Beinn Maol Chaluim and Sgor na h-Ulaidh from Glen Etive. August 2010

Date: Sunday 29th August 2010
Distance: 15.5km
Ascent: 1685m

Some late accommodation let us head up to Glen Coe on Saturday and a short walk up Tom Mheadhoin in wet and windy conditions was followed by an evening in a totally stowed out Clachaig.

Sunday was forecast mainly sunny with a strong wind – decided to head down Glen Etive to climb Beinn Maol Chaluim and head over to the adjoining munro Sgor na h-Ulaidh.

Parked at NN 148 492 1km NE of Invercharnan at the forestry edge. Sun edging into the glen at the Lairig Gartain.

The climb up Creag na Caillich is very steep for about 200m. Some deer poked their heads over the edge to view us edging up the last 30m.

The balance of the climb up Beinn Maol Chaluim can then be viewed.

There was a cutting wind with intermittent showers for most of the day, although the rain never got particularly heavy.

As the climb up the slope proceeds the views down Loch Etive improve.

There are some crags in the middle of the ascent at about 700m – bypassable on either side, we kept to the left.

Once at the 848m point its a bobbly wander along the ridge to the summit. Beinn Maol Chaluim, Stob an Fhuarain and Sgor na h-Ulaidh.

The summit has a view to the Clachaig and on to yesterday’s hill – Tom Mheadhoin.

The views to Bidean are a bit uninspiring – not the big lady’s best side. I’ve heard mention of folks climbing Bidean from this Corbett – didn’t fancy the look of that at all.

It was clear from the maps and eyeball on approach that a direct descent to the bealach with Stob an Fhaurain was not on. We headed N nearly 1km and then picked our way down through minor crags on a dropping traverse back to the Bealach Fhionngaill.

The climb up Stob an Fhuarain is steep in bits and benefitted from clear conditions to pick a line up at least 2 steeper sections.

Looking back to the cliffs of Beinn Maol Chaluim – descended along the summit ridge to the left edge of this photo then a dropping traverse right to the bealach.

Once at the summit here there were good views to the hills W of Glen Coe.

It’s an easy bimble between the 2 tops to the summit.

Ravens and Fraochaidh:

Saw our only 2 walkers of the day at the summit as we had our lunch.
Entertained on the summit by 2 ravens which were surfing the wind currents and checking out the area. One decided to hang in the wind about 10m behind Hazel’s head as she was on the move. I suspect a game was afoot.

The ravens were distracted briefly to mob a juvenile Golden Eagle – this spiralled up into the cloud base to deter them and dropped back after. Watched it for about 5 mins before it sailed towards Starav.

Had lunch on the sheltered side of the summit. Quite expansive views to the W, the mamores and the Ben in cloud and grey. Beinn Fionnlaidh and Loch Etive:

To return to the car we had a few options – Corr na Beinne and the S ridge to the glen, make for forestry access points in either glen to the S.
We opted to descend SE and over Meall a Bhuiridh to Dubh Chnoc then descending a forestry gap to the track (having eyeballed the gap from our ascent).

The descent is untechnical – there’s a crag line at about 700m that can be bypassed down a ramp to the left or grassy slopes to the right.

Fionnlaidh, Trilleachan and Starav from bealach:

Saw a Leucistic Wheatear up here – partial albino. Very light coloured, almost pinky but still with the characteristic white rump. Too mobile for a pic – stood out too much for likely survival.

Bealach pool:

A slow climb up Meall a Bhuiridh, still great views all round especially to Loch Etive.

And Back to Bealach Fhionngaill:

From Meall a Bhuiridh we descended south. We headed a bit too far left (E) and needed to track right to avoid crags but were soon at the forestry gap.

Descending views of Loch Etive:

And Ben Starav:

Deer keds made their presence known as soon as we neared the trees.
The descent from here was a bit irritating – very long tussock grass made for slow progress to the gap but the gap was present and no forestry needed crossed.

A simple walk back to the car from here. A hind and fawn were at the roadside as we passed. Obviously very used to people.

Very enjoyable route. From my perspective far preferrable to the SMC route for this Munro – nearly a whole day at high level with no glen-crawling ticks my boxes.

A good day would be advised – some route selection is easier with the eyeball, and of course the views are fab.


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