Bidean nam Bian's three peaks
Argyll and Bute
Distance 8.61 miles (13.86 km)
Total ascent 1,385m
Steepest climb 42% (1 in 2)
Time 6 hours (Walking)
Start/finish Lairig Eilde car park, NN187562
Summits included en route:
Stob Coire Sgreamhach 1072 m
Bidean nam Bian 1150 m
Bidean nam Bian - Stob Coire nan Lochan 1115 m
Nearest town Ballachulish (or Fort William if you want a real town)
Terrain Generally clear and well-trodden paths, except for a less distinct section in the ascent from the Lairig Eilde. There is no scrambling but plenty of steep, rough and rocky ground, and some of the ridges are quite airy.
Seasonal variations A long day out in winter, but a real stunner in sunshine and snow - arguably one of the best walks of its kind in Lochaber. Being so high Bidean attracts its fair share of wild weather, and full winter conditions are common. Under snow the ridges have a mild mountaineering feel. There's nothing hard enough to warrant a climbing grade, but do watch out for the usual winter hazards like corniced edges and steep icy rocks. Though it mainly follows ridges the route does visit many aspects of the hill - something to bear in mind if the avalanche risk is high.
Weather and hill conditions SAIS: Glencoe – mwis: Northwest Highlands – Met Office: West Highlands
Public transport Buses from Glasgow to Fort William can drop you off in Glen Coe
Guidebooks The Munros, SMC
Maps OS Explorer 384 (1:25,000), Harvey/BMC Ben Nevis (1:40,000), OS Landranger 41 (1:50,000)
Accommodation Glencoe YH 01855 811219
Clachaig Inn 01855 811252
Find more Classifieds near this route
Tourist info Ballachulish (08452 255 121); Fort William (0845 22 55 121)
1 NN1877856203 Take the path up the Lairig Eilde, soon crossing and a while later re-crossing the burn. Stob Coire Sgreamhach and its offshoot spur Sron na Lairig look increasingly impressive as you approach them up the glen.
2 NN1700553415 From a cairn marking the high point of the Lairig Eilde go roughly west-southwest over boggy, lumpy ground. Trend left to climb into a shallow grassy corrie that leads steeply to a col between Stob Coire Sgreamhach and an unnamed minor top (spot height 778m). There's a clearer trail for the long fairly gradual climb northwest to Sgreamhach's summit with an airy view over the 'Lost Valley' of Coire Gabhail.
3 NN1547953638 A sharp rocky crest leads down (roughly west) to the Bealach Dearg (unnamed on small scale maps), where there's a possible escape route into the Lost Valley. Now follow the continuation ridge above the Lost Valley Buttresses before a final uphill stretch to the twin tops of Bidean nam Bian; the first is higher. Looking north the ground drops into steep crags, and the southern flank isn't much less precipitous either, giving Bidean a really airy feel.
4 NN1433854224 Keeping safely right of Bidean's summit crags (especially if it's snowy), descend the rubbly north ridge quite steeply to a little col between the parent mountain and Stob Coire nan Lochan. A gentler ridge leads onto the conical summit of the latter. Although it's not officially a Munro, Stob Coire nan Lochan is a fabulous peak in its own right, crowning the north facing cliffs of its eponymous corrie.
5 NN1482554826 Head east to descend the curving ridge bounding the east side of the corrie. It's a sharp blocky arete with some very basic scrambling if done direct; a path avoids what interest there is however. Once level with the upper floor of Coire nan Lochan the crest broadens, its continuation leading out towards the spur of Gearr Aonach. At this point cut left, passing a waterfall in the burn that drains the corrie and then following a well-used path steeply down the lower corrie. Staying east of the burn, the path skirts across the lower slopes of Gearr Aonach to reach the floor of Glen Coe. Cross a footbridge over the River Coe and climb towards the A82. Just before reaching the road go right onto a track (the course of an old road) with cuts out a bit of tarmac walking. Gain the road near Allt na Reigh, beyond which another stretch of the old road can be followed most of the way back to the car park, to save having to walk along the narrow bendy section of the busy A-road.
On the east ridge of Bidean nam Bian
© Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com, Jan 2009