|Eastern Mamore Ridge|
The southern ridge of Glen Nevis (separating it from Loch Leven and the
town of Kinlochleven) is considered one of the finest mountain ranges in
Scotland. It is no surprise to find that it contains no less than 11 (pre-1997)
or 10 (post-1997) Munros from Mullach nan Coirean in the west to the isolated
eastern peak of Sgurr Eilde Mor. A good network of stalker's paths and easy
access to the ridge make this the ideal place to increase your Munro tally. My
personal ambition before returning to New Zealand was to bag the Munros on this
ridge. The extremely fit can work out a route to grab all the peaks at one go.
Lesser mortals like myself need to split the ridge up. How I acquired the
Stob Ban and Mullach nan Coirean on the 22nd May 1992 as an appetiser for Ben Nevis the next day.
Sgurr a'Mhaim on the 14th August 1992 (after finishing the West Highland Way).
An Gearanach, Stob Coire a'Chairn, Am Bodach, Sgor an Iubhair and Sgurr a'Mhaim (again) on the 22nd June 1993 (part of my "Munro Trek" before returning home).
Binnein Beag, Binnein Mor, Na Gruagaichean and Sgurr Eilde Mor on the 23rd June 1993.
The last group is the subject of this page.
Since I was already camping in Glen Nevis, the route begins here. However the same group of Munros can just as easily be climbed from Kinlochleven - a slightly more comfortable place to end the day. Either way you should plan for at least 8 hours of great walking.
Make a good early start (8am is OK) from your campsite at either the river flats at the Steall Waterfall or the smaller, more private campsite at the Steall ruins upriver. Make your way up the Water of Nevis along a track that is sometimes eroded and often boggy. The track forks about a kilometre past Steall - take either route. The paths meet again past a loop in the river and continue for about 200 metres to an old fence. In another 200 metres, the track gets to a small bend in the river. This is a good place to ford the river - if you see a better place upriver then use it and return to this spot.
The idea now is to pick a gully and climb through the crags above the river to the easier slopes above. I found that following the stream in the corner of the bend gave good (if steep) access through the crags. If you follow the same stream then climb the slopes for about 500 metres before heading directly south towards Binnein Beag ("small peak", 940m). Soon you pick up the bottom of a stalker's path. Follow the path eastwards until it makes a big turn to the west.
If you want to, you can follow the stalker's path as it turns south and climbs to a bealach with a small lochan. Here the usual path up to Binnein Beag can be joined. This means that you will have to come down from the summit by the same route.
I recommend though that you desert the path and contour around the slopes to the western side of Binnein Beag. This is fairly easy going so long as you keep on the grassy parts of the slopes. Head straight up the western side on bouldery ground. It is steep but any scree you come across is stable and you are free to make your own zigzag progress to the summit.
At the summit have a rest and drink in the great views. Ben Nevis indicates its dual nature well with its whaleback slopes extending to the west and a glimpse of the north facing cliffs. Binnein Mor ("big peak", 1128m) is your next objective to the south-west. In the photo above, you can see the two corries with patches of snow separated by the Sron a'Garb-choire ridge. The ridge looks steep and it is.
|Binnein Beag from Binnein Mor|
Take the path down to the lochan. This heads west to start with and then swings south on the top of crags before a final rush down the scree to the bealach and a small lochan. Apparently you can clamber onto the ridge from somewhere around here but I took an easier route. Climb SSE from the bealach into the corrie on gently rising slopes until the grass gives way to rock and steeper slopes. Before the gradient becomes really serious, look to your left for a ledge running up to the top of the ridge - it can be seen in the top photo. A little scramble is needed to get onto the broad ledge and then you can follow it all the way onto the ridge. The more adventurous can have a go at climbing up the gullies that drop down from the ridge to the ledge.
The second photo on this page shows Binnein Beag and the route from it to Binnein Mor. In the background are the Grey Corries - Sgurr Choinnich Mor on the left to Stob Ban isolated on the right. The white patches on the Grey Corries are quartzite scree - not snow. The descent from Binnein Beag is the faint thread starting from just right of the peak. The lochan can just be seen peeping around the knee of the Sron a'Garb-choire ridge.
Sron a'Garb-choire takes a direct and narrow route to the summit with good scrambling all the way. If you stay strictly on the crest of the ridge then there are some nice vertical sections (easily by-passed below the crest). Very near the summit, a path branches off the ridge top and climbs onto the summit itself.
The summit is nice and sharp like a good mountain top should be. There is enough room though to sit down and have lunch (for a small party).
|Na Gruagaichean (above the snow patches) with the Glen Coe hills behind|
The route to Na Gruagaichean ("the maidens", 1055m) is clear. From the summit of Binnein, a long stony ridge drops for 1 kilometre to a small flat peak at 1062m. It then dips a bit and then rises easily for 1 kilometre to the summit of Na Gruagaichean. The path follows the crest of the ridge mostly except for a section on the descent into the dip. Once again there are good views - especially down over Kinlochleven. You can look over to the North-west Top (1036m) and even bag this via a steep and narrow ridge.
To continue, return westwards to the small 1062m peak and take its other ridge to the west. Follow the ridge for 700 metres until it begins to ascend to the top of Sgor Eilde Beag (956m). If you feel like collecting this peak then its summit is only 200 metres further on. However the path drops over the north side of the ridge and quickly loses height on a well-constructed zigzag track. At the bottom of the zigzags, the track descends gradually around the end of a ridge from Sgor Eilde Beag and then takes a direct route down to the Coire an Lochain and its lochan with its interestingly serrated shoreline. This is a good point to refill your water bottles. Here a stalker's path from Kinlochleven is crossed over - it will be met again later in the day.
Traverse the bealach on a path between the lochan and a smaller lochan to the north. This takes you to the scree slopes at the base of the western ridge to Sgurr Eilde Mor ("big peak of the hind", 1008m). A fairly tedious route makes its way up the scree until just below the reddish schist cap of the hill. Here the path clambers onto a more solid line of exciting crags that take you up onto the summit.
By now you may have tired of glorious views (or maybe you are just tired!) but this is a good point to appreciate the days walking. The Sron a'Garb-choire ridge up to Binnein Mor is a highlight of the vista especially since it will probably be outlined against the afternoon sky. You can relax a little bit because about two thirds of the walk is done and the rest is very easy.
|Sgurr Eilde Mor and the long, easy ridge back to Glen Nevis (the pointed peak on the horizon is of course Schiehallion)|
A long, gentle ridge descends for 1.5 kilometres to the north of Sgurr Eilde Mor, dropping 350m. Wander along this ridge - there are no real paths but then none are needed along its even surface. The stalker's path is met again in a slightly boggy hollow before a slight climb (30m) up to the hill of Meall Doire na a'Achlais.
Descend the other side of the hill - if you walk quietly you may catch a glimpse of deer. Start to curve your direction (first north for 500 metres and then NNW) so that you pass to the west of the Tom Buidhe knoll. This takes you onto level and wet ground where a NW heading will get you to the Allt Coire a'Bhinnein stream near a bridge. This is a very pretty spot for a rest - well worth the walk.
Cross over the bridge and head NNW over boggy ground - you can't go too much off-course here since there is a fence to prevent you going too far west. In about 200 metres you meet a trickle of water - this is the headwaters of the Water of Nevis. There is no trouble fording it and just up its banks there is a path - this is the upper part of the track followed in the morning. This path goes all the way to Corrour Railway Station with its bunkhouse (Corrour Bunkhouse) and further to Loch Ossian Youth Hostell in the east.
Another 6 kilometres of easy walking will get you to the campsite at Steall ruins (7 kilometres back to the river flats). This gives you plenty of time to unwind from a long and (I hope) rewarding day.
|Route from Kinlochleven|
Start by joining the West Highland Way heading along the lochside road northwards until it bends to the west and a school is reached about 300 metres further. Leave the road to follow a path that passes behind the filling station and then starts to climb steadily through the birch woods. On this first section note the well-preserved stone footings in the fords - some of the original road construction. Turn left when a fork is reached just before the access road to Mamore Lodge. The Way crosses the road but we turn right towards the lodge.
Beyond the lodge follow the rough track to the east until you get to the bridge across the Allt Coire na Ba. From there climb steeply north-east up grassy slopes to gain the south ridge from Na Gruagaichean. An easier climb heads north to the summit of your first Munro of the day.
Reverse the above route to climb Binnein Mor first and then Binnein Beag. Return to the col between the hills to rejoin the stalkers path and head south. A gentle descent brings the headwaters of the Allt Coire a`Bhinnein and an easy climb to Coire an Lochain with its patches of water. Head up the scree slopes at the base of the western ridge to Sgurr Eilde Mor.
To return to Kinlochleven, head down the south ridge and follow a path to the southern shores of the big lochan. Cross the outlet stream and rejoin the stalkers path. This drops steeply at first and then more gently to the track from Mamore Lodge which is about 1.5 kilometres to the west.