Redemption in the Arrochar Alps: Stob Coire Creagach

After a failed attempt at Stob Coire Creagach a couple of years before in winter, I thought it was about time I gave this ‘wee’ mountain another go and tick off another one of the Arrochar Alps. The fact that it was a near perfect day for walking certainly didn’t make this rugged Corbett any easier!

[July 2019]

The so-called Arrochar Alps are definitely one of my favourite mountainous areas. Every peak is rugged and steep with great views of mountains, forest and lochs. I’m slowly nearing completion of the Munros and Corbetts in the Arrochar Alps, but having had a go at Stob Coire Creagach a couple of winters ago and needing to turn back due to time constraints, I thought it was about time for some redemption.

Another bonus of visiting this area of the country is the relatively short journey from Ayrshire, meaning it’s not necessary to have a ridiculously early start or drive for hours and hours to even begin walking. Around 2 hours saw us from Ayrshire to Butterbridge where we parked up in the large lay-by on the south side of the road. It was only 0845  but it was already pretty warm and most of the clouds had broken up or disappeared to leave the surrounding tops clear, so we knew we were in for another good day.

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The day’s target

We set off across the road and through a gate where the main track up Glen Kinglas heads off up the valley, but we turned off almost immediately to follow a fence uphill for the first part of the ascent. It might have been a spell of some great weather for a couple of weeks now, but there were still some particularly boggy areas and there wasn’t much of a path through the vegetation.

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Path?

We gained height quite quickly up the steep slopes and with every step the views back towards the rest of the Arrochar Alps began to open up. This gave us an excuse for the odd wee break up the steep pathless slopes!

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Sarah doing some jungle bashing
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Beinn Luibhean

After a reasonably constant climb for just over half a kilometre or so, we reached a craggy section where the terrain steepens more and hints of a path zig-zag their way uphill. After topping out here the path again came and went, but we were able to pick a manageable route missing out any boggy or craggy sections.

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Loch Restil and a cloud-capped Ben Donich
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Glen Kinglas
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An audience

Just below the summit a clearer path emerged and we followed this to reach the top of the mountain. There were great views south to the Arrochar Alps but the upper reaches of Glen Kinglas and beyond towards Ben Lui were equally impressive.

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Glen Kinglas – spot Abyssinia bothy
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Sheep with a view

We reached the summit around 1130. It had taken us about 2.5 hours to do roughly 2km of walking, but it wasn’t exactly a stroll! The wind had picked up a little as we reached the summit, so we stood for a short rest and took in the brilliant views before heading off the summit to find somewhere a little more sheltered where we could enjoy a spot of lunch.

There is the option to contiue along the western ridge of the mountain to reach Binnein an Fhidhleir, but by this point we were pretty knackered and the Corbett is Stob Coire Creagach, so the target for the day was done.

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Awesome summit views
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The Arrochar Alps

The descent was made by retracting our steps, carefully picking our way down pathless sections to avoid bogs or rocky outcrops (there are plenty of the latter on this wee hill).

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Beinn an Lochain
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Nearing the end of a great day

It took us a little over an hour for the descent (it’s definitely easier coming down than going up!) and we were very thankful to see the car getting closer, but we hadn’t considered quite how much of an oven it would be having been left in the baking sun all day. The car’s thermometer read 32 degrees and it certainly felt that warm out of the wind. Thankfully Sarah had been clever and brought a cool bag with some snacks and drinks along with a few ice blocks, so we at least had something to cool us down after a short but pretty difficult day in the hills!

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