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(S)No(w) Fun

(S)No(w) Fun

Postby weaselmaster » Sun Apr 16, 2023 4:23 pm

Fionas included on this walk: Beinn Bhalgairean, Beinn Damhain, Beinn Donachain, Beinn na Sroine, Meall nan Gabhar, Meall Tairbh

Date walked: 16/04/2023

Distance: 70 km

Ascent: 3676m

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OK peeps, this week's walk takes its title from The Stooges famous track, made infamous by being the last song The Sex Pistols ever played in January 1978. No Fun, Snow Fun :lol:

Allison was away at a ceilidh this weekend so it was me on my own. Time to get a few rather tedious Grahams for the third round, thought I, nothing far away from home. Hence the "No Fun" - especially after enjoying Torridon last weekend. I was dismayed by the return of snow on the hills midweek - I could see it covering the Luss hills down to maybe 400m or less on Thursday, with Ben Lomond looking very white indeed. I decided not to bother going away til Friday morning because of that. Leaving the house at 7, in drizzle which began turning to sleet as I drove up Loch Lomond-side I thought this is going to be a great day. I might have chosen the Balcardine Grahams had the weather been better but I thought I'd do the two by Succoth Lodge instead, plus a Simm at the back of them. As I reached Tyndrum the temperature fell to zero and the sleet was really heavy. I'd taken my winter wheels off a fortnight ago, not imagining I'd be having much more use for them...

2023-04-14_0858.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

I parked up at the beginning of the track - we'd been here just a yer ago, so I remembered the route well. I had pinched a tweak from someone else's route, taking a small track up through the trees to reach the bottom of Beinn Bhalgairean, which is worth doing, although somewhat inevitably there are a few fallen trees to deal with either by climbing over or under. Not bad though, and there's a faint ATV track that continues onto the hillside. After about 500m elevation was reached the snow was very deep - 6 inches or more and progress slowed accordingly. I'd pretty much made up my mind I wouldn't be going on the the Simm of Beinn Bhreac as it would involve 4k of deep pathless snow - a pity since otherwise it would have been a good opportunity to get it done.

Image6134EA4B-694B-471F-9504-CF1834397758_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Bhalgairean summit
Image90BFFE77-FACB-43FD-922F-87C723524FBE_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

I came off Bhalgairean to the SE, using the plantation as a navigation point. In the coire it was very marshy indeed and at one point I had to use the deer fence as a means of edging over a particularly deep section of bog. For a time I could make out where I was headed, then the mist came down and I was walking endlessly uphill into whiteness. Despite having done Meall nan Gabhar twice before I couldn't remember which was the summit - my map still has the 743m spot height, whereas I see there's a 744m spot on the GPS planner here. Anyway I checked with Hillbagging and made for the top, ploughing through snow that came up to my knees.

Looking back on Bhalgairean
ImageDE9DA77F-857B-439D-A758-E5F023ABB3EC_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Summit Gabhar
Image1C230924-7D49-4721-B8AB-ACB0C2E0A99A_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Now for the descent. Previously I've ascended this hill first from the track to the north and used the gully between the 743 and 744 tops as the way. I stood at the top of this, snow easily 18* deep here descending steeply, almost vertically. I could only see down about 50m because of clag. I swithered... I had brought my axe with me, which had already been pressed into use...but no, it would not be a wise descent. I now had 2 options - I could descend along the Eas a'Mhadaidh back to the bealach with Bhalgairean, through boggy hell, or I could go SE over Meall nan Tighearn to where the crags ended and descend back to the track that way. I chose the latter, forging off into whiteness and managing a much less steep descent, then contouring round below the crags to eventually reach the track.

Some of the crags from below
ImageEF7B451D-5C47-4B11-AF0E-755FCC2EB3EC_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

I thought I'd be smart and miss out the very boggy forest path back to Succoth Lodge by joining up the two bits of track using th e footbridge marked on the map. Don't be tempted. The path disappears in extraction debris and the footbridge is a skeleton, plus there's a deer fence and no joining track on the other side of the river. Swollen by snow melt the Eas a'Ghail was not going to be an easy cross today, so I ended up having to go back through the very wet forest path after all. The trip had taken a bit longer than I'd hoped, mostly due to the snow and some re-routing so I wasn't going to get another hill in tonight.

Image46D299F3-8442-485B-B754-46C711ACBD26_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Enormous lilies
Image4D780227-8E80-4D86-AA80-8BC04155BD3A_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageBD251315-0F37-41B2-A632-BF65494AA747_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

I'd decided that I'd do Beinn Donachain, Beinn na Sroine and Meall Tairbh over the weekend. Whilst Beinn na Sroine is quite quick, it was gone 5pm and I was quite tired - plus I also needed to find a place to camp. I remembered there was a clearing with a picnic bench a short way up the track to Beinn Donachain, and had decided that would be my spot for the night. I drove up Glen Orchy, the sun now out, passing several camper vans including one parked a short way south of the Eas a"Chuil car park by the river with the occupants sitting in deck chairs and having a BBQ. I headed to the car park, which now has a couple of Portaloos - good idea local council - and got my stuff together next to a couple who had one of those TentBox things for the top of the car. The Orchy River was rushing and cascading over its rocky bed as I crossed the bridge on my way up the track. After a coupe of km I came to the spot I remembered, just after the junction of the track. There was a single pine tree and some promising looking flat grass, which apart from being stony underground was fine. I pitched up and set about making my meal. I was sitting having my coffee and biscuit when this man appears from my left. This turned out to be Jim, a Yorkshireman who was camped a little over towards the river (out of my sightline) and who'd seen me pitching and had come over to say hello. He was testing out a new tent with the view to doing the Skye Trail soon. His ambition was to do the CWT however, and we had a great natter about that and many other things beside. I wished him well in his future endeavours and we both turned in for the night.

2023-04-14_1735.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Image695125EC-1894-4D8F-9B74-0D1484914EE3_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image652BD554-575A-458A-9EA2-763DFB4B7879_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image52E70F82-B051-42BD-ABC8-1FB267EEA9A3_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

It was a pretty cold one. I'd left the outer door open to cut down condensation, always an issue with my wee tent, but about 03.45h I had to shut it as I was really quite cold and hadn't slept much as a result. When I woke there was a covering of frost on the ground and ice on the tent. But it was a lovely looking morning. I lay making breakfast about 06.30 as Jim waved on his way back down to the car park.

After the trials of yesterday I was looking forward to less snow today. The track through the forest is pretty and birdsong resounded in the early morning air. Beinn Mhic Mhonaidh had a white top, shining in the sun. The track takes you nicely up to the open hillside - which was still covered in deep snow but with some crusting, making progress easier than in the wet softness of yesterday's snow. I remembered the journey over Creag nan Nighean well - it seemed shorter today than a year ago, but maybe that was just cos I was on my own. Across to the west, the horseshoe of Ben Cruachan looked inviting, with puffy clouds festooning its flanks. Up to the fence line, through the gap in the wooden slats and steeply up to the summit, before retracing my steps. Back to the car before half eleven, having passed hordes of people on their way up the track.

Image0B019027-C64B-4CDB-B080-DD61276A70BB_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image63EBCA00-2D2C-4251-967A-C1791F74DFAD_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image6713C0CB-5341-48A4-989B-4575E4DE0CCD_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageD8217EF0-FFF9-49C7-A94A-AD4A55226F09_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image5DFEF213-BCB3-4F56-9EA5-99F91246B160_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Understated summit cairn
Image9596DF3C-A188-4B69-A750-53465212AC6B_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image4E1E4EEE-9CCE-481C-8D90-31AD72A4D2A6_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

2023-04-15_1210.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

I drove the three miles back to the start of the route up Beinn na Sroine, passing the couple in the camper van and deck chairs who were still sitting there just as I'd seen them yesterday, and decided on an early lunch beside the car before I headed up. Nothing fancy about this route - up the forestry track until the hillside is reached, then aim for the fence and the ATV track, weave through some peat hags and the summit is reached. What we didn't have last time were the lovely views of Ben Lui in her winter finery. I could see a bloke at the trig column as I neared it - he'd taken the short but steep & pathless route up from the other side of the hill. We chatted for a bit then went our separate ways. I took the same route back down, enjoying the sunshine and views.

Image36C7C4CC-3465-4885-80A3-012AC591173F_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Lui & A'Chleibh
ImageD971819C-D42E-48A4-B800-0E0B04F7366E_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image2A01D9E1-CCAD-49EB-B687-9BE1166250DA_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image91678D49-04D4-4E56-A26E-69DBBC2414EC_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image24A8940D-599D-4471-BF18-5A90713259DE_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageD573D6B3-2250-4CA8-B03B-B9FDCB442CDA_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageC214D69D-8390-4FC6-BBCD-24E1BBA3D75B_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image0B0C9D60-B13E-4C09-AFD5-3D528BE640FC_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Back at the car I drove back up Glen Orchy, once again passing the couple in the camper van who were now burning things in a sizeable blaze. WTAF :shock: "Hey dear, got an exciting plan for you this weekend...we're going to drive up Glen Orchy and sit by the side of the road for two days, starting at the river and then burn things. Okay? Yes dear, that'll be such fun" I mean really - how to spend your weekend, sitting on your fat arse by the side of the road? I'm afraid I was not brimming with the milk of human kindness when I thought to myself that such people are the human equivalent of litter.

Onwards drove the misanthrope, heading for Inveroran and Meall Tairbh. The drive up Glen Orchy had been alright, but I was dreading the short few miles along to the Inveroran Hotel. In my experience it has been the single worst bit of road for those who have absolutely no clue how to drive on single track. Plus there aren't that many passing places. Sure enough, nearly at the hotel, I encounter a medium sized people carrier coming the other way that just sits there in the middle of the road. I can't see a passing place nearby either of us and gesture to the drive to use the verge on their side and I'll do the same. Blank, bovine incomprehension - or maybe they were just expecting me to reverse for several hundred yards. Finally two of the driver's score of neurones synapse with each other and they slowly, grudgingly, pull across onto the verge. As I nip by and look in the RVM they are still there, half on the verge half on the road. Learn to drive!!

2023-04-15_1532.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

You can probably tell I'm missing the ameliorating effects of Allison's presence this weekend :lol: Anyway I park up across from teh hotel and get my stuff out - it's now 3.30 and I'm reckoning that the route I have in mind should be about 4 hours - plenty time for light and I can wait for my food. I've decided to head up the Simm of Beinn Inverveigh, which makes for a pretty looped circuit with Meall Tairbh. On the map it appears there's a footpath branching off from the WHW track heading right up Inverveigh. This'll be easy, think I as I march along the excellent track at the beginning of the walk. However, of the footpath there is no sign - there's a marshy, faint ATV track going roughly the way I want to go so I take that, but then it's mostly deer track over the tussocks. It's just a bit of a slog, but at least you get to start at 180m elevation, the highest of the weekend.

I make my way up to the start of the ridge of Inverveigh, sweating in the sunshine and enjoying the views I get when I reach the top. Not that much snow left, certainly not in the north. I look at my phone to see the drop between the hills. Inverveigh misses out on being a Graham only by lacking 3.5m drop - it's a bloody subMarilyn. But it's still a great day and the descent isn't bad - I make for the lochan between the two hills then take a line up Meall Tairbh, which we last did in horrendous weather with no views - IIRC we got the emergency shelter out to have lunch in it was so miserable. None of that today. Up to the summit, gaze over at the view, just gone 6pm so I should be down before 7.30. As I descend I can see a group of six or more cars/vans at the "camping bridge". Again - why? I get the "getting away from it all" but if you want to be bunched together with strangers in your van or tent - why not just go to a campsite? They have facilities there.

Inverveigh & Tairbh
ImageC1385E18-7373-48F3-ACB1-C48E7F85E0BF_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageDC6E0769-97CE-446F-88C6-115B3D8943BB_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageBD272940-CA52-4FDE-A7D3-C6D6C9D5C61F_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Summit Inverveigh
Image5876921B-2A52-4DB9-B5B1-48AC6085B935_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Meall Tairbh
Image784C1448-AC40-4F8F-9349-0A0553DB3C03_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image4346E793-B021-4073-8D45-E48AC6147800_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageD95EDBE1-0346-4175-B076-0C70909382F2_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

I make it back to the car feeling pleasantly tired - it has been a 12 hour day but a good one. Tomorrow's forecast is for rain and clag, so I decide to head down the road a bit and go to Dalrigh, with a view to just doing Beinn Damhain tomorrow - a better forecast and I might have headed up to the two Ballachuich Grahams. I pass nobody on the road out to Bridge of Orchy then arrive at a still busy Dalrigh car park. As I'm getting my camping gear out I speak to a lovely young couple from Edinburgh who have just been up Oss & Dubhcreag, their first winter hills outing since they did a skills course in January. They had a great day and we have a long chat - I love meeting people who have all that early enthusiasm about getting onto the hills. They mention there's folk camped down by the bridge, which I guessed there might be, but I have a couple other options in hand.

This isn't "wild camping" - go to a campsite!
Image2267E5F6-3099-4EDE-84EA-30766B4E16F3_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

There is indeed a tent by the bridge, a big "campsite sized" one and the occupants have deck chairs and are tending a fire. It gets me really mad how people have to associate "wild camping" with having a fire. I think the Access Code needs to be tightened up to make lighting fires illegal - last weekend was a reminder of how often they get out of hand and its one of the things, along with dirty campers & litter that I could imagine getting the laws on wild camping rescinded for. The recent guide on WH was very helpful in this respect - maybe Paul could print off some leaflets to be handed to miscreants...

Anyway, I found a nice spot several hundred yards away from that tent and had a peaceful night although I could smell their smoke for a while. On the way there I'd met a couple of ?Dutch lads each with a bottle of beer who asked me politely if I could advise them where the "motorway" was. They were hoping to return to "Helesnsburg" but had missed the train at Tyndrum and didn't want to have to wait 2 hours til the next one - they were going to hitch a lift. I suggested that might not be easy, but pointed them in the direction of the A82. God knows where they ended up. It wasn't as cold as it had been the previous night and quiet apart from the odd train passing by. The birds started singing around 4.30 and I decided just to get up not much after 6. Packed up and away by 7, I was down at Falloch Farm for half past, nice and early for today's walk.

2023-04-16_0729.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

I'd be doing the out-and-back route for Damhain I did the first time - although I'd enjoyed it from Glen Fine last time. Can't believe I haven't done the Corbett, Meall an Fhudair along with Damhain. Anyway, set off up the track then along to the left when the track splits. Lots of black slugs, some still sleeping curled up nose to tail like tiny black cats. I wondered what they dream about, in slug world?

It was going to be this sort of day
Image980BB8B9-5816-474E-89A9-33271A059007_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

I reached the footbridge and crossed over the river, aiming to follow the stream up to the lochan. Passed a tent pitched at the start of the grassy route. Not much snow left, but clag was dense after about 450m elevation, meaning there was no sign of my hill at all. I remembered this as being quite a craggy/slabby hill with boulders, but by following deer runs I gained the summit with little difficulty. Getting down was a it more difficult as it was hard to orientate oneself in the mist and surroundings which all looked the same- you can see how I kept veering off my outward track even with frequent consults of the GPS.

Follow the stream
ImageEF12B92B-3610-4E15-9514-AD8B02640BB9_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image1A8FC83B-6116-4D82-A670-19140AFC3FF6_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageFB8C3333-5966-4A0D-B7F6-75F96898176A_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Exciting summit shot
Image0F48D254-21E4-4D56-9F74-471956A5B4D9_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Didn't start the GPs til near the split in the track, so probably add 2k and 30mins
ImageDC1B5BC2-A480-4CB1-A77C-2028CDF26E61_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

The west side of the stream is marginally better served with deer tracks to follow down. I passed the tent occupant, who was washing his cookware in the stream. He didn't seem to speak English, a tall, spare guy with weird facial hair (yes, I am one to talk, I know) - clean shaven but for long wispy strands under his jaw which gave him the look of an Irish Wolfhound. I smiled a greeting and continued back to the track, stopping for a (very) early lunch - or perhaps better call it second breakfast - on the way back to the car. Home by 1pm - remarkable! And another 6 scalps - 240 to go 😏
Hill Bagger
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Re: (S)No(w) Fun

Postby Anne C » Tue Apr 18, 2023 7:39 pm

My goodness, I admire your fitness and stamina weaselmaster!
Just a comment about the lilies you mentioned in the photo - the plant is actually called Skunk Cabbage and grows in marshy ground.So named because of the smell it emits at certain times of year! I only know this because I was visiting some west coast gardens over the weekend and the plant was prolific around ponds and of course, came with a helpful name identifier tag 😊
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Anne C
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Re: (S)No(w) Fun

Postby weaselmaster » Wed Apr 19, 2023 7:07 am

Anne C wrote:My goodness, I admire your fitness and stamina weaselmaster!
Just a comment about the lilies you mentioned in the photo - the plant is actually called Skunk Cabbage and grows in marshy ground.So named because of the smell it emits at certain times of year! I only know this because I was visiting some west coast gardens over the weekend and the plant was prolific around ponds and of course, came with a helpful name identifier tag 😊

Hi Anne, thanks for the identification. Can’t remember if I have seen them before or not. But striking plants.
Hill Bagger
Posts: 2444
Munros:277   Corbetts:220
Fionas:203   Donalds:75+31
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Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

Re: (S)No(w) Fun

Postby Bored Man » Tue May 02, 2023 6:31 pm

What an excellent report Weasel master.. including Sex Pistol references, American Skunk Cabbage and a bloke from Yorkshire..

it was lovely to meet you and as you say, have a good natter.. Unfortunately a foot injury put paid to my Skye Trail plans, balied after day 1.however I will return. I am now slowly mending and hopeful of a return to the hills this coming weekend..

You're an inspiration Al..

Good luck completing the triple rounds..

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