The recent bout of bad weather has rather saddened me. As each day of glorious sunshine has passed, and I have been stuck indoors working away, I have imagined the amazing views the mountains would be offering. That is why on Monday I made a rash decision to head out in the hills.
The issue being that I would need to be up at 3am the following morning for a flight to Manchester with work, but hey ho you only live once.
Creag Mhor and Beinn Heasgarnich are two hills that I have had my eye on for some time but never gotten round to climbing. Indeed they were the last of the Mamlorn hills I needed to bag and I have drove along the Loch Tay road so many times now that something pointier in the West had always seemed more appealing. But not today so off I went.
I left Dundee around 8 and after spending some time on the Loch Tay road trying to contact my work with no mobile signal I arrived at the car park just before Kenknock at 11am. Usually I am already set to go so imagine my mood when I opened the boot of my car to find my Camelbak had been leaking all over my backpack/shell/gloves/lunch. Nevermind, ‘these things are sent to try us’ I thought and off I went with a soaking pair of gloves hanging from the side of my pack. The long land rover track to Batavaime is a beautiful walk (after the initial stretch of cow fields) and somewhat of a distraction as the need to stop and take many pictures of Ben Challum and the River Lochay got the better of me. It’s a shame that the house at Batavaime is so run down, it could be turned into a lovely hostel or holiday home. I’m unsure whether the derelict house that stands there is the original one but Batavaime was once the home of the famous Gaelic poet Duncan Ban McIntyre as well as the McVean family until the clearances.
Anyway, the track passes the house and zig zags up to the right to meet the higher road. From here it’s a case of free styling onto the hill. About 2 minutes prior to my arrival another chap had got to the same point and headed off toward the left hand side of Sron nan Eun (the nose of the bird). I’m unsure whether he was following some form of track but as I couldn’t see one and my gut feeling was that easier ground was to the right I opted to trudge up the grassy slope on the right hand side of the outcrop following the line of the Allt Batavaim. Somewhere around NN 409 353 there is some obvious steep grass slopes with what resembles a seldom used track to follow. There were fresh foot prints so clearly I’m not the only one that thinks this! It’s a steep pull up onto the ridge but far quicker than going to the left of the nose and once you’re on the ridge it’s lovely easy going toward the dome of Creag Mhor passing little lochans on the ridge with the view toward Ben Lui opening up. Around 2:30 I reached the summit cairn of Creag Mhor and sat taking in the views all around. Despite the heavy haze the views were phenomenal toward Loch Lyon and Bridge of Orchy. Unfortunately the views were so great I didn’t really take in the huge descent between Creag Mhor and Beinn Heasgarnich until it was too late! I headed off in a NNW direction down to the wide bealach with Meall Tionail then headed due east to Sron Tairbh. Surprisingly the ground here was not very boggy at all and the burn which flows down toward Loch Lyon is crystal clear. All the while I couldn’t help but notice the wall of Sron Tairbh overhanging me. This reminded me of my last time out in Glen Etive and I started to wonder if I was subconsciously picking routes which are more and more steep!
Fortunately, as so often happens, it wasn’t as bad as it looked from the bottom and once about 10m up the steep grassy slopes there appears a well worn track which zig zags its way gradually to the top of the nose. The views open up tremendously and it’s an easy 2km to the summit of Beinn Heasgarnich. The large cairn on the top offers decent shelter from the cool breeze that was now blowing in so I finished the last of my food and made a decision about a descent route. Some routes suggest heading east from the summit then coming down the Allt Badour; others suggest retracing steps back to Ston an Fhir-Bhoga then descending south east from there. This is the option I decided to take, although once arriving back at the 1029m mark I realised there didn’t seem to be an obvious track off so I told myself that as long as I was walking toward the glen between Sgiath Chuil and Beinn Cheathaich that I was going to be heading in the right direction. It’s a good idea to have a visual aid like this sometimes as if I’d have just headed straight down, with the contour of the hill I most likely would have ended up back at Batavaime! Anyway, this resulted in the first 300metres of descent being quite interesting as I crossed waterfalls, snow banks and descended very steep grass which would have been in a nightmare in wet weather. Perhaps there is a slightly easier descent route from the 1029m mark (heading to the 909m spot height for example) but it was too late now, I was committed. After about 40 mins the descent comes to a halt as you reach the bridge on the high track above Badour; then it’s really just a long easy walk out along a landrover track. I was a little bit confused when I reached the tarmac road at Kemknock as the OS map shows this as being a landrover track to Glen Lyon however my road map shows this as being a road. Given the state of it I’d say it was somewhere in between the two; I wouldn’t fancy my chances in a Ford Focus going up it though!
Arrived back at the car for 7, sunburnt but happy.
Time: 7.5 Hours
Distance: 14.8 Miles
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