Stob Coire a'Chairn and An Gearanach


For my second day's walk at Kinlochleven in May 2012 I decided to climb these two Munros. Stob Coire a'Chairn is reached easily from near Mamore Lodge but An Gearanach is more problematic as to reach its summit entails crossing the notorious slabs on An Garbhanach. Knowing my intense dislike of serious exposure I was very unsure that I'd be able to reach An Gearanach.....

To reach the hills I decided to take the West Highland Way path towards Fort William out of Kinlochleven and....

.....then join the paved road up to Mamore Lodge.

The Lodge itself is now a sorry sight - my wife and I stayed there in 2000 when we walked the West Highland Way and thoroughly enjoyed our stay. Despite some reports it seems that parking is still perfectly acceptable here.

Beyond the lodge the road turns into a track....

...and just beyond the bridge over the Allt Coire na Ba the way to the hill leaves the vehicle track .

The way ahead up into the corrie is easy..

....with a clear path heading straight towards Stob Coire a'Chairn.

Over to the west are the imposing cliffs of Am Bodach.

Just before the path starts climbing seriously a glance backwards shows the way up the glen.

The path turns up by the side of a burn and becomes a lot rougher..

......before doubling back on itself to cross a relatively level and boggy area below the slopes of Na Gruagaichean.

At a small lochan the path turns back on itself again...

.....and starts the traverse of the slopes Na Gruagaichean.

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Click on the photograph for a full sized panorama of Am Bodach and Stob Coire a'Chairn.

This superb stalkers path climbs to the coll between Stob Coire a'Chairn and Na Gruagaichean.

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The view from the coll reveals, from left to right ,Stob Coire a' Chairn, An Garbhnanach with An Gearanach just visible beyond. The snow covered hill is Aonach Beag and to the right of it the Grey Corries. Over to the right is Binnein Mor, the highest of the Mamore hills.

Click on the panorama for a larger image.

Once at the coll the way forward to Stob Coire a'Chairn is obvious....

....although there are some false summits... that it is some time...

.....before the rocky dome of the hill is seen.

Looking backwards and, beyond the coll, is Na Gruagaichean, with its two summits.

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Whilst I was in no doubt about reaching the summit of Stob Coire a'Chairn (on the left), I was unsure about the rest of the walk. This panorama shows the next stage of the walk onwards to An Garghanach (on the right) with Ben Nevis beyond.

There's a final climb over boulders...... reach the cairn. Beyond is Binnein Mor.

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This large panorama shows view from the summit from Am Bodach round to An Garbhanach.

Having had a break for lunch at the summit, I dropped down the steep path to the coll between Stob Coire a'Chairn and An Garbhanach....

......with its crags towering above.

The path uphill from the coll starts easily...

....and twists up the narrowing ridge..

.....with interesting views...

.....but nothing difficult.

Suddenly, there's a doorway out onto a big drop. It's a case of stepping out onto a narrow ledge just to the left with a big drop below...

....and carrying on climbing.

Nearly at the top, and this is where it's described in the guide books as 'being interesting'.

I'm not sure I'd like to be up here in a gale or pouring rain.

That's the first interesting bit...

....and the track drops down by the side for those who don't want to go over the top.

And this, I believe, is where the guide books say it gets "very interesting".

I did sit down on top of the rocks with legs both sides but no way was I going to go over those slabs. Ok, so there are some places to put your feet in but it's a very long way down if you slip.  So I stood still and looked for another way.

And, sure enough, there is a way which, whilst still exposed, does offer a way across for the more nervous of us.

A gentle scramble around the rocks on the east side of the crest...

....brings you after a few metres on to the ridge leading to An Gearanach.

A couple of minutes walk along this ridge brings you to the...

.....stony crest...

....and the small cairn  of An Gearanach. 

This was my 114th Munro and probably the one I was most pleased to have reached. A few years ago I wouldn't have dared to attempt this and whilst still needing to be very cautious I hadn't experienced any feelings of terror! Of course I now had to retrace my steps...

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Click on the photo to see a larger panorama.

The map shows the route I took on the return to Kinlochleven.

This shows the view from the summit of An Gearanach looking towards An Garbhananch.

By now I was intrigued to see whether it was harder to cross An Garbhananch in this direction.

The approach to the crest certainly looks more intimidating from this direction.

.....and the slabs no more inviting. Just as I was approaching this, the four walkers I'd met on Meal Dearg the day before crossed the slabs, holding on casually to the rocks with their right hands - well they had crossed the Aonach Eagach ridge so no doubt this was a doddle. As I expected it was a little more difficult to find my way back around the rocks, perhaps because it was slightly uphill and the foothold were less obvious.

Once off the hill it was down to the coll. There is a path marked on the maps that leads downhill from here and skirts the sides of Stob Coire a' Chairn before joining the main path back to Mamore Lodge.

Initially, there is a faint track but.... disappears on the drop down to some lochans.

Eventually, after a climb up the slopes, the path reappears..

....and soon becomes much more obvious as it climbs... join the path from the summit.

It would be easy to miss the junction of the path down from the coll to Mamore Lodge as there's only a very insignificant cairn.

A final look downhill towards the Allt Coire na Ba.

The walk had taken me exactly nine hours from Kinlochleven