Crianlairich Munros and 78mph winds

Munros: An Caisteal, Beinn a'Chroin, Beinn Chabhair, Beinn Ime, Beinn Narnain, Ben Vane, Ben Vorlich (Loch Earn)

Date walked: 23/10/2014

I had these hills in my sights for my autumn leave, an area I hadn’t frequented much, and from the days when I lived down south an area I often passed through on route to other hills. Even then I was in awe at their size, and how they rose straight up from the road, stiff climbs no doubt, and over these next few days I would experience this first hand.

Numerous messages had been exchanged for my trip to hopefully see old friends and new, human and canine, and plans were set. No doubt either that the plans were ambitious but I guess never happy being content, you have to aim high (maybe not the best choice of word lol).

The first outing was to Ben Vane, Ime and Narnairn, a fairly tough trio and they would have been even tougher had Eric not intervened and suggested another route. Despite pouring over the maps for days I just hadn’t seen it.

So we met up at Inveruglas, for 0800, with half a Springer pack, Alfie and Tarsuinn, who didn’t seem too fussed meeting their Uncle Dave. But Uncle Dave was pleased to see them not least as he would only have two to work out which was which.

It was to be a wet day from the start, but that has never bothered me. I feel that the hills have something to offer in all weathers, and like our emotions we have no control over it. Days like this can bring a challenge, testing conditions and the experience gained in coping with the same so that you have the knowledge to know your limitations in such conditions and most importantly how to deal with it, keeping dry, warm, foot placement over difficult terrain as for sure even if venturing out on fair weather days one day you will meet with such weather.

The ascent of Ben Vane passed smoothly, a stiff ascent, but catching up on the chat and seeing Alfie and tarsuiin scouring the terrain was a joy, something I surely miss.

Eric at the summit of Ben Vane


Descent off Vane was over steep ground followed by an ascent to the bealach below Ben Ime.

On descent


The ascent of Ime I found the hardest although it was no worse than either of the others.

Alfie at the summit (I only know because he was sitting still something Tarsuinn has yet to master)


Off again down the far side of Ome and the bealach, before up to Narnairn with me trying to recall back over 30 years as to whether I had in fact been up it before, but best not take a chance, the ascent passed quicker than the first two.

Summit selfie (scary !)


And one of Tarsuin too, who eventually sat still long enough for a photo, even if he wasn’t looking too happy, bless him.


We dropped back down to the bealach and a view of Ben Vane opened up, with our route out through the woods back to Inveruglas


A stop at the Drovers for some grub (paid for luvly jubly !) and by this time the thought of pitching tent in dark and wet was not so appealing, but Eric suggested the Bytheway Hostel at Tyndrum where I sought refuge in a camping cabin, complete with bed, light and heater, not forgetting the superb drying room.

Friday dawned, and being snuggled in the warm didn’t help my usual early starts. An Caisteal, Beinn a Chroin and Chabhair were todays schedule, although n the back of my mind with a later start I already had my doubts.

I was geared up the only car in the layby when a car pulled up and had a good chat with 3 old folk, enquiring of my days adventures as I pointed to the first lump I was o ascend to gain the ridge leading to An Caisteal, they wished me well.

The cloudbase was higher today and views afforded over to Cruach Ardrain with Ben More beyond.


It was raining from the start but I was undeterred as I was on my ‘olidays’, and given the choice I would be out on anyday in the hills, never did like scrabble, but Risk…now that’s a different kettle of spuds !

As I ascended the spur my first glimpse of An Caisteal appeared, a shapely peak no doubt from which its name is derived. I was also aware of a fellow walker coming up behind albeit a way off taking a more direct line up than mine.


View back through some of the knolls on the ridge on ascent.


Summit selfie with my fellow walker Jeff.


Jeff was on a Lochs and Glens holiday down on Arrochar and he accompanied me for the remainder of the day. Cgabhair was parked as there would be insufficient time to include it with considerable descent involved. So we set off for Beinn a Chroin.

I had checked the grid ref for this summit from my SMC Guide and it didn’t correlate with the WH walk, but no worries today as we would be traversing all the tops to reach point 940 at the far end from where a descent of that spur would take us back to the glen for a soggy underfoot walk out, least mot in Meindl Bhutans it wasn’t.

In typical fashion as we descended, the summit cleared behind us !


The walk out…now that’s a rock feature, just how do I get it home…..dont you just love rocks !


Saturday dawned and a second night in the camping cabin, bliss ! Today I was joined by Gus, son Mark and Hamish the dog. Original plans with Gus were for the ben Lui 4 but in these conditions that was a big ask and for such a grand walk a less damp day would suit. But opportunity as Gus hadn’t done Beinn Chabhair, the last to complete his Crianlairich hills and the one I hadn’t had time for the day before.

Geared up, waterproofs the order of the day again we set off and missed the path up the left of the burn but given it was a good couple of miles before we needed to cross back I suggested we’d be ok (least that’s what I said and then saw the falls hmm !).

Initial ascent complete our first view of the target.


We were fortunate that we found a crossing of the burn, a boulder higher than the far bank enabling a leap of faith to cross, although Hamish didn’t agree and Gus had to leap back to lead him up, pass me the lead to encourage Hamish to jump. Reaching for the lead was stretch, but no animals were hurt in the making of this day…must be a collie thing about wet feet (least I think Hamish is a Collie).


Once on the summit ridge views all around making this the best view day so far, even with some distant sun.


Summit shot of Gus, a cold Mark and Hamish, probably cold too but he kept quiet about it. There was a considerable drop in temp at the summit and I lent my winter mitts to mark whose hands were feeling it somewhat, before we set of to get back out the cold zone.


The weather was more stormy and when it blew in, rain and wind hit hard but the clouds performed and made for some good views.


Another finger of God, think this guy’s following me about.


And a sunny selfie just to prove it can come out but if you don’t get out you’ll never know what the day may hold.


The falls on descent were I full flow and a truly spectacular sight, not fully appreciated from the car park, but here close up the sheer power was awesome.


All in all a great day out.

I was unable to secure my accommodation in the camping hut as it was the weekend and fully booked so a message to Scoob and Fi to see if there was room in their ‘bunkhouse’ and a chance to catch up, deliver a belated wedding pressie, and of course avoiding the need to pitch up for one night.

Sunday I had an appointment at Lochearnhead for an engagement drink with my long time friend Simon who was up for a few days break and so Ben Vorlich and Stuc a Chroin were the choice of hills. Forecast I had only heard was to the worst so far, but never put off by weather I headed to the start.

Loch Earn was looking moody but having read up on these two I was looking forward to the day, waterproofs on, the gear had been superb all week including boots so I set off behind two other souls up the track,


The wind was without doubt higher today and once on the ascent up the spur to Vorlich I was getting buffeted about, but a happy chappy from Birmingham passed me having already been up (another early starter) and said it was windy but it was great…a man after my own heart.

I had considered taking the right hand route to tackle Stuc first, but given the wind decided to head straight up Vorlich, not least as time wasn’t on my side to get back to meet the newly engaged couple.

The path to the right leads ff by an obvious cairn and contours across the side. What you cannot see in this pic is the sheets of rain sweeping across. I sat for a while just watching it, quite a sight, you ponder the sheer scale of it, the volume of water, incredible !


The path goes left on ascent at one point and the wind dropped but on a section just prior to the summit it hit and it hit hard. I was knocked from my feet twice, landing on my knees. For a brief moment it was all I could do to just kneel. Another guy had passed descending and had mentioned this spot but also that the summit was less so. Although another pair of guys had said they had to hold onto the summit post by the trig point for a couple of minutes before they could make a break for the path down….hmm.

Whilst on my knees I pulled out my anemometer, wind speed (gusts) were at a tad over 78mph, and this still didn’t feel as bad as Geal Charn, cripes !

The wind abated briefly, enough for me to make it to the base of the summit and the trig pint was in view, so close.


A summit selfie (you’ve seen enough of those) and a stroll across the ridge for a short distance as the wind at the summit was minimal.

Approaching the wind tunnel, which passed quietly on the way down.


Remainder of the descent passed easily with the wind now behind me, back at the bottom, autumn colours at their best.


It had been a great few days, made all the more special by meeting up with folk. Thanks to Eric, Alfie and Tarsuinn for braving the elements to accompany me.

To Jeff who I dropped back at Arrochar so he could get dinner at his Hotel, they wouldn’t save it apparently (must be a coach tour thing).

To Gus, Mark and Hamish for a great day, shame we couldn’t get to do Ben Lui and co, but I’ll be back for those and will keep all you guys posted.

Special thanks to Scoob and Fi for putting me up, great to see you !

Some may view the week as one of horrible conditions but for me personally the hills have sonething to offer in any conditions, they are magical in any weather, suitably equiped you can venture out, weather such as this always seems worse from behind a windscreen or through a window at home, and days such as these still afford wonderful memories.

Now away to my bed to snuggle under my quilt :D

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User avatar
Location: Miltonduff, Elgin
Interests: Mountaineering, Landscape Photography, beer & whisky
Activity: Mountaineer
Pub: Old Brig
Mountain: An Teallach
Place: Inverpolly
Gear: crampons,
Member: None
Camera: Olympus E620
Ideal day out: Winter anywhere, ridge walk, priceless.
Ambition: Cant say.

Munros: 257
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Grahams: 3
Wainwrights: 68
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