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McIntyre Glen Noe Walk


 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

A brief document to provide some useful advice

Compiled :-   C McIntyre, I Simpson                                                    Date :- Aug 06

Note – we are not qualified guides, we are not paid & we are not insured. We are just enthusiastic locals with extensive direct experience of this local area. We have hill walked and camped here in both summer & winter and this is beautiful country. We are trying to offer sensible suggestions to others however only you know your own strengths and limits and basically everyone has to take full responsibility for their own actions and security. If our suggestions are not for you then please feel free to ignore us.

The Route:-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distance :- 11.5 km (approx 8miles)

Height gain :- 568m    (putting it in real terms approx 170 flights of stairs)

Time :- 3 ½ to 4 ½ hours total  (approx 1 ½ hours to the stone of the fatted calf). This is a strenuous walk. Some people may think this is no more than a 10k run but “fun runs” are generally on good roads and do not have 500m of ascent in the middle. The first part of this is a good rough vehicle track  but the second part is across open hillside with absolutely no path in places, also on the rough grass side there are stream gulley's that get over-grown with grass and moss so they are very difficult to see. These are no problem at walking pace, but should you try running and accidentally find one there is a fair chance you will break a leg. Given there is no cell phone coverage in Glen Noe, expect 1.5 hours until someone gets into a position where they can call for help, then giving the mountain rescue team 1 hour to muster and get to the start of the walk and 1.5 hours for them to walk in to you gives you 4 hours with a broken leg before you get your first painkiller, then estimate another  2 hours before you get to hospital. This is beautiful country and if you respect it it gives much safe & magical enjoyment, but if you disrespect or underestimate it then it can bite.

Health :- As long as you are reasonably fit you shouldn't have any problem (what defines “reasonably fit” is your decision). It should be noted that the nearest hospital is 25 miles away so the aim is ensure it is not needed.

Underfoot:-

Start to the stone – rough vehicle track. 90% of the way, the last few hundred metres are directly across hillside, no path, rough grass, boggy in places.

From the stone, over the larig Noe & down to Loch Etive and to the Cairn – rough hillside, no paths at all in places.

Weather, :- The West of Scotland has weather not a climate. Although the walk will be in what is laughably called the “summer”, the weather has as much chance as being cold and wet as hot & dry. There is also the comment that if you don't like it, wait half an hour & it will probably change anyway, so given this and the fact we expect to be walking for over 3 hour you will need to carry waterproofs (top & trousers) and a waterproof hat... but take suntan lotion too just in case.

Clothing:- Waterproofs – yes, light and wicking tops if it is hot – yes, kilts are not totally ruled out (especially if you have warm trousers and waterproof leggings in your pack too).

The one thing we would totally advise against is denims, not because of any fashion police but when the get wet they get very heavy and sap the heat out of you at an alarming rate. People have ended up with hypothermia in the Scottish summer when wearing denims and getting wet.

Footwear.:- preferably walking boots, but PLEASE do not just buy a brand new pair just before this walk. If you do you will almost be guaranteed to have very bad blisters. Any boots must be properly “broken in” and you should be happy and comfortable in them. Strong walking shoes could also be used (but you will probably end up with wet feet!). We would strongly recommend against trainers, they may be OK for the London marathon and get a good grip on a  normal road however they are too smooth & next to useless on wet grass. Boots also protect you from skelping your ankle bone on rocks.

Remember there are no “escape routes” off the side of this walk should you wish to cut things short. There is the way you go in & the way out at the far end with no option for dropping off on route (3000 feet mountains on both sides... this is a glen walk after all) so if you get bad blisters having got to the stone after 1 ½ hours walking then you will still have to do another 1.5 hours walking to get out no matter which way you go. Blisters will not kill you but they sure kill enjoyment. Given the right footwear it is perfectly possible to do walks much further than this with zero blister and 100% enjoyment so this jaunt can be an easy stroll (providing you are properly prepared... do it wrong & it could be a pain)

Water, Alcohol :- we would recommend you carry approx 1.5 litres (3 pints) of water PER PERSON for the full walk. Don't forget this weighs 1.5kg (3lb). If you just take a small 0.5l bottle you will be very thirsty. Regarding alcohol, there is nothing wrong with a hip flask for a nip when you have completed the walk, but be warned although alcohol may make you feel warmer it does this by dilating your blood vessels which actually increases heat loss (hence cooling). If it is cold, wet and windy, then drinking alcohol on the hill may temporarily make you think you are warmer but in reality is virtually guaranteed to speed up hypothermia (which can kill you).

Shops, coffee bars :- there aren't any! (that's what makes the area so beautiful). Anything you need you take yourself.

Ways in & out :- One end of Glen Noe is the B8077 by Stronmilchan, the other end is down by Loch Etive (and can be accessed either via boat or from the path in by the InverAwe smokery). Unless you are into some major mountaineering there are NO other ways in (or out). This makes navigation relatively easy however it should be remembered that once you are half way in then you have no option but the walk the same to get out again. There are no sweeper buses, there are no taxis, there is no option to sneak off to the nearest subway.

Disabled facilities :- sorry there are no wheelchair options at all. A wheelchair might get some distance on the rough track at the start but would be totally stuck on the boggy hillside getting the final leg to the stone (and the rest of the walk across rough hillside without paths would be impossible too). An athlete who permanently competes on crutches could have a chance but if you are on crutches only temporarily then sorry the options are virtually zero.

Toilet facilities:- none official but one large airy toilet with superb view (out & in!), very few trees and in places very few rocks to hide behind... but given it will be summer the bracken will probably be quite high and ok to hide in.

Parking Facilities :- At the Stronmilchan start there are no official car parks. It is a narrow single track road with no pavements/sidewalks. No one should park at the openings/gates into fields as this will restrict farmer's access. There is very limited parking available in places on the grass verges  (ensure you leave enough room for large tractor and farm trailer to pass... If one had to squeeze past your vehicle would generally come off worst should it be a tight squeeze).

Cellular coverage – zero for most of the walk. Guaranteed peace & tranquility (no annoying interruptions from business calls and no easy calls for pizza/help).

Sweeper bus – none. Wherever you walk to you will have to walk from as no vehicle can access this route.

Wildlife:- sheep, possibly highland cows, many wild deer in the area (but they do tend to scarper quickly when they sense humans) plus Ravens, Eagles and buzzards are all common in this region.

British fauna is incredibly benign. We only have one poisonous snake and is is so rare in Scotland that I have never seen one but would love to (they are not generally aggressive). We will not generally encounter a bull but it will be worth a double check by the farm. The main thing to watch is cows being protective of their calves.

Midges & Cleggs :- Midges are little gnats (“no see ums”), Cleggs are horse flies. Both bite. Some people do not seem to be particularly bothered by them at all, others seem to come up in red lumps (me unfortunately). West Scotland seems to be the ancestral home of the entire midge population.

Midge repellent containing DEET seems to be the most effective (just watch though, it melts plastic and tastes horrible... no you don't drink it, but if you miss your lips the midges can give you a good impression of a collagen injection). Cool, damp and no wind are the worst conditions for midges. With a reasonable breeze you will not even come across them.

Navigation:- easy, follow the path up to the stone, follow the line of poles over the larig than just follow the glen down. As we said there are no easy options to drop off the route midway and you have to be really trying to even find a difficult option.

Maps :- Ordnance Survey, 1:50,000 landranger number 50 (Glen Orchy & Loch Etive) is the best. Www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk or if you want a waterproof one www.aqua3.com.  A small compass is also useful.  The GreenWelly shop in Tyndrum has a reasonable stock of this type of item. I think there are some shops in Oban too.

Mapping software :- There are various options available. Anquet Map's Scotland edition is the one I use. Quite reasonable around £35. www.anquet.co.uk  if you want to check it out.

Tradition – Macintyres have lived and died in this beautiful glen for centuries. We are hoping to break that tradition and ensure no one dies during this walk!

We are intending to do the walk ourselves for our own enjoyment. No matter what the weather is we are intending to have fun & complete the trip without pain, blisters or problems. It is beautiful country that is a honor to be walking in. If you respect the country it will reward you.

Anyone who wants to “tag along” will be welcome. The above should ensure that you have a reasonable appreciation of what it entails so will be able to assess for yourself if you are capable.

This is not an organized excursion, we will simply be a group of like minded individuals all intent on enjoying a bracing walk in the Scottish countryside.


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