Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Bidean nam Bian - Hill of Hills

Bidean nam Bian is one of the best hills in Scotland. Seven ridges, six corries and five tops fall away from the summit, which hosts a view of mountain, hill, sea, and island; the Aonach Eagach, Ben Nevis, Buchaille Etive Mor and Paps of Jura being especially notable. The ridges and corries each provide a different route to the summit, and these are some of the best in the country: the zig-zags on Gearr Aonach, the Lost Valley where the local clan once hid cattle stolen from their neighbours, Dinnertime Buttress on Aonach Dubh, the up-and-down ridge of Beinn Fhada... it is not possible to see Bidean in one walk, and several visits are required to explore the different areas of this superlative hill.

Looking across the ridges of Bidean in good weather:

Bidean is a hill I hold in great respect. Under winter conditions its wee, sharp, shy summit is guarded on all sides by cornices or airy ridges, and it takes cunning to work a safe route to the top and back. This week the conditions were semi-wintry, the cornices collapsed, the rain then wet snow invasive, chilling, and mildly disorientating in the mist and wind, especially for a speccy like me whose glasses kept misting over.

Bidean at the weekend:

But our group were of good heart: and we headed up Coire an Lochain, over a snow tightrope to Bidean, down past the head of the Lost Valley to Stob Coire Screamach, and descended safely into the Lairig Eilde, a herd of deer watching us amongst the streams cutting headlong down the hillside. When we broke out of the cloud we had spent six hours in the mist and walked over three hilltops. It was the first Munro I'd wandered over for over a year, and a major hillwalk for a Corbett and Marilyn-bagger.


Billy said...

T'was but a stroll in the park. Where was the nice day photo taken from? Aonach Dubh?

Robert Craig said...

Aye, somewhere near the top of Dinnertime Buttress. Stroll in the park my erchie!