Bidean nam Bian - the Hidden Giant of Glencoe

You need to log in as a member of Walkingworld to access the details for this walk. Join or log in above if you are already a member. Access is available to Walkingworld subscribers or you can buy the walk individually for £1.95 once you are logged in.

As you drive down Glencoe towards Loch Achtriochtan, you can't help but notice the impressive rock architecture rising above you on both sides. To the north lies the airy ridge of the Aonach Eagach and opposite lie the Three Sisters – Beinn Fhada, Gearr Aonach and Aonach Dubh, the last recognised by the deep black slit of Ossian's Cave. It's clear that these are big hills and if you look up the valleys between the sisters, you will see even higher peaks. The one that you will not see is hidden from view by its neighbours – Bidean nam Bian, the highest peak in the old county of Argyll at 1,150 metres (3,773ft).

This walk takes in Bidean by using the two valleys between the sisters. The route starts up the Lost Valley (see my Walk 4734) before ascending steeply to approach Bidean from the north-east ridge. This route is clear from snow much earlier in the year than the alternative mentioned in the next paragraph, but in winter conditions this walk should not be attempted without full winter equipment and previous experience.

The alternative way up Bidean from the south-east via Bealach Dearg is also included, but when this walk was prepared in late May 2008 a large snowfield barred the approach up the final headwall. It was clear by the number of people retreating that this route was not safe to follow without ice-axe and crampons and the experience to use them safely.

After Bidean, the route descends before rising again to Stob Coire nan Lochan. The descent from there heads towards Aonach Dubh before turning towards the final descent down Coire nan Lochan. The views throughout are magnificent and especially so from Bidean, where you are treated to a 360-degree panorama.

This is a mountaineer's day out, but without any great technical difficulty. However, the ability to select a safe route through difficult terrain is essential, as are good all-round navigation skills, especially in poor visibility. If you don't walk much in the Highlands, be prepared for wild terrain without manicured paths and an increase in scale; everything is bigger, including the ascents and descents.

Great days in the hills are often a combination of a great route and good company. On this walk the route speaks for itself. As for the company, Chris and Caroline came as far as the Lost Valley, Christine and Jennifer joined us on the descent and Matt, from Australia, was with us for most of the route, in so doing standing on snow for the first time in his life! Man of the match was Bob Stow, who came up with the idea for this route in about ten seconds, when it became clear that our planned route for the day wasn't safe due to high winds.

I hope you enjoy this walk as much as we did.

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


Great Views, Hills or Fells, Lake/Loch, Munro, Waterfall, Wildlife