Back in March 2015 the Club had a meet in the Inbhirfhaolain Hut in Glen Etive. This time around our Glen Etive meet would take place on 12th/13th May further up the glen at the Smiddy which sits almost at the end of the public road opposite the imposing Ben Starav and a few hundred yards away from the lapping waters of Loch Etive. The hut is owned by Forventure, a charitable organisation based in Oban. It can accommodate 14 guests and is very well equipped considering the remoteness of the location.
Jim Aire, Bill Dallas, Raymond Evenden, James Fraser, George Henderson, Susan Henderson, Paul McGrandles, Neil Morrison, Alan Orr, Norrie Shand, Gerry Weir
The weather forecast for Saturday was not very promising but Friday’s was much better. After much poring over maps earlier in the week Norrie eventually decided that he would climb Beinn Fhionnlaidh on Friday rather than, as originally planned, on Saturday to take advantage of the better conditions. George and Susan had come to the same conclusion and the initial plan had them starting the walk well after Norrie and catching him up on the hill. As it happened, Norrie hadn’t left the carpark when they arrived, so the three set off together, initially up through the forest then over the moorland and up the zig-zag path leading up onto the summit plateau. Before too long they were taking in the views from the trig point.
The Henderson scamper was soon in evidence as George and Susan quickly descended following the ascent route back down – as Norrie plodded back down in their wake.
Jim had also decided to climb this hill on the Friday albeit with a later start. He had some enjoyable company though as he met a couple and their son in the car park and the four of them romped up the mountainside stopping briefly for a blether with first George and Susan, then Norrie as they made their way back down.
With the hut only a short distance away it wasn’t long before the Friday walkers were sitting at the hut and engaged in some much-needed fluid replacement. It was a glorious evening and seats were taken outside so the group could drink in the views in addition to the contents of their glasses.
Raymond had been making a habit of adopting novel ways of arriving at club meets, having previously come in by canoe. This time he cycled the 91 miles from Stirling to the hut, delayed only by a refuelling stop at the Kingshouse. Club members are looking forward to him arriving on horseback at the next meet.
Shortly afterwards, Paul and James turned up, followed by Neil and then Gerry, with Alan and Bill finally arriving a bit later.
Spirits were high as the troop basked in the evening sunshine – or in some cases swung from the trees. Gerry and Norrie unpacked the guitars and there was some impromptu al fresco singing – much to the bemusement of the occupants of the few vehicles that passed.
Later, following the arrival of Bill and Alan the party continued indoors with George, as usual, ensuring that nobody would be required to put on an extra jumper to keep warm.
Saturday dawned, as forecast, with cloud shrouding the hills above around 2000 feet. Neil, George and Susan set off for the nearby trio of Ben Starav, Beinn nan Aighenan and Glas Bheinn Mhor. The possibility was mooted of extending the walk further north east up onto Stob Coir an Albannaich – but only if conditions and fortitude were in their favour. Ben Starav in particular is an excellent mountain but on this occasion, it wasn’t being experienced at its finest due to descending clag. Nevertheless, the three proceeded onwards and upwards to its summit followed by a sharp descent and a detour south east to the outlier Beinn nan Aighenan before returning north and scooting up Glas Bheinn Mhor. Three Munros in these conditions proved sufficient for the squad in these conditions and George and Susan headed back down the glen to the hut. The new slimline Neil had to get back in Perth that evening and had shot off ahead of the others to ensure he wasn’t late for his appointment.
Raymond also had his sights set on the outlier Beinn nan Aighenan and Glas Bheinn Mhor but, wearing his blinkers he wasn’t distracted by Ben Starav to the west. At one point, he bumped into some familiar faces scrabbling along the main ridge in the clag. He wasted no time though in knocking off his intended pair and before he long he was striding back towards the hut and being first back, attending to fire lighting duties.
Bill’s agenda saw him head up to Bidean’s lesser Munro, Stob Coire Sgreamhach from Dalness further up glen Etive. From Bidean’s ridge a descent was made to Beallach Fhionnghaill. From there it was a scramble up over Stob An Fhuaran and onto the Munro of Sgurr na h- Ulaidh. His challenging and unorthodox excursion ended with a descent over the Corbett, Beinn Maol Chaluim. Unfortunately, he too had other fish to fry on Saturday night and set a direct bearing for Aberdeenshire and home.
Jim, James, Gerry, Alan, Paul and Norrie took a short walk from the hut to the head of the loch. From there, the latter pair had targeted the Corbett of Beinn Trilleachan whilst the others had their sights set on a cross country march over boggy moorland to the distant Munro of Beinn Sgulaird. The walk didn’t get off the best start as the six did a fair impression of a bunch of headless chickens as they took an unnecessary diversion through some very uneven terrain where woodland had been felled before finally getting themselves back on track by clambering over a fence to where their path lay. The post mortem later that night failed to establish who should take the blame for their farcical start but rumours persisted that they were simply following a sign reading “Fraser’s Way”.
Alan had been struggling with a dodgy knee for several months and was clearly not going at a fast enough pace to join the band heading for the Munro. He was happy though to join Paul and Norrie on their ascent of Beinn Trilleachan – a much less taxing excursion, even though it did involve around 1000 metres of ascent due to the undulating ridge. They took their time scaling the rocky outcrops as their route took them to the minor top sitting above the climber’s paradise that is the Trilleachan Slabs – with vertiginous views down to loch below. At one time, it looked as though their slightly lower hill might remain below the cloud but as they finally approached the summit the descending clag ensured there would be no summit views.
A descent down a steep gully direct to the loch was discussed but eventually Health and Safety prevailed and they returned more or less by their upward route.
Meanwhile the other three continued their boggy traverse westward towards Beinn Sgulaird, the going not all easy as they squelched their way towards its rocky profile. Despite some of the finest navigational minds in the club being at the helm, the misty conditions meant that locating the summit amongst the outcrops was not going to be easy. Whether by expert compass work or sheer good luck however they did eventually locate the large cairn marking the summit. A drookit trudge back east then south lay ahead of them in a near five-mile return journey. By the time they made it back to the head of the loch a search party in the shape of Paul and Norrie had already been despatched and they were able to report back that the group were indeed wading their way homeward.
A typical evening followed of cider, song and slagging before everyone finally tumbled into bed sometime after midnight.
There had been some discussion by a few of doing a hill on Sunday morning, but conditions hadn’t improved that much and everyone decided to keep their boots and their powder dry and head back home and recover before their next outing.
4 thoughts on “The Smiddy, Glen Etive -12th/13th May, 2017”
Love the roadside ‘band’ – bet that did startle a few motorists!
I’m not sure I’ll ever go back down that road again (although I love the glen) – well, not in a car anyway – might try a bike like Raymond (it would be hilarious if he did indeed turn up on a horse next time!). The road nearly did for my poor old Nissan Sunny last time and now the car is even older and wearier and the suspension more b*ggered, I’m not sure it would cope at all!
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Didn’t think Glen etive road was too bad – maybe been resurfaced since you were last on it. Heading to Strawberry Cottage at the west end of Loch Affric today – now THAT is a test for vehicles….
There’s no way I’d take any vehicle of mine down the south Loch Affric road – even my pedal bike hated it!
The alternative i.e. walking in with “essential supplies” doesn’ bear thinking about!!