You have a choice of two laybys in which to park. Both positions mean a short walk by the road at the beginning or the end. Follow the obvious path heading south-southwest and then southwest along the north-west bank of the River Coupall. Enjoy the fresh feeling in your legs as you march along between the two bulky masses of Buachaille Etive Mor and Beag in the inspiring Lairig Gartain.
Follow the left fork of the path across the river, and ascend up into the corrie, which is one of the Big Herdsman's few access points onto its ridge. It's pretty steep, but you gain height quickly and are soon on the ridge, with twice the views (assuming the weather's good!). Turn right and follow the path up to Stob Coire Altruim, and then on to Stob na Broige, the first and smaller of the two Munros to be ascended today.
After admiring the wonderful views, especially to the south, retrace your steps along the ridge, and from where you first joined it continue to the east and then north-east, with a short but steep ascent up to the top of Stob na Doire.
From here you can see the more muscular north-western end of the Buachaille. Stride out along the ridge, which ultimately involves a final pull up to the very top. It's worth it. Everybody driving into the majestic Glen Coe will marvel at the fantastic Stob Dearg, and now you will be standing on top of it. Look across to the open and empty Rannoch Moor, which offers a good contrast to the rocky mountains that you see to the north, west and south.
Start the descent by following your steps from the way up, but once you reach the lowest point of the col as the ridge flattens and rises again, you'll find a path descending relatively steeply to your right into Coire na Tulaich, which may be tricky to gain at first if the weather's bad. Follow the pasth down, which can be rocky with scree in places, so take care. Although it's quite steep, it's an enjoyable descent.
Another path joins the one that you've been following, but keep going straight on, and cross the river by the bridge at Lagangarbh. If you left your car by the road here, then hop in; otherwise follow the little path by the side of the A82 back to the start. Enjoy the views back to the mountain: you'll have seen the mountain from many fantastic angles today, and this one isn't bad either.
© r.robson - UKHillwalking.com, Sep 2013