The hills of the Black Mount are often overlooked. This is probably because they have the misfortune (as far as their own reputation is concerned) of being merely the prelude to the grandeur of Glen Coe, on the drive Northwards up Scotland's west coast. If these hills did not keep such august company, they would be better known, I am sure.
The whitewashed Bridge of Orchy hotel is a well-known landmark on the A82 - and a place in which I have enjoyed several fine post-hillwalking meals. Yesterday, after meeting 'Roymondo' at Crianlarich, we took the backroad that leaves the A82 by the hotel and skirts Loch Tulla before culminating at a walkers car-park at the end of the public road.
In perfectly still, warm muggy humid air, with no sunshine, this tree-surrounded car park contained an unbearable frenzy of midgies. I haven't experienced midgies like it - in years. They were fierce, biting, swarming, itching - absolutely horrific. Giving up all thoughts of leisurely changing, we grabbed all our stuff from the car boot and jumped straight back into the car, putting the 'blowers' on full, to pack our rucksacks and insert feet into walking boots. As we did so - we watched the car windows steadily blackening with scores of midgies, which continued to plague us for much of the day.
The route, from Victoria bridge and over these two munros is fairly straightforward. We continued along the road over the bridge to the lodge, turned westards along the track alongside the river and continued until a little green tin shack, at which we took the path northwards up the glen. The stalkers path which climbs up the slopes of Stob a Choire Odhair from the main path is easy to miss - nevertheless if you take to the hills immediately after crossing a significant burn the path becomes obvious within 30/40m - and barely disappears for the rest of the day.
The summit of Stob a Choire Odhair is straightforwardly enough reached at the head of a zig-zagging path, and rewards the walker with fine views in return for fairly modest effort. In between clouds, and through hazy light Glen Coe's great shapes were as visible looking Northwards as the Orchy hills and views across the watery expanses of Rannoch Moor were the other. A well-worn path threads its way down the hill, along a ridge and up the bouldery slopes of Stob Ghabhar. Stob Ghabhar is undoubtedly the finer - as well as being the higher of the two hills. We were denied the massive view which this peak should have afforded by our ascent into the cloud base. On balance however this was good thing! As is so often the case, while the air below the clouds can be still, hot and humid - once in the cloud it can be windy and chilly. This meant that at last we could sit and eat lunch in conditions which presented a good challenge for the midgies!
Two ridges protrude southwards from Stob Ghabhar, one is long, grassy and gentle, the other known as the Aonach Eagach, ends in a blunt nose of rock requiring some scrambling. We selected the easier of the two routes and followed the ridge down, on an occasionally appearing path, to a river crossing - which took us back on to the same route we taken into the hills.
These are charming hills, with easy access and fast walking onto pleasant ridges with far-reaching views. As two simple Munros in great walking country, they don't attract the vast crowds of Glen Coe and are all the better for it. They don't present an enormous physical challenge but provide an excellent day of solid and enjoyable hillwalking.