Viewed 11618 times, downloaded 206 times
near Kinlochleven, Scotland (United Kingdom)
Beautiful and fairly strenuous hike from Glen Coe into the area of the Three Sisters, onto the highest peak in Argyll at around 1150 m, and down into the scenic Lost Valley. The three sisters are three north-south ridges, from east to west as seen from Glen Coe: Beinn Fhada, Gearr Aonach and Aonach Dubh. Both ascent and descent are steep. The average climb is about 22 %, the initial descent into the Lost Valley (Coire Gabhail) is more than 35%. There is some scrambling and walking on scree, and according to some descriptions I read there can be snow until summer. There are no facilities on the way. The path is clear most of the way, except in the higher valley just below Stob Coire nan Lochan, where the path is less obvious. The views on this hike are superb with among others Ben Nevis, Loch Leven and Loch Linnhe, Loch Etive, Mull and a wide range of mountains all around. I saw red deer in the early morning when I started my ascent into Coire nan Lochan.
You start at a parking lot in Glen Coe on the scenic highway A82. It can become very busy here, another reason to start early as I did. From the parking lot you descend towards the river Coe, cross the bridge and start your ascent into Coire nan Lochan, the deep valley between the two sisters Gearr Aonach and Aonach Dubh. The clear path rises steeply from Glen Coe. Higher into the valley, there are some waterfalls you pass close by. The peak Stob Coire nan Lochan appears at the end of the valley. At about 655 m you come to a bifurcation below a waterfall and a small canyon: a clear path keeps to the east of the stream ascending towards the east ridge of Stob Coire nan Lochan. I did not take this path (supposedly steeper and more scrambling), but crossed the stream and continued on a less clear path through grassy ground with common cottongrass. This path goes up to a higher valley with some small lakes just below the great Pinnacle and South Buttresses of Stob Coire nan Lochan. Here in this grassy valley, I lost the path a few times, but this did not present any problems. When nearing the western ridge of Stob Coire nan Lochan (higher reaches of Aonach Dubh) you join the path again. On the ridge, the views are great, towards Loch Leven, Glen Coe and Ben Nevis. Once on the ridge, the path disappears again on the scree. Take care because you walk near steep buttresses and loose scree. On the ridge you walk to the summit of Stob Coire nan Lochan at 1115 m with the higher Bidean nam Bian becoming visible towards the south. From the top, you cross to the Bidean nam Bian summit via a ridge with Diamond Buttress slightly to the right. The last part to the summit of this Munro (Scottish mountain above 3000 feet) is quite steep. On the top, the view is great in all directions. From the summit, you walk southeast on the mountain ridge towards the saddle point Bealach Dearg, with great views of the Lost Valley appearing on your left. From the saddle point you could continue straight on to the top of Stob Coire Sgreamhach, another Munro, especially if you are into the slightly compulsive hobby of Munro bagging, and then come back. However, I turned left for the steep scramble down into the eroded scree gully. After the gully, you keep scrambling on scree but the path is well visible. Walking down you keep to the left of the gorge. Further down you cross a stream coming out of a gorge below the ridge between Stob Coire nan Lochan and Bidean nam Bian (a path can be seen climbing up to this ridge, but I did not notice it from the ridge itself). You continue on the left side of the valley until you get down to an almost level valley strewn with boulders. The river flows below the boulders here. A couple of large boulders guard the entrance to the steep valley north. The valley is called Lost Valley because people used to hide cattle here from people travelling through Glen Coe. From the Lost Valley you have to climb a bit on the Beinn Fhada lower reaches before descending steeply through woods and boulders down to the river which you cross on stepping stones. The path passes a waterfall and then Glen Coe opens up before you. The trail passes moorland on wooden planks and brings you to the second bridge of the day across the Coe river. This crossing is accompanied by a climb on metal stairs. On the other side of the river, the view of the three sisters is great. You join the main path through the valley and then climb back to the parking lot.
Here you arrive to the northwestern ridge from Stob Coire nan Lochan (the Aonach Dubh ridge). The views here are great towards Loch Leven, Ben Nevis and Ballachulish.
Saddle point between Stob Coire Sgreamhach and Bidean nam Bian. From here a steep eroded gully marks the start of the trail down into the Lost Valley.
Summit of Bidean nam Bian, the highest peak in Argyll with great views
The path bifurcates here. To the left/straight on is a clear path to the eastern ridge of Stob Coire nan Lochan and on the right across the river is a less clear path to the western ridge of Stob Coire nan Lochan. Straight on is a canyon with a waterfall.
Here wooden planks have been put in the moor, obviously to avoid muddy feet in wet conditions.
The first bridge across the river Coe
The second bridge of the day across river Coe
The north face of Stob Coire nan Lochan is a ragged ridge full of steep rock faces. Take care not to get too close to edge!
Here you climb out of the Lost Valley
Here you are in Glen Coe with a great view of the three sisters
Here starts the boulder-strewn Lost Valley
Here you walk on a trail on the west side of Coire Gabhail
The path up to Coire nan Lochan is steep but of good quality. The view towards the valley is great.
Here you walk on the ridge down from Bidean nam Bian with several local peaks before you arrive to the saddle point Bealach Dearg. Lost Valley is on the left.
This is the ridge between Stob Coire nan Lochan and Bidean nam Bian
Here you cross the river Allt Coire Gabhail
The walk across the ridge leads you across various scree slopes before you reach the summit.
Here you cross the stream coming from the gorge on the northeast side of the ridge between Stob Coire nan Lochan and Bidean nam Bian.
Here is a steep path down into the Lost Valley with scree.
Summit of Stob Coire nan Lochan
Valley with lakes below Stob Coire nan Lochan
Waterfalls in Coire nan Lochan