky path that leads you past a series of waterfalls through the chasm of An t-stron.

Start of the path up to An t-stron

A steady climb, nothing too strenuous got me up near to the first waterfall in a relatively short space of time. The sun was out, there was a bit of breeze and only a few midges out. Pretty ideal conditions for walking in Scotland.

Foxglove (Digitalis spp)

Eventually the path flattened out, and the walking was easier. I dropped down into a gully and walked along the stream-bed for a while, before the path climbed back out to reach a second waterfall.

Looking right down into the valley

The hardest part of the walk was coming up, a stiff climb over a considerable boulder field that ran up close to the ridge.  Not at all easy walking over large boulders and real potential for ankle twisting – tread carefully !

Eventually I came to the ridge which runs from An t-Stron up to Stob Coire nam Beith and beyond. I turned right along the narrow ridge and climbed the short distance to An t-Stron with its flat top at 900m (just under 3000 feet).  The views were superb and I could see for miles around in the clear conditions.

Looking towards Loch Leven from An t-Stron

After a quick rest, I made my way to the next objective –  Stob Coire nam Beith  at 1107m- (3632 feet) along a narrow ridge as the photo below show.

Up on Stob Coire nam Beith more great views and a good place to stop for lunch. Here are some views.

Summit Stob Coire nam Beith

Looking at Stob Coire nan Lochan

Bidean nam Bian

Then onto Bidean nam Bian, the highest point on the trip, with more fantastic views from the summit.

Time to move on after taking a photo break and talking to some German walkers who were looking forward to walking in this area, and were pretty disappointed to hear what I had to say about the weather forecast.  I told them that for the next few days it was going to be bad, so make the most of today. Turned out to be terrible, that night it rained non stop for 12 hours and the forecast was for a further 100mm (4 inches).  This was the last day of our holiday we drove back the next day, but I pity anyone trying to walk in the hills over the next few days.

I reached the ridge which ran up to Stob Coire nan Lochan, and made my way towards it coming off it steeply towards to bealochans several hundred metres below. I had done my climbing for today and was now a steep course back to A82 via the Lost valley of Glen Coe.  I took full advantage of not following the path down and it gave me time to meander down and explore. I was in no real hurry and I like this when you don’t have to be anyway at a certain time.

Stob Coire nan Lochan

Making my way towards the Lost Valley of Glen Coe

After making my way past a series of small waterfalls I spied the main path which I followed, with the valley opening up, it was an impressive sight.

Lost Valley of Glen Coe

Eventually I came to a really flat area, I guess from all the stone and boulders; where the river running from the top of the valley spills out into a flood plain after heavy rain.

After this flat bit, the valley falls away steeply and changes in character completely, with the vegetation being much more luxuriant, trees tightly packing the steep valley sides constantly bathed from the spray of waterfalls.

Around this area, I started to meet a lot of people, day trippers not walkers that were coming up from the car parks on A82, most were French or Germans. In fact throughout our trip to Scotland we had met literally hundreds of Europeans. Some-one in the Scottish Tourist Board had done a very good selling job!

The valley finally levelled out and I crossed a wide wooden bridge and followed the footpath from the Meeting of the Three Waters to Achtriochtan and then along the A82 for a distance of 6km back to the campsite.  A great day out in near perfect walking conditions and a fitting end to our holiday.

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28 Responses to Trip report- 9th August 2011 -Bidean nam Bian & Lost Valley of Glen Coe

  1. GeoffC says:

    A fantastic mountain walk and pictures, a great end to the Scotland trip.
    I’ve heard that the Germans are fond of the popular areas of Scotland, especially the WHW around Kingshouse.

  2. nice one, the Lost Vally is a pretty wonderful place and you got a great day for it.

  3. Great post, Mark. I did the same route a couple of years ago, but the other way round, starting with the Lost Valley – a brill walk, which ever way you do it!

  4. backpackingbongos says:

    A lovely day out that looked to be. Great to get on the hills in good weather, considering what was to come. Always fancied a climb of those hills.

  5. -maria- says:

    Fantastic views! Not having to be anyway at a certain time is absolutely the most enjoyable way to walk.

    I liked the lessons in history and Gaelic 🙂

  6. A fine trip with fine photographs. It’s a very special place in winter, but I guess from your home base you’d have to be very lucky with holiday timings to get good conditions.

  7. John F. Kay says:

    Great post, but it was Sir Hugh Munro, not sir Hector Munro, who tabulated them big boys.

  8. swanscot says:

    Lovely pictures of a grand walk. I climbed these hills in a group very early on in my hillwalking life and thought I was going to die with the exertion needed! I need to do the round again and enjoy it

  9. Hendrik says:

    Stunning photos, Mark.

    • Hendrik, thanks very much.I photographed with a Lumix TZ6 a bit older than the one you were reviewing the other day but produces good shots. It always helps having great scenery as well 🙂

  10. Martin Rye says:

    Fantastic end to your holiday. Majestic mountains and great photos of them.

  11. McEff says:

    Hi Mark. Bidean was the first Munro I ever climbed, back in 1980, and I took exactly the same route as you. I don’t recall much and I have no pictures, so this stirred some dormant brain cells. The only thing that sticks out in my mind was that the drop down into the Lost Valley from the ridge was pretty steep. Cheers.

  12. surfnslide says:

    Hi Mark. The whole Bidean range is classic West Highland terrain and a truly superb mountain. It is tough as you start pretty much at sea level and it’s a big bugger! I’ve done the full traverse over all the major summits once and several shorter days scrambling around on the various ridges – all top notch. If Bidean has whetted your appetite for the Glencoe area then both Buachaille Etive Mor and Beag are equally good and the Grey Corries and Mamores a bit further north are also superb high level ridge walks with little difficulty. So much Scotland so little time.

  13. surfnslide says:

    Forgot to say I enjoyed the post and the cracking photos!

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