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A wander and a ponder up Beinn Bhuidhe
by ChrisAndrews » Mon Feb 04, 2013 3:20 pm
Route description: Beinn Bhuidhe, via Glen Fyne
Munros included on this walk: Beinn Bhuidhe
Date walked: 04/02/2013
Time taken: 6 hours
Distance: 21.36 km
Ascent: 1050m6 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
After an evening pouring over maps of possible alternatives to the ‘trade route’ up Beinn Bhuidhe; considering such options as Hamish Browns route via the north ridge, or via the long South-west ridge; it was with a small degree of inevitability that I settled on the trade route. Given the available daylight in early February, and an unknown quantity of snow, the alternatives all seemed just a bit on the sketchy side of realistic.
Leaving Fife in the early morning the car told me it was minus 3 outside, and sea ice on Loch Fyne, and a car parked on its roof in Glen Croe (police aware) confirmed it might be a bracing cycle up lower Glen Fyne.
Despite the biting cold on the bike, I left it where requested by the land owner (more on these musings later) and took off on foot for the last 1.5km to the abandoned cottages at Inverchoracan. Just above the cottage I got my first view of higher hills confirming there was some snow left on these Western hills. The view up Glen Fyne to Ben Oss and Ben Lui being particularly attractive.
The somewhat eroded path ascends steeply along the south side of Allt na Faing, and provided unexpected interest in the variation of ice or water covered rocks above the most precipitous parts of the gorge. As it was largely impossible to tell what was wet and what was ice until I placed a foot it was a case of take a step and hold on for a possible ride! More than a few branch clutching slips led to more open ground in the upper gorge, and a view to the falls marked on the map.
After some self debate I decided to leave the path below the falls and head across the stream (more ice covered rocks for the unwary) and take to the sunlit slopes following the most northerly fork of the Allt na Faing.
On the slopes above several herds of red deer were seen looking in surprisingly good condition given the time of year.
Above the level of the falls the corrie levels off somewhat and I found myself in some complex hummocky terrain. I suspect this could pose some challenges in thick weather, but today I was blessed with great weather so headed north in the rough direction of the col between Beinn Bhuidhe and its south top (marked 901 on OS map). The view west to the snow covered slopes of the summit was almost alpine, and was sufficiently uplifting as to melt away all exertions to that point (well at least mentally).
Without any fixed route to follow I headed round a slight buttress into a smaller upper corrie and followed a snowed in stream up pleasant slopes, skirting some areas of avalanche debris below cliffs on the flanks of hill 901. The hard overnight frost provided a good crust and the ascent felt fairly effortless, especially in the knowledge that for the first time in nearly two years the conditions would be right for a glissade most of the way back down.
Having the mountain all to myself made the feeling of enjoyment all the greater (perhaps I’m a secret hermit), and not a single footstep was found in the snow on the ridge all the way to the summit. There’s some strange pleasure to be had from knowing no-one else has been before you that day (or in this case since the snow fell). I guess it’s a feeling adventure knowing you’re the first to do something, although I can’t really explain it.
There’s about one kilometre of undulating ridge to make the summit, and the views to the hills to the north and east were particularly impressive. Glen Coe, Glen Etive, Cruchan, Loch Lomond, Crianlarich and Tyndrum hills were all visible and snow capped. Sadly cloud was rising toward the summit from the western slopes, and the cold breeze made may stay on the summit shorter than I would have wished.
Retracing my route back to the col I spied two people ascending what is probably the normal ascent route via a steep snow filled gully. I was glad I had headed further to the north as it looked fairly treacherous with hanging snow in places. Ice axe in hand as an emergency brake I descended rapidly from the col on my backside, the solitude broken occasionally by uncontrollable whoops of delight. Only later after slipping over in a bog did I find this entertainment removed the last integral bit of gaffa-tape from my favourite pair of waterproof pants which now are buttockless with regard to the right cheek! At least I finally have an excuse to go shopping for some new gear!
I descended the grassy slopes to the north of the ascent glen, to avoid the icy eroded path used on the way up, picking out occasional runnels of snow as I went to ease the burden on creaking knees. The only full fall of the day typically saw me slip onto my backside in a sodden bog, revealing to me the extent of the havoc caused by the earlier glissade to the seat of my pants.
Back at Inverchorachan I was relieved to be provided with the chance to take my mind off my soaked rear for the walk back to my bike. Several bikes were leaning against the cottages which got me pondering the fragile harmony between landowner and recreationalist. In Glen Fyne the landowner has gone to some expense in providing a secure rail for locking up bikes along with a request to leave bikes further down the glen. It appears to me that generally in Scotland the landowner and recreational user relationship has never been as good as it currently is, which is largely down to years of hard work by rights of way and other active outdoor groups. It would therefore seem a folly that some would be willing to stretch the goodwill of landowner to save themselves a few minutes of walking, potentially to the detriment of all those who follow.
Anyhow, such thought processes brought me swiftly back to the car at Inverfyne exactly 6 hours after I left, with a stubborn highland coo blocking the entire track presenting the last (but welcome) obstacle of the day. A quick stop at the seafood bar to pick up a bag of oysters for tea, provided the perfect end to a great day.
by LeithySuburbs » Mon Feb 04, 2013 8:15 pm
by ChrisAndrews » Mon Feb 04, 2013 8:30 pm
LeithySuburbs wrote:Looks like a cracking day and thanks for the detailed (but not longwinded ) report .
I'm a rambler in every way!
by Bod » Mon Feb 04, 2013 9:59 pm
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