document to provide some useful advice
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
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.
:- 11.5 km (approx 8miles)
:- 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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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!
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.
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.
not an organized excursion, we will simply be a group of like minded
individuals all intent on enjoying a bracing walk in the Scottish