Curved Ridge, Buachaille Etive Mor

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The A82 road from Tyndrum to Glencoe must rank as one of the most scenic and dramatic drives in Britain. Amongst all this drama, Buachaille Etive Mor stands head and shoulders above the surrounding hills, a mountain amongst mountains. It is almost always associated with Glencoe, though to be correct the mountain belongs to Rannoch Moor or Glen Etive – the name means 'The Big Herdsman of Etive'.

The north-east side is the real head-turner, with what appears to be an almost impenetrable barrier of steep rock walls and deep gullies. There are ways through the maze of rock, but most of these ways are the preserve of the rock-climber. There is however, an exciting, elegant and not too difficult route through the defences of the north-east face, Curved Ridge. This is classed as an easy rock climb or a hard scramble, depending on which guidebook you are reading. Because of this it sits on the fence somewhat and many walkers would not consider the route as being for them. I've dithered a bit myself, wondering if this was a suitable route to offer to Walkingworld readers. My conclusion is that it is.

There are a few 'ifs, ands and buts' though. For a start, members of the party should be experienced hill-walkers with a good head for heights; this is no place to discover that you suffer from vertigo. At least one person should have experience of leading difficult scramble routes, or even better, rock-climbing. This person should be competent in the use of ropes and rock-climbing gear and this should be carried.

The walk in is undemanding and straightforward and the descent isn't a problem either. The scramble consists of short, easy sections of rock linking up large ledges. There are two bits where it is possibly worth roping up and they are both short and belays are good and plentiful. The route passes magnificent rock architecture and the views over Rannoch Moor are amazing.

How serious is it? Because of the nature of the route, it is easier to safeguard members of the party here than on a route like the Aonach Eagach. The situations may be more sensational than the Aonach Eagach, but the route is better protected. In fact, it's the easy sections that present the most risk, as unroped scrambling is more hazardous than roped rock-climbing. One area where problems can occur is in selecting the correct start point – it's very easy to take the wrong route, which leads on to much more difficult ground. This route description should help you avoid that.

Curved Ridge is an undertaking not to be taken lightly, but adventurous walkers with a head for heights in a group with an experienced leader should have an enjoyable and memorable day. Thanks are due to Ian Rogers and Mark Bradley, who as well as sharing the fun on the route also insisted that it should be shared with Walkingworld readers.

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


Great Views, Hills or Fells, Munro, Woodland