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2 to 4 March 2007

A weekend based at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel Bunkhouse

The weekend started slowly, with Alastair delayed at work. But a take-away pizza and light traffic
hastened us on our 300 mile journey in about 5 hours. We got in thanks to the door code the hotel
had provided and had a cosy room for three, but the plastic covered mattresses were a bit disconcerting.
Sheets were provided, but
blankets would have helped distance us from the plastic.
At least the beds were firm, and it was quiet.

Despite our midnight arrival, Friday's forecast was the best of the weekend, so we rose early
and after breakfast in our room (we had to provide our own kettle, etc) headed off down Glen Etive.

Sue and Alastair ascend Ben Starav, with Glen Etive behind  

We started at 9am and enjoyed the unrelenting climb up Ben Starav, especially the section above 800 metres where we had the pleasure of using our crampons for the first time this year. They gave reassurance on the steep, slippery ground, without being essential.

Route up Ben Starav - 19km, 1985 metres ascent - 9.5 hours

High on Ben Starav

The narrow rocky ridge of Stob Coire Dheirg was surprisingly easy, though part of it could have been by-passed on slabby snow to the south. Good fun. Then a descent in a strong breeze to the col at 766m. It was calm here, unlike the windy spot chosen by Sue and Alastair for our lunch stop.

We then contoured over easy ground to a lower col at 618m before heading up one of the more remote Munros - Beinn nan Aighenan - a good new tick for Sue and Al. We met a couple heading down but otherwise saw very few people today.

Crampons were donned for the slippery descent and Sue and Al flew off to bag a third Munro - Glas Bheinn Mhor - in a whiteout, whilst in the company of light snow/rain and a few Ptarmigan I ambled back to the car via the col at 766m and Allt Mheuran. The others returned in fading light, only 30 mins after me, at 6.30.

We enjoyed an excellent meal in the main hotel - it's a good spot to eat and drink - capped with superb sticky toffee pudding.


An awkward lunch spot


On the summit of Beinn nan Aighenan

Saturday brought a more leisurely start, with a good breakfast in the hotel before a drive to Kinlochleven and a stroll up Sgurr Eilde Mor via the west side of Coire an Lochain. We didn't bother with nearby Binnean Beag as that would have created a longer day than we wanted. The west ridge was very steep, but we managed the softish snow without crampons and ambled easily down the south ridge to regain the lochan by its outflow.

Coffee break in the Mamores   Alastair tests the ice - and gets wet...

Near here Alastair tried to walk on water, thinking it was well frozen. Luckily he was fine in the benign weather, and we all enjoyed a second coffee break at the same minor river crossing on the descent. This was followed by a leisurely stroll back to the fleshpots of Kinlochleven, featuring magnificent views down Loch Leven.

Descending towards Loch Eilde Mor, with Coire an Lochan to the right
The view towards Aonach Beag, with Binnean Beag to the right
Above Loch Leven
Our route up Sgurr Eilde Mor - 14km, 1154 metres ascent, 6.5 hours
After more delicious food at the BoO Hotel we were well placed for a quick breakfast in our room before packing up and shooting off to park beside the A82 near Auch Farm for a Sunday morning stroll. Starting at 8.30, Sue and Al rushed off up the Auch Glen in an effort to get up Beinn Mhanach before the predicted dire weather arrived. I couldn't keep up, so soon decided to let them off the leash and pay a visit to Loch Lyon.   By the eroded banks of Gleann Ach
Alastair - confirmed bagger   Sue - bagger
  Loch Lyon
Loch Lyon panorama

The weather held whilst they dashed off past another party who were moving even more slowly than I would have done. I enjoyed the company of Ptarmigan, a Dipper and a friendly Wren. The wren appeared bigger than our garden variety, and seemed to be impersonating the dipper!
Carrion Crows foraged threateningly.

The others rejoined me on the descent and we lunched by the river below the West Highland Railway on luxurious smoked salmon and cream cheese butties etc before heading back to the car just moments before the rain arrived at 1.30. The weather had certainly turned, so we were happy to return home in a deluge having had mainly clear weather on this trip.

  Sue and Alastair's route up Beinn Mhanach - 19km, 913 metres ascent, 5 hours

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