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The report I wish I'd read about these hills

The report I wish I'd read about these hills


Postby dogplodder » Tue Sep 28, 2021 11:27 am

Route description: Ben Oss and Beinn Dubhchraig, near Tyndrum

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Dubhchraig, Ben Oss

Date walked: 06/06/2021

Distance: 17 km

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These hills were still unclimbed. What I'd read meant other options had always won when deciding what to do next! Not the hills themselves but the boggy approach through the woods. Memories lurked of the forest of gloop going up Ben Lui and these hills were near neighbours. But I wanted to do them and asked Donnie Campbell about it after his round of the Munros last August. He said the woods were fine and occasional muddy patches easily avoided, which in his case was in running shoes not waterproof boots. So Beinn Dubhchraig and Ben Oss were back on the "to do soon" list and I only had to persuade my pal it was a good idea!

We had booked a lodge in St Fillans in early June and I reckoned after a dry spring it would give us as good conditions as we were ever likely to get. Moira agreed we should give it a go and in the run up to the week we watched the forecast nervously as it looked like the long settled spell of weather was about to break. There was mention of a fair amount of wind and rain and the best weather day looked like being the first day when we normally would have stayed local, taking in our surroundings. But needs must where hills are involved and it proved to be the right decision.

We left the car in the large car park at Dalrigh and headed off to cross the familiar track from when we did the WHW three years earlier. It was a beautiful morning.

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Crianlarich hills in cloud
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Ben Lui in cloud, taken from bridge over River Cononish
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Moira and Keira with target hills ahead on left
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Reports I'd read gave varying accounts of the boggy field to be crossed (or avoided) to reach a footbridge over the Allt Gleann Auchreoch. Some suggested sticking to the edge of the field, others to continue on the track which would add some distance but be less boggy. Conditions have clearly improved since these were written as there is now an excellent path across the field to the bridge.

Right fork leading to bridge
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Bridge over Allt Gleann Auchreoch
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Now we were into the wood renowned for muddiness... let the fun begin!

Coille Coire-Chuilc wood, remnant of original Caledonian pine forest
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As descriptions suggested, it's a beautiful woodland and was (for us) mainly dry underfoot.

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First muddy patch to be crossed with help of conveniently placed planks
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A sprinkling of bluebells
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Once clear of the woods the path was easy to follow up the side of the Allt Coire Dubhcraig, which was good for Keira as she loves nothing more than a paddle or a proper dook if it's deep enough. I encourage her to do this as it keeps her cool and reduces the amount of water I need to carry.

Dog leading the way
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Leaving the woods behind
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Cooling pool and twin-topped Ben Challum
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No shortage of rocky pools
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White stones a good marker on the way down
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Still on good path
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Cascade of mini waterfalls
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Once on the level back of the ridge a cairn marks where to turn SE for the easy short climb up Beinn Dubhchraig.

Keira checking Moira turns at the cairn
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By the time we reached the top it had clouded over so summit photos are dull.

Beinn Dubhchraig summit
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Moira with Crianlarich hills behind
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West to Ben Oss and Ben Lui
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After a quick snack we returned to the ridge to continue on the path to Ben Oss.

One of several small lochans on the ridge
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Ben Lui ahead
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There were no difficulties but I remember one place crossing a rocky gully that needed a bit of care (roughly translated as bum shuffle). We met a guy decending Ben Oss who insisted we'd be better not to follow the usual path but to take a line south up a grassy slope. He said the path was eroded and unpleasant on descent. We thanked him for his advice and stuck to the main path, which turned out to be fine.

Clear path up Ben Oss
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The view that greets you when you reach the summit makes all the effort worthwhile. Ben Lui is stunning and the views all round are fabulous.

Ben Oss summit 1029m
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Triumphant Moira at summit with Ben Cruachan behind pole
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Keira, me and distinctive peak of Ben Lui
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Beinn Dubhchraig from descent of Ben Oss
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The descent was no problem and the reclimb of Dubhchraig less tiring than expected. The bum shuffle place I mentioned before was more tricky in ascent for those of shorter limb and I had to resort to hands and knees for one bit where I couldn't get my foot up.

Loch Oss from reascent of Dubhchraig
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Zoomed to Ben and Loch Lomond
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Dubhchraig summit ahead
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Labrador heaven
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We reached the cairn and started the long descent to Dalrigh.

Rock pools again
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Ben Challum again
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The woods again
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Someone had commented that the descent seems to go on forever and I think we both found it long, particularly where there was a choice of paths through the trees. At one point I realised I was nearer to the burn than I'd been on ascent and moved left to find a higher path but in the process had to cross a boggy area which made me wish I'd stayed where I was and called out to Moira not to follow me. There are various permutations of paths through the woods and the one we came up seemed better and drier than the one we came down, but maybe that was down to us being tired on the descent.

It was good to be back at the bridge again
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While waiting for Moira I was kept entertained watching a chap crouching at the river edge as if he was washing the dishes. I put Keira on the lead to stop her going to investigate. Then I remembered seeing an episode of a TV series about gold and silver mining that has recently restarted in Glen Cononish.

Is he panning for gold?
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Whatever treasure folk might search for in these hills, we felt we had found it that day. Negotiating the woods after a dry spell was no problem, the climb up by the burn was lovely and we had wonderful views from the two summits. Altogether a fabulous day and the highlight of our week.
Last edited by dogplodder on Tue Sep 28, 2021 9:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The report I wish I'd read about these hills

Postby Colin1951 » Tue Sep 28, 2021 2:13 pm

Lovely report, you’ve given me the notion to get back there. Did these two, decades ago as part of the “greater traverse” . Overreached myself and finished up with a descent in darkness into the forest between Ben a’Chleidh and the river!

But I don’t remember finding any access through the woods, I turned off the Cononish drag actually at Cononish.
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Re: The report I wish I'd read about these hills

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Tue Sep 28, 2021 4:53 pm

Wow that brought back memories, especially the wonderful smell of wild mountain thyme in the woods. Lovely report and great photos : :clap: :clap:
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Re: The report I wish I'd read about these hills

Postby tweedledog » Wed Sep 29, 2021 10:12 am

What a fine day you had for it Kathleen. Last time I was up that way (during the first lockdown) Azul got extremely muddy, somewhat to his distaste. On the matter of panning for gold, yes I expect that's what's happening there. I have several times encountered prospectors doing the same in tributaries in Glen Orchy.
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Re: The report I wish I'd read about these hills

Postby dogplodder » Fri Oct 01, 2021 3:47 pm

Colin1951 wrote:Lovely report, you’ve given me the notion to get back there. Did these two, decades ago as part of the “greater traverse” . Overreached myself and finished up with a descent in darkness into the forest between Ben a’Chleidh and the river!

But I don’t remember finding any access through the woods, I turned off the Cononish drag actually at Cononish.


I think we were lucky with the preceding dry spell but still not sure why I was so put off by the mud factor!
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Re: The report I wish I'd read about these hills

Postby dogplodder » Mon Oct 04, 2021 8:29 pm

Huff_n_Puff wrote:Wow that brought back memories, especially the wonderful smell of wild mountain thyme in the woods. Lovely report and great photos : :clap: :clap:


Didn't know it was wild mountain thyme, but you're right, there was a lovely smell in the woods. :thumbup:
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Re: The report I wish I'd read about these hills

Postby dogplodder » Mon Oct 04, 2021 8:33 pm

tweedledog wrote:What a fine day you had for it Kathleen. Last time I was up that way (during the first lockdown) Azul got extremely muddy, somewhat to his distaste. On the matter of panning for gold, yes I expect that's what's happening there. I have several times encountered prospectors doing the same in tributaries in Glen Orchy.


Have you been tempted to have a go yourself ever? Though I doubt Azul would much approve of hanging around ankle deep in water, unlike Keira who'd be in her element. :wink:
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Re: The report I wish I'd read about these hills

Postby tweedledog » Tue Oct 05, 2021 10:34 am

dogplodder wrote:
tweedledog wrote:What a fine day you had for it Kathleen. Last time I was up that way (during the first lockdown) Azul got extremely muddy, somewhat to his distaste. On the matter of panning for gold, yes I expect that's what's happening there. I have several times encountered prospectors doing the same in tributaries in Glen Orchy.


Have you been tempted to have a go yourself ever? Though I doubt Azul would much approve of hanging around ankle deep in water, unlike Keira who'd be in her element. :wink:


Yes, he would no doubt find it an affront to his delicate whippet sensibilities. Though he was quite an enthusiastic swimmer in younger days. But not now, sadly. He is aging seriously (16 years and 6 months) and the most we can manage is a 4 to 5 mile walk with maybe 500ft of ascent. And very, very slowly. :(
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Re: The report I wish I'd read about these hills

Postby jonny616 » Tue Oct 05, 2021 11:08 am

Lovely report.
Did these two again recently after a dry spell. So much less boggy than I remember.
Also took in a dip in the same rock pool as your picture :lol:
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