19th to 20th of November, 2011 – Glen Etive and Drumochter Pass

A weekend with two days walking after a seemingly long break from the hill tops due partly to other commitments and partly to bad weather on the planned walking days. On Saturday we walked a clockwise loop of the northern most of the Starav group in the west, Meall nan Eun and Stob Coir’ an Albannaich then on Sunday, after heading east, an anti-clockwise loop of two of the Drumochter Pass hills, Geal-charn and A’ Mharconaich was walked.

Glen Etive – Crossing the River Etive we lingered on the bridge for a quick photo stop as there was a good view up what length of the river we could see, with one of upper Glen Etive’s peaks behind. Typically none of my photos do it justice but glad we stopped to enjoy the view nonetheless. We continued to head up towards Meall nan Eun by the long, gentle approach of Glen Ceitlein, providing our legs with a nice warm up before a calf and lung burning steepening took us to the final gentle summit slope.  Breaks in the clouds afforded views here and there and glimpses of what we never saw as a whole, in general the hills west of us were largely visible but those to the north and east were not.

River Etive

Glen Ceitlein

Approaching the summit of Meal nan Eun

Some basic navigation was required in getting to our second hill as the cloud thickened about us but again the odd glimpse of surrounding scenery opened up and proved to be a helpful bonus with the route finding. During one of these windows we got a view of Loch Dochard which was a nice surprise, I hope to get a closer look at this on passing on a future trip to these hills when approaching from the Bridge of Orchy side.

Loch Dochard

Not much to see from the top of Stob Coir’ an Albannaich and with a much cooler feel to the air, less shelter and more wind, we took less time with our second lunch stop and soon departed the summit and headed for home. The final descent was not as steep as it had looked from beneath on the approach walk but id did get us down quick despite the bad condition of the path which seemed to deteriorate badly in the final wooded section. The views over the River Etive and Loch Etive and all that is going on where they meet are a bit like a geography illustration on river features.

Mouth of the River Etive

Drumochter Pass –  A later start and shorter route than the previous day and with mostly good paths, albeit boggy and eroded in places, had us taking in the scenery at a nice relaxed pace. It was nice to have reached the top quickly leaving the noise of the A9 behind and enjoy what views the breaks in the cloud allowed in to and along Loch Ericht. Bizarrely, this was my third time on these hills and every time I have had the same views and conditions. Ben Alder remained hidden for the entire day except for a small part which at the time I suspected was Long Leachas Ridge framed in a cloudy box at one point, I’m now convinced otherwise having had a proper gander at the map.

Drumochter Pass

Loch Ericht

Probably not Long Leachas Ridge on Ben Alder

Ben Alder Lodge

Along the way on our ascent of the second hill, A’ Mharconaich, we were entertained by numerous hares and the odd ptarmigan all very much in their winter coats though a bit too early to be doing them any good as camouflage.

Ptarmigan

With much fresher temperatures than on the Etive walk, we never lingered for long when stopped and almost as soon as unwrapping our chocolate on the summit, we were off downwards again.

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