It was time to climb the Bookil! Ally and I had almost forgotten we had booked a few days off work to make the most of a bank holiday weekend. After our Cairngorms trip we were blessed with a high in the West side of the country. Off we went – the decision was unanimous – Buachaille Etive Mor.
This iconic Scottish mountain was definitely on our list this year. We camped halfway down the road the night before in the van and set off the next morning, only to be met with disappointment at the sight of the Bookil – half-covered in clag.
There was no way I wanted to climb this in clag – I wanted to see the views and do it some justice. So we hung about for half an hour, sitting in the van because the midgies were horror, watching the cloud base rise and fall, rise and fall, guessing if people going up the path would choose Curved Ridge route at the crossroads or the goat track. We were going goat track!
Half an hour later the cloud base had definitely risen and the top was almost cloud-free so we decided to go for it.
The path is exceedingly good and, I believe has been improved greatly over recent years. I had assumed from looking at the route from the roadside that the great scree chute was the path up, but it is actually a burn and the path winds its way to the right hand side of it.
Entering into Coire na Tulaich was fantastic, very grand with good views back the way.
There were not too many people either to spoil it for us. As we neared the top, I said hello to someone coming down – the three young guys in front of us turned round at the sound of my voice, panic-stricken that we had caught up with them and they immediately tried to speed up. We passed them though, the last bit was a bit of a scramble over rocks and that slowed them down. I looked round as I reached the top to see one of the guys trying his best to edge Ally out the way so he could be first up but to no avail – it was quite funny!
By now the cloud had lifted even further and we could enjoy some lovely views down Glen Etive. We began up the good path through the scree and rocks towards the first Munro summit of Stob Dearg.
We passed a couple and they informed us there was a raven sat there waiting for his lunch. Ally misheard them and asked ‘who’s Raymond?’ 🙂 You could see the giant raven from quite some distance – I believe he is well kent up this hill. As we passed him at very close quarters he didn’t flinch.
We reached the summit and sat down to enjoy the views and have a cuppie.
The view across vast, lonely Rannoch Moor and pointed peak of Schiehallion beyond was splendid.
We began the walk back along to the bealach and then the ridge across. We could see down the glen to Ben Starav and the surrounding mountains – it really was stunning.
The bulk of Stob na Doire blocks the next Munro summit of Stob na Broige but it was an easy going climb. Although on reaching the bealach on the other side and looking back up, we couldn’t believe how big it looked.
On reaching the summit of Stob na Broige we stopped again to admire the views and ooh and ahh. Glencoe / Etive are so impossibly picturesque, especially so on a blue sky day like this. I’m so glad we did go up in the end.
From here it was an easy wander back down to the bealach to follow the steep path back down into Lairig Gartain.
Again I think the Lairig Gartain path must have been upgraded recently as my SMC guide says it can be mucky and boggy but it was all on great path.
What a fine walk this was. We made our way back to the van to enjoy a post-walk drink at the Kingshouse and look back from where we had just came.
The Kingshouse had notices up to say they encouraged campers (very forward-thinking) so we enquired if we could camp in the van outside. They said of course, and pointed us in the direction of the back road of the hotel, with a backdrop of the Buachaille. If Carlsberg made camping spots…
This meant we could fairly enjoy a nice relaxing tea and drinks back at the hotel. Unfortunately we were lumbered with an annoying and boring drunk couple who wouldn’t stop bragging about their lifestyle as ski instructors, couldn’t for the life of them understand why we would want to spend hours walking in the hills (I didn’t question their skiing decisions), and also made sure we knew they had been to many, many Michelin starred restaurants but that the one they had ate in last night was terrible. Yawn….time for bed…laters, smug bores! With that we went back to the van and marvelled at the Bookil in the moonlight and all the stars. Aye – why would we want to spend hours in the hills?!