Reproduced from www.viewranger.com. Map data: Ordnance Survey ©Crown Copyright and/or database right 2016. License number 100043379.
|Following Loch Etive path/road to Dalness at NN 169 513 and picking up Lairig Eilde Coffin Road Northwards to camp at NN 169 530.|
|OS Landranger series maps: 50, 41|
|Length: 25.41 km|
|Total Ascent: 886m|
|Total Descent: 421m|
|Max Elevation: 489m|
|Min Elevation: 3m|
Today, I awake at Rubh Aird Phlacaig, and will quickly decamp and be on my way.
I will continue up the north side of Loch Etive today, I’m still on the Etive Path http://www.heritagepaths.co.uk/pathdetails.php?path=298 and will be able to feast my eyes on the Etive Slabs above me, and the dizzy heights of Ben Starav on the South.
Looking up at the Etive Slabs, they look fairly innocuous. In fact, close up, and from early spring onwards, they can be pretty treacherous. >45 degrees, and can be wet, slimy, loose, sharp. I recall many years ago a climbing buddy (A) recounting the horror of cutting the rope on the Etive Slabs when his climbing partner (B) came a cropper. In climbing, there is an unspoken agreement that if one falls, you cut the rope, preserving one for calling for help, rather than two potential fatalities. One life or two. His friend (B) suffered significant head injuries, but survived in no small part to the speed in which the friend (A) was able to summons help. Whilst recovering (B) insisted it was the right thing to do, but there is always the guilt that because he (A) cut the rope it was somehow his fault.
I love Ben Starav. It’s one of these mountains that just keeps going up. You start pretty much at sea level, and in just one mile of walking, you climb 1078m. Last time I summitted Ben Starav, was August 1996, taking the direct to the top route via the croft at Coilietir to the north. A beautiful day, and on summitting, we quickly had to don our (always carried) winter gear, as the weather turned and we got caught in a white out. We got into a sheltered spot and waited it out, all of half an hour, but one of the scariest half hours I’ve experienced on a mountain. We laughed as we walked back down in the glorious sun, at what would have been a passing shower at ground level.
As I reach the end of my heritage path, at a Jetty at the north end of the loch, I will pass through a gate that will lead onto the road than runs 10 or so miles to the A82. Shortly after here, I will leave the road turn up the mountainside above Dalness, and follow another heritage path, the Lairig Eilde Coffin Road, named such as it is thought that as there is a coffin cairn at the north end near the A82, that it was used to carry the dead to be buried at the church at the west end of Glen Coe.
I have selected this valley, the Lairig Eilde, which is Gaelic for Pass of the Hinds, on the West side of the Buchaille Etive Beag, referred to as the Wee Buchuaille as it sits in shadow as a marginally smaller version of Buchaille Etive Mor, or The BIG Buchaille. Not only because it is drier than the Lairig Ghartain which runs up the east side of the Wee Buchaille, between it and the Big Buchaille, but because if the conditions are right, I will get some amazing shots of deer on the mountain side. The views from above Dalness are pretty spectacular too, so its an amazing place for a wild camp. As I walk up the valley, I am flanked on my right by Stob Dubh, the most southernly summit of the Wee Buchaille, and Stob Coire Sgreamhach and Beinn Fhadda on my left. My spot for the night is nestled between these giants, at the head of the bealach, with spectacular views north and south.
See you tomorrow.