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).
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Distance: 8.61 miles (13.86 km)
Total ascent: 1,385m
Steepest Gradient: 42% (1 in 2)
Time: 6 hours (Walking)
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Lairig Eilde car park, NN187562
Ballachulish (or Fort William if you want a real town)
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.
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 Highlands – Met Office: West Highlands
Buses from Glasgow to Fort William can drop you off in Glen Coe
The Munros, SMC http://www.smc.org.uk/Publications/Publications.php?ID=1
OS Explorer 384 (1:25,000), Harvey/BMC Ben Nevis (1:40,000), OS Landranger 41 (1:50,000)
Glencoe YH 01855 811219 Clachaig Inn 01855 811252
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by Dan Bailey UKH