#231 – A day on ‘The other Buachaille’

The north side of Buachaille Etive Beag, Glencoe

(‘Left click’ images to zoom in, use browser return arrow to go back)

Mention ‘The Buachaille’ to mountain people, and they will nod wisely and assume that you mean Buachaille Etive Mor which translates as the ‘Big Herdsman of Etive’.  There is another ‘Buachaille’ however and that’s Buachaille Etive Beag, the ‘Small Herdsman of Etive’.  It’s the big version that attracts most attention, and I must confess that I had never bothered with the lesser brother in nearly fifty years of driving past – it was time to put that right.

The Curved Ridge route on Buachaille Etive Mor (red), the ‘Two Lairigs’ route round Buachaille Etive Beag (green) and the route taken by Chris and I (plus Collie ‘Mist’) up Buachaille Etive Beag (blue)

The mountains of Glencoe and Fort William

On previous occasions I’ve gone straight for what is one of the best, short mountain days in the UK – Buachaille Etive Mor via Curved Ridge (shown in red on the map).  The last time I was there was in 2010 (see post #36) and it’s a great day out.  Three years earlier than that, before Border Collie ‘Mist’ became part of the household, Chris and I had walked the ‘Two Lairigs’ route around Buachaille Etive Beag (shown in green) but hadn’t gone for the mountain itself.  This time we intended to put that right (route shown in blue).

Buachaille Etive Mor seen from Rannoch Moor

The start of the scramble route on Curved Ridge (MB)

The author on a short rock pitch – June 2010 (MB)

Above the descant into Coire na Tulaich

I’ve been on the Curved Ridge route about half a dozen times, and never had a bad day there, though on my first trip I managed to start on the wrong route and my partner and I ended up doing quite a bit of ‘D Gully Buttress’ instead.  On the 2010 trip, I went back to write up the route for the Walking World website (Route ID 5714) and it still gets a few ‘hits’ every year.

Looking southwest along Lairig Eilde (June 2007)

Glen Etive seen from the turning point of the route

The start of the short ascent into the Lairig Gartain

The cairn at the bealach (pass) on the Lairig Gartain

The peak of Stob na Caber on Buachaille Etive Beag

Coming around the northeast shoulder of Stob na Caber on Buachaille Etive Beag

The route that Chris and I walked in 2007 was also done as a Walking World route (Route ID 4360) and manages to walk all the way round Buachaille Etive Beag without actually going to the summit.  I titled the route ‘The Two Lairigs’ for the simple reason that you walk one lairig (valley) going out (Lairig Eilde) and walk another one coming back (Lairig Gartain).

Setting out up Buachaille Etive Beag – May 2017

The start of the Lairig Eilde path, looking back to the road

The route out, following the Lairig Eilde path

Start of the ascent up to the col on Buachaille Etive Beag

We had intended to do the ‘Little Herdsman’ route at the beginning of our Scottish trip in May this year, but it was ‘blowing a hoolie’ and the summits were going to be unpleasant – instead we had carried on north and had a great time on Skye and beyond.  Heading south now, the winds had dropped though there was still a cheeky, cool breeze

Quite a bit of height gained ….

…. but even more ahead. (Border Collie ‘Mist’ out in front as usual!)

More of the same ….

…. but looking back gives a chance of a breather

Buachaille Etive Beag can hardly be regarded as a challenging summit, but there’s a good bit of ‘uphill’ at the start.  A party of young blokes went striding past us before running out of steam half an hour later – we passed them as they were heading down in retreat.  The usual ‘steady away’ approach worked its usual magic, and we arrived in good order on the col between the two summits of Stob Dubh to the southwest and Stob Coire Raineach to the northeast.

On the col at last, looking up towards the northeast summit, Stob Coire Raineach

Looking across to Buachaille Etive Mor

Just above the col, looking towards the southwest summit, Stob Dubh

The last bit of uphill, heading up to Stob Coire Raineach

It was cold enough for Chris to get another layer of clothing on, and we came to the decision to go for Stob Coire Raineach and to give Stob Dubh a miss – Chris isn’t a ‘peak-bagger’ as such, and I wasn’t too bothered about reaching every bit of the mountain.  We grabbed the northeast summit before heading down, just a little bit smug (well, in my case anyway) that the youngsters had given up before the pensioners!

On the way down, heading for home

Text and images © Paul Shorrock – Images tagged (MB) © Mark Bradley

About Paul Shorrock

I've been mucking about in the mountains for longer than I care to mention. I started out by walking my local hills, then went on to rock climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Still doing it, and still getting a buzz. I'm now sharing the fun, through my guided walking business (Hillcraft Guided Walking) and by writing routes for other publishers, mainly Walking World and Discovery Walking Guides. Just to make sure I keep really busy, I am also currently a member of my local mountain rescue team.
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1 Response to #231 – A day on ‘The other Buachaille’

  1. If I ever get my hip back (or a new one anyway), I’m now fancying Curved Ridge with Steve Fallon’s guided walks.

    You’d probably have trouble walking the 2 Lairigs nowadays as you can’t get anywhere near the track for mountain bikers on the one below Beinn Fhada. That annoys me quite a bit as it is a walker’s path surely?

    I liked Stob Dubh best out of the 2 summits – at that time, I found Raineach a bit too loose in descent for comfort – I’m sure I’d be fine nowadays.


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