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The Barren Hill

The Barren Hill


Postby nxmjm » Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:42 pm

Route description: Pirnmill Hills: Mullach Buidhe of Beinn Bharrain

Grahams included on this walk: Beinn Bharrain

Date walked: 19/05/2012

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 12.5 km

Ascent: 947m

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7.8 miles. 947m ascent. 6h 55m

Image

Pirnmill-Beinn Bharrain-Mullach Buidhe-Beinn Bhreac-Coire Fhionn Lochan-Mid Thunderguy

This was the first day of a two day outing to Arran, taking in some guided walks in the Arran mountain festival. Day one was to be a journey to the Barren Hill, the Yellow Summit, The Speckled Hill, the Brown Hill and the Fair Loch. The week running up to this had been marred by inclement weather, and even as we sailed from Ardrossan the rain was still falling. Still the fish and chips were nice on the boat.

By the Saturday morning, though, the rain had cleared and the weather forecast suggested it would stay away. Unfortunately breakfast started a little too late to allow a leisurely meal and we hadn’t managed to negotiate an earlier breakfast. So it was a rushed breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausages, tomatoes, mushrooms, potato scone and toast, without time to relax before we had to set off for our rendezvous in Brodick.

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Above Pirnmill

The walk was to begin at Pirnmill, once a centre of bobbin making, I believe, so the first stage was a minibus ride across the island, during which the driver, Charlie, I think, gave us his views on the various conservation and ecology initiatives taking place on the island. I suspect these differed somewhat from those presently held by conservationists, and tended to hark back to a bygone age when jolly schoolchildren would guide the bus driver into reversing onto the beach ( out of a sense of fun, rather than badness); poachers pitted their skills against gamekeepers; twenty families would farm land now tended by just one farmer; deer numbers were kept down, sparing many drivers from collisions; and land wasted by set-aside was in productive use.

The walk itself began at Pirnmill. We strapped on our kit and headed up past some houses, onto grassy slopes and then through some relatively young woodland. Luckily our only episode of straying off course was in the first five minutes, and was rapidly corrected with the help of a local lady who came into her garden to point us the right way.

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Falls on Allt Gobhlach

Our route took us along the north bank and then across the Allt Gobhlach (the forked burn) and as we came out of the woodland, the two spurs from Beinn Bharrain, enclosing the Coire Rionn, were there before us. We were to head up the western spur, the eastern one being steeper and sharper. Along here we walked under the watchful eye of a raven and later passed its nest. Allt Gobhlach runs in a steep sided gully with some small waterfalls, but higher up the slope there was a easy crossing that led us onto a short stretch of boggy ground. I did initially rue my decision to forego gaiters but it proved easy enough to pick our way across this without submerging our boots. The terrain remained a little wet even onto the slopes but soon enough we were on firmer ground with scattered rocks. This was to be the terrain for most of the day.

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Col between Beinn Bharrain and Mullach Buidhe

It was a bit of a slog up the spur to Beinn Bharrain and as we climbed the sun came out. But comfort improved as clothing was shed, and both the views and visibility improved. Jura’s mountains were clearly visible beyond Kintyre and the rocks of the Corrie Roinn just beside us began to catch the sunlight, taking on the colours I associate with the Dungeon Hills.

From Beinn Bharrain our route was along the ridge joining it to Mullach Buidhe (the yellow summit): a pleasant route over easy ground with gentle gradients and great views over Lochs Tanna and Dubh to the mountainous tops over by Goatfell. Initially the distant hills were topped with cloud but this lifted and as the sunlight changed throughout the day we were able to see them change with the subtly different illumination.

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Mullach Buidhe summit

We stopped for lunch on the southern slopes of Mullach Buidhe, sitting on smooth granite boulders and looking down into the Glas Choirein (green corrie?). I enjoyed my lunch, basking in the sunshine, but later in the day I was to realise, somewhat red-faced, that the sunshine was stronger than I had thought. But despite the beautiful views and warm sun, my walking companion was somewhat disgruntled. His banana, chosen by me in the co-op, apparently had the taste and consistency of a turnip. What a drama queen! To be fair the banana was a little firm, but that meant it had less chance of becoming squashed in his rucksack, and in my opinion the consistency was more like that of an unripe mango.

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Lochs Tanna and Dubh

After lunch we continued our stroll along the ridge to the summit of Beinn Bhreag (the speckled hill) where we had views over Bute, Kintyre, Jura, and possibly even Ireland. While standing here Corrina spotted a golden eagle and passed her binoculars around so we could all have a better look at the bird.

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On Beinn Bhreac

The descent to the col between Meall Donn and Meall Bhig did not feel as steep as the contours suggested, but still gave our knees something to groan about. We soon found ourselves in a rather boggy area overlooking the Coire Fhionn Lochan. This is a pretty stretch of water with white sandy beaches and great place to sit while enjoying the view.

From here it was a short walk back down to the main road at Mid Thundergay. The path follows the burn, Uisge Soluis Mhoir, by its waterfalls, so the walk is accompanied by the sound of running water, a powerful diuretic, judging by its action on several of the group.

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Coire Fhionn Lochan

On the way down we spotted a pair of hen harriers and a pair of moths, the latter engaging in a private moment. The walk ended at Mid Thunderguy where with the sun twinkling on Kilbrannan Sound we had a few minutes well earned rest waiting for our ride back to Brodick. Time to contemplate the delights of a cold beer once we got back.

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Waterfall on Uisge Soluis Mhoir

A very pleasant walk. Great company. Great views. My first outing in Arran’s Hills and well worth the journey.

PS Later that evening, after the pre-contemplated cold beer and a rather lavish dinner, we we decided to have a stroll through Corrie. In the churchyard, no more than 50m from us was a stag. Sadly the only camera with me was my phone and it couldn’t cope with the low light.


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Last edited by nxmjm on Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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nxmjm
 
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Re: The Barren Hill

Postby hills » Mon Aug 06, 2012 7:52 pm

Great report that, this is one of the few arran hills that I have done, and a very enjoyable one, good to see. :D
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hills
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Re: The Barren Hill

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Sun Aug 19, 2012 12:27 pm

Nice report with some fine photos :clap: - it looks like a good day with good company.
Ah yes, getting a banana of the right consistency is one of the major challenges in Scottish hillwalking, I'd agree :lol: ...
My apologies for a bit of Scottish Mountain Nomenclature Anorak-ism here, but the Beinn Bhreac included in this walk isn't actually the (lower) Sub-2000 Marilyn Beinn Bhreac, which is a good bit further north near Catacol. Arran has a ridiculous number of mid-height hills called Beinn Bhreac; Lord knows why :? ... The one you've bagged is actually higher, but isn't a Marilyn - I think it would be a Graham Top ...?
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bobble_hat_kenny
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Re: The Barren Hill

Postby nxmjm » Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:50 pm

Well spotted....You win an under-ripe banana.

I've looked it up and you are right it's a Graham Top (or what I would call "part of a ridge")

I suppose my options now are either to admit my mistake or pretend that I really did walk all that way to the other Beinn Bhreac.

My mistake. As penance I will eat your unripe banana.

Mike
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Re: The Barren Hill

Postby dogplodder » Sun Aug 19, 2012 2:13 pm

Having spent a number of summers on Arran in late 60s and early 70s but never climbed anything (what a waste) it's good to read about some of the delights I missed. It's an informative account nicely peppered with food references - personally I find bananas don't travel well in my rucksack and apples do better! :lol:
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