Saturday 4 April 2015

Stob Ban (Grey Corries)

The Aonachs from the start of the walk near Coire Cohoillie Farm

A bit of a chew to get to the start - up past Spean Bridge station and 6 kilometres of rough road and forestry track that left us wondering if we were actually on a right of way  - but we were - and we soon got there!

It was another iffy day, weather wise, but the views as we set off, were wide and moody...

The Wee Minister 

Through a deer gate and into the woods, we made excellent time on a good forestry track.

Although we were expecting to see him, the Wee Minister was still a bit of a shock to come across - in the dim light and with wispy mist floating about, walking around the corner, the black clad statue was quite a creepy sight. Goodness knows how it would be in the dark! We popped some cash into the collection box, for luck and to help the local mountain rescue team.

The Wee Minister watches over Glen Spean

Onwards and upwards, we carried on through the forestry plantation, soon coming out into the open hills and onto the Lairig Leacach drove road proper - the old route from the Great Glen south, meaning pass of the flagstones.

Jim and Rafe in The Lairig plantation

Rafe and Jim ascend the Lairig Leacach

The track was good, the walking excellent, we ascended gently into wild and wonderful country.

There was no view of our quarry for today - Stob Ban - it nestles out of sight amongst the Grey Corries and the Easains - not visible until over the summit of the Lairig Leacach ahead at 515m, ahead.

Rafe and Jim - Lairig Leacach

Once we reached the top of the pass, wide views opened up to the south - with the lower slopes of Stob Ban streaked with snow - but the summit wreathed in cloud - still proper winter up there.

Rafe and Jim - Lairig Leacach - views to Stob Ban

We descended to Larig Leacach Bothy, beside Allt na Lairige and close under the Grey Corries.

Lairig Leacach Bothy and Stob Ban

Time for a spot of lunch out of the wind - and to explore this tiny bothy...

Lairig Leacach Bothy

Views north from Lairig Leacach Bothy

...before heading off for Stob Ban.

The bridge over Allt a'Chuil Choirean was looking a little worse for wear and rather slippery with ice and snow.

The rickety bridge over Allt a'Chuil Choirean

A few minutes later we found a path of sorts, heading west from Lairig Leacach, through the streaky snow and heather, towards Stob Ban - thats the way...

Looking back into Lairig Leacach from the start of the ascent of Stob Ban

Jim - ascending Stob Ban with views over Coire Claurigh

It was fairly hard going, but the changes in terrain - everything from reasonable path, through mud and bog, to deep snow - gave for interest. We were soon high above the Lairig.

Jim - ascent of Stob Ban

Jim and Rafe - ascent of Stob Ban

Looking back into Lairig Leacach from ascent of Stob Ban

Rafe and Jim - Stob Ban

Once past the initial steep pull, the ascent eased off for a while, before we tacked the final snowy pull to the summit.

Rafe and Jim - Stob Ban

Rafe and Jim - Stob Ban

It was steep, but easier going! The snow was deep enough to cover all difficulties in the terrain, but soft enough for kicking good steps.

Rafe and Jim near the summit of Stob Ban

No views at the summit today, Stob Ban (Munro 178, 977m).

Although we did hang about for a few minutes when it looked like the sun was going to break through - but apart from fleeting blue skies, the cloud swirled and hid everything but the narrow summit cone.

Stob Ban summit (Munro 178, 977m)

The wind was fierce and cold, but clammy at the same time - a thaw was setting in...

Rafe and Jim start the descent from Stob Ban

We headed back the way we had come, down into the mists. There was an occasional hint of brightness, but it wasn't until we got below 750m that we came out below the cloud.

Jim and Rafe - descent from Stob Ban

Rafe and Jim - decent from Stob Ban

Looking back to the summit of Stob Ban

Rafe bounded about, chasing snow and jumping into snow drifts. It was impossible not to join in...

Sunshine over Stob Ban

We were soon back in the Lairig Leacach.

Rafe and Jim descend into Lairig Leacach - views to Cruach Innse and Sgurr Innse

There was definitely a thaw.

Water was running from every hillside, out of every snow drift, across the undergrowth, towards Allt a'Chuil Claurigh. We had to wade through the snow-melt to the rickety bridge and plodge through mud and sloppy snow to the bothy.

Rafe, of course, thought this was great fun!

Allt na Lairige and Stob Ban

Lairig Leacach Bothy and Sgurr Innse

Time for a second lunch.

Rafe - Lairig Leacach Bothy

Definitely time for a hot cuppa and a sit down in the dry.

Rafe - Lairig Leacach Bothy

On out walk out, back through the Lairig Leacach, it was obvious that lots of snow had melted during the course of the day - it now felt mild, almost springlike...

Fingers crossed!

Rafe and Jim return through the Lairig Leacach

Route:  Car parking area (NN255788) on forestry track south of Corrie Choille Farm, forestry track SSE, through a gate at NN256788 and continue through plantation called The Lairg, continue south along Larig Leacach track to bothy at NN283737, cross Allt a'Chuil Choirean and soon take right fork on indistinct path to Stob Ban (Munro 178, 977m), return to start.

Statistics:  Distance: 18km  Ascent: 900m  Time: 6 hours 30 minutes

Map:  OS Explorer 392 Ben Nevis & Fort William

Stob Ban

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