Aonach Eagach is consistently ranked as the best ridge walk and scramble in the UK and in the top few across the world by National Geographic (allegedly). We set out to walk it in perfect Scottish sunny conditions… did we agree with these accolades?
If Skye is the classic Scottish Island then Glencoe is the classic Highlands destination, filled with a mixed history and raw rocky beauty. Easily accessible it gets busy with visitors from across the globe these days. In the valley there are car parks full of people hoping to step straight out of the car and get some “insta-bangers”, as we overheard one group saying. The reasons for visiting the mountains it seems is changing.
While I love the thrill of a good narrow ridge walk, it’s still the isolation and freedom that draws me to explore. To balance this wilderness tourist hot-spot we were headed somewhere more remote straight afterwards!
The Aonach Eagach walk links two munros and translates in Gaelic as: Upland – Rocky peak of Fian’s warriors. I love the Gaelic translations of Scottish mountains!
Starting up the Devils Staircase I was busy scoping out this track into the hills. Lying on the West Highland Way it’s another popular biking and hiking route; later in the year I might be seeing this track a couple more times on my bike… it was good to check it out.
The view across to Buachaille Etive Mòr from the start and the famous little white house:
As we got higher and headed along the broad start of the ridge we got a view south towards Buachaille Etive Beag.
At about 500 metres higher than here, the snow was more prevalant on the flanks of Ben Nevis to the north:
The first indicator of the exposure to come – and probably the most exposed side path – is on an outcrop called the Chancellor – I guess so named because Chancellors are a little bit sketchy and you should never trust them! The scramble down wasn’t for the faint hearted:
With some gusts of wind and nothing but air for comfort, I didn’t fancy the final section. It was still an amazing view and Marion was happy to stay on the main ridge to take some photos!
Three Sisters of Bidean nam Bian were now a companion to the south and the ridge started to fall away sharply to cliffs below. From here on there was no escape off the top.
As we continued to scramble up and down it became apparent it was perfect conditions for the hike; in the wet the polished rock must make it more exciting!
I set up this shot of Marion on one of the small peaks, as I like the isolation of the the small figure on the top. She was told ‘That’s a profile pic right there mate, love it” by a fellow scrambler – Marion responded deadpan that that was the entire reason for the trip, which worryingly they seemed to think was entirely acceptable. 360 degree views all day made it spectacular:
Finally the narrowest section was done and we could start heading down hill:
We walked into Glencoe and followed the back lane to the Clachaig Inn, it was ice cream weather down here, but no ice creams to be found!
Marion stuck a thumb out and the first car stopped to give us a lift back up the valley to our car. Three young guys who had just done the same walk! We met so many friendly people on the walk and were so quick to get a lift it was refreshing. We felt bad as the guys dropped off us off and turned around, they had gone out their way to give us a lift without saying so. We really appreciated it as we had another 12km to walk this evening… it was going to be a good trip!