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Enclosed by its steep, notched, and twisting ridges and surrounded by some of the Western Highland ’s most rugged mountains, Glen Coe is justifiably famous for its exhilarating hiking, scrambling and mountaineering.
During our stay in this dramatic glen, we aim to summit all of the glen’s most notable peaks, completing many classic routes in the process. All of the mountains provide wide panoramas of the surrounding area, including Ben Nevis, only 15 miles to the north, and the west coast islands of the Inner Hebrides. All of the day hillwalks on this programme involve long mountain days and steep and rough ground. A high level of fitness and good reserves of stamina will allow you to get the very best out of this holiday.
Whilst it is impossible not to be impressed by the mountains and the raw beauty of Glen Coe, there is also a real sense of history in this area, for it was here on 13 th February 1692 that the infamous Massacre of Glen Coe took place. In more recent times the Glen has provided the backdrop for a number of films, including Highlander, Braveheart, and the recent Harry Potter adventures.
Your trip includes 7 nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation in the Glen Coe area and 5 days’ guided walking. There is one free day mid week.
On each of our 5 day walks we will be on the hill for up to 8 hours (or more, dependant on the pace of the party). Mostly we will be following mountain paths which can be rough and steep and on occasions we will have to negotiate unpathed areas as well as scree. ‘Scrambling’ will be necessary on one or more days, and for this you will need a good sense of balance and to be comfortable with height and some exposure.
The itinerary below follows our expected programme for the week. Any changes to this will reflect your guide’s judgement as to what is best in the conditions for the group’s safety and overall enjoyment of the holiday.
Day 1: (Saturday): Travel from Edinburgh to Glen Coe
We leave Edinburgh at 2.00 pm for the 2½-3 hour drive to Glen Coe. The final 12 miles of this trip is through Glen Coe itself and gives first time visitors an excellent introduction to the hills we’ll be tackling this week. In the evening over dinner, we will have the opportunity to discuss more fully our plans for the week, and your guide will answer any questions you may have about our trip.
Day 2 (Sunday): Buachaille Etive Mor (Great Herdsman of Etive)
This impressive mountain will have been our first sight of the Glen Coe hills as we approached on our journey from Edinburgh . It presents a steep, craggy, almost forbidding face to the vast expanse of Rannoch Moor, but its defences are relatively easily breached through the rough and scree filled Corrie Tulaich. Some easy scrambling is optional here, and is certainly more pleasant than the tiring walk up the scree. We emerge on to the ridge close to the most north easterly summit of the mountain-Stob Dearg.
This first peak on the ridge offers sensational views over the Kingshouse Hotel - lying 3½ km away but 760 metres below - to Rannoch Moor and beyond, while in the opposite direction Ben Nevis, Scotland ’s highest mountain is clearly seen, with closer at hand the airy ridges of the Aonach Eagach and Bidean nam Bian await us. From this superb viewpoint we head back south east to take in all 4 summits on the 3 mile long Buachaille Etive Mor ridge, before dropping north east into the Lairig Gartain for the sometimes wet path back to our transport.
9m/15kms, 1000m/3250ft, 8 hrs
Day 3 (Monday): Bidean nam Bian (Peak of the Hides)
Bidean nam Bian is a large and complex mountain with many peaks joined by a main ridge with numerous offshoots. The main summit is well hidden from the road by three giant buttresses known collectively as the Three Sisters of Glen Coe. Our route tackles the most easterly of the Three Sisters - Beinn Fhada, approached by a rough path, then over even rougher and steeper ground to the mountain’s excellent ridge. All the ridges are well walked and the going gets easier underfoot. Each step from now on introduces different aspects of this magnificent mountain, and as height is gained more and more views open up.
The ridge takes us up and over Stob Coire Sgreamhach (Point of the Dreadful Corrie!) and on to Bidean itself.
This truly is a place to linger on a fine day. Mountain and moorland views are all around, but to the south and west the sun glints on the sea, and gently rounded hills perched on soft green islands lie at anchor off the west coast. We will need to move on however as this is a long day and we take in Stob Coire nan Lochan (The Peak of the Corrie of the Little Loch) before descending steeply into the atmospheric Corrie Gabhail. The Glen Coe road awaits us just beyond the narrow ravine which guards this magical place, and which inspires its nickname - ‘ Hidden Valley ’.
7m/11kms, 1250m/4050ft, 8-9 hrs
Day 4 (Tuesday): Creise
Creise stands guard at the top of Glen Etive, sharing this duty with Buachaille Etive Mor on the opposite side of the River Etive. Our initial approach is over level, tussocky, pathless heather and it’s something of a relief when this gives way to a challenging ascent up the Sron (Nose or Snout) na Creise which in contrast is steep, with grass, scree, and some straight forward scrambling. Once on the first summit there is some fine ridge walking, taking in several minor summits before descending steeply to the bealach (pass between mountains), giving us access to Meall A’Bhuiridh, the neighbouring Munro, for the descent back to our starting point at Blackrock Cottage.
8m/13km, 975m/3200ft, 8 hrs
Day 5 (Wednesday): Rest Day
This is your opportunity to enjoy a more relaxing day, to sample some of the area’s other attractions, or to do an easier walk. Your guide will be able to advise you on what’s available.
Day 6 (Thursday): Aonach Eagach (Notched Ridge)
The Aonach Eagach Ridge is generally held to be the most challenging ridge walk on mainland Scotland, second only to the Cuillin Ridge on Skye. It joins together two Munros, Meall Dearg ( Red Peak ) and Sgor nam Fiannaidh (Peak of the Fianns). This ridgewalk contains several sections of very exposed scrambling and you will be accompanied for the day by an additional guide to ensure your safety as you negotiate the ridge.
We start up from Allt na reigh on the Glen Coe Road, walking over Am Bodach (The Old Man), to reach, after some minor scrambling, Meall Dearg. From here the route is narrow and with the floor of the glen 750 metres below there is a marked feeling of exposure. We will be moving cautiously along the ridge, giving every group member ample time to negotiate each section before moving forward. When the second Munro is reached we can enjoy the view back along the route we have just come, and perhaps also begin to take in the other aspects of the area that these hills open up for us. All of our previous routes will be in sight, as well as the broader view over Loch Leven to the Mamores and Ben Nevis, to Ardgour, and to Ben Alder and the Cairngorms in the east. We leave the hill towards the Pap of Glen Coe, before cutting back to the Clachaig Inn, a hostelry of world renown in climbing circles - and where we too may feel we have earned our visit!
4m/6km, 910m/3000ft, exposed terrain, 8 hrs
Day 7 (Friday): Beinn a’ Bheithir (Mountain of the Monster, or Thunderbolt)
This is a superb horse shoe shaped mountain, blessed by a spectacular position and it provides walkers with generous 360 degree views throughout, over mountain, moor, and sea - a fitting climax to the week.
We start from the village of Ballachuillish , whose slate quarries, now abandoned, roofed most of the buildings in Edinburgh ’s ‘New’ Town. A good track gives us access to the grassy approach to the north-east ridge of Sgor Bhan ( White Peak ). The ridge is steep with some straight forward scrambling, and takes us quickly to this, the first of three peaks which make up Beinn a’Bheithir. A narrow ridge takes us to Sgorr Dhearg ( Red Peak ), and the first of the day’s two Munros. By now the views have really opened up, with an excellent panorama taking in Ben Nevis to the north, Loch Leven directly below us and stretching east towards the distant hills of Speyside in the far distance, south-east to the Glen Coe hills that we have made our own this week, and south, down Loch Lihnne to the Isle of Mull and beyond. To the west, our second Munro, Sgorr Dhonuill (Donald’s Peak) awaits. Our route follows the spine of the mountain, down to a dip in the joining ridge, before re-ascending to our final summit of the week. Once again the views are outstanding and we will be hard pressed to draw ourselves away to the descent into Gleann a’ Chaolais and our route home.
10m/17km, 1220m/4000ft, 8 hrs
Day 8 (Saturday): Travel to Edinburgh
We leave Glen Coe to the weekend climbers and walkers, aiming to be on the road by 9.00am . We will be back in Edinburgh by around 12.00pm and we will be happy to drop guests off at Edinburgh Airport or in the City Centre.
Your trip will be led by a fully qualified Mountain Leader (ML) with an intimate and extensive knowledge of the Glencoe area. On Thursday, for the traverse of the Aonach Eagach, you also will be joined and led by a second climbing leader qualified to a minimum of Mountain Instructor Award (MIA) to provide an additional degree of security to the party. Your guide’s objective will be to ensure the group’s safe enjoyment of the best of the area’s hiking routes, depending on weather and any other issues which may give rise to possible departures from the planned itinerary.
Accommodation and Meals
Your bed and breakfast accommodation is in one of the area’s many welcoming and comfortable guest houses with which we deal regularly. Evening meals are not included in the trip price, however we will arrange these for the group to be taken together in a local bar or restaurant. (budget around £10-£15 per night for dinner). Packed lunches will be provided throughout the week.
This trip is graded as “Strenuous”. All of the hillwalks on this programme involve steep and rough ground and we will be on the hill for up to 8 hours (or more, dependant on the pace of the party), with daily distances of between 4-10 miles (6-17km) and between 900-1250 metres (3000-4000ft) of ascent in a day. Mostly we will be following mountain paths which are frequently rough and steep and on occasions we will have to negotiate unpathed areas as well as scree. ‘Scrambling’ (which involves using your hands as well as feet to climb) will be necessary on one or more days, and for this you will need a good sense of balance and to be comfortable with height and some exposure. Previous experience of hard mountain walking over rugged terrain is essential, as is a good head for heights.
Minimum Per Person Price: 565 Pound Sterling (GBP)
Maximum Per Person Price: 625 Pound Sterling (GBP)
Airfare is not included in the tour price. Includes: 5 days of fully guided walking and 7 nights bed and breakfast accommodation.
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