Round Buachaille Etive Beag

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This walk will suit those mountain lovers who don’t have the time, energy or inclination actually to go up a mountain. It is also for anyone who loves being in wild, dramatic scenery without serious risk to life and limb. Having said that, there is a health warning:

THIS ROUTE HAS SOME STREAM CROSSINGS THAT MAY BE DIFFICULT, DANGEROUS OR IMPOSSIBLE AFTER HEAVY RAIN.

Please bear this in mind when planning the walk. Fortunately by going anti-clockwise, this route tackles what is potentially the most difficult stream crossing after just 1km of walking, where the stream is forded by stepping-stones. If the crossing is difficult, go back – the walk will be there another day. (As you retreat, rejoice in the fact that you aren't on the last leg of the clockwise version of the walk, with one inaccessible kilometre ahead to the finish and twelve kilometres behind to reverse!)

The route completes a circuit of Buachaille Etive Beag, which translates as The Little Herdsman of Etive. (The Big Herdsman is Buachaille Etive Mor, the superb peak that dominates the approach to Glencoe from Rannoch Moor).

Leave the A82 and head south-west up Lairig Eilde, slowly gaining height on a good path. After 1km the first stream crossing is reached. If safe then the whole walk will probably be OK, notwithstanding any sudden rainstorm. The walk continues easily up the lairig (a pass between mountains) before levelling out and dropping down more steeply towards Glen Etive.

A descent to the bottom of the glen is avoided by a neat little short cut, saving a loss of height and extra walking distance. The short cut gives access to the path heading up Lairig Gartain from Glen Etive, heading back towards the A82. The path rises gradually, giving good walking.

After levelling out the descent begins. This section is likely to be muddy and after heavy rain it could be unpleasant, though those who walk frequently in the Pennines or Peak District would wonder what the fuss is about!

The A82 is extremely busy most of the time, but the traffic is avoided by taking the line of the old road. This too can be muddy in places, but is preferable to sharing the road with two 44-tonne artics, both going in opposite directions. The old road takes us neatly back to our start point and includes good views of Stob nan Cabar, which is the north peak of Buachaille Etive Beag.

Scotland - Highlands and Islands - Highland - Glen Coe and Loch Leven

Features

Great Views, Hills or Fells, Pub, River, Toilets, Waterfall, Wildlife, Woodland
16/10/2020 - Martin Arrowsmith

Took this walk on a quiet October day in 2020. Had no problems following directions and the path surface, with some notable exceptions, was generally firm. As the directions comment the path deviates from the map in the second half of the walk. Rounding the end of the Lairig Eilde, joining up the route into Lairig Gartain was a challenge as crossing a stream and then the side of a boggy hill. After that the path was firm most of the way to the A82. The military road, however starts as a bit of a quagmire. Generally the views are rather samey but there are terrific views into Glen Etive which would be better seen if walked the opposite way round. I followed on OS app and it rather surprisingly gave ascent as 1053m and distance 14km. 6 hours including 3 stops.