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Helicopter not required this time!

Helicopter not required this time!


Postby dogplodder » Thu Sep 15, 2011 11:00 pm

Route description: Beinn a'Chochuill and Beinn Eunaich

Munros included on this walk: Beinn a'Chochuill, Beinn Eunaich

Date walked: 08/09/2011

Distance: 13.5 km

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On 30th August 2010 my regular walking buddy (gizmogirl) was airlifted from a remote spot in the Cairngorms with a dislocated ankle that was badly broken in three places requiring surgery and 8 days in hospital. :( From the start she was determined to get back into the hills but her road to recovery was a tough one and on two munro walks this summer she felt so wrecked afterwards she wondered if she'd have to hang up her boots for good. We had talked about doing a climb around the time of the anniversary and came up with the idea of doing something during the week I was on holiday near Crianlarich.

The choice of hills I have Walkhighlands to thank for. :thumbup: Although I only registered recently I've been using this site for years and was struck by Oldman's walk report and photographs on Beinn a'Chochuill and Beinn Eunaich last June. The views looked stunning but the walk in was easy and there didn't seem to be anything tricky involved. Checking WH again with Moira's ankle in mind (it doesn't like steep descents or anything that puts it at a funny angle) I noted Redrock's comments about the final steep descent and considered reversing the route. Anyway we'll come to that.

The week we were at Crianlarich was mostly terrible weather and the only day Moira could do was the Thursday. So I wasn't holding my breath this walk would actually happen. But after two days of torrential rain Thursday morning wasn't too bad and there was even a patch of blue sky over our hills as we parked the car. I'm sure no one else on here would be as daft as me and turn off the A85 too soon onto the B8077, park beside a church and then wander around looking for the turning to Castles Farm! :oops:

So we finally got on our way with a lovely Scottish welcome from some of the locals.

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Both dogs on leads (as requested) the walk in was easy. We had a good look at the steep path coming down from Eunaich and decided there must be a good reason for WH to suggest doing the walk the way they did and we were happy to stick to the plan and deal with the descent when it came. We saw the wee cairn indicating we should strike off up the ridge and just at that moment were overtaken by a guy who had driven up from York the night before (at these points I always feel what a privilege it is to live as near the hills as we do) and he said Cameron McNeish said to continue to the end of the track before turning off. To be honest I couldn't see a path going up from the cairn so after a quick cereal bar we carried on a bit further before heading up the grassy ridge. We picked our way up there and found the path a bit further up. There were conveniently placed large rocks which from time to time I suggested Moira have a seat on which she obediently did.

The views of Dalmally and Loch Awe were opening up nicely as we climbed.

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That patch of blue sky fairly lifted the spirits after the wall to wall rain we'd been having.

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As we reached the main ridge the cloud lifted enough to give us our first proper views of Ben Cruachan.

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And back down to the head of Loch Awe, Kilchurn Castle and to the south.

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By the time we reached the main ridge we were out of sheep territory so it was safe to let Jack off the lead. Tess on the other hand ignores sheep so she'd been off since we left the track. As soon as we reached the summit cairn my trusty canines went into sniffer dog mode, methodically quartering the whole area around the cairn. They were not however checking for drugs or land mines - they were checking for and hoovering up scraps from other walkers' picnics. 8) In fact I suspect the dogs think the sole purpose of climbing hills is for them to get access to the rich pickings left behind by other walkers. This is why my dogs are so enthusiastic whenever they see me getting my boots out and why they would be gutted if we turned back before the summit!

Despite the threatening cloud we had views west to Loch Etive and the Island of Mull

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So far Moira's ankle was doing well and we'd made it to the top of Beinn a'Chochuill where we met four chaps who took our summit pic in return for us taking theirs. :D

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It was a strong wind on top so we dropped down to find a sheltered spot for lunch and that's when I spotted Redrock's errant rock! It made me think of 'Lord of the Flies' and the rock that killed Piggy :o except that it's pretty firmly embedded and I don't think anyone's in any immediate danger. But I had to photograph it anyway for Redrock to check if there's been any movement since he was up there.

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We found a sheltered spot not far from where the four chaps were doing likewise. When the rucksacks open that's when the dogs like to get up close and personal :roll: because as all lab owners know they are food obsessed.

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Views of Cruachan dominate this part of the walk

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Views north

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Ahead of us lay the ridge leading to Beinn Eunaich and in the distance the Orchy hills.

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The ridge between was easy walking but I did wonder if the top of Eunaich would be a bit rocky and steep for M's ankle.

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Another view north

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As we were walking up the glen earlier we had seen several large birds which we concluded were ravens but suddenly as we were climbing Eunaich we had an unmistakeable sighting of an eagle soaring on the thermals above us then tucking in its great wings and dropping like a missile out of sight before soaring up again. I did get a picture but it was too far away for my lens to cope with so just a blur and not worth posting. It was awe-inspiring to watch the effortless way it used the air currents while we continued to slog our way slowly up our hill!

Behind us Beinn a'Chochuill and Loch Etive

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The final part of the ascent was rocky and steep but nothing Moira's ankle couldn't cope with.

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View back to Beinn a'Chochuill

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Moira on Beinn Eunaich's summit cairn. What a come back for that badly broken ankle and a tribute to the brilliant helicopter crew who rescued us that day a year ago! :clap:

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The dogs and me at the summit

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Views from the top

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On the way up we had considered traversing the side of the ridge off Eunaich in a less steep diagonal a bit further on from the eroded path but when we got to it we had a look. It didn't look too bad so we decided just to take it slowly. We were into sheep territory again so I put Jack on lead and he walked as sedately as a guide dog stopping whenever I said "Wait" and not pulling at all. I felt very proud of him. :D Moira did find the descent a bit unpleasant but she negotiated it fine and we were soon on the bulldozed track again. She was positively glowing and as we reached the car we were both euphoric that she had climbed two Munros and wasn't feeling wrecked nor was her ankle painful! :thumbup:

Heading down the ridge towards Loch Awe.

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So thanks Walkhighlands for the heads up on this fabulous pair of hills which we probably wouldn't have thought of doing otherwise. :wave:
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Re: Helicopter not required this time!

Postby kevsbald » Fri Sep 16, 2011 9:08 am

Well done ladies! Glad the ankle held up.
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Re: Helicopter not required this time!

Postby skuk007 » Fri Sep 16, 2011 11:14 am

Great report, glad the ankle didn't give you any problems. You certainly had a good weather day.
Lovely dogs, how can you not share your food when they give you that look. :)
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Re: Helicopter not required this time!

Postby mountaineagle » Fri Sep 16, 2011 11:35 am

A good day to get back into hill walking, hope the ankle was not sore the next day as it can be after a bad break.
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Re: Helicopter not required this time!

Postby orion » Fri Sep 16, 2011 11:52 am

Glad your friends ankle held up ok.I was forced off the hills for over a year once and I can well remember the frustration and worry involved . Good news :D
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Re: Helicopter not required this time!

Postby trekpete » Fri Sep 16, 2011 12:28 pm

Cracking report. It's a good pair of hills and I am glad Moira got back out on the hill after breaking her ankle. I had mine broken in a motorcycle accident in spring 1998. At the time I had only done around a dozen or so hills and I too thought that was the end of it. However, I was back out munro bagging by late summer and have had a ball on the hills since. Although my ankle is sore for a few days afterwards it hasn't put a damper on my enthusiam for the hills.
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Re: Helicopter not required this time!

Postby jonny616 » Fri Sep 16, 2011 4:20 pm

Hi Dogplodder

Lovely pair of hills these, although i am not qualified to judge as when i did them in February i could not see the end of my nose. had a bit of a run in with the highland cows as well.

Glad you had a good day

Regards

Jonny
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Re: Helicopter not required this time!

Postby Alastair S » Fri Sep 16, 2011 4:35 pm

Looks like a grand day and really good news about that ankle :clap:
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Re: Helicopter not required this time!

Postby dogplodder » Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:41 pm

skuk007 wrote:
Lovely dogs, how can you not share your food when they give you that look. :)


I know. It's that intense look that gets to you.
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Re: Helicopter not required this time!

Postby dogplodder » Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:45 pm

mountaineagle wrote:A good day to get back into hill walking, hope the ankle was not sore the next day as it can be after a bad break.


She puts up with a fair bit of discomfort but this time was nothing like as bad as after the two previous walks - so that's progress! :D
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Re: Helicopter not required this time!

Postby dogplodder » Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:46 pm

orion wrote:Glad your friends ankle held up ok.I was forced off the hills for over a year once and I can well remember the frustration and worry involved . Good news :D


Thanks. It's encouraging to hear from others who've had problems and made a come back. :D
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Re: Helicopter not required this time!

Postby dogplodder » Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:48 pm

trekpete wrote:Cracking report. It's a good pair of hills and I am glad Moira got back out on the hill after breaking her ankle. I had mine broken in a motorcycle accident in spring 1998. At the time I had only done around a dozen or so hills and I too thought that was the end of it. However, I was back out munro bagging by late summer and have had a ball on the hills since. Although my ankle is sore for a few days afterwards it hasn't put a damper on my enthusiam for the hills.


Thanks for this - it will be an encouragement to Moira! :D
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Re: Helicopter not required this time!

Postby gizmogirl » Sat Sep 17, 2011 11:39 pm

Thanks for all the encouraging comments, everyone! I was so chuffed to be able to do these two munros without suffering any significant difficulties. Looking forward to doing lots more! :D
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Re: Helicopter not required this time!

Postby b-illie » Sun Sep 18, 2011 7:06 am

Congratulations! The photograph of Moira walking over this sunny hill under the clouds with her dog gives a particularly nice finish to this story. :clap: It is very encouraging to hear about this kind of comeback after an accident, thanks for sharing!
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Re: Helicopter not required this time!

Postby Oldman » Sun Sep 18, 2011 9:06 am

Well done girls!! Glad you enjoyed these two pearls and I'm very glad that my report was slightly instrumental in getting you to choose this walk. I remember these two hills very well and my daughter still puts them at the top of her 'favourite munros' list. Your report is excellent and pics great and as I read it I could almost feel a sore ankle coming on - terrific - thank you. Lovely dogs too, could almost feel them licking my face!!

Safe walking y'all

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