Stob Ban (977m); Stob Choire Claurigh (1177m);
Stob Coire an Laoigh (1116m) & Sgurr Choinnich Mor (1094m)
- Pronunciation: Stob Ban; Stob Horrer Clowree; Stob Korrer an Lui; Skoor Chorneech More
- Translation: White Peak; Peak of the Clamouring Corrie; Peak of the Corrie of the Calf; Big Peak of the Moss
- Total distance: 26.6km
- Total time: 9hrs 12mins
- Total ascent: 1802m
- Weather: Generally very persistent heavy rain and sleet but with a drier interlude for a couple of hours around midday.
- Start location: Private track leading south from Corriechoille to the SE of Spean Bridge. [OS Map Sheet 41 – Grid Ref: NN 256 788]
- End location: The upper car park in Glen Nevis. [OS Map Sheet 41 – Grid Ref: NN 168 691]
- Map: A map of route can be found here – it may take a few moments to load into a separate window. The map displays on most browsers, but not unfortunately Internet Explorer.
It is possible to complete an excellent linear route crossing The Grey Corries east to west: starting near Spean Bridge and finishing in the upper section Glen Nevis. The problem is that this generally requires the use of a second vehicle or a willing chauffeur. Luckily, I was able to borrow my Dad’s car for the day and in conjunction with our own one was able to position a car at the finish line in Glen Nevis.
The day began with us driving two cars to the end point of our walk: the upper car park in Glen Nevis just to the west of Steall Gorge. Leaving one car there we them both journeyed the 16 or so miles round the north side of the Nevis Range to the little village of Spean Bridge on the A82. At Spean Bridge we took the unmarked road to Corriechoille and then the private land rover track beyond for a further 2km where we parked just before a locked gate blocked the track.
As we began the walk the weather was overcast but still dry. We walked up through a conifer plantation as we entered the northern end of the Lairig Leacach pass. As we looked up along our route through the plantation we noticed someone standing still a few hundred metres away. It wasn’t until we got much closer that we realised that the “person” was actually a wooden statue of a “Wee Minister”. This wooden carved statue replaced a stone version (erected around the turn of the 1900s and later destroyed in the 1970s) and was believed to be of the Rev John McIntosh. It was said to wish good luck on climbers and travellers: good fortune to all who pass this way.
Regrettably, good fortune did not “shine” on us as the clouds darkened and we got caught in a prolonged period of very heavy rain as we exited the forestry plantation and continued through the Lairig Leacach pass until we reached a small bothy by the track-side. Immediately beyond the bothy we left the main path and began to follow the course of the Allt a’ Chuil Choirean burn. The ground was very boggy and it proved impossible to negotiate our way through without our boots taking an absolute soaking.
Still in heavy rain we climbed WSW up the little glen that hosted the burn until we reached a broad col situated between Stob Ban and Stob Choire Claurigh. It was only at this point, almost 2 hours from our starting point that the heavy rain abated and the clouds began to show some signs of dissipating slightly: at least rising above many of the surrounding summits. At the col we turned south and climbed the loose scree on the very steep face of Stob Ban. The difficulties were short-lived as the summit cairn at 977m or 3,205ft was only 177m above the height of the col. The views from Stob Ban showed the whole of our intended route from Stob Choire Claurigh in the east to Sgurr Choinnich Mor in the west.
We dropped back down to the col and then began the longer ascent of Stob Choire Claurigh. This time the gradient was not nearly as steep and the terrain was mainly grassy. We soon reached the summit cairn at 1177m or 3,862ft, and with this being the highest peak in the Grey Corries range it offered us a superb aerial view of all of the nearby summits. Only the mighty Aonachs Mor and Beag in the distance exceeded Claurigh in height and both of these summits were shrouded in cloud. From our vantage point the ridge that we were about to traverse looked really impressive.
We descended west from the summit and began the long traverse of the ridge: crossing several tops on our way to our third Munro. The tops “fell” easily one-by-one as we enjoyed our high-level traverse. After only 1.5 hours we arrived at Stob Coire an Laorigh and enjoyed a short rest in the ring of stones that marked the summit at 1116m or 3,661ft.
Immediately behind us as we ate our snacks lay our final objective of Sgurr Choinnich Mor. To reach it we first had to bag our final top on the main ridge of Stob Coire Easain before descending its SW ridge to reach a col below Sgurr Choinnich Mor. After another stiff climb, which included some easy scrambling, we arrived at the summit cairn of our final Munro at 1094m or 3,589ft. By this stage the heavy rain had begun once again and so we didn’t linger at all at the summit. Instead, we dropped down WSW to yet another col before we had to make the final ascent of the day to reach the top of Sgurr Choinnich Beag (963m). Our route back homewards was to continue over the “Beag” and descend its WSW ridge before dropping south to intersect the path along the base of Glen Nevis.
By this time the rain was torrential and at times had turned to hail as it pelted into us. The path that we were on was literally running like a stream and there was nowhere that we could turn for any shelter. To our left the Steall Waterfall was gushing over its 120m precipice in a huge white ribbon of foamings water.
As we’d done on a previous occasion, we followed the path through the Steall Gorge to emerge back at the upper car park in Glen Nevis where we’d left our first car earlier in the day. We were absolutely soaked but pleased to have completed our linear route across the Grey Corrie range.