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Bidean by Lost Valley Horseshoe - Glencoe

Location: South side of Glencoe, Argyll, Central Highlands

Length: 12km / 7.5 miles

Ascent: 1380m / 4528ft

Time: 9 hours

Difficulty: Long, sustained, remote, exposed and potentially serious, with three key sections of difficulty: the Gearr Aonach Zig-Zags (Scrambling Grade 1), the Bad Step to reach the col beneath Stob Coire Sgreamhach (Scrambling Grade 1), and the descent from the end of Beinn Fhada to the floor of the Lost Valley (requiring careful route finding, though not technically difficult). A demanding expedition in winter (Winter Grade 3).

Escape west can be made from the southern end of the Gearr Aonach ridge down into Coire nan Lochan and from Bealach Dearg north-eastwards down into the Lost Valley.

  Bidean nam Bian
     

Seasons:

Summer conditions may be expected from June to September and winter conditions from October to May.

Geology:

Typically the rock is ryolite and andesite, reasonably rough and dependable though it can be slippery when wet or damp, and there are sections of loose scree (take care not to dislodge stones onto parties below).

Flora and Fauna:

Golden eagle, raven and ptarmigan may be seen; also red deer.

Drooping saxifrage, blaeberry, moss-campion and stag's horn moss grow in this region.

  Glencoe mountains
     

Comment:

In a sea of rugged mountains and great steeps, this is one of the most powerfully impressive outings in the British mountains.

Despite its formidable appearance, the nose of Gearr Aonach, up the Lost Valley face, is breached by an interlinking series of natural diagonal ledges, known as the Gearr Aonach Zig-Zags.

These provide the key to its ascent, unlocking a masterly traverse of the high ridges encircling the Lost Valley.

These rocky bastions dominate the south side of the Glencoe mountain pass. From the east they comprise Beinn Fhada, Gearr Aonach and Aonach Dudh, commonly known as the Three Sisters.

Impressive as they are, in point of fact they are merely the gable end, so to speak, of three great ridges which run to the highest mountain of the region, the mighty Bidean nam Bian.

  Bidean and River Coe
     

Gearr Aaonach and Aonach Dudh join at the peak of Stob Coire nan Lochan before proceeding onwards and upwards. Beinn Fhada, below Stob Coire Sgreamhach, and Gearr Aonach joined with Stob Coire nan Lochan leading directly to Bidean nam Bian, form the enclosing ridges, respectively east and west of the Lost Valley (more properly called Coire Gabhail).

This walk makes an anti-clockwise circuit of the valley starting off towards Aonach Gearr and the Zig-Zag route.

Set in the spiritual heartland of the magnificent Highlands of Scotland, this must surely be one of the best mounatin ridge walks in the world. It has just the right balance between ease of movement and technical difficulty, between challenge and intimidation, exposure and danger, mountain grandeur and desolation, wildness and wilderness. Even though technical difficulties are reasonably low (two short, easy Scrambling Grade 1 sections) it will test your mountain mettle.

  Stob Coire Sgreamhach

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