The Castle, the Well and the Monk - here be demons!
by Graeme D » Tue Jul 16, 2013 9:48 pm
Munros included on this walk: Beinn Mhanach
Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn a' Chaisteil (Auch), Beinn nam Fuaran
Date walked: 11/07/2013
Time taken: 7.3 hours
Distance: 23.2 km
Ascent: 1739m3 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).
In terms of "unfinished business", this route had been high on the list for 3 years, since Sunday 4th July 2010 to be exact. Those were the days when I used to leave school immediately after the bell went to herald the start of the summer holidays and headed for an overnighter or multi day hill trip somewhere. That hasn't happened for the last couple of years now, replaced by an immediate departure for a rented holiday cottage in England.
Anyways, back in the summer of 2010, my plan involved a high level counter-clockwise circuit of the hills surrounding Glen Lyon, starting from Tyndrum. Had it all gone to plan, I would have gotten as far east as Meall nan Subh and Stuch'd an Lochain before returning on the northern side of the loch towards Tyndrum, and would have taken in 4 Munros and 8 Corbetts. On the Friday afternoon, I left the car at Tyndrum and headed along the WHW before taking to the slopes of Beinn Odhar, conquering Corbett #1 before finally pitching the tent a short distance below the summit of Corbett #2, Beinn Caorach. Saturday saw me ticking off Caorach before continuing to Corbett #3, Cam Chreag, and then the first two Munros on the trip, Creag Mhor and Beinn Heasgairneach. That evening I shelved plans to include the Corbett Meall nan Subh in the round, and camped below the Loch Lyon dam wall. During the night all hell broke loose and I awoke to torrential rain and water courses swelling before my very eyes. On the Sunday morning, I abandoned the gig altogether and made a beeline back for Tyndrum, but rising water got me into all sorts of dangers, including going almost entirely under with a full multi-day pack on in the Allt a'Chuirn at Strath Tarabhan below the southern slopes of Beinn Mhanach. To this day it is one of the two most heart stopping situations I have found myself in in the hills, ending with a sorry, sodden trudge back to Tyndrum below the untamed slopes of Mhanach and the Corbetts of Beinn nam Fuaran and Beinn a'Chasteil, the hills seeming to be pouring scorn and shame down upon my sorry, beaten frame.
So, another score had to be settled. I had had this route potentially lined up on a couple of occasions since that day, but had always chosen to go elsewhere because I was uncertain about the river crossings involved - not surprisingly I have had a slightly more cautious approach to these things since that experience. Uppermost in my mind had always been the early crossing of the Allt Coralan between the WHW and the railway viaduct, as this had been my final test on that 2010 walk out. Then it had been a raging torrent that I had only just found the strength to stay upright in as I waded waist deep across, walking poles desperately trying to give me some sort of anchor on the bottom.
I dropped my wife off at work and my daughter at my parents before taking to the road. The A85 along the side of Loch Earn and up Glen Ogle into Glen Dochart was the usual frustrating parade of lorries, tractors and 40mph merchants.
I was at the little parking area on the verge by the Auch Estate road entrance by 10.30 and away 10 minutes later, with 4 or 5 other cars already pulled in ahead of me.
Last of the cloud lifting from the summit of Beinn Dorain as I set off
As I headed down the road past the various buildings on the estate, the flies were already making their nuisance value intentions quite apparent, but they were nothing compared to the clegs that were to come later.
Beinn a'Chasteil from the start of the estate road
Beinn Dorain from the WHW crossing
I crossed the WHW and then faced the first nemesis of the day, the Allt Coralan crossing. It was a pale imitation of its former self today and I skipped across, barely wetting any more than the soles of my trusty Brashers.
Hah, you're not so hard now, are you pal????!!!!
Chuirn and Mhanach through the viaduct
The mountainlove route up Beinn a'Chasteil????
At the viaduct I took a right turn and followed the rather industrial looking track into Glen Coralan below the south western slopes of Beinn a'Chasteil. I was really looking forward to this hill. I have always thought it looks especially fine rising above the viaduct from the drive up or down the A82.
Beinn Dorain and the viaduct from Glen Coralan
My water supplies were disappearing fast, so before taking to the ridge, I stopped at the end of the track (a.k.a. Cleg City) and detoured down to the Allt to replenish before the ascent proper.
Dorain from the Allt Coralan - filling up on water
The ascent up the south eastern ridge of Beinn a'Chasteil is not too steep at all at any point and gradually rewards the walker with expanding views south to the Crianlarich Munros and south west to the Ben Lui group, as well as north east into the south western extremities of Loch Lyon - demon territory!!!!
The riven flanks of Beinn Chaorach
Creag Mhor and Beinn Heasgairneach show face
First sighting of Beinn nam Fuaran and Loch Lyon
Beinn Challum across the Cam Chreag-Beinn Chaorach saddle
A lochan shot specially for Bod! Fuaran splitting Chuirn and Mhanach.
The Crianlarich Munros now getting in on the act
On the ridge of the Castle
As height is gained, Ben Dorain comes back into view to the north and is soon joined on the skyline by the other Bridge of Orchy peaks.
Beinn Dorain towering above Auch and the railway viaduct
Beinn Bhreac-liath and the iconic horseshoe loop of the West Highland Railway
Ahead to the summit
Beinn Odhar with Dubhcraig, Oss, Lui and Chuirn in the background
Final pull to the summit
Loch Lyon, Beinn Heasgearnaich and Creag Mhor from the summit
Back to Challum and the Crianlarich mob
Achaladair, Creachain and Mhanach
I had my main lunch at the summit, consisting primarily of left over king prawns with brown rice and mixed veg, plus a boiled egg with a little sachet of salt stolen from some eating establishment somewhere and a packet of cheese and onion - gotta keep the salt intake up, cos I'm sweating like a pig here!
The usual summit pose!
Lunch over and a few shots taken, I headed down the fence line before peeling off to the east to aim for what looks like the easiest line of ascent up Beinn nam Fuaran. If earlier on was Cleg City, this is Horsefly Hotel! Jeezo - at one point I counted five of them on me, and that was only on the bits I could see!
Descent to the peat hag studded Chasteil-Fuaran bealach
I feel my lunch coming back on me!
Fortunately a slight breeze returned as I gained height and that seemed to discourage the little buggers somewhat - there were now only a couple on me at any given time!
Cam Chreag and Beinn Chaorach in the foreground from the ascent of Beinn nam Fuaran
By the time I reached the summit of my final Auch Corbett, they had left me in peace to enjoy the views and the solitude unmolested.
Beinn Mhanach and Loch Lyon from the summit of Fuaran - the Hill of the Well
The Wall of Rannoch
Relaxing in a designated cleg-free zone!
However, as I began the descent down the fenceline towards Strath Tarabhan, the demons returned. Down there, between this Corbett and that Munro, was the scene of that incident, when I knew I was potentially in extreme danger. I pressed on, the scene below me looking altogether more placid and benign on this particular July day.
Descending Fuaran towards Strath Tarabhan
Descending into the haunt of demons
After a quick snap (for comparison purposes) of the water being channeled off the southern slopes of Beinn Mhanach in the man-made channel, I headed up the stream coming down the gully between Mhanach and Beinn a'Chuirn, gradually peeling right towards the Munro summit as I gained height.
A relative trickle coming off Mhanach today
Link to the 2010 report - final picture shows the level of flow that day -
Starting the final ascent of the day
Beinn Mhanach seems to get quite a lot of bad press, and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Until a hundred yards or so from the summit, it was fairly dull and uninspiring (other than the views back towards the distant viaduct down the glen). However, the last hundred yards or so transformed into a nice little rocky plateau with great views of a host of peaks in all directions, Big Ben looming large away to the north.
I treated myself to the can of lager that I had only just remembered I was carrying in my daypack, before heading across to Beinn a'Chuirn from where I dropped down to pick up the Allt Kinglass track back to the car.
Beinn a'Creachain from the stony summit on Beinn Mhanach
Enjoying a small libation in the company of the Monk
The hazy road home down Glen Kinglas
Glen Kinglas from the descent of Beinn Chuirn
A final glimpse of Loch Lyon below Heasgairneach and Creag Mhor
Just past Ais-an t-Sithean, my wife called to say she had forgotten her house keys so my parents had dropped Ailsa off with her in town and the pair of them had gone to Pizza Hut for dinner.
The Castle from Ais-an t-Sithean
Back to Beinn a'Chuirn and Beinn Mhanach - demons vanquished!
Full circle - Beinn Odhar from the railway viaduct
They sat and hogged their table for over two hours before I got there to pick them up (as well as have a quick slice of pepperoni pizza and a bottle of Peroni)
by Collaciotach » Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:00 pm
by rockhopper » Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:06 pm
Good thinking, Graeme, to make it a loop and take in the two corbetts instead of the there and back normal route - good to see you back on the munros again - cheers
by Gordie12 » Wed Jul 17, 2013 7:23 pm
I did the two Munros from Loch an Daimh the following day so I can definitely agree with you on the clegs - still, I bet you've never been as popular with the girls before
Checked the photos a couple of times, still can't see a forest anywhere ( ) but still looked like a great day out.
by gmr82 » Wed Jul 17, 2013 7:57 pm
by pigeon » Thu Jul 18, 2013 7:17 am
by basscadet » Thu Jul 18, 2013 8:43 am
You have made me regret scrambling on Sunday instead of going to do Mhanach like we planned
I've experienced the waters round there too - bloomin scary!
Clegs seem partidularly viscious this year eh
by malky_c » Thu Jul 18, 2013 12:16 pm
by PeteR » Thu Jul 18, 2013 12:41 pm
I once, foolishly, took on a round of the five Corbetts - a tough walk when there isn't much in the way of paths to follow. Mhanach was a clagfest disaster for me one winter and I saw hee haw I'll need to return to this area, as it's been a while now and your route gives plenty of food for thought. Cheers
by kev_russ » Thu Jul 18, 2013 12:56 pm
by Tomsie » Thu Jul 18, 2013 8:39 pm
Big difference in those day's glad you had it better this time only for the clegs.
by ChrisW » Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:27 pm
Great hike, really enjoyed this Graeme, its pretty clear you did too