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Here’s to the crazy ones.

Here’s to the crazy ones.
The misfits.
The rebels.
The troublemakers.

April 6th, 2015|Uncategorized|
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Beinn a’Chleibh

Many years ago when Frank and I had climbed Ben Lui the weather and the views had not been really great (in fact it had been a rather dreich day). So we had skipped the extension to Beinn a’Chleibh, then. This meant that we still had this half-day walk to do that we could slip in when it suited us. The right time came on 18 November 2014 when we needed to catch an afternoon flight out of Edinburgh and had the morning at our disposal.

From Loch Fyne where we had stayed for a long weekend we drove to Loch Awe and then onwards to Glen Lochy where we left our car in the big hikers’ parking where the tramp up Beinn a’Chleibh starts. At 0810h a.m. Frank and I crossed the River Lochy (dry-shod) using stepping stones – the weather had been rather dry the past few days! Then we walked along the left bank of the river, crept under the railway bridge over the Eas Daimh and picked up the obvious path on the right bank of the burn. For the next few hundred metres the path was fine and easy to follow. Then a tributary stream coming from the left needed to be crossed. This was a little tricky but some friendly hiker had installed a rope spanning that stream which gave us something to hold on to during the slippery crossing.

Then the real fun started. The path deteriorated into one of the worst quagmires I have ever experienced in all my years of hiking in Scotland. Bog, water holes and slushy moss. Legs sinking in almost to the knees when you hit a bad spot. All of this while ascending steeply through the forest beside the Eas Daimh. Then finally after many curses and a very tiring 45 minutes we reached the forest edge and the open grassy Fionn Choirein. Heaven! Hoorah!

The crags of Beinn a’Chleibh were obvious from there as was the way ahead towards the steep headwall of the corrie. The wooden monolith welcoming you to the nature reserve was lying flat on its back: vandalism? If so I presume the poor sign had to bear the brunt of many a frustrated hill walker who needed to vent his anger at the bog slog just experienced. The next 300 metres of climbing over dry grass and a bit of scree higher up were a piece of cake in comparison to what we had to cope with in the forest.

We reached the bealach between Beinn a’Chleibh and Ben Lui. There we turned right and climbed the last 150 metres to the flat summit of Beinn a’Chleibh which was completely engulfed in clouds. Once the summit plateau was reached it took us maybe three minutes to reach the summit cairn. No views! Time pressure meant we had to return to Glen Lochy at the double. So after one bite of chocolate we immediately turned round and dropped into Fionn Choirean again. All too soon the forest edge was reached again. I do admit that walking the bog path downhill was a little less strenuous than uphill. But let me assure you: Nonetheless a very good sense of humour was needed to keep me from cursing all the way down to the River Lochy. After 3 hours and 25 minutes the path beside the river leading back to the parking was finally, finally reached. Man, what a slog!

Then the only tasks left were to cross the River Lochy, easily accomplished, and to get out of the hiking clothes into something more civilian and less damp.

This was a short half-day walk successfully completed against the clock. A Munro well-earned and a path I intend to never ever return to. On a positive note: This was Frank’s last remaining Munro south of the Great Glen. From now on we’ll follow Mark Edward Smith’s advice when he sang in 1987: Hit the North! Yes we’ll do that, in 2015.

November 18th, 2014|2014, Loch Lomond to Loch Tay|
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Ben Vorlich

Of the two Beinn Vorlich Munros this was the second one I had the privilege of climbing. No. 1, the Loch Earn Munro, had been my two hundredth Munro. And yes: After topping out on that one Frank and I had become increasingly single-minded and very intent on finishing off the tick list at last. That single-mindedness was also the reason why we had decided to come to Scotland in the middle of November to bag the Arrochar Alps.

On a misty Monday morning on 17 November we thus parked at the hikers’ layby opposite Ardlui Station. The rain gear came on immediately since it was cold and very damp. We followed the road to the second railway underpass and turned right to cross under the West Highland Railway Line. The path then continued uphill through grass for a few hundred metres until it reached the burn draining Coire Creagach which had a rough mountain track for ATVs high on its left bank.

This ATV track climbed very steeply into the open upper reaches of Coire Creagach. The terrain underfoot changed from grit to grass and bog but the ATV track remained easily recognizable all the way to the bealach between Stob nan Choinnch Bhacain and Beinn Vorlich.

From the bealach we followed a faint path that climbed around the first steep rise in the north-east ridge. Then we decided to gain the crest of the ridge which had some steep sections and became rockier the further up you get. There were one or two rock bands which sported some easy scrambling but which also required great care because of the wet weather and the slippery surface of the rocks underneath.

Then the North Top of Beinn Vorlich appeared before us in the fog. From there it was an easy stroll over the broad ridge to the true summit of Beinn Vorlich and its cairn where we remained engulfed in clouds, felt a strong wind chill and also had some showery rain beating down on us.

When planning the hike we had pondered using the alternative descent route via the Little Hills. But now the weather allowed now views of the surrounding hills and Loch Lomond at all. In fact, it felt a little foolhardy to venture into the unknown and – as the books said – complex terrain ahead. It was thus easy for us to choose simplicity over variety: We retraced our steps all the way down to Coire Creagach. Once we were below the 600m contour the clouds lifted a bit and Loch Lomond and the lower slopes of Beinn Chabhair (?) became discernible. The rain and the wind subsided and we took off the rain gear. Once back on the gritted lower section of the ATV track we took a short break and had a good look around the corrie. Oh well, not much difference to any other grassy open corrie in Scotland. Then we headed back to the A82 and our car.

Munro No. two-five-eight (Cord) and two-four-eight (Frank) bagged. Mission accomplished. It was a good and short half-day walk. And even though the weather was not really comfortable it was still much better than we had expected it to be in November. You’ve got to be content with what the mountains give you. And so we were.

November 17th, 2014|2014, Loch Lomond to Loch Tay|
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Beinn Bhuidhe

Quite unexpectedly Frank and I had had the chance to steal away from work and other obligations in Germany to go on a long weekend of hill-walking in Scotland. The only drawback was the time of the year: Mid November. Weather-wise we expected the worst and hoped for the best. Ultimately it turned out that the weather gods were kind on us all of the four days we spent in the hills. No major downpours, not too many low clouds, not too much fog. 16 November was the best day and we had chosen to do the longest and most challenging walk that Sunday.

Beinn Bhuidhe is described as retiring, isolated and as being an “awkward customer” (Ralph Storer, The Ultimate Guide to the Munros, Volume 1: Southern Highlands). That may all be true. But it is also a hill that is approached by a long walk in on a good road and a Land Rover track in beautiful Glen Fyne.

At nine o’clock we left the parking at the head of Loch Fyne and walked past the brewery at Achdunan. The tarmac road and the nice views of the surrounding slopes made progress easy and interesting. Soon we passed through a herd of 30 highland cattle. Animals with quite impressive horns and a fair amount of curiosity. But very benign. Then after about five kilometres the bridge over the River Fyne was reached as were Glenfyne Lodge and the small assembly of houses nearby. Where the tarmac road turned right to re-cross the River Fyne we continued straight ahead on a good Land Rover track, went through a gate and soon reached Inverchorachan Bothy. Just past the bothy and outside the deer fence we stopped to drink some water, eat a Mars bar and get our bearings right. We exchanged a few words with a young couple who were also headed for Beinn Bhuidhe.

Then we turned due west following a narrow but distinct path on the right bank of the burn tumbling down from the steep hillside: The Allt na Faing. This little burn had dug its way through the rock over thousands of years and had created a little very steep-sided gorge in the process. A scenic place with one or two spots where a sure foot and a calm head are good insurances against a potentially fatal plunge into the chasm. Then a little band of rocks blocked the path and the weary walker had to look for a safe way over or around this granny stopper. It was not too difficult with several options being available.

After the granny stopper the lower corrie opened up and the path continued its steady and steep climb over grassy terrain which was either quite eroded by many boots or boggy and squishy. After having passed a small but beautiful waterfall on our further climb of maybe 100 or 150m we finally crossed the lip of the upper corrie.

There, at an altitude of 550 or 600m I rested on a large boulder, drank a can of Sprite and ate some of my sandwiches. The climb had been quite tiring until there. Frank was out of sight exploring the upper reaches of the corrie. The south face of Beinn Bhuidhe gave the impression of being a steep wall of rocks, scree and grass. I knew from the books, however, that following the faint path towards a grassy gully would eventually bring me onto the ridge.

From my resting place I managed to pick out the faint traces of the path and continued climbing towards the mountain. Then the terrain became flat and I reached the foot of the gully mentioned. What followed was a very steep climb of 180m or so on grass, rocks and a lot of loose scree, gravel and sand. Nonetheless the path was there and quite unmistakeably so. It improved as height was gained and levelled out on the ridge at about 800m.

The only thing left to do was to turn left and follow the obvious path over several rises. It had a few places that sported some quite precipitous drops on its left-hand (south) side. After maybe one kilometre I climbed the final metres and the summit was finally attained. Frank was waiting there, taking photos. He had climbed up the ridge via another steeper gully not having found the path I had used.

The summit is a great place to be in November sunshine and with clear air allowing 360 degree views of the surrounding undulating countryside. The Arrochar Alps, the mountains surrounding Ben Lui and Ben Cruachan were all identifiable as soon as we had adopted our mental compasses to the quite unfamiliar views of these familiar hills. We had a nice long break at the summit cairn and enjoyed the extraordinarily good weather.

But of course the days in November are already quite short. This meant we had to return to Glen Fyne soon if we did not want to use our head torches, which we had carried with us of course. We retraced my way of ascent back down the ridge, down the steep grassy gully and then down towards the boulder where I had taken a rest a few hours earlier. From that spot we suddenly saw a hydro road leading up to the shoulder of Meall an Daimh that was neither on our electronic nor our paper OS maps. We decided to use that unexpected way back to Glen Fyne – where else should it lead to eventually? – since it promised a much more comfortable return to the glen than the steep path through the gorge. Unfortunately when heading for the hydro road we had to cross another steep grassy gorge cut by a burn. The bottom of that cut was covered in mud from a recent landslide. Not a nice place to be and with all the unstable material around and above us it felt very eerie indeed.

Then we had gained the hydro road and it was a long but easy cruise back to […]

November 16th, 2014|2014, Loch Lomond to Loch Tay|
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Beinn Narnain

The Arrochar Alps: What a grand name and what a nice alliteration. Not a very British choice of name, though, because calling these hills “Alps” does not exhibit the typical attitude of understatement that goes with being British. But perhaps there is a certain amount of eye-blinking irony in the name? We’ll probably never know.

It was Saturday morning, 15 November 2015. Frank and I had eaten a healthy Scottish breakfast at the Cairndow Inn, driven to Succoth, parked the car there, packed our backpacks, laced our boots, set our altimeters and crossed the A83. Then off we went towards Beinn Ime and Beinn Narnain. We had opted for the New Cobbler Path that gradually climbs into the Glen of the Allt a’ Bhalachain. The zigzags and the firm surface of the path made progress easy. Soon we crossed the Land Rover track and then reached the point where the path reaches the Allt a’ Bhalachain’s bed and turns right to climb more steeply towards a little dam or weir. There we got the first views of The Cobbler appearing from the mist and the clouds before us. A very nice hill. My thoughts went back to the time when I had climbed to its summit many years ago. That had been real fun.

The continuation towards the Bealach a’Mhaim was easy on a perfectly engineered mountain highway. I remembered that the last time I had been there together with Mike the upper section of the path had been in a very bad condition. But not now. Past the Narnain Boulders we climbed in a steady fashion. And very soon the path levelled out at about 650m. We had reached the Bealach a’Mhaim and continued across it towards Beinn Ime. The bealach and the first Munro were hidden in clouds but after a minute or so of taking the right bearing we soon reached the fence mentioned in the books, crossed it and followed the pretty obvious path up the rather featureless grassy slopes of Beinn Ime. We met a couple who had already been at the summit and exchanged a few friendly words on how it could have been worse had it rained.

At an altitude of about 900m the path coming from the craggy north-east ridge of Beinn Ime joined our own. The last 100m were quickly gained and very soon we reached the rocky summit of Beinn Ime. No views and a fresh wind greeted us at the cairn. As expected. But also no rain worth mentioning, which we thought was remarkable considering the time of the year.

Focussing our attention on Beinn Narnain now we returned to the Bealach a’Mhaim and picked up a path leading up the west ridge of Munro No. 2 of the day. Since I had done this hill in nice sunshine years ago my enthusiasm quickly evaporated and I decided not to climb another no-views summit and instead to wait for Frank’s return. Then suddenly the low clouds lifted for more than a moment and I finally saw the grassy cone of Beinn Ime and also got a nice view of The Cobbler’s north side and the summit which was easily recognizable since the sudden bright light also highlighted the hole in The Cobbler’s summit rocks which one needs to climb through to get to the summit. A very nice coincidence, indeed.

In no time Frank returned and informed me that there had also been quite acceptable views and photo opportunities at Beinn Narnain’s summit. The photo on this website shows some of the rock towers of Beinn Narnain’s craggy south-east ridge.

What was left of the hike was the easy walk back towards Succoth on the Cobbler path. With the weather having become better the longer the day wore on this was a very nice early afternoon stroll in late autumn. A perfect end to an easy day in the Arrochar Alps. (One day we will come back and climb Beinn Ime via Coiregrogain and the north-east ridge. But that will be another story, then.) For now, we reached our car in good shape, changed into more comfortable shoes and headed back towards Cairndow via the Rest and be Thankful. And that’s what we did and felt like during our ensuing afternoon nap at the Inn.

November 15th, 2014|2002, 2014, Loch Lomond to Loch Tay|
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Beinn Ime

The Arrochar Alps: What a grand name and what a nice alliteration. Not a very British choice of name, though, because calling these hills “Alps” does not exhibit the typical attitude of understatement that goes with being British. But perhaps there is a certain amount of eye-blinking irony in the name? We’ll probably never know.

It was Saturday morning, 15 November 2015. Frank and I had eaten a healthy Scottish breakfast at the Cairndow Inn, driven to Succoth, parked the car there, packed our backpacks, laced our boots, set our altimeters and crossed the A83. Then off we went towards Beinn Ime and Beinn Narnain. We had opted for the New Cobbler Path that gradually climbs into the Glen of the Allt a’ Bhalachain. The zigzags and the firm surface of the path made progress easy. Soon we crossed the Land Rover track and then reached the point where the path reaches the Allt a’ Bhalachain’s bed and turns right to climb more steeply towards a little dam or weir. There we got the first views of The Cobbler appearing from the mist and the clouds before us. A very nice hill. My thoughts went back to the time when I had climbed to its summit many years ago. That had been real fun.

The continuation towards the Bealach a’Mhaim was easy on a perfectly engineered mountain highway. I remembered that the last time I had been there together with Mike the upper section of the path had been in a very bad condition. But not now. Past the Narnain Boulders we climbed in a steady fashion. And very soon the path levelled out at about 650m. We had reached the Bealach a’Mhaim and continued across it towards Beinn Ime. The bealach and the first Munro were hidden in clouds but after a minute or so of taking the right bearing we soon reached the fence mentioned in the books, crossed it and followed the pretty obvious path up the rather featureless grassy slopes of Beinn Ime. We met a couple who had already been at the summit and exchanged a few friendly words on how it could have been worse had it rained.

At an altitude of about 900m the path coming from the craggy north-east ridge of Beinn Ime joined our own. The last 100m were quickly gained and very soon we reached the rocky summit of Beinn Ime. No views and a fresh wind greeted us at the cairn. As expected. But also no rain worth mentioning, which we thought was remarkable considering the time of the year.

Focussing our attention on Beinn Narnain now we returned to the Bealach a’Mhaim and picked up a path leading up the west ridge of Munro No. 2 of the day. Since I had done this hill in nice sunshine years ago my enthusiasm quickly evaporated and I decided not to climb another no-views summit and instead to wait for Frank’s return. Then suddenly the low clouds lifted for more than a moment and I finally saw the grassy cone of Beinn Ime and also got a nice view of The Cobbler’s north side and the summit which was easily recognizable since the sudden bright light also highlighted the hole in The Cobbler’s summit rocks which one needs to climb through to get to the summit. A very nice coincidence, indeed.

In no time Frank returned and informed me that there had also been quite acceptable views and photo opportunities at Beinn Narnain’s summit. The photo on this website shows some of the rock towers of Beinn Narnain’s craggy south-east ridge.

What was left of the hike was the easy walk back towards Succoth on the Cobbler path. With the weather having become better the longer the day wore on this was a very nice early afternoon stroll in late autumn. A perfect end to an easy day in the Arrochar Alps. (One day we will come back and climb Beinn Ime via Coiregrogain and the north-east ridge. But that will be another story, then.) For now, we reached our car in good shape, changed into more comfortable shoes and headed back towards Cairndow via the Rest and be Thankful. And that’s what we did and felt like during our ensuing afternoon nap at the Inn.

November 15th, 2014|2014, Loch Lomond to Loch Tay|
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Beinn Dearg

A tramp along long land rover tracks on a warm day in early June was on the agenda. Beinn Dearg from Blair Atholl was the goal of the hike. We had left our cosy and comfortable cottage in Laggan for good and had headed south on the A9 to Blair Atholl where we parked our car in the hikers’ parking at Old Bridge of Tilt – not without having recceed the road to Old Blair beforehand and having found no place to leave the car. So up the private road to Old Blair we walked and soon entered the forest following the track high above the left bank of the Banvie Burn. We were overtaken by a couple of people giving their horses some exercise shortly before the track left behind the trees for good. It was quite warm and there was no protection from the sunshine anymore for hours on end. Frank and I sweated profusely and made good progress on the land rover track leading to the Lady March Cairn. From there the tramp on the track continued gaining metre after metre in altitude. Then the terrain levelled out before we lost 50-70 metres before reaching the bothy at the Allt Sheicheanchan.

A rougher track led along the right bank of this burn to an altitude of about 600-650 metres. Where the track crossed the burn and took a sharp turn right we picked up the path climbing the south slopes of Beinn Dearg’s outlier Meall Dubh nan Dearcag and leading to more level terrain on the whale back of the mountain. We struck a more or less direct line from there to the gravel-strewn and stony summit of Beinn Dearg which was nicely visible a mile ahead. On the way to the summit we walked over another intermediate grassy/heathery bump and met a few other walkers with whom some words on the perfect conditions of this marvellous day were exchanged. Soon we rested at the summit cairn and enjoyed the views. A cool wind was blowing at the cairn so we did not rest longer than a quarter of an hour. Then, with some reluctance – partly because the day was so good, partly because the way back would be long and partly because this was the last tour in spring 2014 – we retraced our steps over the broad ridge, down the path to the land rover track. Once we had reached the track we took a break for eating our sandwiches and drank big gulps of water from our bottles.

Then Frank and I headed up the steep land rover track and followed it to the broad col between Beinn a’Chait and the minor bump of Carn Dearg Mor. On and on went this very easy track which follows the Allt Slanaidh on its way towards Glen Tilt. After roughly ninety minutes since the break we reached the edge of the forest above Glen Tilt. Through a gate in the tree fence we continued our walk in the lovely shade provided by the pine tree plantation. Soon sounds of shooting could be heard and we inferred from the map that we were nearing the shooting range in Glen Tilt. It was the 6th of June 2014 – exactly 70 years after D-Day – and the local rifle club was having a celebrative competition to mark the anniversary. Thank god that today they weren’t looking for Germans to hunt down :-). We passed the rifle range and then picked up the shady path leading down to Glen Tilt where it joined the road down the glen to the parking in Old Bridge of Tilt. There we un-booted our steaming feet and enjoyed resting our legs.

After a chat with another hiker whom we had met on the mountain we then threw our stuff into the car, rolled down the windows and drove off to Pitlochry and the shower waiting for us at the B&B. 30 kilometres, most of it on land rover track, for one Munro is quite a tall order. But it was fun and a great effort for a final day. Very good!

June 6th, 2014|2014, Glen Garry to Braemar|
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Beinn a’Chlachair

Gorillas in the mist? Well not exactly since there were no gorillas and we were not in Rwanda. But then: There was mist, there was the Moy Forest on the other side of the A 86, there were mountains all around. And there is a civilization encroaching on wild land in the form of forestry roads, hydro works and even the odd jogger on our route. But no Sigourney Weaver and no Diane Fossey.

Anyway. Years ago we had climbed Creag Pitridh and Geal Carn in quite appalling conditions. Strong winds, driving rain, no views. This time round we set Beinn a’Chlachair as our objective. We parked in the layby at the west end of Loch Laggan. Once outside the car we were attacked by midges, which meant a rather hurried start to the day.

We crossed the River Spean and took a left turn at the first fork of the forest road just before Luiblea. After a few metres a gate blocks the access to the Land Rover track on the right bank of the Abhainn Ghuilbinn. Once through the gate and on open land the Land Rover track climbs easily towards Lochan na Earba which is reached after maybe 45 to 50 minutes. On this track we were overtaken by a friendly jogger with whom we chatted a bit when we bumped into him again close to the Lochan. On the sandy shore of Lochan na Earba we took a break to drink and eat a muesli bar.

Refreshed we set our inner compass towards the bealach between Geal Carn and Beinn a’Chlachair. The climb beside the Allt Choire Pitridh is very comfortable since the path is well-maintained and easy to follow even in its upper section. Once at the Bealach Leamhain we decided not to climb towards the east ridge through boulders and over steep grass since the visibility was very restricted and route-finding might have been a real problem.

Much rather we followed the path over the bealach in the direction of the Allt Cam and Culra. Over the next kilometre the rocky path loses about seventy or eighty metres in height but the surroundings are interesting indeed. To the left is Loch a’ Bealaich Leamhain, to the right are the crags of Beinn a’Chlachair’s north east ridge complete with lingering large snowfields and fresh mudslides caused by rain and the melting of the snow. When the terrain opened up we took a 160 degree turn to the right and walked up the steep heather and grass slopes of the south side of Beinn a’Chlachair north-east ridge using an indistinct path. This path deposited us on top of the Beinn’s ridge. In mist and clouds we continued towards point 977.

From there onwards the ridge became extremely stony. There were intermittent very short traces of paths, some cairns; there was also a decent amount of boulder hopping to be done. Using the map and the compass we followed the plateau-ish ridge towards its final steepening before the summit and its cairn. No views from the summit as could be expected, rats! But no gorillas either: just us in the mist. A longish break of 15 minutes ensued but then the cold got us on our feet again.

We did not fancy going back the way of ascent in the mist so we decided that ambling down the much gentler and grassier south-west ridge of Beinn a’Chlachair would be the better option. This proved to be a good choice because not only was the ridge more defined and less stony, there also were occasional glimpses of the landscape around and below us. The ridge became steeper as height was lost and we descended semi-vertiginous grass slopes towards the Allt Cam (the one that flows towards Laggan-side, mind you). Once at the path beside the Allt Cam, we took off much of our protective layers because here in the glen it was quite warm.

Then it was another four kilometres towards the Lochan na Earba/Loch Laggan Land Rover track. During the hour or so it took us to get there, the clouds lifted somewhat from the summit of Beinn a’Chlachair which gave us the first views of the upper reaches of the hill we had climbed. Nice hill indeed. Then the easy Land Rover track towards Loch Laggan took us back to our faithful car waiting in the layby.

A good day on a very stony hill. Great approach tracks and paths, a good traverse on varied terrain, not too much rain. But no views worth mentioning or photographing whatsoever. Ach, the Ardverikie Trio don’t seem to be our friends.

June 5th, 2014|2014, Loch Linnhe to Loch Ericht|
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Carn a’Chlamain

A “good afternoon walk” from Forest Lodge on a stalkers path is what Mr McNeish proposes in “The Munros – Scotland’s Highest Mountains” for this remote hill. Not without adding that alternatively one could walk in from Old Blair and “make a day of it”. Just how one is supposed to make it to Forest Lodge before one can enjoy the afternoon walk is left open but one can assume that Mr McNeish might opt for staying at the lodge, flying in by helicopter, hitch-hiking a ride on somebody’s Land Rover or using some other means of transport to get to the Lodge.

Frank and I rode on our bicycles and chose the less scenic ascent of the hill by means of the Land Rover track from Clachglas. The bicycle ride up beautiful Glen Tilt was fun and the perfect condition of the dirt road up the glen made things quite easy. We were not alone in Glen Tilt either: people on horses, the odd car and one or two further groups of hikers kept us company.

Before we reached Clachglas we left our bicycles beside a field in which three horses spent a seemingly relaxing day doing things that horses do. The Land Rover track up the south-west shoulder of Carn aíChlamain is green at first but becomes very rough and rocky once the first bend of the track is reached and the summit of Carn aíChlamain comes into view. Route finding was no problem since the vehicle track climbs all the way almost to the summit. We made good progress and then paused in the heather beside the track to drink some water and eat an apple.

Apart from a fresh wind that got stronger the higher up we climbed the day was of a benign character. The sun took turns with some clouds and only a very few drops of rain fell onto our t-shirts. Once above the 900m contour the wind chill became really strong so we needed to wear jumpers and wind-proofs. The by now faint track brought us directly to the summit pyramid of Carn a’Chlamain where the last 40 or 50m of the ascent were completed on a scree-covered path. The rocky summit with its biggish cairn is a good view point for Beinn a’Ghlo and the other three hills of the Circle of Tarf: Beinn Dearg (climbed two days later), Carn an Fhidhleir and An Sgarsoch (both climbed in 2013).

The wind-chill and the resulting cold made us leave the summit after maybe 15 minutes. The return to Glen Tilt was made by reversing the way of ascent. Soon the sun came out again and we could peel off one or even two layers of protection once we were below 800m. The home leg of the hike was rather uneventful apart from the sudden appearance of a Toyota Hilux which climbed the rather steep and rough sections of the track with apparent ease. Back in Glen Tilt a light rain shower caught up with us but soon subsided again. What followed was an easy and speedy ride back to Old Blair and our car.

The Carn a’Chlamain tour proved to be a nice bicycle ride combined with a straight-forward plod up and down a Land Rover track. Nothing to keep you awake at night re-living an epic day. Rather a piece of work necessary to tick another Munro on the list. Nonetheless I must admit that I enjoyed the day!

June 4th, 2014|2014, Glen Garry to Braemar|
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Beinn na Lap

3 June 2014 started out as a rainy day with drizzle and showers taking turns in raising the enthusiasm for hillwalking in remote hill country. But the Metoffice predicted a shift in the pattern and forecast nice weather with sunshine for the second half of the day. Accordingly the late morning saw Frank and me standing on the platform for the southbound trains at Tulloch Station.

The station is a nice building and it features a large roof which very conveniently protected us from the rain. In due course the train arrived; we boarded it, took our seats and bought our return tickets. The short trip from Tulloch to Corrour takes about twenty minutes. Loch Treig and the Eassins on the right-hand side, the very steep slopes of Stob Coire Sgriodain on the left of the track. Very scenic indeed. Then the train had finally climbed to the more open and level terrain of Rannoch Moor where Corrour Station came into view. There we disembarked, took a look around and then followed the Land Rover track towards Loch Ossian. We were accompanied by a dog, two horse riders and a cyclist who came from the Hotel at/in Corrour Station. There was even some car traffic on the track: Two Toyotas and a delivery van. Ahead we could see vehicles moving since some hydro works were under way.

Just before came to the shore of Loch Ossian we turned right and picked up the path skirting the northern slopes of Meall na Lice and leading towards Peter’s Rock. The boulder carries a memorial plaque for one of the wardens of the Loch Ossian Youth Hostel who died there one lonely winter. From the Rock we climbed uniform slopes of grass and heather until we reached the broad north-east ridge of Carn Dearg. As height is gained the view opened up thanks partly to the Metoffice having been right. There was a delightful mix of sunshine and clouds. after maybe another thirty minutes we reached the summit cairn of Carn Dearg, covered in clouds, however. A short summit break, some refreshments, no views and on we went.

The path to the shallow col between Carn Dearg and Sgorr Gaibhre sometimes becomes indistinct but since the terrain is very easy that does not matter at all. The col itself was not half as squishy as the books had made us fear it would be. Soon we were on the climb up to the more conically shaped Munro of Sgorr Gaibhre. During the climb we met one rather uncommunicative walker who passed us by without a word. Strange. At the summit of Munro No.2 only a very short break was held since we were potentially competing against the clock: Trains don’t wait and we had to be back at Corrour for the last train.

From Sgorr Gaibhre’s summit we descended the rocky and sandy north east ridge towards Beallach nan Sgorr and then contoured around Meall Nathrach Mor the nose of which we bypassed on the left. Then we walked down nice grass slopes towards the forest edge visible in front of us. We picked up the land rover track beside the Allt a’Choire Chreagaich and entered the forest. The track took us towards the west end of Loch Ossian which we reached after a few minutes.

Again we were greeted by traffic from the hydro construction sites and the odd John Deere tractor. Oh well, these people make their living there so it’s ok of sorts. We crossed the outflow of Loch Ossian, walked by Corrour Shooting Lodge, with its remarkably different architectural style and finally made it on the Land Rover track on the northern shore of Loch Ossian. Then it was another two kilometres until we reached the path which branches off the track and leads up into the forest beside the left bank of the enchanting Allt Loch na Lap.

Once we left the trees behind the western slopes of Beinn na Lap came into view. We struck a direct line across the grass and moor towards the west ridge. There were some rock bands which could be navigated through on heather and grass. On and on we climbed until the steep final section before the summit of Beinn Na Lap was reached which we sort of scrambled up “a la diretissima”. Then at the summit we took a well-deserved break realising full well that we had more than enough time to enjoy the views and the sunshine since there were more than 100 minutes left before the train would leave Corrour Station. After some bites from our sandwiches, some handfuls of dried fruits and some water had been eaten/drunk we set out to complete the last leg of the hike.

The return to Corrour via Beinn na Lap’s east ridge was easy. The path follows the ridge at first and then drops due south down the side of the ridge towards the flatter terrain to the west of Loch Ossian. We arrived at the station with 40 minutes to spare. Unfortunately, the Hotel Bar is not open to the public on Tuesdays so no cold Coca Cola for us. A pity, but the views of the surrounding hills changing colours in the fading sunlight and the stars slowly appearing more than compensated for missing out on a cold drink in a warm bar. Then the train arrived and took us back to Tulloch and our car waiting for us in the dark.

An absolutely perfect day with very good tour planning done beforehand, great weather, lovely scenery and a marvellous approach by train into a really remote part of the country. The most enchanting tour of the May 2014 holiday in Scotland. Loch Ossian (and its Munros) is a place we definitely want to come back to!

June 3rd, 2014|2014, Loch Linnhe to Loch Ericht|