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Balmaha Three Peaks, toughish day fae Balloch rail station.

Balmaha Three Peaks, toughish day fae Balloch rail station.


Postby Norman_Grieve » Wed Mar 13, 2013 6:54 pm

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Beinn Uird, Binnean nan Gobhar, Conic Hill

Date walked: 12/03/2013

Time taken: 10 hours

Distance: 57.5 km

Ascent: 1546m

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Scaled three nae so wee peaks, to NE of Balmaha yesterday, pretty tough day fae Balloch rail station.
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Last edited by Norman_Grieve on Mon Jul 15, 2013 12:37 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Herebe 1st tranche o' photies - only 70 odd tae go...

Postby Norman_Grieve » Thu Mar 14, 2013 1:07 pm

Herebe 1st tranche o' photies - only 70 odd tae go... :wink:

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Last edited by Norman_Grieve on Thu Mar 14, 2013 4:26 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Balmaha Three Peaks, toughish day fae Balloch rail stati

Postby malky_c » Thu Mar 14, 2013 2:49 pm

Looks like another Norman classic :roll: :lol: . Was there not a bus available to Balmaha, or did you just want to make it more challenging?
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On the buses [not].

Postby Norman_Grieve » Thu Mar 14, 2013 4:56 pm

malky_c wrote:Looks like another Norman classic :roll: :lol: . Was there not a bus available to Balmaha, or did you just want to make it more challenging?


Malky,

Aye, mebbe a la your mega-cycle fae HC tae Forres & [most of way], back...

I reckon I'm still a guid few years too young tae mak les buses a viable proposition. Having said that if you can be bothered posting a link tae the timetable, I might start wrapping ma iron hoss in black bags for me next wee jaunt...
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Re: Balmaha Three Peaks, toughish day fae Balloch rail stati

Postby Craiging619 » Thu Apr 04, 2013 10:36 pm

Here it is.

http://www.travelinescotland.com/pdfs/timetables/TLAO309.pdf

As a fellow car-less hillwalker, I take inspiration from these kind of long-range escapades. But this one is...dumbfounding. :crazy:
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Re: Balmaha Three Peaks, toughish day fae Balloch rail stati

Postby Norman_Grieve » Fri Apr 05, 2013 11:59 am

Craiging619 wrote:Here it is.

http://www.travelinescotland.com/pdfs/timetables/TLAO309.pdf

As a fellow car-less hillwalker, I take inspiration from these kind of long-range escapades. But this one is...dumbfounding. :crazy:


Cheers for that #619 - looks like [IF yon timetable is tae be believed] & I'd had a wee bit o' patience [10 mins worth], I could've saved mesen o'er an hour on the outward trip tae Balmaha. However, this might hae resulted in a 2hr wait for the bus back, which is aussi hoo lang it took tae cycle & would still hae got ma back tae Balloch an hour earlier. This would still not hae avoided missing the last Airberdin bound train fae Glasgie, so ah wud still hae presumably got ma free bottle o' beer fae ma wee bruvver across in Auld Reekie...

Noo what were it youse found dumb aboot in aall 'at? :wink:
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TR pt. 2e

Postby Norman_Grieve » Fri Apr 26, 2013 9:14 am

A smooth trip doon fae Airberdin, with just a few mins waiting at Glasgie Queen St. lower platform, this time with nae last minute cancellation o' the Balloch train and I alighted at 11.15am at the latter terminus, leaving behind a fellow traveller who wasnae so lucky, as the choo-choo had failed tae halt at his stop 'to make up time'...

I rode mein steed to the right fae the station, o'er the River Leven, past Sweeny's ferry moorings, which I'd hae bin tempted tae tak tae Balmaha, had I thought there was ony chance o' it runnin' this early in the year. I cantered on up the Drymen Road, passing several chippies, Indians & Ye Olde Inns, which might also hae bin rather tempting watering holes had they nae bin shut. Still, with a lang day ahead o' ma, both in t' saddle & on the hill, ah thot it were prob'ly just as well & was soon labouring up the hill on the A811, glad o' the low temperatures & winter sunshine.

Things steepened up further 1/2 mile or so up t' road, as I turned off right up a wee minor road, which was signposted as a cycleway. A stiff pull up around a hairpin to the right, then things got steadily more bearable as I approached the top of a wee ridge, followed by a more undulating, windy course to the south of Caldarvan Loch. I first kept to the right, then took the 2nd left, following the cycle-route signs, nodding a greeting tae twa fellow youthful steel hoss jockeys, heading toward ma alangside the Gallangad Burn.

After climbing up tae the crest o' the next wee ridge I then left yon cycle-route, turning 1st left alang Duncryne Rd, then right alang Old School Road soon hereafter. I took a couple o' shots north towards the auld familiar snowy cone o' Ben Lomond & SE to the lang, snow girt craggy edge leading fae Dumgoyne towards Earl's Seat & beyond in the Campsies. Back in the saddle I exchanged hello/fine day's with an auldish wifey passing Meiklefinnery Cottage, then enjoyed a lang, swift descent back doon tae the A811, where I turned right, thence leaving this perilous busy highway for a wee lane running doon through the trees 1/2 mile toward Drymen.

This swung right, doon t' hill, passing a lang, narrow oxbow? lake, running parallel to the Endrick Water nae far beyond, which it soon brought me to at the far end of an avenue of trees. Here I fully expected tae have tae retrace ma way back up to the main road, having been confronted by the ends of a long gone bridge, either side of a deep, wide, dark impassable river. However, I was relieved to see an auld wrought iron girder-style bridge spanning the cold depths, being happy tae take ma chances, despite the red on white warning notice, announcing BEWARE DANGEROUS STRUCTURE ANY PERSONS ATTEMPTING ACCESS DOES SO AT THEIR OWN RISK

Being summat o' an auld daredevil at heart, I led mein steed o'er the perilous structure without further ado, turning off up a roughish track through a pine plantation nae far over the far bank. This slowed ma doon somewhat, with the odd rutted, muddy section, 'til the right fork at another parting o' the ways soon led to a lane. Nae far to the left this turned right into the driveway of the rather grand large farmhoose, known as High Mains 'Cottage'. Here a rough track led straight on, soon reuniting with the left fork o' the track fae the dodgy bridge, just afore I reached the icy banks of a substantial stream, the Stuc an-t Sagairt Burn.

Here I decided it was high time I changed into ma fancy red SK4 Verto boots, which for wance I'd managed tae avoid leaving back on the train. After hopping across the smooth slippery stones without mishap, I then wove ma way across the field beyond, avoiding the more rutted & waterlogged sections of the track on the firmer frozen pasture up tae the right. This led to the even larger Burn of Mar but this proved less of an obstacle with a smoother crossing at a ford, looking back o'er which I snapped the view across the wide reaches of lower Loch Lomond to a recent, much tougher than expected sub2k Marilyn conquest Ben Bowie.

The track then improved mucho, as it led up the hill tae join the B837, where I turned left, following the course o' the West Highland Way towards Balmaha. Wance oot o' the woods o'er a wee rise I snapped the view up right past some rather grand, whitewashed auld buildings, across a wee golf course, to the steep, craggy SE face o' ma 1st objective 'Conic Hill'. Fae here it was an easy gallop doon intae Balmaha, past an imposing auld hostelry on the right, thence snapping the view past the jetties reaching oot intae a wee bay on the left.

I dismounted round the bay, having reached the end o' the B837 where a minor road climbed steeply up right to the Pass of Balmaha, where I regained the saddle position for a swift canter doon the far side, past some highland coos providing the foreground to the view through the bare tree branches, across the wide loch tae the steep-sided Luss Hills. I then tethered mein steed tae the roadside fence at 1pm, after a ride of 1hr 40 mins fae Balloch, snapping the view to the SW across the bay tae the hilly, large wooded isle of Inchcailloch & across a half frozen pond up tae the fine narrow SW ridge of Conic Hill in the opposite direction.

Hoping that ah was far enuf fae the city neds that ma steed would still be safely tethered on ma return, I then set off up a well-worn, rather muddy path, leading up towards fair Conic Hill fae a gate just back alang the lane. This soon steepened as it swung right through the trees, narrowing as it passed through some gorse above, thence gaining the steep toe of the ridge, which shortly lay back, to provide a pleasant stroll, with rapidly expanding views out across the bonnie banks.

I somehow managed tae lose the fine grassy path which I'd followed easily up the narrow Druim nam Burach, ending up in rougher going through heather on the left side of the ridge crest. Veering back right onto the crest I soon regained the path, where I reached a wee top with a fine view looking back over the chain of islands in the wide lower loch, running SW along the course of the Highland Boundary Fault, towards Ben Bowie [please insert link tae Geological Map here].

Doon a wee dip at the Bealach Ard, I then joined the very muddy path coming up fae Balmaha on the right, which was under construction, a helpful sign suggesting that I avoided going any further. Ignoring this I continued on my muddy way, avoiding the worst of the mud higher up on the left, as had many afore moi given the several parallel grassy, boggy wee paths. Once above pt. 257m, I then cut back right on a firmer, more well worn path, across the far side of the muddy mess of that 'under construction', to climb up more steeply, soon reaching a wee shelf, below a much steeper, rocky scramble leading up the nose above.

An entertaining wee scramble directly up the crest of the nose on weathered conglomerate/breccia, separated by short stretches of loose gravel & vegetation, then led airily to the first of four wee tops, each successively slightly higher. Although the penultimate top sported the largest cairn, the last was only gained by cutting off the path which led around it's r.h.side, there being a much smaller path at the summit. This was broader, with more grass & heather than it's slightly lower but rockier & more distinctive neighbours back to the SW, which had offered a wee bit mair optional scrambling on conglomerate & a scattering of snow.

Having reached the summit after an ascent of 50 mins fae the road, it noo being just shy of 2pm, 2 1/2 hr fae Balloch, I zoomed in on The Cobbler & higher peaks of the Arrochar Alps, which held remarkably little snow compared to the much lower hills back east. I didnae hang around in the icy breeze, soon dropping doon through steepening heather to the north, where I was surprised tae hear the rising whine of some hidden wee vehicle's engine. This came into view a short way back alang the West Highland Way, as I made ma final steep descent tae cross it, being a wee orange caterpillar track path 'maintenance' vehicle, with a hardy crew of wan.

Another coupla hunnerd feet o' steepish, heathery descent followed below the WHW before the angle eased tae broad, gentle, grassier slopes, which led doon easily enough to a broad flat col, where I was glad of the frozen ground. I crossed this on it's r.h. side, thence climbing up an almost imperceptible rise up the r.h. side o' Tom a' Mhorair, to join the Cross Burn, the major NW tributary of the Burn o' Mar, the 2nd of the twa burns which I'd crossed at a ford awa doon below, nae lang afore it entered Loch Lomond.

I followed the true right bank o' the burn for a few hunnerd yards up to the left, afore crossing it just beyond a confluence of it's ain twa major tributaries. I followed the gently rising tongue of ground twixt the twa feeder burns, gaining firmer ground, whence crossing a wee forepeak, fae where I bore further right to the NNE. Higher up the very wide, spacious, easy angled slopes, up which I threaded ma way up interlinked grassy tongues through the heather, I crossed the burn tae ma richt. This led to a parallel, similar tongue o' fairly uniform hillside, half way twixt the edge o' the forest awa well tae ma left and the Allt Lair Baine, yet anither tributary o' the Burn o' Mar, a similar distance tae ma right.

Looking back I saw I was noo level with the summit o' already fairly distant looking wee Conic Hill, with the distinctive wee bump o' Duncolm awa behind tae it's left & the Hill of Stake - Misty Law ridge on the far distant skyline tae it' right, beyond the foot o' Loch Lomond, whence I'd come that morning. Up ahead a wee herd o' Red Deer roamed o'er the steeper, craggier headwall, forming the richt side o' the Creagan Dubha [Black Crags]. This gave rather tougher going up yet mair grassy tongues through the heather but after a coupla hunnerd feet the angle lay back as I approached the 507m most south eastern top on the main ridge leading left towards ma next main objective.

I zoomed intae the lang snow girt edge o' the Campsies, basking in wintry sunshine, awa tae the SE, awa beyond the steep sided wee hump o' Gualann in the middle distance. I dropped doun tae a wee col on the left fae the wee 507m top, where I picked up a boundary fence, which I followed o'er the NE side o' the next, slightly higher wee top [517m]. I had good views awa tae the higher peaks to the north fae here, Stobinian being particularly distinctive in it's sunlit winter raiment.

Here the ridge swang to the right, leading past a wee lochan, the snow patches increasing in size, the odd peat hag being skirted, followed by a steeper wee climb up to the mair substantial wee peak o' Stob a' Choin Duibh, complete with a fair sized cairn. Fae here I could make oot the fair towerblocks o' Glasgie, with what looked like a low lying fog bank just beyond, until I realised it was snowy wee hills, evidently holding much more o' the white stuff than lay around moi at much greater heights.

Doon the north side o' the wee peak I passed a wee lochan, beyond which I bore right o' the fence, passing to the left of a wee col twixt pt. 540m and the undulating slopes leading up to Beinn Bhreac left again. The stark white pyramid of Ben Lomond loomed ever closer, rising in sharp contrast to the dark heather slopes close at hand and Ben More now peeped out, just to the left of Stobinian, which was still enjoying the sunshine, awa on the northern skyline.

After crossing a frozen wee plateau above a steep wee bank and dodging the odd further wee peat hag, I laboured up what I thought was the final wee pull to the summit of what I though was mein 2nd Marilyn o' the day, Binnein nan Gobhar. However, I soon found I had a last wee descent doun a wee snowy ridge to the left, followed by a steep final climb dodging wee crags & snow, tae arrive at the summit cairn at c.4pm, 2hr after leaving the top o' Conic Hill.


Fae here I could see that it was still a fair hike tae Beinn Uird & started tae realise that this third high sub2k Marilyn o' the day was a wee bit o' a stretch target, particularly if I'd any ideas o' getting back tae Airberdin that day... Still, the alternative o' leaving it for another lang trip didnae appeal none either, so after little thought I decided tae carry on regardless. Things got off to a less than speedy start, as I found I had tae follow a wee detour to the west SW, to round the left edge o' some steep wee iced up summit crags.

This was followed by a wee climb to cross directly o'er a wee western forepeak, which was rewarded by a wee glissade cum bum slide doun t' far side, although 'twas nae quite steep & icy enough to gain much speed. I then skirted a lower wee forepeak on it's r.h. side, slanting doun the north side of the broad ridge above the top edge of the forest. This led across the broad, gentle slopes of Clach an Iaruinn, thence the wide flat col, passing just to the east of a frozen wee lochan.

The going was fairly tough hereabouts with a sea of lengthy heather & tussocky grass but wance mair I was glad the ground was frozen. Even with the zoom full on, looking back as I began the last climb [on foot], of the day, up the gentle, wide lower slopes of the south face of Beinn Uird, wee Conic Hill was noo looking pretty distant, the towers of fair Glasgie visible awa beyond tae it's left. The ground steepened up somewhat beyond a fence slanting up the hillside tae the left but the going improved slightly, despite the appearance of scattered snow patches, with the ground falling awa mair steeply tae the right on the east face of the spacious flattish top.

I gained the wee summit cairn c.5pm, after a traverse of an hour fae Binnein nan Gobhar, the icy wind having risen & dark, snow laden clouds gathering tae the north of the snowy pyramid of Ben Lomond, now looming much closer just tae the north. I text ma idle safety officer o' ma position, noo starting tae feel fairly knackered, then turned tail, heading southwest in the direction o' the northern tip of Rowardennan Forest. After a few minutes I escaped the wee summit plateau, reaching a much steeper band of firm snow running across the west face.

A wee bumslide added interest, below which an easy angled tramp skirting the southernmost tributary of the imaginatively named Wood Burn, led down wide slopes in the fading daylight. These took me tae a fence running alang the top of the wood, nae far right of a burn tumbling doun tae the Dubh Lochan on the far side o' the road far below. A wee track led right tae a gate in the fence, where another steep, rough track led doun twixt the felled timber. This soon fizzled oot & I gingerly traversed further right through fallen dead branches between dead treestumps, aiming for the edge of the carnage, below the wee crags of Creag Mhor, running around a wee nose right again.

I then dropped doun wee clear interlinked tongues through the timber, slanting back left towards the burn, where I was soon relieved tae pick up another rough wee forestry track, which led steeply doon a tongue of hillside between another wee burn coming in fae up to the north of Creag Mhor. This crossed o'er the burn to the left above the confluence, then led leftwards down gentler ground through the woods, soon emerging at a guid wide track above the wee craggy forested hillock of Dun Maoil.

The wide, well surfaced track then wound round this wee peak, turning back left & left again to cross the Allt a Mhuitinn, beyond which forest trails led off above & below of where another track came in fae sharp back right. Bhoyed by an encouraging txt fae ma fair remote Safety Officer, I plodded on doun through the darkening forest, crossing the wee Allt a' Mhorair, thence the true right bank o' much larger Dallurgan Burn, emerging just north o' Sallochy on the lochside road. Here I joined the course o' the WHW where it ran doon tae the bonnie banks, where I gazed across the loch tae the sizeable, hilly wooded isle of Inchlonaig.

Having changed oot o' ma stiff SK4 Verto's into ma trainers, I enjoyed the pleasant lochside stroll to the campsite just north of the wide Cashell Burn, where the wee lane turned awa fae the loch, running across the fields between the woods up to the left. After crossing a wee col NE of wee wooded Cnoc Bhuide, the lane then led back tae the shore wance mair, o'er the Blair Burn & another lochside campsite. Around the bay a final wee climb up into the woods NE of long Inchfad isle, followed by a last descent between open fields, took ma back tae where I was glad tae see mein faithful steed was still safely tethered in the darkness, having escaped the attentions of any neds or tinkers.

It was noo 7.30pm and I was nae really looking forward tae the lang ride back tae Balloch through the icy darkness, which began with a stiff wee climb back up tae the Pass of Balmaha. I cautiously dropped doon the very steep far side, glad o' ma workin' brakes [fae wance], but thinking hoo much mair relaxed things would be if ah had some lights... Through Balmaha & up the lang, gentle rise beyond, alang the course o' the WHW, I passed the track o' ma ROA on the right, before dropping doon tae cross the Burn of Mar wance mair in the wee village o' Milton of Buchanan.

When I reached a steeper climb in the lane 1/2 mile past the village I decided I'd mebbe gone too far toward Drymen, so I backtracked doon the hill tae a track turning off left, just short of the Stuc an-t Sagairt Burn, which I'd stopped beside earlier in the day halfway down tae the loch tae put on ma boots. I passed through a fine archway then aboot turned wance mair just 100yds or so doun yon track, when I found it was heading intae the yard o' Stuc an-t Sagairt farm. A short way back toward the road I then turned right along another rough muddy, rutted track, only to backtrack wance mair when I reached it's end after just another 100yds at a wee bridge o' railway sleepers spanning a wee burn.

Back right up the lane I then tried for a 3rd time lucky, as I turned right again up a better track just inside the archway. This led past trois wee cottages on the right, thence straight on at a crossroads down a rougher track twixt wee pine plantations, kent as the Gort Daraich Walk. After a few hunnerd yards this led to a good lane where I turned right then left after a similar distance doon Maggy Lapslie's Walk through Rushypark Plantation. Here I'd rejoined ma ootward route, just short of grand High Mains farm but I'd nae gone far before I swerved round what was mebbe a sleeping bag lying in the middle o' the track in the darkness, to the right of a motor.

Shouts which didnae sound all that friendly pursued moi, as I rode awa doon toward the dodgy bridge o'er the Endrick Water. I was rather relieved when I reached the right turn into the lane leading over this without being caught by ma irate pursuer[s], then laboured up the hill through the avenue of trees leading back up to the A811. Nae having ony lights I turned right alang this busy highway, throwing mesen in t' ditch every time I heard a vehicle approaching fae behind, the scariest o' which turned oot tae be the bus which more sane individuals may hae caught at the outset back at Balloch. When I txt ma bonnie safety officer tae let her ken o' ma hairbrained tactics she labelled moi a 'crazy auld mannie'...

I was very relieved tae emerge unscathed at the start o' the lane of ma ROA leading back up left tae join the cycleway lane o'er a mile SE of wee Duncryne hill, with a left at the top o' the hill, followed after wan hunnerd yds by a right. I was feeling pretty knackered after the long pull up the hill and was also starting tae feel the cold, under the clearing starry skies, 'specially ma haunds, clad in 'twa season', non-matching thin gloves, given ma bare metal handlebars. Thus the undulating miles back past Caldarvan Loch, noo hidden in the darkness, seemed tae drag & I was very glad when I reached the last wee summit o' the day, pt. 86m, fae where the steepening windy descent led back doon in just another half mile tae the A811.

A final mile doon the hill, avoiding the treacherous highway on a handy pavement and I was back in lovely Balloch for 9.30pm, little o'er 10hrs after I'd left that morning. There was just time for wan mair unplanned wee diversion, as I followed the signpost for the rail station left doun the A813 into Jamestoun fae the 1st roundabout. Nae far past Balloch library I decided yon signpost was nae tae be trusted & turned tail, turning left back at the roundabout, thence heading on doon the A811, 'til just o'er the River Leven I spotted the elusive rail station for mesen just right o'er the bridge. Here I discovered I'd 20 mins tae wait for the next train, so headed up the main street o' ma ROA, past Sweeny's Cruises, tempting Indian, Chinese & assorted hostelries.

I stopped at ye olde corner shoppe, bought a fiver o' T-mob credit, a Bounty & juice, then hotfoot back tae the station, deciding nae to risk waiting for a super at the adjacent chippy. A coupla mins later the choo-choo was awa tae Glasgie, where, having missed the last train tae Airberdin by 90 mins, I opted tae hop on a loco tae Auld Reekie, on the offchance that I'd find a bed for the nicht at ma wee bruvver's in Leith. As we passed through Falkirk en-route I txt ma fair Safety Officer, tae tell her to get her promised spare couch ready, just in case ma wee bro's American wifey had other ideas aboot ma invitin' mesen round.

However, she was left all on her lonesome wance mair, as we pulled intae Waverley & remarkably I found ma wee bro was standing on the midnight platform, nae barriers noo being in operation. He then whisked ma back tae his pad, where we dooned a bottle or twa afore I crashed oot in the familiar pit o' his spare room.
Last edited by Norman_Grieve on Sat May 04, 2013 12:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Balmaha Three Peaks, toughish day fae Balloch rail stati

Postby kmsharp » Fri Apr 26, 2013 12:54 pm

I've done similar, but rather than walk from Balloch I got the train from Glasgow to Balloch then the bus to Drymen. I then followed the West Highland Way to Conic Hill before striking out for Beinn Bhreac. To get home I dropped back down to the loch side and picked up the WHW back to Balmaha where I caught the bus back to Balloch and the train back to Glasgow.

I did find the online bus information for that part of the world to be sparse!

Keith.
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Das ist alles mein volk!

Postby Norman_Grieve » Sat May 04, 2013 12:20 pm

That's all folks! :wink:
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