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Thursday, 30 April 2015

Beinn Maol Chaluim - Day 3 Invercoe

The weather forecast was looking similarly good so decided to head for a Corbett called Beinn Maol Chaluim from Glen Etiv - it was a stunning drive in the sunshine which made up for the length of the journey.

We parked up in a layby after driving up and down trying to work out the right spot, the road is single track so you need to make sure you aren't parking in a passing space. The ascent onto the hill was steep and hard with barely more than a deer track in most places. We stopped for a breather and realised we had ticks on us - it was quite surprising as I'd not encountered them that early on in the walking season before. Thankfully we were able to remove them before they had attached. 

It was one of those climbs where you top out of a slope hoping you are nearly at the top to realise you are not more than halfway up the hill when the rest of it looms above you on the horizon. We picked the line of the least amount of snow (deviating from the recommended route to keep more to the left) and we were entertained with finding frogs all over the place hopping about and mating!

We climbed some easy snow slopes to get onto the ridge itself, frustratingly the ridge was holding a lot of snow still, and the fog was rolling in, I decided at this point I didn't want to tackle it, so we headed back down taking a slightly different route via a froggy pool of water. It was astounding simply how many frogs were hoping out of the snow crust - you really had to watch your step!

We got back down pretty fast and headed over to Lochan Urr where Emma had spied and island she thought we could wade out too. On our way there we came upon a small group of deer which was nice to see, they must be fairly used to people in the Glen as they didn't seem too bothered by us.

Steve wasn't keen on getting wet/cold feet so Emma and I took our boots off and had a chilly wade onto the island. We didn't stop for long as it was breezy, not that warm and we still had tick paranoia!
Glen Etiv (aside from the ticks!) Is a beautiful valley - the river which we didn't explore looked stunning and would be well worth a meander along. 

Pap of Glencoe and Sgorr Nam Fiannaidh - Day 2 Invercoe

We awoke to a glorious view from our cottage which really made up for the poor weather the week before. We couldn't resist heading to the Loch over the road to take in the views before heading off for a our day out. My daughter enjoyed throwing stones in the water whilst a little dog chased backwards and forwards after them whilst we chatted to it's owner. It was Easter Sunday and we had a bag full of chocolate bunnies to hide and find!

We decided to walk from the cottage as we could reach the start without going on roads. We followed a lane and forest tracks to reach the path at the start. As we started the climb Emma had fun trying to find the bunnies I was hiding. It had been so cold the previous week we had our thermals on, but spring had suddenly come for Easter day. I ended up having to hide behind a shrub to take mine off whilst Emma stripped down to hers looking like a bit of a convict in the stripes..

The plan had been to head up the Pap of Glencoe first, but the going between the two tops looks hard so we thought we should leave the Pap until the end of the walk in case we ran out of time/energy. It was so hot going up the Munro, probably the hottest we've ever been on a Scottish walk! 

There was still patches of snow about, and the path through the scree wasn't always obvious, it was a relief when we finally topped out on the broad summit ridge. We stayed in the middle well away from the edge to avoid any over hanging patches of snow. 

On reaching the summit shelter/trig we were treated to fantastic views of the Aonach Eagach, and enjoyed a leisurely lunch in the sunshine - it felt good not having to put load of layers on to sit and enjoy the views. Steve and took it in turns to have a little wander on to take the views in further, Steve remembering how he'd done the full traverse at Christmas. We watched climbers making fast progress over the ridge which is an exposed scramble which you tend to need rope for in the winter (although I'm sure some do without). 

Heading back down we went a slightly different way which was probably easier than the way up, we were passed by a group of climbers who'd had a good day on the ridge, but were looking as hot and bothered as were feeling! Rather than heading all the way back down we headed across so we didn't have to descend to go back up again. Someone had been that way before and it was reassuring to have a trail of footprints picking a good way between the rock and snow. 

We had to descend a small amount of height to reach the path up the Pap, come down was horrendous as the snow was thawing and really slippery, I took a few slips which I managed to catch with my walking poles for balance. 

The path up the pap wasn't much better, so we came off the main path which for full of loose rocks and wet snow to take a more scrambly option over boulders. 

We had the top to ourselves which was a miracle considering how busy the top had been all day (we'd been watching the tiny ant like people swarming the top during our Munro ascent..) we were joined by a couple of people including a chap with a baby in a back carried of had ascended the scramblier (but less snowy) way up near the forest. We had a chat with him about the way down as there was no path on the map, he confirmed there was a route down the rocky face. We didn't stop for long as time was ticking on.

Going down wasn't too bad, but once we got off the rocks there wasn't much of a path which eventually petered out into nothing in the direction we had chosen to head(the main path rejoins the standard route up the hill) We had decided to head towards the woods in which the Lochan from the previous day was situated so we could enjoy the views. The way down to the woods was unrelentingly steep and just as we thought it had eased it continued going down some more! I managed to have another slip on sodden ground and bend my new trekking pole in the process- good thing it was the pole and not a body part!

We were all really happy when we finally reached the Lochan and enjoyed a leisurely stroll back to the cottage with tired feet. After we'd refueled with food we were treated to a gorgeous sunset from the Loch by the cottage. A truly beautiful Scottish day.