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Buachaille Etive Mor

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Immortalised in W.H. Murray's words as a "Neolithic arrowhead", the view of The Buachaille as it is usually referred to, when you top the climb over the Rannoch Moor road, is certainly inspiring. The rocky faces and buttresses change colour with the rain and sky, fading from black to pink as they dry in the sun.

The list of newly promoted Munros includes one each to the two neighbouring ridges of Buachaille Etive Mor (the big shepherd of Etive) and its sister, the Buachaille Etive Beag (the little shepherd). This walk takes in the two Munros of the bigger ridge.

The key to the steep defences of the Buachaille is Coire na Tulaich, gained from the A82 road at Altnafeadh. Take the track over the River Coupall and pass the climbers' hut at Lagangarbh (run by the SMC and a superb base for Glencoe and further hills). Just past the hut take the right fork on the path and head up into the corrie, sticking to the west bank of the burn coming out of the corrie.

Below the bealach ahead scree slopes indicate worsening erosion of the hillside, amplified by the gullies which have been exposed in native bedrock previously covered by soil and stones. These provide awkward footments and may be better avoided by either climbing the rocky steps on the left of the gully, or taking to the slopes further right. This, as an aside, is really just spreading the erosion problem and it's surely only a matter of time before some pathwork will be needed here.

At the bealach catch your breath before turning east and climbing up the rocky slopes to gain a narrowing ridge leading north-east to the fine summit. Only from here can you fully appreciate the vast spaces of the Rannoch Moor, with the geometrical shape of Schiehallion hopefully visible.

Return down to the bealach to continue along the ridge, traversing over the two tops of Stob na Doire (1011m) and Stob Coire Altruim (941m) before reaching the second Munro of Stob na Broige (peak of the shoe, which has been anglicised to brogue). From here are very fine views down Glen Etive.

To descend and return to Altnafeadh, return over the penultimate top, Stob Coire Altruim and go down the ridge a short distance to find a path descending north into the Lairig Gartain at Grid ref 201 529. Due to the increased numbers of walkers ascending this new Munro, there is also erosion here, so be careful to both avoid slipping in wet conditions and to minimise further damage to the slope. Descend to the Coupall and cross it to reach a muddy track on its west bank leading back to the A82 about 500m west of your starting point (unless of course you chose to park here in the first instance!)


Maps: OS Sheet 41 'Ben Nevis, Fort William & Glen Coe'
Distance: 13 km
Ascent: 1100m
Time: 6 hours
Food & Drink: The Kingshouse Hotel is the nearest, with a choice of others in Glencoe to the west, or along the A82 heading south, with the Bridge of Orchy Hotel recommended.


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