Mamores Munros, 19-21 July'19

A blog post from one of our mountain adventures in the Scottish hills and mountains. We were on the Mamores range, bagging all 10 Munros over 3 days. John King, John Hepburn and Steven Fallon was leading.

Mamores Munros

Day 1 - Eastern Mamores (by John Hepburn)

On a dreich grey morning our group assembled at the Grey Mare's Tail car park in kinlochleven. The plan, to bag the four munros which make up the eastern end or the Mamores, Na Gruagaichean, Binnein Mor, and the outliers Binnein Beag and Sgurr Eilde Mor.

Our group today had a mix of experience, Paul, Andrew, Catherine and Rebecca, the twins, Stacey and Elise, Laura, Fiona and Jeanette, all had walked in Scotland and some in the Lakes, Wales and the Alps, they all expected a big day, little did we know! But we also hoped that the forecasters were right and the weather would brighten and afford us some sunny spells with views later in the day.

We headed out of Kinlochleven on the maze of paths, which after two days of constant rain had become small streams. Once out of the trees the route becomes clearer, but unfortunately it was still low cloud and mist, and the rain instead of abating, was getting heavier! We pushed on and reached the main land rover track which runs along the north shore of Loch Eilde More and Beag. We had a short break here, then picked up the stalkers track which climbs the shoulder of Sgurr Eilde Beag before it disappearing into the mist.

As is the norm on climbs like this, everyone finds their own pace, and the group moved on steadily, before long the ground started to level off, signalling the arrival at the lochans which sit below our first munro of the day, Sgurr Eilde Mor. We stopped here and had a quick bite to eat before the climb up Sgurr Eilde Mor's southern shoulder. The climb is steep and a bit loose in parts but relatively short, and before long we popped out on to the rocky summit. On the climb, every now and again, we were afforded glimpses of the views around us, but as we stood at the summit cairn chatting and catching our breath, the mist and cloud cleared to reveal blue skies and the whole of the Mamores and beyond laid out before us. To the north and west the Grey corries, the Aonachs and Ben Nevis and to the south the notched ridge of Aonach Eagach, boasting it's two munros, Meall Dearg and Sgorr nam Fiannaidh beyond that the towering Glencoe peaks, time to shed some layers and slap on the factor 50!

Our descent east of Sgurr Eilde Mor was steep and loose to start, but this soon eased and before long we were back on a good stalkers path which drops to 630m at Coire a Bhinnein before contouring and climbing up to the col between Binnein Mor and Binnein Beag, our second target for today. From the col it's a short 200m climb to our lowest peak of today, Binnien Beag at 943m, which always looks quite small compared to it's larger neighbours. The summit cairn was a good spot for a break before a short descent and the start of our climb to our highest peak of the day, and the highest of the Mamore range, Binnien Mor (big peak).

There's a choice of routes here, none of which look that obvious, the North East ridge looks quite intimidating and impossible from below, rock terraces rise up steaply to the top, it actually makes for a good scramble. We opted for the grassy slopes of Binnien's North ridge, the final part being a short steep pull up on grass and loose gravely ground, but once on the ridge the hard work had been done and the group strolled up the ridge in the sunshine. A nice bit of scrambling on the final rise to Binnien Mor's airy summit. A quick refulling stop, some pics and we were on our way. This is the start of the ridge proper, as it snakes west to its final peak, Mullach nan Coirean (mountain of the corries). It's red granite rock a stark contrast to the Quartz summit of its neighbour Stob Ban. The good thing now was that the ridge didn't loose much height, so our group made good progress along to Na Gruagaichean, which translates as ‘the maidens' due to its twin peaks. A short scramble down then up its second top and we were descending grassy slopes to pick up a stalkers track that would take us back to Kinlochleven, a large heard of deer, the first we'd seen all day, watched us from the slopes of Stob Coire a Chairn.

A big first day for the group, who handled it brilliantly, probably just over 20km and 2500m of ascent. There were some tired bodies as we reached the cars at just after 8pm, but the group were still in good spirits, we'd had some great scrambling, stunning views and magnificent ridge walking, we'd bonded as a group and were looking forward to day 2.

Day 2 - Ring O'Steall (by Steven Fallon)

The Ring O'Steall has to be one of the finest ridge traverses in the country ! There's some amazing scenery, waterfalls, twisting crests and some easy rock-scrambling. Oh, and let's not forget the wire-bridge over the Water of Steall - a bit of fun to set the mood for the day.

Our group arrived at the Lower Falls car-park in Glen Nevis from where we left some vehicles and took some others to the end of the glen - this would avoid a walk along the road at the end of the day. At the end of the road, with kit sorted, we quickly left the car-park behind (so as to avoid the midges that were now gathering) and aimed up the Steall Gorge path - a lovely walk snaking through woodland and high above the pools and water tumbling below of the Water of Nevis. Coming out of the woodland, the Falls of Steall come into view, quite spectacular today after a fair bit of rainfall overnight.

The path led us to the wire bridge over the river - time for a bit of fun while balancing over the bouncing wire. Thereafter it was time for us to get into uphill-mode, striking up a stalkers path which in some sections had collapsed under weather-errosion. Higher up (at around 700m), we entered mist, but we weren't too bothered, we knew (fingers crossed) it was forecast to lift by lunchtime. I left the group in the capable hands of the two Johns to lead to An Gearanach's summit, while I headed ahead to check out a path that by-passes An Garbhanach on its western side, just below scree as marked on the OS 1:25000 map (turns out it's pretty non-existent, but useful to know of for foul weather conditions).

I rejoined the group on An Garbhanach, still in mist and we scrambled down the southern crest together, the cloud beginning to lift. Up Stob Coire a'Chairn next, the uphill barely noticed, it was time for a wee break and some photos !

Up Am Bodach next, the group took the loose terrain in their stride and we now had our third Munro of the day in the bag. Sgurr an Iubhair next, with a bit of chat as to why this should or shouldn't be in the Munros list, it was then onto the Devil's Ridge. Ideal conditions meant everyone had a bit of fun and a wee challenge scrambling over this, keeping eyes on footwork was hard with the great views we were also enjoying, particularly over to Stob Ban.

The last haul uphill of the day was infront of us - Sgurr a'Mhaim - and by the time we reached this (our 4th Munro of the day), it was time for a well deserved break to savour the views all around. The descent off Sgurr a'Mhaim is pretty full-on and unrelenting. Initially a path meanders through scree, then through grass and the occasional bit of boulder. Our group split up and took their own pace downhill, with everyone arriving back at the Lower Falls car-park in good time.

Day 3 - Western Mamores (by John King)

To finish off the weekend's round of all the Mamores Munros all that was left was to complete a circuit of the ridge's two westernmost Munros, Mullach nan Coirean and Stob Ban. The forecast was for a frontal system to be passing through the area from the early afternoon but with a fairly clear and dry morning ahead of that. With this is mind we met nice and early at the Lower Falls in Glen Nevis and got underway shortly after 8.30.

The day starts with a walk up through forestry, a mix of commercial and regenerating native woodland, with good paths and trails underfoot. It is a steady climb and it was a warm morning, so we were soon stripping back the layers. With a little sunshine, the sunglasses were even out for a while! At the top of the forestry, a stile is crossed over a deer fence and onto the open hill. From here the going is rougher and boggier underfoot but it doesn't last long as the northeast ridge of Mullach nan Coirean is soon gained and the going improves once more.

Unfortunately the change in terrain was also accompanied by a change in the weather and within five minutes of leaving the woodland we had full waterproofs on as a fairly heavy shower swept through. On the ridge there was an interlude in the rain and we could enjoy a break with views up and down the length of Glen Nevis. Then it was on up the ridge, entering the cloud and a light drizzle around 750m. The ridge ascends at a fairly pleasant angle and so we made good progress up to the top, reaching the summit and its well built cairn around 11am.

Now up on the main ridge of the Mamores we commenced the walk along the ridge to Stob Ban which undulates over a few subsidiary tops before descending to a broad bealach. The rock type on the ridge here is granite and wandering along in the mist, with little view beyond our immediate surroundings it felt just like we could be walking in the Cairngorms! This changes abruptly just before the bealach as a line is crossed and the rock changes to the white and grey quartzite that gives Stob Ban its name. As we descended down to the bealach the clouds started to lift and it was good to get our first proper views of the hills around us, with the West Highland Way also visible a few hundred metres below us.

After a brief break to have some lunch we carried on, making short work of the final push onto Stob Ban. It was a very satisfying moment to reach the 10th and final Munro summit of the trip and nicely timed to correspond with the clearest weather of the day! Mindful of the approaching weather we didn't hang around too long though, taking the obligatory team photos, then we started off down the east ridge of the hill. This is steep up high, but a good path zig-zags down to easier terrain below. The views from here back up to the eastern face of Stob Ban were impressive, as were the views across to the Devil's Ridge where we'd been the day before.

From the next bealach we joined the path that leads down into Coire Mhusgain. This is a really nice old path that cuts a fairly gentle line down the coire. We made staedy progress down, stopping occasionally to admire the towering cliffs of Stob Ban. The walk through the regenerating native forestry low down is also pleasant and in the breaks between the trees there was huge amounts of bright yellow Bog Asphodel flowering. Back to the road for 4pm we made it back just as the rain was starting to get come on properly, a well-timed finish to a superb weekend in the hills!

More photos by John King, John Hepburn and Steven Fallon are here on Flickr.

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