3-day backpacking trip in Glen Coe

Last year the Buachaille Etive Mòr was already on our bucket list, but unfortunately, there was not enough time. One more reason to do it this year. The weather forecast looks promising, a lot different than the past three days. Then we got a storm with fierce gusts over us. All the Scottish people were talking about it. We have made an attempt to walk the Mamores mountain range. A hike that consists mainly of steep ridges. Unfortunately, the wind made it impossible to safely complete this hike. Because of the storm, we were forced to walk into the valleys. Our original plan was to start in Glen Nevis valley and then follow the Mamores ridgeline to Kinlochleven. From there we want to follow the WHW to Altnafeadh for one day. And from there we went to the Buachaille Etive Mòr and the Buachaille Etive Beag. But the weather gods thought otherwise. Now we did a 3-day backpacking trip, the Buachaille Etive Mòr, Buachaille Etive Beag and ‘ The lost valley ‘.

Charlotte her parents drop us off at the car park in Altnafeadh. There is a clear path visible, via a bridge we cross the river ‘Coupall’. We pass the white hut ‘ Lagangarbh ‘ of the ‘ Scottish Mountaineering Club ‘, after about two hundred meters we pass a split. Here we keep to the right, the left route goes to the steep walls of the Stob Dearg to climb it with climbing equipment. We want to camp as high as possible. After half an hour we start to look for a place. The higher we go the less chance there is to find a good place. It isn’t simple, if there is a flat piece, it’s usually to marshy. Probably the combination of the rain of the last few days and the melting snow. After a while, we find a spot where we can place the tent. During the night, our tent is once again put to the test. We are starring a few hours around in our tent, hoping that the weather is better tomorrow. And that the tent will survive it. 🙂

Day 1: Altnafeadh – The valley Lairig Gartain
Walking hours: 5h
Photo moments: 3h
Distance: 11km
Altitude: 1150m ascent, 1150m descent

When we get up in the morning it’s again confirmed, the MSR Hubba Hubba NX is a damn good tent. We were worried for nothing. 🙂 There are no signs that there was a storm last night. Around a quarter to nine, we are both ready to start to climb. We follow a clear path along the river ‘Allt Coire Na Tulaich’. Soon we arrive at the beginning of the narrow valley ‘Coire na Tulaich’. The climb goes smoothly over stairs made with large rocks. After about one and a half hour we start to climb over loose rocks. From here it’s a bit rougher. When we have almost reached the ridge, we have to cross a snow slope of about 75 meters long with an angle of 60 degrees. To be sure we use our crampons. When we have reached the ridge, we hold a short break. A raven joins us during our break, he comes very close to us. For sure he is not afraid.  The view from up here is already amazing! We have a beautiful view on the Glen Etive Hills, the Mamores, Glen Etive, Ben Nevis, Glen Coe and the Munros that we will do today. These are all linked together through ridges. After the break, we climb further to the first Munro ‘ Stob Dearg ‘ with a height of 1022 meters. Even here the path clearly visible. It’s one of the busiest Munros of the Glen Coe valley. But now there are only 6 hikers on the mountain. By the end, the path becomes a bit steeper and zigzags up to the top. By the end of the path some zig-zagging up and down up to the top. After about 40 minutes we are on top of the ‘Stob Dearg’. And guess who’s back, the same raven that joined us during our previous break.

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After a while, we walk back in the same way we came. Now we are walking in the direction of the summit ‘Stob na Doire ‘ via the ridge ‘Feadan Bàn’. Out of nowhere, we see a young guy walking on sneakers with a snowboard on his back. There is still snow but not enough to snowboard. On the ridge ‘Feadan Bàn’ we take a short break. The view on the valley ‘Lairig Gartain’ is beautiful!

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After our break we walk further to the top of the ‘Stob na Doire’, we follow a clear path till we encounter a snowfield. We walk around the snowfield on big rocks to the top. Officially this isn’t a Munro, but we don’t understand it. The ‘Stob na Doire’ is 1011 meters high, and the ‘Stob na Bròige’ is only 956 meters high. And the last one is a Munro. Weird Scottish logic?!? 🙂

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The descent is somewhat more difficult because of the loose rock. While we are descending, we see a hiker losing his backpack, it’s rolling down the mountain. When we are down, the woman says it’s his own fault. The bag contains only his stuff. He was too stupid to put it at the edge of the ridge. The men went down to look for his bag. After half an hour he has found his bag about 300 meters lower.

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We walk further to the summit ‘Stob Coire Altruim’. The climb goes very smoothly along an overhanging snowbank. Once we have arrived at ‘Stob Coire Altruim’, we follow the ridge to the Munro ‘Stob na Bròige’. Here we have a nice view of Glen Etive and his loch. But I guess the view from the Munro ‘Stob Dubh’ will be even better. We will climb this Munro tomorrow.

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We follow the same way back until we are at the pass between ‘Stob Coire Altruim’ and ‘Stob na Doire’. It’s also possible to descend directly to Glen Etive, but we guess it will be a long and steep descent.

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Once we reached the pass, we descend via the ‘Coire Altruim’ along the river ‘Allt Coire Altruim’. Halfway the descent we take a break at one many beautiful waterfalls. We also cook our meal. When we are done, we walk further on to the crossing with the valley path. Here we find a nice flat, green, dry spot where we can set up our tent next to the river ‘Coupaill’. In the valley, there are about 50 reindeer. Most of them are just grazing but a few males are fighting with each other.

Day 2: The valley Lairig Gartain – along the river Allt Lairig Eilde
Walking hours: 3h30
Photo moments: 3h
Distance: 9km
Altitude: 785m ascent, 925m descent

When we get up it is still slightly cloudy. Around half past ten, we are ready to start walking to the ‘Buachaille Etive Beag’. We follow the valley for about 400 meters in the direction of Dalness, located in Glen Etive. Here go right and follow a track along the unnamed river to the pass between the two Munros ‘Stob Dubh’ and ‘Stob Coire Raineach’. Soon we pass some beautiful waterfalls, where we take a break to photograph them. After the short break, we walk further on to the pass. Most of the time there’s a clear path.

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Once we have reached the pass, we take a short break before we start the ascent to ‘Stob Dubh’. First, we follow a clear path, that goes up zigzagging to a height of 900 meters. We have to cross a small snowfield, these are simple compared with the steep snowfield of yesterday. The degree of the slope is smoother. Once we are up we follow the ridge to the Munro ‘Stob Dubh’. On the ridge, we got a fantastic view of the surroundings.

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After a half hour, we are on top of the ‘Stob Dubh’. Here we got a beautiful view on Glen Etive, Loch Etive, the Glen Etive Hills, the Glen Coe Hills, the Mamores and Ben Nevis.

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After a short break, we start to descend back in the same direction we came over the ridge. There are almost no clouds anymore. And the snowfield will probably be very mushy. It’s was already quite a mess when we went up.

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Once we have reached the snowfield. Our thoughts are confirmed. The sun has done her job to make it even worse. But we are not gonna complain about the presence of the sun. When we are back at the pass, we take a short break before we walk up to the Munro ‘Stob Coire Raineach’. This climb is shorter, but it’s rougher because of the loose rocks. The path goes zigzagging to the top over a clear path. On the way, we see many tracks that lead you to the top. It is not really a track but you can clearly see that there were walking a lot of people. Once we are on top we got an extensive view of the surroundings.

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After a short break, we start to descend back to the pass, in less than a quarter we are already down. From here we start the descent to the valley ‘Lairig Eilde’ via the endless path ‘Màm Buidhe’. This is a path, with stairs made of big rocks. After 40 minutes we take a break along the river, to cook our meal. It’s almost 7pm. After the break, we walk further in the direction of the river ‘Allt Lairig Eilde’. Down in the valley, we take a short break at some beautiful waterfalls.

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After the break, we walk for about a quarter. We pass a beautiful spot next to the river. The view of the valley is fantastic! We are camping about 100 meters from the road. But we don’t hear the traffic because of the sound of the many waterfalls close by. We will be on lots of pictures of tourist passing by because we’re camped just above a waterfall that you can see on the road. Lots of tourists stop by bus or car to take pictures. We, personally, think the waterfalls in the valley are more beautiful than the one near the road. I stay up late, the chance of a clear sky this night is very big. There’s no cloud to be seen. So maybe I got a chance on a beautiful starry sky. Around midnight I go to sleep. Tomorrow we will walk in the direction of ‘The Lost Valley’.

Day 3: Along the river Allt Lairig Eilde – Car park in the Glen Coe valley close to the hike ‘The lost valley’
Walking hours: 2h
Photo moments: 45min
Distance: 6km
Altitude: 325m ascent, 400m descent

We get up at 9:30am , quite late but we have to at the car park at 11am. We come together with Charlotte her parents do walk ‘The Lost Valley‘ together. We already did this beautiful hike last year but it’s worth to do it again. But first, we need to go to the car park. We have to walk a few times on the road. You need to be careful over here because they are allowed to drive here almost 100 km/hour.  But most of the time we can walk safely along the road. Once we are at the car park, we take the path that goes to ‘The Lost Valley’. Soon we cross the deep canyon and the river ‘Coe’ by a footbridge. Now there follows a small scrambling part. But it’s secured with a steel cable. Soon we leave the forest, now we got a better view on the valley ‘Coire Gabhail’. Almost instantly there is a beautiful waterfall in the gorge. We take a short break, and I clamber a little bit down into the gorge. To get the waterfall better on a picture. After the break, we walk further into the valley. After a while, we cross the river ‘Allt Coire Gabhail’ with a few step stones. Once we are up in the valley we take a lunch break. Charlotte her parents have fresh sandwiches with them. The view from her is fantastic on the Munros ‘Stob Coire Sgreamhach’ en ‘Bidean nam Bian’. Both are certainly on my bucket list.  After the break, we walk back to the car, the same way we came up. I take some photos of the gorge at the bridge. Once we are back at the car, we drive together to Loch Etive. After the stop in Glen Etive, we drive back to Fort William. Tonight we will sleep in a B&B so that we are sure that we sleep well tonight. Tomorrow we got a long drive on the schedule. About 10 hours driving in the United Kingdom and about two and a half hour driving in Belgium.

Here you can find the gps track.

We want to recommend two B&B’s where we stayed in Fort William during our recent stay in Scotland.

Ardblair, Fassifern Road, Fort William
info@ardblair.nl or (0044) 01397708562
Is hosted by a super friendly Dutch couple Conny & René van Baalen.
The prices varied between 70 and 90 pounds per night for a room
Two minutes walking from the city centre of Fort William

Lochiel Villa Guest House, Achintore Road, Fort William
(01397) 70366
Is hosted by a super friendly older lady E. Strachan
It’s 30 pounds per person per night for a room.
Three minutes walking from the city centre of Fort William.



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