Walk of the week: Stob Coire Easain

Stob Ban viewed from the Grey Corries, almost overlooked by the two higher Munros of Stob Coire Easain and Stob a` Choire Mheadhoin.
Stob Ban viewed from the Grey Corries, almost overlooked by the two higher Munros of Stob Coire Easain and Stob a` Choire Mheadhoin.
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High above the west side of Loch Treig (one of those lochs with a railway line but no road beside it) is a six-mile long ridge that extends from Creaguaineach Lodge in the south to Fersit in the north.

The highest points on the ridge are the twin peaks of 1115m/3658ft Stob Coire Easain, peak of the corrie of the waterfalls, and 1105m/3625ft Stob a’Choire Mheadhoin, peak of the middle corrie. Separated by a 960m col, and just over half a mile apart, they are invariably climbed as a pair. Despite the length and height of the ridge, there are no subsidiary Tops – just a minor bump at 916m.

Fersit is the nearest road-end and hence the usual starting point. However, Rhona, Jimbo and I had other plans. We stayed overnight at Tulloch Station Lodge, ready for the early morning train to Corrour station. From Mondays to Saturdays the 07.42 train from Fort William (last station, Tulloch, 08.13) reaches Corrour at 08.30. The south train arrives at 08.59, request stop [NB Sunday trains arrive too late].

With a circa 6pm sunset, this may be the last opportunity this year for a long daylight hill traverse. (Remember head torches! Summer time ends on 27 October when clocks go back one hour). An 8:30am start gives a nine-hour day. However, only go on a day of good visibility and light, and only for fit and fast walkers – if not, save the traverse for summer 2014.

The west-side railway path can be wet in places, but the going improves once on the vehicle track that skirts the south side of Loch Treig to reach Creaguaineach Lodge. On the way pass the entrance to Gleann Iolairean (a right of way to Kinlochleven) and finally a high bridge with no hand rails over the Abhainn Rath. Part of Alcan Estate, the white painted lodge, now boarded up, is a sad relic of what must have been a lovely house in a delightful setting; once ½ mile from the shore-line before the loch’s damming increased the water-catchment area to service the smelter at Fort William.

The route

Head north by the west end of the loch, but as the path rises make sure to turn right with a short descent to the small bridge over the Allt na Lairige. Follow the vague path on the east side, a lovely walk where the stream cuts through a ravine. From around map ref 300699, climb north on rough ground, seeking the best line. (Leaving the path too soon leads to more complicated terrain.) The vague at first SSW ridge becomes more defined and steep on either side as the gradient eases and so over Irlick Chaoile to Easain’s small stony summit.

Descend north-east close to the rim of the corrie; quartzite slopes eased by a zigzag path, and so to the 960m col. A stony climb leads to Stob a’Choire Mheadhoin, its conical summit perched above very steep slopes that plunge to Loch Treig at an average gradient of over 30 degrees.

A two-mile walk above the crags of Coire Shomhairle leads to the sudden appearance of Meall Cian Dearg. This buttress at 770m may seem imposing at first, especially in winter conditions; a very steep loose scrambly descent on a badly eroded path. If Meall Cian Dearg is not to your liking, retrace steps to around map ref 330753 and descend north-west towards the eastern end of a plantation.

Either way, continue towards a minor 500m bump, map ref 335770, where there is an obvious concrete pillar. Descend ESE on a worn path by a stream to reach the loch-side track circa map ref 343765 and so to Fersit and a pre-placed car. The track walk can be done in the gloaming.

Map Ordnance Survey map 41, Ben Nevis

Distance 12 miles

Height 1000m

Terrain Track, path to grassy/stony ridge

Start point Corrour railway station, map ref 355664

Time 7 to 9 hours

Nearest village Roybridge

Refreshment spot The Stronlossit Inn, Roybridge