Jun. 7th, 2012

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To the Lost Valley, now, and some photographs which illustrate what is arguably the most iconic medium level walk in and around Glencoe...  When Julia Bradbury featured it on one of her television programmes, she implied it was an obscure route, but it didn't seem very obscure to me.  It was hoaching with folk the day we walked there - in fact, it was far busier than the Thirlmere route we'd travelled up Helvellyn the week before.

A view of the route now, as seen from the car park.  The hanging valley between the two peaks was our destination - yes, that's snow you can see there, the late May/June snowfall known locally as the 'deer-calving' snow (so our B&B hostess told us when we last stayed with her, six or seven years ago...)  But you can't see the path from this distance - it runs up the right hand side of the gully where the trees are located:-



Once you start climbing, there are fabulous views across the main road to the infamous Aonach Eagach Ridge - it takes in five named summits, and I'm reliably informed by J (who's one of those hardy folk who have tackled it...) that once you embark upon this perilous path, there's no turning back.  Like Helvellyn, it's been known to claim its fair share of victims from time to time.  And yes, you can rest assured that's one walk I'm not tempted to try in the future:-



The route to the Lost Valley takes you through a rocky cleft where a small river tumbles down from the valley above.  There are tumbled boulders and birches everywhere:-


Walkers must then traverse the boulder field, which is an obstacle course par excellence.  There's no set route - the boulders shift every winter, meaning that the path is always changing.  Our particular route crossed the river and skirted the boulder field, missing it almost completely.  Which is probably just as well, because it's a bit of an ankle-breaker in places:-


Beyond this point, a view back down the valley show how much the route has climbed even by this point:-




And finally, this is where the weary traveller emerges.  There's no sign of the river which has accompanied the path throughout: the streams which feed it vanish into the ground at the head of the valley, leaving just a dry gravel bed.

Traditional tales say that the local MacDonald clansmen used the valley as a place to hide stolen cattle, though I can't imagine how even the most agile and athletic of cows could have made it this far as a willing accomplice, let alone under protest.  Unless it was airlifted in by helicopter, that is.  And helicopters, as you all well now, weren't exactly standard equipment for your average clansman, way back in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries...

And the snowy patches at the far head of the valley, just to the right of the pointed peak?  They mark the only route up to the summit of Bidean nam Bien...


It's traditionally said that the local MacDonald clansmen once used this valley as a place to hide stolen cattle, though I can't imagine how even the most agile and athletic of cows could ever have made it this far.  Unless it was airlifted in by helicopter, that is.  And helicopters, as you all well now, weren't exactly standard equipment for your average clansman, way back in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries...

And the snowy patches at the far head of the valley, just to the right of the pointed peak?  They mark the only route up to the ridge which carries on to the summit of Bidean nam Bien,
which isn't even visible on this photograph...

Yes, I told you it was an epic.  I'm exhausted just thinking about it.... 

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