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Munro's and Ceilidh's...Caberfeidh stylee

Munro's and Ceilidh's...Caberfeidh stylee


Postby jstalker66621 » Tue Nov 29, 2011 1:18 am

Route description: Ben Oss and Beinn Dubhchraig, near Tyndrum

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Dubhchraig, Ben Oss

Date walked: 26/11/2011

Time taken: 6.25 hours

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The esteemed Mr Charlton had set the plans for this weekend's walk in motion many moons ago. This was to be my opportunity to reach 150 (if I managed all four intended summits over the two days) Munro's and then take a well deserved break until 2012. As you will discover, the best laid plans of mice and men (not to mention Munro baggers) often come unstuck...I had managed to persuade Mike that, rather than stay at the Tyndrum lodge, we should reside in Crianlarich at the aptly named Crianlarich hotel. I had stayed at the lodge in Tyndrum previously and had not been overly impressed, given my penchant for luxury, so was quite pleased when Mike announced that he had changed the arrangements and would be booked into the same location as me for the Saturday night at least. I headed down to Crianlarich after my shift on Friday (what a pleasure it was to be finished an early shift, home, changed and ready to leave by two o'clock...if I were still in Peterhead I would have been struggling to leave by five!!!) in daylight, though the weather was to deteriorate as I travelled down the A90. By the time I turned onto the A85 just past Perth I could see the clouds gathering ominously over the snow clad mountains of Blair Atholl, as I reached Crieff the rain had started (never to stop falling until Sunday morning), by St Fillan it was dark, but I only had another half an hour to travel and would easily make it to the hotel by five. When I arrived at the hotel there were a large group of young ladies checking in, around fourteen of them, so I waited patiently for my turn whilst chatting to a couple of them. Apparently they had found a deal through groupon and were staying for the weekend, celebrating one of their teams Birthday...but more of that later.

Once checked in I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the wifi reception I was receiving in my room, although my mobile signal was pretty erratic so I may be forced to go outside to use my fone (as has been the case when I have stayed there in the past. I booked a table for tea at seven thirty and set about trying to contact Mike regards our plans for tomorrow. Unfortunately Mr Charlton was in a hotel in Killin with equally erratic mobile signal, but with the power of t'internet I was able to source the hotel number (even though Mike had given me potentially three different names of hotels he could be in, telling me a different version of the real name each time i had spoken to him) and call the reception desk to speak to him...after a few attempts I was eventually able to get hold of him and arrange to be met at the Crianlarich hotel in the morning at 0850...which was then changed to 0845 (he eventually appeared closer to 0835) giving me plenty of time for breakfast and the inevitable anxiety poo prior to departure!!

If any of you have read my blog previously you will know that I am becoming more and more used to comfortable surroundings in my travels around the country...this was no exception. Evening meal consisted of black pudding and chorizo salad, followed by Barbary duck and celeriac mash, then topped off with chocolate mousse cake and ice cream in a brandy snap basket...Mmmm finee boy!! All washed down with a bottle of pear Magners...aghast that they had stopped stocking Crabbies!!! Now I wonder why I'm putting on weight, despite the amount of Munro's I have climbed this year???

An early night beckoned, with the prospect of little sleep as usual no doubt, ready for an early start tomorrow...dreams of targets to reach and new friends to meet...I just hope that incessant rain gives up the ghost at some stage!!

The morning alarm woke me far too early, or so it felt, bleary eyed I got psyched up and ready for what was looking like being a wet start to the day, at least. I decided on a small breakfast this morning, only ordering a sausage, bacon and small portion of scrambled egg...unfortunately something was lost in translation and I received a HUGE plateful of scrambled egg...clearly I was going to have to go some to work that plateful off today!!

When Mike arrived I was already in the car and ready to go...watching the rain battering off my windscreen. We drove the short distance to the Dalrigh turn-off and parked up in the sizable car park...followed in by Andy (spot) and met by Angus (Gus) MacLeod.

It was my first time meeting Gus and, like Mike and Andy, I found him to be good company and a fine addition to our walking band.
From the car park it is stated that you get good views of Beinn Dubhchraig...oh well, perhaps on a less inclement day, but certainly not today.

The walk begins by continuing along the tarmac lane to cross the West Highland Way and then an old stone bridge. On the far side of the river, turn right onto a smaller track. This runs close to the railway line and at this stage you can see Ben Lui at the head of the Cononish Glen and Beinn Dorain up by Bridge of Orchy...providing the weather is kind to you and not trying to soak you through in your first ten minutes of walking!! The track then swings left to cross over the railway on a bridge.
On the far side go through the gate and then turn right onto a footpath. Even by this early stage I was beginning to question my choice of footwear...I had decided that with winter upon us I should start to wear my Scarpa Manta's, as opposed to my tried and trusted Scarpa ZG10's (whose tread is almost worn away with the amount of miles I have put them through in the three years I have had them)...but the walk along a tarmac path in new four season boots lets you feel every step!!

The path soon becomes very boggy as you cross what is essentially a marsh to reach a footbridge over the Allt Gleann Auchreoch.
We crossed the rickety old footbridge (after eventually spotting it) and then turned left upstream. We were already soaked through by this early stage but spirits, and banter, remained high. We trudged on through the increasingly boggy underfoot conditions, each of us at least once, if not more when others were not looking, slipped and stumbled through puddles and sucking bogs as we continued on our merry way. We entered the beautiful pinewood known as Coille Coire-Chuilc, a remnant of the original Caledonian Forest. We turned right away from the stream after about three hundred metres to find a path climbing through the trees. By now I was really starting to regret wearing these boots, with no give in the sole unit it meant that every wet rock and, more specifically, branch I stood on was likely to have me skating about like Bambi on ice!! Further on a fence is reached; the stile is broken but the fence itself is dilapidated and can be stepped through.
I'm pretty sure Andy splooshed in the mud rather deeper than he expected at this point...but we had all had our moments likewise by this point (including at the start of the trees, the path split slightly and I took the lower route, sank into mud halfway up my gaiter and heard someone say "always take the higher path" but I couldn't ascertain who it was) so there is no point in keeping score!!
Soon the path reaches a second fence with a very high stile - fortunately there is a huge hole in the wires which means the ascent of the stile isn't necessary! The path continues to be boggy but there was one particularly fine waterfall over to the left that made the trudge worthwhile.

A third and final fence also has a gap to step through, and beyond the open moors are reached. We had a couple of tactical halts during this part of the walk, Gus was perhaps struggling to comprehend just what he had let himself in for by coming out with us!!
At one point the stream flows through a series of steep-sided rocky pools, and further on the ascent steepens where the water flows through a small gorge.
A sandwich stop was included in the itinerary here as Mike and Andy decided an early lunch was in order...but my breakfast was still sufficing me so I got by with a few jelly babies instead.
Higher up the path peters out but continuing in the same direction, the broad ridge is reached.
The snow had been decimated by the incessant rain and the wet ground was taking its toll on all of us by the time we reached the broad ridge...Mike's GPS unit had started to play up and then gave up the ghost altogether...not good as he likes to be out in front, leading the troops into battle. He obviously had the back up of a map but with the weather being as bad as it was it was easier for me to lead and use my GPS to get us up to the summit.

I know it was cold and I was wet through, but what happened next was still a source of embarrassment. I had my GPS set to around 50m when we were lower down the hill, so as to not take a wrong path just in case there were options, and had not reset it...as I stood here looking at it high up on the mountain I noticed that we had to pass through what appeared to be areas of water, showing up blue on my GPS, in a circular style...but no matter how hard I looked at the snow in front of me I couldn't see what my GPS was telling me...then I ajusted the zoom and realised that what I was looking at in a confused state was in fact the grid number 26 in the middle of my screen...DOH!!! Shhh though, I don't think any of the others noticed...
Once we had gained the flat ground of the broad ridge we noticed three other walkers ahead of us...one on his own that we think may have left the car park just as we were arriving...and two that appeared to have come down from Ben Dubhchraig just as we approached the path. They were no more than twenty meters from us but the wind and rain was so bad at this stage that all either of us could muster by way of communication was a raised thumb...even if we had the energy to walk across to then it was taking us off path...and there was no chance of hearing shouts, we couldn't even hear each others shouts at times as it was. From here it is a short climb, around 80m or so, to the summit cairn and would be an easy climb in decent weather. Today we were being blown all over the place and struggled up every step, often one step forward two steps back (or at least a falter until composure was regained). Eventually we each hauled our sorry sodden asses up onto the summit cairn 927m and huddled round for a single group pic...then I dished out a delightful little cake that my Mother had made (from an old NZ recipe) which everyone agreed was well worth the struggle through the woeful weather.

Without further ado we set off from the summit to return to the broad ridge, given that the views of Loch Lomond and beyond were nowhere to be seen and the temperature was dipping drastically whenever we stood still for any length of time, to the point where we had come up initially. The path fades for a short distance but heads very briefly southwest before continuing to the left of a series of small lochans. Such was the ferocity of the wind at this stage we all had our hoods pulled tight to our faces to try and protect us from the worst of the elements, so saw none of these. Beyond these the path descends more steeply down rockier ground to reach the Bealach Buidhe, overlooking Loch Oss. It all sounds like it would be nice to have pics of the surrounding views...perhaps next time...we continued on the path to the far side of the bealach where we eventually came across a tiny cairn on the path...okay if I'm being honest I missed it the first time and only realised when I checked the GPS...but it was only by about twenty feet so that's not too bad in these conditions. This marks the point to leave the path, which is part of an old stalkers route and runs across the side of Ben Oss rather than up it. We set off up more grassy slopes until we found a better defined path higher up leading to the north-western top of Ben Oss. A short descent and then an easier ascent up through the thicker snow (in places) to reach the summit cairn of Ben Oss 1029m, the higher of the two Munro's today. We should have been standing in awe at the views but predictably saw nothing, zero, nadda!!! Indeed the gloom appeared to be thickening, if that were at all possible, and the hail started.
A very quick pic was taken of Jelly McBaby, whose poor wee legs were almost frozen together, on the cairn and then a speedy descent back to the bealach and where we had left our rucksacks (in a bid to speed up our ascent)(I did remember to take the car keys this time). We then sped off up the short steep climb and drop down to the next bealach to meet Gus (who had been unable to reach the 2nd Munro and had bravely sat out the storm waiting for our return. Once we had regrouped we headed around the slopes and returned as fast, and safely, as we could manage under the circumstances to reach the initial broad ridge once more.
A time check showed that it was almost two o'clock, we had been out in this for almost five hours now, and we knew that in this weather the light would fade faster than normal (usually gets dark just prior to four o'clock) so would have to motor to get back in daylight (if you could call it that). The rest of the journey retraced most of our steps from earlier on, barring a few places where we had deviated from the path on the ascent...a few streams to cross in full spate now as well...including quite a wide one that had to be leapt across.
Mike went first and threw his sack across then leapt majestically to the other side, I threw my sticks across and leapt like only an overweight walker can but landed safely never the less. Andy decided to use his sticks as vaulting poles, planted them in the stream and hoyed himself across the raging torrent, landing with an ungracious thud on the far embankment, rolled into some SAS style manouvre and stood up with only one stick in his hand...the other one had been left in the stream and was probably at the bottom of the hill by the time Gus threw himself across!! Gutted was too small a description...though the rest of us managed to chuckle about it the rest of the way to the car.

For the next hour or so we stumbled and slipped our way down through the marsh (which had gotten worse in the preceding five hours) conditions and dragged ourselves carefully across the unsafe wooden structure that passes for a bridge, then along to the path and returned to our waiting cars...even then the rain decided to chuck down heavier as we were getting changed!!! We were out a total of 6.25 hours in torrential rain and freezing high winds...loving it.

Once back at the hotel a hot bath was the order of the day...and watching the hoops get back on form online...before meeting up at the bar at six to meet another new member of our growing band. Paddy would be joining in tomorrow when we would attempt Ben Lui, unable to make today as he had other commitments. He had suggested to Mike that we could try a local pub for tea, get a few beers in us, then return here later as there was a band playing...we were less than enamoured at having to walk 200m in the rain again, but did it anyway. The Rod and Reel pub had a quaint country village feel to it...you know that threatening DELIVERANCE feeling you get when all eyes turn to look at you walking in, people stop eating just to look you up and down, locals growl if you even think about standing in their spot at the bar to order drink. Anyway, we ordered, then perused the menu (though Andy jumped the gun and ordered food well before some had even looked at it...having to ask the "waiter" to leave his main course until ours were ready). We actually had a pleasant evening sitting around the table swapping stories, drinking a few well deserved beers, the food was edible and plentiful, and Mike found his true vocation as a wind-up merchant where the jukebox was concerned...I do think that the Annie version of 'it's a hard knock life' being played on a continual loop ceased as soon as we left the building though!!!
Back at our hotel the party was in full swing and who were we to not join in?? Gus was desperate to get on the dancefloor almost immediately, but actually set about down playing this and managed to look as disinterested as the rest of us at the thought of actually having to leave our seats...well for a short while anyway.The ladies from the previous day (the birthday revellers) were there and looking for dance partners...oh I get the feeling we will be in for a long night on sore feet!! Initially we were able to avoid being dragged up to dance...by the clever technique of transferance...whereby we were able to persuade to foreign dudes next to us to join the ladies on the dance floor in lieu of ourselves...not knowing any better they duly went up...unfortunately their food arrived around a minute later and they had to watch eagle-eyed as Charlton slavered like a man unfed until a waitress removed it to a place of safety for their return from dancing...In actual fact it wasn't as bad as I had feared (I hate dancing) and eventually I was happy to be thrown around the room in a variety of crazy jigs (I think I did an eightsome reel, a dashing something or other and stripped something else??). But the star turn had to be when one of our group got up for his first attempt at whatever it was, he will remain nameless at this stage, and approached his 'dance' partner in the middle of the floor like a Maori warrior doing a Haka!! Her face was an absolute picture of fear and trepidation...but not as much as her friend after being spun around by Andy, she turned to our table (mid twirl) and asked "how did I get lumbered with him"?? Good question, well presented, answer to be found on the bottom of the beer glass...A good night was had by all, I never drink as much as that when I'm away walking, and it was a struggle to retire for the night at around midnight (my usual routine involves hot chocolate and match of the day in bed).

By breakfast the following day we were a man down. Gus had reported unfit for duty and would not be surfacing until later...the cramps he had suffered on the hills yesterday had not abated during the night. As we were settling our respective bills and checking out he joined us to say his farewells and apologise for not coming along...I'm pretty sure he enjoyed himself and will return fully fit again early next year (if not sooner). The rest of us set off on the lengthy drive on the Oban road to attempt Ben lui...the weather looked a lot clearer today and we had high hopes for our chances of some cracking views.

Upon arrival at the car park however we had to wait in our cars for a squall to pass by, sleety wet cold stuff had followed us after all. Once changed though we set off along the embankment looking for a safe place to cross the swollen river...not a chance in hell today.
The alternative was to traverse the road for a kilometre until we came level with a bridge, then cross the field to reach it.
Halfway along the road Mike pulled up short and declared that he could go no further. He had been suffering a lot yesterday with a rash, caused by the increasing wet and a poor choice of undercrackers, which was only getting worse today (I have had this previously and it is almost impossible to ignore and enjoy ones walking as a result). Get well soon big guy...I have two more Munro's need doing at least.

So then there were three...we decided to press on and go for it anyway, the day was looking clear ish and we were already geared up for it. We reached the bridge and immediately our eyes were drawn to the sign that warned of £200 fines for trespassing on the railway...we would have to cross the bridge, then follow the railway track for a kilometre to the start of the path, so we better not get caught then!!!
You would think that if they don't want people walking along the track they would not have supplied a bridge for them to cross the river...we took it as a sign that they were less than serious in their threat and went for it anyway.

Once at the start of the path through the trees the weather changed and hoods were pulled up tight again to protect us from the hail/rain that was falling. We set off through the trees on a decent clear path, though boggy it was nowhere near as bad as yesterday. Onwards and upwards we walked following the path until it came to a stream in severe spate...we had to cross this to get to the path on the other side.
We assessed the risk (the rocks around it were slanted and wet and the pools were deep and fast moving) and decided to continue on the path a little higher up to see if we could cross safer anywhere else. Unfortunately this would add on some extra time to the trip and we may have to make a decision based on daylight timescales for later in the day. We trudged on up the path a little while longer and saw nowhere safe to cross. Our day ended when a hail storm battered us and we sensibly decided that we would lose too much time trying to cross any further up, then attempting to cut through the trees to rejoin the path, then have to do it all again on the return at the end of the day...this would be better attempted in summer months when we could return and try for all four on a longer day (including the two from yesterday).

Crestfallen we started back down the path but stopped when we heard what we thought was a helicopter...trying to look up and catch a glimpse of it and hoping it was not to rescue anyone off the hill...then realised, as the rain stopped and the view cleared, that it was in fact a logging machine in the trees.
I wanted to get a picture of the stream we had refused to cross and went to get it...there wrapped around a bush was a tiny sign (which we had not noticed initailly as it was wrappped around a branch) warning of felling operations in the woods and for walkers not to venture any further.
Surely that is a sign that would have been better employed in the car park to stop anyone from even getting this far up the hill and risking life (and £200) on the bloody railway tracks!!!!!

Now crestfallen and annoyed we retraced our steps back to the car, stopping at the potential river crossing and seriously giving consideration to just going for it...but thankfully coming to our senses before we did anything foolish at this stage (the one positive about this morning is that every decision we had taken had actually been a sensible one...can't always look back and say that).
So off we toddled back along the railway line, crossing the bridge and heading back along the road to our cars.
Feeling more like ramblers than Munroists...trudging about for two hours...all dressed up with no place to go.

We said our goodbyes at the car park, until next year for some, and went on our own seperate journeys home...we each had a fantastic trip, full of laughs and hopefully new friends, and I left planning how I was going to bag another two Munro's this year so as not to fall short of my final target...

Until next time...if you go down in the woods today your sure of a big surprise.....but of course according to Andy "these people won't be working on a Sunday"!!! Hahaha famous last words bud, see you all next time??

Pictures can be accessed through my FB page on the link below

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2333937274804.2112763.1440975916&type=1&l=f02ecd9130

or through my blog page at

http://jellymcbabymunroist.blogspot.com
jstalker66621
Walker
 
Posts: 180
Munros:255   Corbetts:6
Joined: Jun 28, 2010
Location: Aberdeen

Re: Munro's and Ceilidh's...Caberfeidh stylee

Postby daveh » Tue Nov 29, 2011 11:18 am

Great report John and sounds a great weekend.I am staying at the hotel this W/E and stayed there last year about the same time.It was so cold they let us keep our SARDA dogs in the rooms.Great staff we felt.Next time you down this way give me a shout and maybe get those two hills done.
Dave
daveh
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 95
Munros:72   Corbetts:29
Grahams:13   Donalds:16
Joined: Nov 12, 2011
Location: Arrochar Alps

Re: Munro's and Ceilidh's...Caberfeidh stylee

Postby jstalker66621 » Tue Nov 29, 2011 11:32 am

It was a great weekend Dave and the hotel staff are always nothing less than helpful. I enjoy staying there and always recommend it to my friends.
Cheers for the offer but I dont think I will be back down until next year now, all my available time off for December has been planned towards single Munro/short trips due to the shifts/distance/weather...though saying that I was thinking of trying Creag Mhor/Heasgarneash this Sunday, weather allowing.
jstalker66621
Walker
 
Posts: 180
Munros:255   Corbetts:6
Joined: Jun 28, 2010
Location: Aberdeen

Re: Munro's and Ceilidh's...Caberfeidh stylee

Postby daveh » Tue Nov 29, 2011 11:36 am

No bother John,this time last year we had snow and freezing temps and today we have flooding! Climate change or what.
daveh
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 95
Munros:72   Corbetts:29
Grahams:13   Donalds:16
Joined: Nov 12, 2011
Location: Arrochar Alps

Re: Munro's and Ceilidh's...Caberfeidh stylee

Postby jstalker66621 » Fri Dec 02, 2011 2:58 pm

I know its all just so unpredictable...but we wouldn't change it for the world eh??
jstalker66621
Walker
 
Posts: 180
Munros:255   Corbetts:6
Joined: Jun 28, 2010
Location: Aberdeen

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