Date: Friday 25th June to Saturday 26th June 2010
Weather: Overcast but clouds above summits
Distance: 17.9 km
Time taken: 9 Hour 30 Minutes
Ascent: 1939 metres
Accompanied by: Kev
Munro: Binnein Mor (1130 metres)
Munro: Na Gruagaichean (1056 metres)
Munro: Sgurr Eilde Mor (1010 metres)
Munro: Binnein Beag (943 metres)
Munro Top: Binnein Mor South Top (1062 metres)
he weather forecast had been promising all week. A huge ridge of high pressure offered sunny skies and the possibility of an excellent sunset and sunrise. I was meeting Kev at the car park next to the The Real Food Cafe in Tyndrum and I will not deny the fact that I considered tucking into a ‘fish-supper’ before setting out on our walk to tackle four Munro’s in the Mamores from Kinlochleven. Unfortunately, I was running a little late and maybe a belly full of fish and chips would not exactly ideal as we hiked up to our wild camping spot at 700 metres.
Kev was already waiting when I arrived and after a quick car swap we where heading through Glencoe towards Kinlochleven where we would be starting the walk. Our plan was to hike up the established path towards Sgurr Eilde Mor and camp at the lochan. Conveniently situated at 737 metres, this would be an ideal ‘launch-pad’ the following the day to bag the summit and then push on and perform a circuit of Binnein Beag, Binnein Mor and Na Gruagaichean.
A schoolboy navigation error had us missing the correct path up towards the land rover track and a tough slog uphill was required to rectify our mistake. I’m a bit of a slow starter when it comes to hiking and crossing map contours head on was not exactly the most ideal way to warm up. We did gain height however and thirty minutes later we had a decent view back down to Kinlochleven and across Loch Leven.
It was pretty hot at this stage but the heat did not put the midges off – the little blighters were having a great time. Fortunately, as we approached the land rover track, there was a nice breeze coming across from Loch Eilde Mor so we where able to continue without getting eaten alive.
We where not on the land rover path for long before we headed north-east up the well defined stalkers path that skirted around Sgor Eilde Beag and up towards our camping spot near the lochan. As we rounded the corner, we could see a guy heading up the shoulder towards the summit of Sgurr Eilde Mor. Neither of us was sure if there was any suitable location to pitch a tent on the summit but we had no intention of going any higher anyway so we set up next to the lochan. It was a pleasant change to be setting up the tent in decent conditions. By decent, I mean no wind, rain or midges! In fact such was my laid back approach, Kev had his tent set up and was tucking into his tea before I had inserted the first peg.
Although the cloud was above the tops and we could clearly see our route the following day, there was going to be no chance of any kind of sunset. We chilled out for a while with a couple of drams of Ardbeg which Kev had generously brought along before settling down in our tents for the night. There was no significant change to the weather over night and although it was cloudy, the tops where free so the day ahead had potential. We ate breakfast, packed up and set off up towards our first summit of the day, Sgurr Eilde Mor.
It was only approximately 300 metres to the summit and we made rapid progress to the top. Unfortunately, so did the cloud and as we approached the summit, the cloud was swirling over the top. We stopped to take a few photos then pushed on towards the second summit of the day, Binnein Beag. We took a line towards Coire a’ Bhinnein and ensured we did not drop any lower than required and soon we where on the col between Binnein Beag and Binnein Mor.
As it was going to be a case of just ascending and descending Binnein Beag by the same route, Kev suggested we leave the bags at the bottom and we quickly ascend up and back down. It was good to get the pack off your back but it felt really weird and I was kind of light headed at first. The climb to the top offered no problems and we chilled out for a whilst looking down towards the Water of Nevis and over to Ben Nevis, shrouded in cloud. I reckon that this would make an amazing high level camping spot with amazing sunset potential if the weather allowed.
Back down from the summit we collected our bags and headed up towards summit number three, Binnein Mor. From the col it looked a bit of a slog and initially it was as crossed a grassy incline that skirted around Allt Gharbh Choire. But once we got onto the ridge, we made good progess up towards the summit.The good news was that as we approached the top the cloud lifted and although the sky was still grey, it afforded decent views.
Kev had already been up Na Gruagaicghean but it was climbed in thick clag so he had no issue doing it again and it was on our way back to the car, so made good sense anyway. We dropped down to the low point between the two peaks and with an eye on my altimeter, we deliberated exactly what the prominence must be between two peaks for them to be considered a Munro. 500 feet is the magic number and as we dropped down the towards the low point the magic number was achieved. We continued along the ridge and headed up to the summit.
It was approaching mid day now and the sky was breaking up with blue patches appearing. The Ring of Steall is high on my ‘hit-list’ and there was great views from the top of Na Gruagaicghean. That was for another day however, four peaks was a decent return by midday and we headed down the south eastern spur and then headed south-west down the grassy hillside towards the path that leads back down to where our car was parked.
We had a decent amount of height to drop and you could feel it on your knees as we gradually descended. It was with relief when we hit the path and just after 1pm we where back in the car and on our way back home.