948 m. |
Translation: Yellow hill
Pronuncation: Byn voo-ee
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 Glen Lyon. The landscape was wounded by the works under way. Quite a bit of concrete and plastic tubes lay open and were ugly. Let’s hope the scars will heal and the hydro road will be less intrusive in years to come. Who needs a road 20 feet wide up there?
We reached Glen Fyne at the gravel pit on the right bank of the River Fyne. From there it took us another 25 minutes to get to the car which we reached at about 4 pm just as the sun was finally setting behind the hills and above Loch Fyne. The light was beautiful indeed in those last minutes of a perfect day in the Scottish Highlands. Thank you Alba for this present of a day!
Max elevation: 960 m
Min elevation: -11 m
Total climbing: 1052 m
Total descent: -1063 m
Total time: 06:55:45
Description Beinn Bhuidhe is a rather remote and unfrequented hill situated to the north of the head of Loch Fyne between the upper reaches of Glen Fyne and Glen Shira. It is the only high hill in an extensive tract of featureless moorland between the head of Loch Lomond and Loch Awe, and its long summit ridge has three tops, the summit being the south-western one.The ascent is usually made up Glen Fyne. The road in this glen is private, so walk or cycle from the A83 at the head of Loch Fyne for 7 kilometres up the glen to the house at Inverchorachan. From there climb north-west to reach a high corrie below Beinn Bhuidhe and its north-east top. Climb steeper slopes to the col between these two points and continue south-west along the summit ridge to reach the highest point.