Posted by: Andrea | April 26, 2008

Stob Ban and Mullach nan Coirean

Once again this past weekend I was up hill walking with my lovely boyfriend.  This time we were up walking near Fort William.  We’d initially planned on doing a nice easy hill (Ben Chonzie, not too tall and should have taken less than four hours) because I was going out with some work friends on Friday night and anticipated being a bit under the weather come Saturday morning.  However, I managed to get home around 9pm, very reasonable, and on my way home got a phone call from the boyfriend.  How would I feel about going hill walking with his two friends?  And how about doing an entirely different walk?  One that would include two Munros over 1200 meters and would stretch over 22 kilometres?

Oh, and did I mention that his two friends are a royal marine commando and his girlfriend, who runs ultra marathons?

So yeah, my answer to that was a big NO.  You want to do that honey?  You go do that with the marine and the runner on your OWN thank you very much.  We finally compromised and decided on Stob Ban and Mullach nan Coirean, two hills that were sub-1000 metre, a big requirement of mine due to the continued presence of snow on the bigger hills.  The walk would be a much more manageable 14 kilometres. 

Following a pretty lengthy drive up to Fort William, we finally set off from the car park at 11:30am.  We headed into the forest on the lower flanks of the hills and I almost immediately following began to sweat.  It was HOT that day and I was very surprised by how sweltering it actually was in the forest.  There was no breeze and not enough tree cover to keep the sun from roasting us.  Thankfully we had the view of Ben Nevis behind us to keep us motivated.  

Ben Nevis is the tallest hill in Scotland, at 1344 metres.  We were going up the hill right across the valley so we had gorgeous views all day.  And you can see from the blue skies, my weather jinx has finally been broken!  Hooray!  We headed through the trees but we could see the hills to come through the forest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And you can’t have a day hill walking without mud!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We finally broke through the trees and saw the hills ahead.  Our route would hit the first hill directly ahead and then follow the ridge along to Stob Ban.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We decided to head directly up the hill to our right – the very steep, heather and rock covered hill.  In actuality I prefer this, though it’s steep and difficult, you gain a lot of altitude in the shortest possible distance.  Once we got to the top the worst was pretty much done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking back down the hill, during one of our breaks.  The green trees is where we started:

When we finally got the the top of the ridge, we stopped for lunch.  It was VERY windy at the top, but thankfully the marine came totally prepared!  He pulled out an emergency shelter big enough for six.  This looks like a tent with no bottom and we all pulled it over our heads and sat on the edges.  It was really warm and we didn’t really want to leave it!  But eventually we faced the music and packed up and headed out.

 

Looking up the ridge.  The top of the munro is to the left, out of the picture.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We finally reached the top, after being momentarily distracted by a false cairn at one of the other tops.  This happens to me all the time, I just see a big pile of rocks and I think I’m done!  Thankfully the actual top wasn’t too much farther away and we reached it pretty quickly.  This next photo is looking along the ridge to Stob Ban, the tallest hill to the left.  Stob Ban has very distinctive grey rocks so I was able to keep it in sight.  I’m very good at having no idea where I’m going.  Well there are a lot of hills out there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking across the valley back towards the ridge we came up.  That was the ridge we headed up right after lunch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking along the ridge towards Stob Ban.  I started getting a bit nervous at this point as Stob Ban kept looking steeper and steeper as we got closer to it.  Plus, covered in snow!  I’d left my ice ax in the car because I figured I wouldn’t need it.  Well, that and it’s kind of heavy and I didn’t want to carry it.  I was starting to think this was a bit of a mistake!  But before that, we had some fun scrambling up this big rock in front of us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We finally reached Stob Ban!  This is the second steep part and we’re thankfully almost to the top.  It was also pretty steep and I kept sliding backwards.  Thankfully the boyfriend walked along behind me and made sure I didn’t go sliding down the mountain.  Luckily I had a bunch of rocks poking out of the snow to hold on to so we got up without too much trouble.  And to our second munro of the day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The view from the top!  This is a loch.  Called something I don’t know, surrounded by other mountains I don’t know the names of.  I told you, I’m really bad with geography!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another view of the ridge we came up.  You can see the initial ascent to the right of the picture and how the ridge swings around and up to Stob Ban.  Thankfully there wasn’t too much snow, but enough that we were glad we’d worn our winter boots.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the descent!  We went slipping and sliding down this ridge too, but at least I had heavy winter boots to keep me upright and with dry feet!  This is probably the last walk we’ll do in the winter boots this year, which I don’t mind at all.  Those things are heavy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, this was a fantastic day out.  We had gorgeous weather the whole time and I even got a bit sunburned!  It took us about 7 hours from start to finish.  It was a great workout but I didn’t feel completely dead at the end, which is a bonus.  However, I definitely appreciated the nice hot bath when I got home!  If you’re ever up near Fort William and looking for a longer day, definitely try these two hills.

Munro count as of now: 9 out of 284.  I’m making progress! 🙂

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Responses

  1. Wow…your pictures make you look like you’re at the top of the world! I’m impressed, lady! When you move back to the PNW, we’ll have to go hiking (so you can effectively kick my ass with your studliness).

    🙂

  2. Absolutely, we’ll go as soon as I get back! Of course Or/Wa hills are MUCH higher than Scottish ones. I was looking at the highest 100 hills in OR and the shortest of the 100 was over 7000 feet. Just for reference, these are around 3000 or a bit more. So yeah, there are MANY out there that i can’t do! But I’d love to introduce you to hill walking. It’s really fun, even though there’s always a point during every walk where I think to myself, why in the WORLD am I doing this to myself? But the views at the top are worth it. 🙂


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