Stob Gabhar & Western Tops

11 10 2012

This walk was very straightforward and I managed to have quite a relaxing day for a change…

I got off to a fairy late start after checking out of the bunkhouse and driving back across Rannoch Moor. Little did I know as I passed the Inveroran Hotel that my friend in Keswick Mountain Rescue and a group of his friends were staying there all week! What a co-incidence – shame I didn’t know… It was even funnier that I was travelling from Glencoe to Bridge of Orchy area every day and they were travelling from Bridge of Orchy to Glencoe!


Stob Gabhar & Loch Tulla

I set off from Victoria Bridge carpark and walked very quickly up to the Clashgour tin hut (which I’ve just read in my Borthwick book was actually the local school) and then turned off up the fairly wet track towards Ben Toaig. I was still going pretty fast up the track and it was quite sunny and warm so I was soon stripped down to my vest-top despite it being October. I was aiming for the SE ridge of Stob Gabhar via the waterfall – everyone’s normal descent route.


Looking up Abhainn Shira – cloud coming down

When I reached the river I decided I couldn’t be bothered doing the balancing on slippery rocks routine and, like I’d been doing regularly the day before, whipped off my boots and socks and waded across. I’d much prefer to get my bare feet wet than get water in my boots if I slip. I then headed for the waterfall on a reasonable track.

I’d always worried about how I’d find the route up the side of the waterfall as it looks very steep but I’d asked several people about it and they’d all said it was fine. By the time I’d reached it I’d got dressed again as, now I was out of the shelter of Ben Toaig, a chilly wind had sprung up.

The track sets off steeply up the right-hand side of the waterfall and wasn’t really particularly worrying. The only bit which made me think I definitely wouldn’t go back down that way was after I’d climbed a slimy rock step at the top of the lower fall. By now I was pretty high up and, when I turned to look back down at the top of the step, thought it was now looking a bit daunting. The path from thereon was fine though and I pretty soon crossed the burn for the final part of the climb.

By the time I reached the top of the waterfall I was suddenly absolutely and completely knackered and had to sit down for about 10 minutes and have some food and drink – very unusual for me! I rarely eat when I’m out and certainly not so early in the day. From there it was a good path up the SE ridge but I never really got going all the way up it and kept having to stop momentarily to get my breath back. I met one chap coming down and we had a brief chat about what a lovely day it was and then continued on our way.


Ascending South-east Ridge of Stob Gabhar


Looking back down… Coire na Muic


Stob a’ Choire Odhair from Gabhar

The ridge slackens briefly near the top and the path rakes left along the fenceline straight for the summit. I decided not to follow it for two reasons – one was that I wanted to go and photograph the Aonach Eagach ridge and see what it was like, the other was that I thought it would be much nicer to break the climb up with a nice flat walk from the end of the Aonach Eagach to the start of the final rise up to the summit. I was soon at the end of the Aonach Eagach ridge and several obliging groups of people were crossing it so I could see how they coped and get some photos of them… It looked fine to me, unlike the ascent to it which I’d seen previously and thought looked horribly steep!


Stob Gabhar’s Aonach Eagach


Aonach Eagach end to Sron na Guibhas


Stob Gabhar summit

I tried to race the group of young guys coming off the ridge up to the summit but failed miserably about half way up when they easily overtook me – definitely not having a good day. I arrived shortly after them and we had a nice chat and a good discussion of the views.

They hadn’t decided at that point which way they were going back and asked me what my plans were – I told them I’d come to do the western tops and possibly (but probably not) Meall Odhar on the end of that ridge. As it turned out, I definitely didn’t have time for the latter although it did look a nice walk. A cloud was on its way in so I decided to set off while I could still see exactly which ridge I was heading for!


Stob Gabhar’s western tops (my ridge)

After a very short but easy descent on bouldery ground, I was on a lovely level ridge of grass and bombing towards the first top, Sron na Ghearrain. In not many minutes I was there – the ridge to the north was really nice but the top itself was a bit vague so I didn’t stay long. I’d managed to escape the cloud anyway… I set off on the longish but gradual descent to the col before the second and final top, Stob a Bruach Leith. While I was doing this I was looking down the slopes to my left to where I wanted to ultimately descend – they looked fine and not steep at all.


Stob Gabhar from Sron na Gearrain

After reaching the col there was a very short ascent towards the second top of Stob a’ Bruach Leith, then a bit of a pleasant undulating ridge and I was there. Meall Odhar came into view and I was tempted but, looking at my watch, there was no chance really so I gave it a sad wave. I did sit in the sun by the cairn for 10 minutes for a pleasant break and my flask – it was lovely and warm just there.


Across Sron na Ghearrain to Clachlet


Stob Gabhar from Stob a’ Bruach Leith

I then descended back to the col and picked my way across and down the grassy slopes towards the col of Mam nan Sac where I knew there was a good stalkers track to take me back to Clashgour House. There were a few deer on the slopes but they soon left as they caught sight of me – I always feel bad disturbing them – they’d probably had enough trauma at that time of year as it had just been the stalking season.

I reached the Mam nan Sac and looked around for the path – it started pretty much where I thought it would. The track was pretty boggy to start with and I hoped it wasn’t going to be like that all the way back. However, when it turned away from the col and started descending across the lower slopes of Sron na Ghearrain it became a dry and superb track and made for extremely pleasant walking all the way down to the house at Clashgour.


Coire Gabhar from stalker’s track

I then just had the walk back through the forest to Clashgour hut and then the riverside walk back to Victoria Bridge carpark. I was starting to think it was getting late and I had virtually no petrol so I thought I’d best get a move on for this bit. I reached the car within the hour but then decided, it being a Sunday, I didn’t dare go out of my way to Tyndrum for fuel in case they were shut so just headed back to Glencoe as I was booked into the SYHA there. I was so short of petrol I ended up coasting the whole way downhill to Glencoe – must be a steep hill as the car managed to keep above 50mph all the way down – very naughty!

Stats: 14 miles, 3234 feet of ascent, 7 hours!! (was feeling old and tired) 1 Munro, 2 tops…

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14 responses

15 10 2012
Paul Shorrock

Great post Carol, with the usual ‘high standard’ images.

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16 10 2012
mountaincoward

Thanks Paul 🙂 I love the golden-looking hills best of all their appearances…

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17 10 2012
Paul Shorrock

I’ve still not got round to taking my Olympus OM2 on the hills – I really need to try and get some shots on both slide and negative film, and to try different ways of getting them in digital format.
My OM2 would knock the spots off my digital camera (Fuji) but I’m still musing over the best way to get the images on t’internet.

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17 10 2012
mountaincoward

I just have a Canon scanner and scan my prints in – there are some scanners that can scan slides too I think. You have a wide selection of resolutions to scan at so you should be able to get good results. I only scan mine at a pretty low resolution as most of them are for screen viewing – and the websites generally compress them anyway. I’m working on the assumption that, if they’re not a really high resolution to start with, they need less compression? Not sure though…

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12 10 2012
bob

Its a fantastic area.Many happy memories of days out on the hills there.Thanks for the photos as they brought it all back.The GUM hut Is like the Tardis.Neither of them seem to have an inside toilet but folk appear to manage.

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12 10 2012
mountaincoward

Pretty much like a bothy then – I’ve only been to one bothy with an inside loo… and they still had that out of action for the winter – in April!

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12 10 2012
Tango

Carol looks like a great day out, Im starting on the Munros with the Missus..7 down lots to go…!!! keep up the good work.. Cheers Terry.

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12 10 2012
mountaincoward

I’m hoping I RE-start them sometime! 😦

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11 10 2012
Scotlands Mountains

One of my favourite hills Carol.I`ve often thought of heading out to Meall Odhar but never actually got round to it,the walk out having put me off.!
Stayed in Clashgour a few winters ago and it`s as small as it looks.Ignore all the folk who say it`s like the Tardis.!

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12 10 2012
mountaincoward

Were you thinking of tackling Meall Odhar from the same side? The other side up the Ceitlin looks fearsome! I think you’d be best to walk back along the ridge if you did to the col between the 2 tops and descend to the Mam nan Sac from there – I think the glen walk out would be a lot longer!

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11 10 2012
fedupofuserids

That first picture deserves printing onto canvas 🙂 Loch Tulla
Another one I haven’t paid much interest too, hopefully that elusive lottery win will be soon & I can spend a bit more time north of the border 😉
Excellent route info as usual.

Simon

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12 10 2012
mountaincoward

Thanks Simon – actually, I’m starting to prefer the second photo – more water I think… But I have thought about printing those 2 off as a pair for my lounge – nice warm colours 🙂

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11 10 2012
cooking with audrey

gorgeous!!!!!

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11 10 2012
mountaincoward

Thanks Audrey. To be honest, I’ve seen many great photos of the loch at the start of the post – it just seems to be very photogenic on a still day like the one I had. The autumn colours can be really beautiful in Scotland on a warm, sunlit day though.

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