1078 m. |
Pronuncation: byn sta-rav
Only few places in Scottish hillwalking evoke such unanimous feelings of wonder and marvel as does Glen Etive. Glen Coe is grand. Glen Shiel has its looong South and North Ridges. Glen Torridon is second to none and the upper Glen of the River Dee is a class of its own. Yet, Glen Etive has its own very special character of remoteness and loveliness. And it harbours one of the great one-day tours of the Highlands: The round of the Glen Etive Five: Ben Starav, Beinn nan Aighenan, Glas Bheinn Mhor, Stob Coir an Albannaich and Meall nan Eun.
Doing all of these in one go had become a minor obsession of Frank’s and me since we first read of the idea which is mentioned in Ralph Storer’s “The Ultimate Guide to the Munros – Volume 2: Central Highlands South”. Of course we did not need Mr Storer’s benediction to set about doing this great round but it helped that he mentioned this as a slightly silly extension to an extension to an extension of a great day in Glen Etive.
So hell-bent as we were we left out car at the lay-by of the Glen Etive single track road, crossed the River Etive by the bridge provided and reached Coileitir in no time at all. From there we followed the path across the boggy grass to the Allt Mheuran which we crossed and then followed the path up this burn to the foot of Ben Starav’s famous north ridge. Me having bagged Ben Starav in early spring 2001 at the time of Foot-and-Mouth Disease I opted to skip this beautiful hill. So Frank and I said Good-bye to each other. Frank continued up the great north ridge of Ben Starav. We had shaken hands that we’d meet later in the day and do four of the five hills together. I on the other hand continued on the path by the Allt Mheuran for a kilometre or so and then followed another path beside the Allt nam Meirleach which runs below the north ridge of Ben Starav. This was a very pleasant ascent and it got better and better the higher the ground got because the heat let up a bit. First over grass, slabs and some dirt. Then with more zigzags and loose gravel to the beallach between Stob Coire Dheirg and Meall nan Tri Tighearnan. There I took a break and tried to remember the spot from eleven years earlier, when the weather had been less benign and snow had covered much of the connecting ridge between Ben Starav and Glas Bheinn Mhor.
Then, with my batteries recharged I continued towards Beinn nan Aighenan, dropped easily enough to the next beallach and climbed the 300m or so to the summit of my first Munro of the day. The climb towards the summit was quite steep in places, the path was covered in snow higher up on the mountain but there was no problem of finding the way with the glorious sunshine and all. At the summit I settled in a sheltered spot in dry grass and ate my lunch. I stayed there for almost an hour waiting for Frank to arrive from Ben Starav (his Munro no. 200 btw!!). When it got too cold I packed my stuff and retraced my steps. Almost having reached the beallach Frank and I met. Me still cold from the wait. Him still exhilarated from the climb of Ben Starav. We agreed that we’d meet on the summit of Glas Bheinn Mhor and do the rest of the tour together. And that’s what we did. I slowly walked on to meet a couple of Scottish hill walkers at the Stob Coire Dheirg / Meall nan Tri Tighearnan beallach. We chatted for ten minutes or so and then I continued up the ridge to Glas Bheinn Mhor. This was as I remembered it from a decade ago but thankfully without the snow. At the summit I waited another half hour for Frank to arrive – which he did alright.
Then we continued our grand tour towards Stob Coir an Albannaich. First we reached the beallach at the top of the Allt Mheuran, then we climbed a very steep hillside on traces of a path to finally reach the grassy and plateau-ish terrain which forms the route to Munro no. 3 (4) of the day. It took us some time to reach the rocky summit but then we were there. A short break was called for since our energy levels had dropped. But now nothing could keep us from bagging Munro no. 5 of the day. We only needed to find the way to the next beallach. An indeed, even in good visibility it was not child’s play to find the grassy rakes leading to the 754m beallach between Stob Coir an Albannaich and Meall Tars inn. Down snow fields (yippee) and over grass and slippery slabs of rock we finally reached the beallach. A nice piece of work/walk indeed. From the beallach it was another climb and descent and another climb up the very gentle slope of the rounded bulk of Meall nan Eun (928m). This seemed an interminable last 200m to me. But then we were there and Munro no. 4 (5) was gained. Hurray!!
From the summit it was back to the beallach at the head of Glean Rhiabhach. On the way we descended over some rocky ledges, then found the steep grassy path that leads down over some steps in the terrain and beside some water slides to the lower reaches of Glen Ceitlein. From the flatter sections further down we sped up our way back to the car, first past Glenceitlein House, then along the land rover track above the River Etive and then shortly before reaching Coileitir back across the bridge over the River Etive to the single track road.
It took us exactly twelve hours to complete this grand circuit of the five Glen Etive Munros. It was a day of glorious sunshine (and light sunburns), marvellous ridge walking and splendid views. Certainly one of the most memorable days out in the hills. Thank You Etive! Thank you Alba!
Max elevation: 1072 m
Min elevation: 11 m
Total climbing: 2637 m
Total descent: -2645 m
Total Time: 12:02:49
2001 The Bold Hill. An apt name especially when viewing the outline of the hill and its steep northern ridge from Glen Etive. Starting from Coiletir I soon reached the foot of the hill and started climbing up the uniformly steep north ridge. At about 700m I donned my wind-proof gear and put on my crampons. Conditions worsened further up on the hill and my map got blown away. I continued to the summit ridge/plateau of Ben Starav over boulders and snow, nonetheless. I touched the summit cairn and went on to the eastern top. Here the clouds broke and for the first time I walked in sunshine. I continued down the narrow arête leading to Stob Coire Dheirg. That was a dance on a narrow ridge covered in powdery snow. Marvellous!! After a pause on the lower slopes of Stob Coire Dheirg I walked in sunshine over one or two lesser tops to reach Glas Bheinn Mhor where I took in the views of Beinn nan Aighenan, Stob Coir’an Albannaich and the Glen Coe hills. On I went on snow and in sunshine until I reached the col at the head of the Allt Mheuran from where I strolled back to Coiletir and my car. An absolutely stupendous day on these remote hills. Views of supreme clarity and beauty. A day worth all efforts on this 17km winter walk.
Description This great mountain rises directly in a single sweep of steep slabs and deep gullies from the head of Loch Etive to its lofty summit. Ben Starav is prominently seen in views south-west from the Glen Coe mountains towards Loch Etive, its great height above the loch being very evident. There is a more distant view from Loch Tulla which shows the pointed south top, Stob an Duine Ruaidh. The ascent of Ben Starav is almost invariably made from Glen Etive, any other approach being very long. Start from the road 1½ kilometres beyond Invercharnan. Cross the River Etive to Coileitir and continue along a path to cross the Allt Mheuran. Follow the path upstream for about ½ kilometre and then start climbing the north ridge of Ben Starav. It is a long hard slog, but eventually the boulder fields of the summit are reached.Continue south-east for about 400 metres along a nearly level ridge and then turn north-east down a narrow rocky ridge over Stob Coire Dheirg to reach the bealach at 760m. From there the direct return to Glen Etive goes north down a path on the west side of the Allt nam Meirleach.