A weekend of stunning inversion pictures plastered across Facebook drew me out to Beinn Bhuidhe in the hope of catching one myself for the first time.
I left Glasgow bang on 05:00 and headed towards the car park at the head of Loch Fyne. Arriving in the pitch black, I parked up, got the boots and headtorch on and set off up the glen at 06:30.
In the dark there wasn’t much to see but the headtorch kept my path illuminated and I made my way down the glen. As I walked into the glen, to my left there were numerous deer pens. It was an eerie sight looking through the fence and seeing nothing but the reflection of my headtorch light from the eyes of probably 30+deer looking inquisitively at the stranger walking past them.
A short while after the Deer, I stumbled across the Highland cows that call this area home. The gentle giants were unfazed by my presence and continued to chow down on their hay.
As I headed up the path, to my left there was a small, wooded area and just after it I crossed the bridge over the River Fyne and followed the road right further up the glen. In the pitch black I could see some very bright, flashing lights a fair bit ahead of me. The further up the glen I headed my suspicions were confirmed. The houses tucked away up the glen were all adorned with Christmas lights. An unusual sight on any hillwalk.
After passing the houses, roughly halfway up the path to the climb point, I got to the first deer gate which is mentioned on the route description. The one with the convenient bike rail. I walked through and continued.
From here I could see the faintest touch of light coming through the thick cloud above marking sunrise. I continued forward and hit the Abandoned house at Inverchorachan, now used as firewood storage and then immediately after, the second deer gate and the end of the walk up the glen, an hour and a half after leaving the car (08:00). I stopped for 20 minutes, had a bite of chocolate and some fizzy cola laces to power me upwards . The path up to this point was superb. A combination of Tarmac and land rover track. The pictures below exaggerate the light at this point, it was a bit darker than the pictures make it out).
I left the second deer fence and began the climb up the left hand side of the gorge. From the second deer fence you take an immediate right, over a gate and the path is clearly visible. I was looking forward to the steep climb and the small rock face to climb that I had seen described in walk reports. The climb did not disappoint. The river flowing down past my right had some beautiful little pools which would be tempting on a hot summers day.
Further up the path I came across the rock that needed to be climbed up. The rock face is probably 7-9 ft high and didn't look to challenging. I found a good foothold and put my right foot on it to thrust myself up. As I moved my body upwards my foot slipped on the wet rock and I began to fall. I momentarily managed to stop myself but all of a sudden had fallen another foot. Thankfully, I came to a stop a second time and this time stayed put. At this point I was looking about 20 feet down the gorge beneath me with a massive sense of relief.
I made another attempt and this time was over the rock.
The rest of the walk was steep but enjoyable, passing yet more waterfalls. At about 600 metres I entered the cloud and would stay in it for quite some time. Reaching the stone road which takes a route up the side of this hill I continued onwards.
After a while of climbing in the cloud I reached the small "flattish" section which is just before the final steep climb before the last bit of shallower ascent to the summit. In the clouds here things were beginning to freeze up. I stopped briefly, had a few more fizzy cola laces, got another layer on then got going.
After a while, I had reached the top of this last steep section and almost as if someone had slicked a witch the wind made it's presence known with the result that the ground up here was much more frozen and cold. If you are following the path up the final steep section, as soon as you finish it the path goes 2 ways (at about 850 metres). left to the summit and to the right is the return route. The path was very icy at parts, so care was needed. Walking along the path to the summit I could see massively steep drops to the left of me which was some sight even in the thick cloud.
I got to about 90-0 metres and was not feeling confident of seeing my first temperature inversion. I could see the feintest blue through the cloud and was worried that I would just miss out on it by 20-30 metres.
Finally, just before I reached the summit, and I do mean just, I emerged from the cloud to one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen. It was bang on 11:00 and the air was crystal clear and the sun was warm. I could see for miles and had great views of the Munros. I stood and gazed for about 10 minutes before eventually eating my sandwich and in total spent about 45 minutes there, on my own, above the clouds in what seemed like another world. This made the climb through the cold, wet cloud all worth it.
So after 45 minutes or so I headed back down to the part of the path that goes 2 ways. On the return down I went left to follow the route down the right of the gorge. This north facing part of the mountain was very cold with some larger and harder patches of snow covering the path. I didn’t have the crampons with me but there was plenty of grass that I was able to go over to avoid the snow.
i reached the area where I was to turn right to begin my descent and followed the faint path (trodden grass) down. There is no actual path down this section but I was able to make out, at parts, the route others had taken and tried to follow. At this point I thought if I wasn’t on the path, heading down would be a safe bet anyway. Although in the cloud the visibility was good enough for me to plan ahead 50 metres or so and after a little while I had reached the land rover track which leads down to the small dam/reservoir located on the side of Beinn Bhuidhe. Here I had a decision to make, follow this "road" down or continue down as per the described route here on WalkHighlands. I decided to follow the road down to speed up my descent. There isn’t much to write home about descending this way but of course, as your on a mountain, it’s still stunning.
I eventually broke through the cloud base and continued on to the dam.
Shortly after passing this man made blotch on the landscape Loch Fyne came into view. The road down had some very steep sections but was good underfoot so I was able to make good time.
Two hours and forty 5 mins after leaving the summit I was back down to the base of the glen with only a flat few kilometres between myself and the car. I crossed back over the bridge I had went over in the pitch black hours earlier, past the highland cattle and the deer.
At 15:15 I was back at the car marking the end of this superb day out. I had seen what i had set out to see, the temperature inversion, and what a sight it was. As always this was an amazing day out, despite being in the clouds for a good few hours on the way up and down. To be honest, the cloud doesn’t bother me. Rain, snow, cloud or sun a Munro is a Munro and they are amazing.
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.