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One of "those" days on the Cruachan Horseshoe

One of "those" days on the Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby Redrock » Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:48 pm

Route description: Ben Cruachan and Stob Daimh

Munros included on this walk: Ben Cruachan, Stob Daimh

Date walked: 05/09/2011

Time taken: 10 hours

Distance: 13.2 km

Ascent: 1578m

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It seemed like a perfect day for a walk. The weather forecasts (Met Office and MWIS) suggested that light showers in the morning would die out in the afternoon, that winds would be moderate and that clouds would be mostly above the summits. Mrs R and I had walked Beinn a'Chochuill and Beinn Eunaich just to the north of Ben Cruachan on the 22 August and thoroughly enjoyed the day. Now it seemed to be just the right time to tackle Ben Cruachan itself along with Stob Diamh - to complete the Cruachan Horseshoe. It sounded great. But it turned out to be one of those days when things didn't turn out quite as you'd hoped! :?

It all started quite well as we set off from the station at the Falls of Cruachan and made our way up the heavily vegetated and occasionally awkward path towards the Cruachan Reservoir.

The path up to the Cruachan Reservoir

We even took time to pause at the waterfalls on the way.

At the waterfalls

But it was as we were approaching the dam that disaster struck! :shock: In an attempt to avoid some boggy ground we skirted up a banking a short way towards a place machinery had been at work clearing a roadway. I looked at the muddy track they had "sort of" cleared and decided to avoid it saying, "Follow me" to Mrs R. I'm not sure that she heard me though, for she continued straight on into what looked at first glance like a track - but she immediately sunk up to her waist in liquid peat! :shock: It took me about ten minutes to pull her free - and needless to say she was rather mucky and wet as a result - and not too happy! :(

A muddy Mrs R

It's okay - I took the photo with her permission. She reckoned it might help her to remember to avoid bogs and other such traps in the future! :) After a good old dip in the burn and scraping mud off of everything she felt a lot better - but not inclined to continue the walk. She insisted that I continue and that she would head off back to the car and get cleaned up and into a dry set of clothes (we learned to have a set of dry clothes in the car on a previous adventure). So - given that it was a straightforward route back - I agreed - but had her promised me she would text me when she was back at the car.

Mrs R heads back to the car!

I set off towards the Cruachan Reservoir with a clear view of Ben Cruachan - but missing he company! :(

Towards Ben Cruachan

Soon I had climbed up the steel ladder onto the dam (an odd bit to do on a walk - I suppose I could have avoided it but it did save time :) ) and the set off along the west side of the reservoir. I was soon at the far end of the reservoir and heading west up into Coire Dearg. I kept to the north side of the burn - as Walkhighlands suggests - and the path seemed quite walk-able and not too boggy! By now, though, the skies were getting darker and the summit of Ben Cruachan was in thick cloud.

Ben Cruachan in cloud - from Coire Dearg

But it wasn't long before the cloud began to thin and I was getting hopeful of a cloud-free summit. I met a walker on his way down at this point - an early starter. He had been disappointed that he had been in the clag when he was at the summit. I was pinning my hopes on the forecasts of clearing clouds in the afternoon - but maybe I was being over-optimistic! :?

The path up Coire Dearg

I soon reached the beallach at the head of Coire Dearg with it's tiny lochan.

The lochan at the head of Coire Dearg

By this time I was feeling quite confident and progress was good so I decided to take a short detour and visit Meall Cuinal - the Munro Top (918 metres) to the south of Ben Cruachan (those who know me will know that I like to bag Munro Tops as well as Munros - when I can!). I reckon the view of Cruachan was worth the extra effort - but by now it looked like the cloud was descending again! :(

Ben Cruachan from Meall Cuanail

With the cloud just swirling round the summit of Cruachan I set off down to the beallach again and headed off on the steep path up the mountain itself. I was able to take in some of the view before the cloud closed in.

Looking south-east from the ascent of Ben Cruachan

Soon I was in cloud and clambering over boulders all the way to the summit (If there was a path through the boulder field, I failed to find it!). At times it felt like I was simply climbing a huge heap of boulders! But eventually I reached the cairn and the broken trig pillar with some relief - it had been hard going! :)

At the Summit of Ben Cruachan

I did like this summit though - just a small area amongst the boulders - but there was no doubt that it was the very top! On a clear day I'm sure the view would be spectacular. But I was in thick cloud and it didn't look like clearing! I found a nice sheltered place just below the summit - and had a bite to eat. I had been concerned for a little while that I hadn't heard from Mrs R and had tried to send her a text but still got no reply. Suddenly I realised that the cloud was clearing so I jumped up, stood on a boulder and took a couple of photos. It soon became clear that I was actually looking down on clouds - it was quite an amazing feeling! 8)

Above the clouds on Cruachan

Above the clouds on Cruachan (2)

It was then that the text came in from Mrs R saying that she was back at the car getting dried out (it had been sent a while ago) and at the same time a group of three walkers arrived at the summit! Everything seemed to be cheering up - but it turned out to be a false dawn - the clouds soon rolled back in again and this time they brought trouble!

The picture taken by my new friends at the summit, before I headed off down the ridge to the east (behind me) shows that the mist was as thick as ever again. But the photo is fuzzy for another reason - my camera was refusing to focus - I think moisture must have found its way into the mechanism.

Heading off from Cruachan Summit

Then it began to rain! And not the light intermittent rain that had been forecast. This was heavy rain that would last for a good hour or so. With waterproofs on I clambered down the ridge - my fuzzy photograph giving a good impression of the view as I saw it with my misted-up glasses.

The ridge from Cruachan

I clambered down the rocky ridge and was soon approaching the section where you have to either cross slabs or descend a steep bypass path. I was concerned about crossing the slabs in the wet. But I needn't have worried - the rock was coarse and gave good grip in the wet. It was easy enough to find good footholds along cracks in the rock. I imagine these slabs would be much more of a challenge when frozen though! I was very comfortable on all the rocky sections of the ridge - it was the wet grass and soil that I found slippery and treacherous at times!

As I made my way along the ridge I realised that I had a camera in my mobile phone which was in my rucksack. By now I was below the main cloud-base but it was still a dismal and very wet scene.

Heading east towards Drochaid Ghlas

As I approached the Munro Top, Drochaid Ghlas, a rainbow appeared that gave me some hope of better weather - but it heralded only a brief break in the rain.

Rainbow on the ridge

The sun was shining on the reservoir below though.

The sun on Cruachan Reservoir

Soon the cloud was rolling in over the ridge again.

Clouds rolling in!

I visited the rocky top of Drochaid Ghlas - which is offset a bit to the north of the main line of the ridge (but it is a Munro Top - so definitely worth a visit! :D ) then set off towards Stob Daimh. I actually enjoyed the ascent - it had stopped raining by then! There wasn't much to see at the summit though, apart from the cairn! I've spared you the picture of me taken with my Blackberry at arms length! :lol:

The summit of Stob Daimh

Heading south, Stob Garbh (another Top! :-P ) also proved to be a pleasant climb and summit.

Stob Garbh from the north

I was back in the cloud again when I reached the cairn.

Cloud on Stob Garbh

The route south from Stob Garbh required some care navigating in the fog. But it all became clear when I descended below the cloud and the way back to the reservoir could easily be seen.

The descent south from Stob Garbh

The path was rather wet and boggy - and ill defined at times - but it eventually took me back to the dam and from there I made my way back to the car where Mrs R was waiting. She had been to Oban for the day.

It had been one of those days where things didn't work out as well as you had hoped. Just one or two things going wrong took the gloss off the day. I much prefer sharing walks - though sometimes go on my own. I don't mind rain - but resent it most when I haven't expected it! And I have to say: I like to see the views - and not the mist! I guess I ended up in a gloomy mood and it spoiled the fun a bit! I'll have to do the Cruachan Horseshoe again some day - and maybe I'll include Stob Dearg and Sron an Isean (the Munro Tops I left out :lol: ) next time. I hope Mrs R will join me too! 8)
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Re: One of "those" days on the Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby neilmci » Tue Oct 18, 2011 7:42 am

Ahh the bogs! That photo of Mrs R reminded me of the day I nearly disappeared into the bogs at Beinn Chabhair. That was a long walk back to the car and I could not even go to the drovers for a pint!
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Re: One of "those" days on the Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby BigP » Tue Oct 18, 2011 9:29 am

Aah a day in the hills, is not a day in the hills, without going through a peat bog!!! thats what i keep telling my wife anyway!!
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Re: One of "those" days on the Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby Gavin99 » Tue Oct 18, 2011 10:32 am

Poor Mrs R , I hope the delights of Oban compensated for her misfortune , that ' path improvement 'has a way to go yet ! I enjoyed reading this , good photos too between the showers , it is a fantastic walk , Cheers :)
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Re: One of "those" days on the Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby morag1 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:46 pm

A great day out for you but a real shame for Mrs R, hope its hasnt put her off going to the hills again :(

Re: One of "those" days on the Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby jstalker66621 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:07 pm

I remember doing this route early last year with a friend in similar conditions...it was memorable for me as the first time Jelly McBaby had accompanied me onto a summit cairn :D

Nice report and good pics...you would think that camera designers would have invented a 'Scottish proof' camera by now!!
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Re: One of "those" days on the Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby Bod » Sat Oct 22, 2011 5:36 pm

Thanks for sharing Redrock, and good for Mrs R going off and entertaining herself in Oban. I need to get up Ben Cruachan myself one day soon. Been looking at it for years and missed out on one or two opportunities a few years back. Share your thoughts on wishing for good weather. All the best, Bod
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Re: One of "those" days on the Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby Graeme D » Tue Oct 25, 2011 9:47 pm

Awwwww! Mrs R! Nightmare! Bogs are an occupational hazard on the hills, but it's still scant comfort when you come to grief on that scale. :? Must say I am looking forward to the coming months of (hopefully) frozen bogs. :D
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Re: One of "those" days on the Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby pollyh33 » Tue Oct 25, 2011 10:35 pm

You have go to get that photo framed!!!

What a woman! :D

I wonder how many times she'll cast it up to you :lol: :lol:

Great report despite the early mudbath. Like your photo of the rainbow :D
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Re: One of "those" days on the Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby Redrock » Thu Oct 27, 2011 9:55 pm

Thanks for your comments everyone - and for all the encouragement! :D

I'm glad to say Mrs R is well and truly recovered from her "bogfest" ! We were out again in the Cairngorms a couple of weeks later - on Bynack More (which I have still to post! :shock: ) - and the bogs didn't get her that time! :lol:

neilmci - I've discovered that the change of clothes in the car is a must - if nothing else it makes that pint possible!

jstalker66621 - I reckon Panasonic would have a go at a Scottish proof camera if you gave them plenty of money. I think my camera originally had a weather-proof symbol on it - until the wind blew it off! :lol:

Bod - Ben Cruachan is well worth the effort. It's an amazing summit - and in good weather it must be such a viewpoint! :D

Graeme D - Yes, may the bogs freeze over!!! :lol: :lol:

pollyh33 - I certainly hope there will be no mud-slinging! :lol: :lol: And yes, its good to know that even on a grotty day - you can still get a rainbow! 8)
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Re: One of "those" days on the Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby Johnny Corbett » Fri Oct 28, 2011 4:22 pm

Good to see someone got a better day than i got when i did this round, some good photos there. Sorry but i couldn't stop laughing when i came to the one of Mrs R , i hope she see's the funny side of it everytime she looks at that photo.
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Re: One of "those" days on the Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby ChrisW » Fri Oct 28, 2011 4:54 pm

Certainly one to remember for both of you Redrock, I'm sure I could hear MrsR swearing every time I looked at that first pic, that must be the worst thing ever. From now on I'm carrying dry clothes in the car :lol:
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