Saturday 4 October 2014

The Easains - Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin & Stob Coire Easain

In June, we'd walked over the Munro's Stob Coire Sgriodian and Chno Dearg, just across Loch Treig, knowing that Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin & Stob Coire Easain were still on our list of to-do's - The Easains had remained mysterious that day, their heads in the clouds - but the undulating ridge had looked good from Fersit, the start of both walks.

An Dubh Lochan looking south to Stob Coire Sgriodian

So, on a day of fast moving clouds and shining lochs, we set off from beside the pretty An Dubh Lochan on the Fersit road, and around the lochan's northen end. The paths were boggy, but clear across the grasses, yellowing towards autumn, towards Creag Fhinaclach ahead.

An Dubh Lochan from the ascent of Creag Fhinaclach

But the clear paths's didn't last long unfortunately...

They disappeared quickly into heather and tussock - so across the hillside we went, making towards a five bar gate, a vague track, appearing and disappearing amongst the vegetation. Once through the gate (NN346788) a track headed off east and west (the old tramway from Loch Treig to Fort William) but nothing straight ahead - the heather was deep and woody, so we headed east along the track for a short way until the heather eased off to tussocky grasses and we struck off, south west across the open hillside towards Creag Fhinaclach.

Jim and Rafe - Loch Treig from the ascent of  Creag Fhinaclach

The sun was out, the views were opening up...

Rafe and Jim - On Creag Fhinaclach with views south to
Meall Cian Dearg and The Grey Corries

As we ascended a vague path appeared, getting better as we made our way towards the first minor summit of the day - Creag Fhinaclach 456m.

North east down Glean Spean from Creag Fhinaclach

The ridge was wide, the route obvious, the views spectacular all around...

Rafe and Jim approach Meall Cian Dearg

Meall Cian Dearg was looking bigger than its advertised height, steep and rocky ahead, but it was the boggy approach that was harder work than the short steep scrabble (it wasn't quite a scramble) through rocks to it's summit plateau.

Creag Fhinaclach, Loch Treig and Glen Spean from ascent of Meall Cian Dearg

Better walking now, across rockier, gravelly stuff. As we crossed the plateau in bright sunshine, a golden eagle soared above us, rising and flying off to the south.

Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin from Meall Cian Dearg

We were ready for our first lunch on Meall Cian Dearg's summit at 808m.

Rafe - Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin from
Meall Cian Dearg

Meall Cian Dearg summit (808m) - views to Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin and The Grey Corries

We had views east acorss Loch Treig to Stob Coire Sgriodian and Chno Dearg, north over Leann Spean to Beinn a'Chaorainn and Beinn Teallach and west over the wonderful Grey Corries.

The Grey Corres from ascent to Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin

There were a few more people around now, coming together as paths and routes converged. The path was good and the ascent easy, Rafe bounding on ahead.

Meall Cian Dearg and our route from ascent of Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin

We were soon on the summit of Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin, our first Munro of the day, we could see Stob Coire Easain ahead, across a wide symmetrical bealach - Hamish Brown called the Easains "This Yin and that Yin" - I could understand why...

Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin summit (Munro 46, 1105m)

After the usual summit photo fest, we headed on down into the bealach on smooth grassy slopes with the odd rocky patch.

There were a few clouds coming in, was it going to rain?

Rafe - Stob Coire Easain from descent from Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin

The views over to The Grey Corries and south towards Ben Nevis continued to be wonderful - proper hill country, wild and unspoiled.

The Grey Corries from descent from Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin

We made good time and were soon standing at the bottom of the ascent to Stob Coire Easain, a perfect cone.

Rafe and Jim - Stob Coire Easain from Bealach Coire Easain Beag

It was grassy and easygoing...

Rafe - ascent of Stob Coire Easain

Until we neared the summit, rocky again, with a bit of scree.

Stob Coire Easain summit plateau - views south to Nevis range

Our second Munro, Stob Coire Easain, was the higher by just ten metres. The views of it's twin were glorious.

Stob Coire Easain summit (Munro 39, 1115m)

Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin, north from Stob Coire Easain

We now needed to retrace our steps, back along the ridge, to get back to the start, so we headed back north, descending again into the bealach. The sky suddenly darkened, we expected rain, but no.... snow. First of the season. It was brief, cold and swirling. A portent of the long hard winter ahead...?

Good place for lunch - south of summit of Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin - views south over Loch Treig

Once beyond the bealach, ascending towards Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin, we veered off to the east of the summit plateau, looking for a place to get out of the wind for a second lunch. We weren't totally successful, we found a little dell amongst the rocks for a quick sarnie, but the temperature had taken a dive and the wind was definitely up...

After the snack we made our way up the steep eastern slope, above crags, back to the summit.

Jim - Descent from Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin to Meall Cian Dearg

And beyond over Meall Cian Dearg and down the scrabble to the slopes below.

Meall Cian Dearg crags

It looked a long way over Creag Fhinaclach...

For variety, we decided to head east down towards Loch Treig, rather than just follow our outward route.

We took a vague path through the tussocky grass towards the stone pillar, marked on the map and just visible in the distance. It was rather wet underfoot and somewhat slippery, there were one or two near misses...

North over Creag Fhinaclach and Glen Spean from Meall Cian Dearg slopes

There were great views from the stone pillar, but we were on a roll now, and we continued to descend down steepening slopes towards the limestone tracks by Loch Treig.

Stone pillar (NN337767) - views north east along Glen Spean to Creag Meagaidh 

The ground was still wet and as it got steeper, it meant more chance of a slip - it was bound to happen - slip, slide, squelch. brown elbow and leg...

Descent from Meall Cian Dearg - landrover track (NN344768 approx)

Never mind, we still had enough of a walk to get dried off...

We passed a sheepfold and were soon on a good limestone road (approx NN345768) and we strode north, briefly beside Loch Treig (we had to have a quick look at the dam).

Loch Treig dam and Stob Coire Sgriodian

Before a gentle stroll along the river and through woodland back to the car - An Dubh Lochan was a lovely spot to take in the views and take off the boots!

Early evening light on An Dubh Lochan

Route:  Car parking area beside unclassified road to Fersit at N of An Dubh Lochan (NN349789), vague track toward gate at NN346788, head up open hillside to Creag Fhinaclach (456m), vague boggy path to Meall Cian Dearg (808m), Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin (Munro 46, 1105m), Stob Coire Easain (Munro 39, 1115m), return to Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin, Meall Cian Dearg, descend to stone pillar (NN337767), descend E on boggy path, past sheepfold (NN342767), to track above Loch Treig at NN345768, follow track N past dam, through the Fersit car park, along unclassified road to start point.

Statistics:  Distance: 16km  Ascent: 1250m  Time: 7 hours

Map:  OS Explorer 392 (Ben Nevis & Fort William)

Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin

Stob Coire Easain

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