Glencoe is one of the most historic places in Scotland and was the scene of the Glencoe Massacre in 1692 where 38 members of the Clan MacDonald of Glencoe were killed by forces acting on behalf of the government of King William III. The valley always seems dark and brooding to me, with black mountains rising steeply on both sides of the valley. On the south side are the Three Sisters of Glencoe; these are three buttresses of Bidean nam Bian, normally hidden from view behind, while on the north side of the glen is Aonach Eagach (Notched Ridge), arguably the finest mountain ridge on the British mainland. All this was the location for the GOC Scotland/Adventure Out August Bank Holiday meet. Our venue was the Youth Hostel, which was a bit busy to be honest (hardly surprising given the location and Bank Holiday).
On the Saturday the group made a mass ascent of the twin Munros of Stob Coire Sgreamhach and Bidean nam Bian. Our climb was via the Lost Valley (Coire Gabhail) which is accessed by a narrow path on the side of a steep gorge. A boulder choke higher up the gorge has allowed a flat alluvial plain to form the floor of the glen. The outward appearance of the valley is a normal 'V' shape but the plain higher up the valley, hidden from below, provided a place for the local Macdonald Clan to hide livestock, whether rightfully theirs or stolen from others.
It was bit of a sultry day with hardly any wind; the prevalence of midges made lingering in the valley not very pleasant and we sought a breezy spot higher up before taking a break. The climb continued straight up the headwall of the valley, exiting onto the ridge by a short loose gully.
Stob Coire Sgreamhach summit is a short walk to the left. This is 3000ft top promoted to Munro status in the 1997 revision, and I don’t think it deserves it given the trival amount of ascent from the lower col; however the summit is quite impressive above a reasonable drop. Our walk continued on to Bidean and then descended via the Munro Top of Stob Coire nan Lochan – a spectacular setting with clear views of Aonach Eagach opposite.
Sunday - the group split with a pair going to traverse Aonach Eagach and the remainder going to climb the two Munros of Beinn a’Bheithir: Sgorr Dhearg (Red Peak) and Sgorr Dhonull (Donald’s Peak). We were joined for the day by some members from the central belt and fortunately this was a better day with some long spells of sunshine, and very warm. Our route took a direct ascent from the village of Ballachulish, first climbing Sgorr Dhearg, a fine peak with a stunning curving ridge of white quartzite, and then Sgorr Dhonuill with some exposed scrambing on the narrow summit ridge. We descended the forested glen of Gleann a’Chaolais (rather a boggy path higher up but a lot better lower down).
The Coop in Ballachulish was still open when we got there and they fortunately sold ice cream....