Buachaille Etive Beag: how to climb Glencoe’s easier Munros

GLENCOE: a narrow, impossibly steep glen, with a grim and foreboding temperament. Not the best place for the inexperienced hillwalker, you might think. But think again.

GLENCOE: a narrow, impossibly steep glen, with a grim and foreboding temperament. Not the best place for the inexperienced hillwalker, you might think. But think again.

The peaks of Buachaille Etive Mor are best left to the seasoned walker, while the mere sight or mention of Aonach Eagach awakens the butterflies in most Munro-baggers’ stomachs. Summiting the tallest of Glencoe’s mountains Bideam Nam Bian and its neighbour Stob Coire Sgreamhach involves a walk of at least seven hours.

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Scotland’s most beautiful glen needn’t be left to the most adventurous among us, however. Among the jagged peaks of Glencoe are the relatively easy pair of Munros that make up Buachaille Etive Beag: Stob Dubh and Stob Coire Raineach.

Well pathed and free of scrambling, you won’t earn better views with less effort while collecting Scotland’s 282 highest mountains.

The best starting point for this walk is a layby at the head of Glencoe on the southside of the A82 - opposite the car park is a beehive shaped cairn.

From here follow the well marked path heading SSW from the car park towards the Lairig Eilde - Lairig is the Gaelic for a traveller’s pass.

Eventually a fork will be reached: head left to the pass between Buachaille Etive Beag’s two peaks, the right fork continues over the aforementioned pass.

The route up to the bealach between Stob Dubh and Stob Coire Raineach is steep and staircase-like; your knees and hips get a real workout, but the going rarely gets too tough. The view back towards the A82 and over to Beinn Fhada is ever improving.

Once the bealach is reached, Buachaille Etive Beag’s parent peak comes into view. Buachaille Etive Mor translates as The Great Herdsman of Etive, while Buachaille Etive Beag translates as the Small Herdsman of Etive. Don’t feel inferior though, the Small Herdsman is every bit as enjoyable a walk as the Great Herdsman.

When you’re done admiring Buachaille Etive Mor you have a choice: head a short distance northeast up Stob Coire Raineach, or southwest upwards and along a ridge to Stob Dubh. The longer walk of the two is towards Stob Dubh, and the cone-shaped mountain should be just about visible from the bealach - follow the path towards the taller of the two Munros. The ridge does narrow, but there are few, if any, heart-stopping moments.

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This is a fine ridge walk. Views through to Glen Etive are quite stunning and the iconic Ben Starav should be visible if the weather is on your side. Once the cairn marking Stob Dubh is reached, consider stopping for lunch and gawp at this beautiful part of Scotland.

Once you’ve finished drinking in the views, retrace your steps along the ridge to the bealach. The path up Stob Coire Raineach isn’t as well marked, but is still perfectly agreeable and the distance to the peak is meagre.

The best views of the day are reserved for this peak as well, including an uninterrupted view of Glencoe through to Loch Leven and Ballachulish. The Mamores to the north can also be enjoyed, as can the seemingly never ending expanse of Rannoch Moor to the east. If time’s on your side it’s worth exploring beyond this peak - views of Glencoe get better and better the farther northeast you head.

Now it’s as simple as retracing your steps down to the bealach and back to the car park. Who knew Glencoe could be so easily tamed?

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