Bidean Nam Bian
Difficulty: Hard. It's a fair day out
Time: 8hrs +
Technicality: Hard walking. Not quite grade 1 scrambling but can still feel serious.
Terrain: Mixture of rough tracks, exposed summits, steep ridges and some scree. Potential for snow in North facing aspects up until May
Navigation: Mostly straight forward when following the route along tops, but it is not the terrain to make mistakes. You should be confident in route finding.
Parking: Three Sisters car park. View on Google Maps.
Food & Drink. Clachaig
1. NN 170 568. Start at the main view point car park or near by. There are a couple of laybys. Pick up the big path just below and head East then South to the footbridge at NN 173 563 to start the climb into Coire Gabhail: the Hidden Valley. This is where the local clan used to hide their stolen goods! And also where villagers fled during the massacre of Glencoe. Look it up. The climb up and into the valley is straight forward, running parallel to the river for the most part. You will eventually reach the main floor of the valley.
2. NN 166 554 Head straight across the valley floor in a SW direction to around NN162 551, where you will again start to climb. Follow the well walked path, keeping stream to your left until you near the head wall. Your aiming point is Bealach Dearg. Again, this is potentially a critical point for holding snow after winter. The route to the Bealach is steep and loose, so whether in snow or not, care is needed. You will want to be heading in a rough SW direction up to the 944 spot height at NN 150 536. If there is steep snow holding on the approach and you do not have skill or equipment to tackle it safely, turn back. The mountain will still be there when you return!
3.NN 150 536. After navigating the steep exit from the valley, head East up the slightly less steep and well used pull to Stob Coire Sgreamhach. You should not be on any tricky ground. Enjoy views from the sumit back to your previous two days work! From the summit of Sgreamhach at NN154 536, return the way you come and pass Bealach Dearg on the way up to Bidean Nam Bian. You should be able to enjoy a fine stretch of steep but satisfying ridge walking. Savour it.
4. NN 143 542. From the summit of Bidean Nam Bian, pick up the track running NE and descend the steep ridge to NN 145 544 and then back up another to Stob Coire nan Lochan! You want to keep to the crest of each ridge. This is a reasonably straight forward section but may be a bit nervy on the descent. Have faith in your abilities. (and bearings!)
5. NN 148 548. From the summit of Stob Coire nan Lochan, head NW then N, following the path that hugs the ridge line around both South and Pinnacle buttress' then continue as the terrain softens and curves back to the East. Just near the 856 spot height, at NN 149 556, keep the loop going until you're heading roughly south, toward the pools at NN 149 553. From there, journey SE to the small lakes at NN 152 552
6. NN 152 552. From the small lochans, take the path at the least steep section, to the right of the outflow, about NN 152 551 and follow the path down and put of Coire Nan Lochan. At around NN 158 557, there is a potentially steep and awakard step down. You may find a slightly easier step near the stream but with care, neither should be too taxing. Follow the long and sweeping path out of the Coire and say hi to the day trippers and they head up for a taste of the amazing landscape you have just left. Sweep up any litter you find along the way to thank the mountains. Keep going to the foot bridge at NN 166 566, then finish the final stretch, trying not to get too disheartened by the last, teeny little climb back to the car park! Be sure to stop and spend a few minutes looking back to the high places you have just enjoyed for three days. Now get yourself to the Clachaig Inn for a hearty meal and a well deserved local ale, whiskey or water! Finish your weekend in style.