Stob na Broige, Glen Coe
About 13 years after I took this photo, this still brings back happy memories for me -I was recently asked to list one of my best days in the outdoors, and this one sprang to mind. Another one from the time before my kit matched my ambition, I feel lucky to have had just the right conditions for the film to work just right and come out with a lovely photo to remember a superb walk.I’m particularly proud of the perspective and sense of scale the image conveys, and the bluish hue of the distant hills (I’m always looking for a ‘blue remembered hills’ image, although this perhaps a bit more extreme than Houseman’s Shropshire).
The walk came at the end of my undergraduate years at Aberystwyth, when I was president of the University Walking Club, and had considerable say over where we went for our end of year ‘tour’. Only my third visit to the Highlands of Scotland, I’d decided we ought to try some of the iconic peaks, and combined a few nights’ stay in the Glen Coe area with a further stay in the southern Cairngorms a later on. Having ticked off the Pap of Glencoe as a warm up, and bagged The Ben shortly afterwards, The Buckle was next on the agenda. But by this stage, we’d already done a lot, so a good number decided on the smaller Beinn A’Chrulaiste. The result was lovely small group of just 5, compared to a normal group size of around 10, and all of us we about the same fitness level, which meant very little ‘group management’. We started up the Coire na Tulaich (one day I’d like to go back a do the scramble/climb up the Curved Ridge, but we weren’t looking for that level of challenge on this day in history) with nothing but a few red deer grazing in the screes above us for company, and a great view back down the burn. The top end of the Coire is a bit of a loose scramble, but we were soon rewarded with breath-taking views from the top of the headwall. This photo was taken shortly afterwards, although my memory’s a little hazy as to whether it’s from the summit of Stob Dearg (the main peak) or somewhere nearby. After that, it was a nice easy ridge walk, ticking off the tops and munros, with plenty of 360° views and dozens of panoramic photos (yes, this was before you could just press a button and spin round with your camera/phone, so each one had to be set up just right and took about 12 snaps). With Rannoch Moor away to our left, Bidean nam Bean and Buachaille Etive Beag to our right, the Aonach Eagach, the whole Nevis/Mamores range behind us and Glen Etive ahead, it was heaven to be surrounded by mountains and places I had hitherto only read about. I think it was the combination that makes it so memorable -good company, great mountains and perfect conditions, with a small amount of challenge. Of course the long walk out to Stob na Broige itself did mean quite a long walk out through the Lairig Gartain, and a certain amount of dehydration (poor planning -the day was hotter, and the walk longer than perhaps expected!), but overall a stunning day, and well worth shooting a whole role of film (a few of the other images can be found on my Photobox Gallery, mostly in the highlands collection).
This one’s wide screen, so the the best prints will be long and thin: e.g. 12″x5″, or 20″x8″
All images © Stephen Tyrrell, Mountains, Wild Places and Water, 2014. All rights reserved.