Bidean nam Bian's three peaks

by Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com ? Sep/2011
This route has been read 2,555 times
Walking

WalkingBidean nam Bian's three peaks

Argyll and Bute, SCOTLAND

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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:
Hill Stob Coire Sgreamhach 1072 m
Hill Bidean nam Bian 1150 m
Hill 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 mwis: Northwest HighlandsMet Office: West Highlands

Public transport Buses from Glasgow to Fort William can drop you off in Glen Coe

Guidebooks The Munros, SMC
www.smc.org.uk

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)

Glen Coe's highest peak, Bidean nam Bian forms the apex of a complex and majestic massif of several sharp summits, with chiselled crests and deep-gouged corries walled by an impressive array of crags. Taken together this is one of the great mountains of Scotland. The range throws three parallel ridges towards the glen, cut short by an ice age glacier to form the famous spurs of the Three Sisters. The higher peaks and corries rise half-hidden and mysterious behind this public face. The radiating ridge/corrie layout permits many combinations of route; the one described here is among the more comprehensive tours of the massif, taking in its three most distinctive summits (two of them Munros).

Close this photo
+Stob Coire nan Lochan, Aonach Eagach and Ben Nevis from Bidean nam Bian, 109 kb
Stob Coire nan Lochan, Aonach Eagach and Ben Nevis from Bidean nam Bian

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Detailed description

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, 124 kb
On the east ridge of Bidean nam Bian
© Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com, Jan 2009

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