Buchaille Etive Beag sits in the shadow of the iconic Buchaille Etive Mor, the ‘Great Herdsman of Glen Etive’ at the eastern edge of Glencoe. It’s a smaller walk, and consists of a ridge with a Munro at either end, Stob Coire Raineach at the north and the higher Stob Dubh at the south. Even though it stands in it’s neighbours shadow it still sees plenty of visitors, and there is a good path all the way up.
The path starts at a small car park at NN 188 562, and climbs upwards almost immediately. No long walk in here, just immediate height gain. Today I was with Glasgow HF Outdoor Club on a led walk, which gave me a chance to relax a bit, no need to look at the map every five minutes. Not that it was really necessary, the visibility was reasonable and the path was clearly defined.
As we climbed up I could see across to my nemesis, The Aonach Eagagh Ridge. Having tried it once I’m in no hurry to return, although a mate of mine insists I’d love it. I’m not sure going on a ‘brown trouser’ walk could be described as love. With the wind as it is today I’m glad I’m not on it anyway.
I can also see down to a much photographed cottage, where in 1999 I’d worked as an extra on the film ‘Complicity’ with Jonny Lee Miller, Keeley Hawes and Brian Cox. I was one of a dozen armed policemen dotted around the hillside, it’s not often you get to walk around Glencoe with an MP5 sub-machine gun! As filming was winding down for the evening the owner of the cottage came out to visit us- Sir Jimmy Saville OBE himself! A most bizarre day indeed, and not one to forget.
There were deer on the north west slopes of the hill, unconcerned with our group, and it was not long before we reached the bealach between the two hills. Last time I was up here we did the north peak first, this time it was to be the southern one.
We had a break at the bealach and then started upwards, and although it’s only 500m to the cairn on top of the 902m intermediate and unnamed summit, it’s steep, with around 150m gained in height.
Once up the ridge stretches off to the south west, before the final pull up to the twin summited Stob Dubh.
The northernmost peak, at 958m is the higher of the two, although we visited both- just to be sure! The views from here are stunning, down Loch Etive, with the massive horned bulk of Ben Starav prominent on it’s eastern shore and the Corbett Ben Trilleachan on it’s western side. Ben Starav is still on my to do list, and a plan is already forming about how to tackle it…
Returning to the bealach it was time for most people to ditch rucksacks for the short journey up to Stob Coire Raineach.
At only 400m distance and with a gain of 175m it’s not long before we had ascended the stony path, and we were soon at the cairn for the obligatory summit photo.
From here Scotlands highest point, Ben Nevis is clearly visible, it’s giant fin shape rising above all the other hills to the north. Buchaille Etive Mor, the Aoanach Eagach Ridge, Ben Nevis, Rannoch Moor, Schiehallion, all famous names, and all visible from this one spot. Do views get much better?
We returned to the bealach for the final time, where rucksacks were put on for the drop down to the glen. From the car park it was only a short drive to the Kingshouse Hotel, and after climbing the hill in the shadow of the ‘Big Boochle’ it was fitting to have a beer in the bar which is overshadowed by it as well. We could have sat all evening watching the brown trout dart around in the River Etive, but home was calling. At times like this you wish you could stay, but it’s not to be. We are only visitors, no doubt sure to return.