Glen Coe mountain landscapes: Bidean nam Bian and Buachaille Etive Mor

A few weeks back, I captured images from the summit of Stob Coire nan Lochan, a prominent peak above Glen Coe on the Bidean nam Bian massif. Glen Coe is a great glacier-carved glen in the West Highlands of Scotland that descends from Rannoch Moor in the east to Loch Leven in the west. It's a very beautiful part of Scotland's landscape that, unfortunately or not (depending on your view), has a busy trunk road cutting right through it. Scotland's A82 road, plus the fact that the glen was the backdrop for scenes in the James Bond film, ‘Skyfall' and the popular Harry Potter series, means there’s a lot of thoroughfare and visiting tour buses. 

Despite the crowds, you can still experience solitude in Glen Coe. On my last trip, I talked to a total of 3 people - one enthusiastic couple and a very nice bloke from Glasgow (a grown man who said he’s embarrassed because he still walks like a teenage ned - if you’re reading this, I’m still smiling at your impression, it was fun to chat to you) and I met no folk at all on my recent trip. (If empty hills appeal to you, I've found it helps if you start your ascent after 9pm and you’re back not long after breakfast).

Whilst I was on Bidean nam Bian, my attention was focused mostly to the east, towards Buachaille Etive Mor (the 'Great Herdsman of the Etive’), another great Scottish Munro that guards the entrance to Glen Coe and another Scottish glen, Glen Etive. If, however, you look north from Bidean nam Bian, you get a great view to another of Glen Coe's gems, the Aonach Eagach, a narrow mountain ridge that makes up the other side of the Glen Coe valley. It seemed like a good idea to climb up to the Aonach Eagach and see what Bidean nam Bian looked from the opposite side of the glen.

I'd decided I'd follow the same approach as my last trip to Glen Coe and walk up the Aonach Eagach in the dark, bivvy on a summit and take photos at dawn. I was in no rush and I took my time as I ascended Am Bodach, the most easterly peak on the ridge (though the notched ridge which lends Aonach Eagach its name really starts further west on Meall Garbh). As I climbed, the travel of car headlights on the road below provided evidence there was still plenty people making their way through the glen. By 11.45pm, the sound of motor vehicles had long been replaced by braying stags and I was tucked up nice and warm in my sleeping bag at 3,000ft pondering a wet mist that had settled on my bivvy bag. The weather didn't look too promising for the morning.

As so often happens, when you’ve put effort into something, the dice fall in your favour and a light breeze at dawn was enough to clear the mist every so often and offer great views across to Stob Coire nan Lochan on Bidean nam Bian. Unfortunately, it didn't last very long so I descended not long after sun up and headed back to the car. It was an easy decision to stop and take some shots of Buachaille Etive Mor on the way home. All images will be for sale soon as fine art prints in an forthcoming 'Prints' section on my website.