Stob a' Choire Odhair, Stob Ghabhar & Meall an Araich
& Subsidiary Tops

Thursday 2nd November 2017

Weather/Conditions: Beautiful morning, clouded over en route to Stob Ghabhar, and the rest of the day had a ceiling of cloud. Cold wind from the SW-ish! Walked out in last light.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 26km / 1500m / 6h 43m
Accompanying: Alone

A good day out on the hill. I'd had far bigger intentions for the day, as usual, but I didn't get away from Glasgow early enough. To be honest I hadn't set myself up - I hadn't packed the night before, and there was a lot of stuff lying around I'd need to collect. My brain really wasn't in it and I could feel it was taking ages to do tasks that really should be easy. I slowly got packed and slowly got moving, but it all wasn't quite right, so still feeling spaced out, I went back to sleep for a number of hours!

This wasn't the best start, but I got going in the end. The skies were perfect blue on the drive north - not a cloud. One part of my brain said I should be on the hills, but I felt nothing. Anyway, I stopped in at the Green Welly briefly and almost talked myself out of a day. Just go!!!!! I drove up to Forest Lodge-way/Victoria Bridge which was lovely. It feels like a long time since I've been here, I parked up and only got going at 11am, with warm sun and a chilly breeze from time to time.

It was lovely to be walking by the Abhainn Shira on good tracks, with the sun shining and my day of hills ahead. Everything was so clear it seemed I could just jump from summit to summit. Starav didn't look far away. But they are bigger than they look.

I turned right at the Clashgour hut and continued toward Stob a' Choire Odhair. There is a subsidiary of this summit, Beinn Toaig, which I'd never been on. Amazingly for the month, it was 'taps aff' on the walk up - the breeze had gone and the sun beating into that coire made it warm work! But it felt good to push hard, too. I headed sharp up the hillside, gained the top of the stalking track zig zags then cut off right toward Toaig, disturbing some deer along the way, who still stayed pretty close.

Beinn Toaig was a fantastic viewpoint, that wind came back hard, blowing cold. I then cut across to Stob a' Choire Odhair, and realised that the summit of Ben Cruachan was in cloud. Reaching the cairn, one other guy was there, we were both huddled in the north side of the cairn out the wind. For a good while I sat and just watched the hills and the stunning, still silence. It felt sacreligious to speak.

Continuing to Stob Ghabhar, the cloud rapidly advanced from the south until by the time I started climbing it had formed a sheet around 1100m. I watched two tiny figures reach the top of Ghabhar just as the first cloud started scraping the top. I had a nice plod up the boulderfields which took me onto the Aonach Eagach. Easily along this, I took the final slope (having a peer down Upper Couloir) to reach the large cairn, where I stopped for a bite to eat.

There were no views - the summit was misted in. I was still keen to continue over my subsidiary tops, a long line of them stretching westward.

I set a bearing and see off, following the fence line toward Sron a' Ghearrain. This must be one of the least prominent tops at around 16m - but it has lovely form. The second top Stob a' Bhruaich Leith was a bit boggier, and then I had a conundrum - it was natural to head to Meall na Araich now but I also wanted Meall Odhar - I'd long looked at this Corbett Top! It sits awkwarly in between a couple of ranges. In the end I decided to go for it, and I immensely enjoyed the solitude, quietude, the shifting light, brown hillsides, the way Meall nan Eun, Albannaich looked so close. If only I'd got up earlier! Then there was the way the light moved on the Buachaille Etive Mor: always a stunning steep face, and especially side on.

Meall an Araich is a low top, lying well under the shadow of Stob Ghabhar. I was keen to climb it though. I'd cycled past it in August 2010 and remember thinking about it then. I contoured the steep south face of Stob a' Bhruaich Leith, which although was entirely comprised of scree, moss and freely detaching rubble, I didn't seem to drop pace. A long descent on grass thereafter took me to Meall an Araich; a short climb to a cairn. Nice to finally be here.

It always strikes me as odd that hillwalking does something for me akin to stitching the world together. It makes everything seem to 'click' in some deep way and I'm starting to doubt I'll actually ever fully understand this. Not that I particularly want to. Though the initial descent off Meall an Araich was on tedious grass, I reached a stalking track and followed it to Clashgour. In time, the track descended to meet the Abhainn Shira (river), and I just ploughed the miles in the afternoon twilight. Having started the day feeling aimless, I finished with an all-encompassing sense of direction and ideas. As I drove out of Inveroran I noticed a headtorch coming off Beinn Dorain. We'd all had a good day, I'm sure.

360° Panoramas

Stob a' Choire Leith

Stob a' Bhruaich Leith

Meall Odhar

Meall an Araich
Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 11.00am Victoria Bridge (car)
(1.30) 12.30pm Beinn Toaig
(1.45) 12.45pm Stob a' Choire Odhair
(3.00) 2.00pm Stob Ghabhar
(3.16) 2.16pm Sron a' Ghearrain
(3.35) 2.35pm Stob a' Choire Leith
(3.55) 2.55pm Meall Odhar
(5.10) 4.10pm Meall an Araich
(6.43) 5.43pm Victoria Bridge (car)
Written: 2017-11 & 12-07