This route is really only for those wishing to conquer the Munro tops.
It includes Beinn Fhada (NN16435431) which has very steep sides
and a tricky wall between it and Stob Coire Sgreamhach.
Because of these problems, I would always do this route in a clockwise direction.
For those skipping Beinn Fhada, the "tourist" route for Stob Coire Sgreamhach
continues up the lost valley to the col west of the summit
at NN15085370 rather than making a diversion left up the slope to Beinn Fhada.
The first point to watch in this route is that the path up to the Lost Valley crosses the river by a large boulder. I missed the crossing once and it led to some difficulties. Next, the steep climb up from the Lost Valley has many very minor rocks and crag bands to weave around. As they can be seen and negotiated more easily on ascent than descent, a clockwise direction works well. Once beyond the two tops of Beinn Fhada there is the aforementioned wall, the "bad step". A photo of it is given by Andy Wallace. To avoid scrambling up this, traverse to the left along the short path seen in the photograph and then ascend a rather exposed gully back to the ridge. According to Alex Roddie, the easiest way up starts with a "ramp of slow slants left" which is probably what I took. Another reference for the route is in www.scottishhills.com. Finally, "Mike216" describes the route past the bad step as follows: "it was a breeze to find the route up, starting on the left (south-west) side a narrow ledge passes under the initial crags before doubling back and onto the crest of the ridge".
The next choice is an optional detour from the summit of Bidean nam Bian to include its northern Munro Top.
Lastly, various descents are possible from Stob Coire nan Lochan, one by each of its three ridges. One can take the north ridge down to the col with Aonach Dubh before turning SE to a set of loachans where a made-up path descends into the Coire nan Lochan valley, as here. Such a choice is very hard on the joints, being 3000 feet of descent almost entirely over rocks or a constructed stone path. A similar descent can be made to the Coire nan Lochan valley via the east ridge of Stob Coire nan Lochan. In the table below the easiest choice is to return SW to the col with Bidean and descend SE to the Lost Valley. This is about half a mile longer, but involves marginally less ascent from crossing the River Coe back to the helipad parking.
Weather: Hot dry day, overcast, 18°C at start, cloud at ~1150m, very light wind.
|1||0915||Park at Meeting of Three Waters Helipad||163||0||0.0 miles||NN17125687||Orange|
|2||0925||SE to bridge at Meeting of Three Waters||140||0.33 miles||NN17335638|
|3||1000||Path SW beside Allt Coire Gabhail
(crossing by large boulder at 305m alt.
where scree starts on the NW side)
to middle of plain in the "Lost Valley"
|Ascend SE to ridge, keeping right of gully.
traces of a path beside the gully, more prominently
higher up, with a cairn where it reaches the ridge.)
|5||1111||SW to T Beinn Fhada, NE Top||931||790||2.04 miles||NN16435431||No Orange|
|6||1120||SW to col||876||2.17 miles||NN16305416|
|7||1125||W to bump||935||850||2.3 miles||NN16115411|
|8||1130||SW to T Beinn Fhada||952||875||2.4 miles||NN15995405||No Orange|
|9||1140||SW to col||902||2.57 miles||NN15735388|
|Ascend ridge going 20m to left of cliff up steep gully
(or possible scramble directly up rocks)
SW to M Stob Coire Sgreamhach
|11||1225||NW to Bealach Dearg||944||3.03 miles||NN15085370|
|12||1255||NW to M Bidean nam Bian (cairn)||1150||1255||3.6 miles||NN14365421||No Orange|
|13||Detour to NW top: W to col||1120||3.65 miles||NN14255419|
|14||1305||WNW to Bidean nam Bian W top cairn||1141||1270||3.75 miles||NN14145427||Orange|
|15||200yds W then NNW to col||1075||3.95 miles||NN13915445|
|16||1320||N to T Stob Coire nam Beith||1107||1300||4.05 miles||NN13905457||Orange|
|17||Return S to col||1075||4.1 miles||NN13915445|
|18||1335||SSE/E back to Bidean nam Bian W top cairn||1141||1370||4.35 miles||NN14145427||Orange|
|19||ESE to col||1120||4.42 miles||NN14255419|
|E to M Bidean nam Bian (cairn)||1150||1390||4.5 miles||NN14365421||No Orange|
|21||Descend NE to col||980||4.7 miles||NN14595449|
|NE to T Stob Coire nan Lochan||1115||1500||5.0 miles||NN14845487||Orange|
|23||1440||Return SW to col||980||5.3 miles||NN14595449|
|SE down discontinuous path to join valley
path 1 mile before plain of hidden valley
|25||1540||Good path NE to centre of hidden valley||365||6.8 miles||NN16465534|
|26||1600||NE to cross Allt Coire Gabhail by large boulder||305||7.25 miles||NN16965581|
|27||1620||NE to bridge at Meeting of Three Waters||140||7.65 miles||NN17335638|
|28||1630||Track N/NW to A82 at Helipad||163||1530||8.0 miles||NN17125687||Orange|