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The Hill With No Summit

The Hill With No Summit


Postby Craiging619 » Tue Sep 03, 2013 10:23 pm

Grahams included on this walk: Sgiath a'Chaise

Date walked: 03/08/2013

Time taken: 4 hours

Distance: 13 km

Ascent: 650m

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I was determined to make August a big month for hillwalking, with Munros at the top of the agenda. However, the forecast for the first Saturday of the month was beyond atrocious, and my Wife and I were both similarly horrified at the thought of me traipsing over Munros on my own all day. After a whole evening of deliberation, I decided to sleep on it, and after waking on Saturday morning I hummed and hawwed once again over the provisos. It had to be relatively low (a Graham), close enough to Glasgow (no further than Tyndrum/Bridge of Orchy), preferably sheltered by trees, and easy to get back from quickly if the weather deteriorated (not the Ardgarten ones). Dun Rig was an outside possibility, but it would take forever to get there on a First Bus. Eventually, with ten minutes to spare until my train left High Street, Sgiath A'Chaise jumped out from nowhere. YES!!!

I must have been halfway to Stirling when I started to think about the logistics of the whole thing. The bus would leave Stirling at 10:35, about four minutes after I arrived in Stirling. Sure enough the train made up for its late departure by sloping into Stirling bang on time, but after a number of faux pas at cash machines (including accidentally getting 10x more than I asked for, because the screen was back to front :crazy: ) I missed the Citylink bus to Strathyre. Thankfully, the First Bus would bail me out on this occasion, and after changing to the local Kingshouse Travel bus at Callander, I made it to Strathyre just after midday. The weather was decidedly iffy at this stage, but anything was better than sitting in the flat on my tod all day!

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Sciath0_1092125_10153136399185014_1238291998_o by Craiging619, on Flickr

Having come all the way from Glasgow via three legs (...of transport), the last thing I was hoping to see in Strathyre was a 'Route Closed' sign. Which is why this was a rather deflating sight.

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Sciath1_1090507_10153128970475014_1928678114_o by Craiging619, on Flickr

I loitered somewhat sheepishly. While I had never visited the mean streets of Strathyre before, I assumed that in a village this small, a stranger disobeying clear instructions might not go down too well. A man approached me, asking, "Are you lost?" I explained that I was looking to climb Sgiath a'Chaise, as if he were a member of staff who could grant me permission. Luckily he was very relaxed, explaining that the Rob Roy Way was only actually closed further North towards Kingshouse. I asked about the best route up through the forest, to which the man espoused the benefits of taking the southern route (my planned return) and the northern option, but repeatedly failed to confirm that the central route even existed. I presumed that this was little more than an oversight, and after practically thanking the man for letting me through, I was on my way up through the trees on a nice winding path.

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Sciath2_1093392_10153136398260014_650616026_o by Craiging619, on Flickr
After passing what looked like an old church building, a random tennis court appeared.

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Sciath3_1090068_10153136397900014_2004054556_o by Craiging619, on Flickr
The Rob Roy Way climbs gently to 200m, where it meets the first of many forest roads on the Western side of Sgiath a'Chaise.

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Sciath4_1083746_10153136397155014_379075430_o by Craiging619, on Flickr
I guess they're off for the weekend, then. Good timing. :wink:

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Sciath5_1145674_10153136396790014_149795372_o by Craiging619, on Flickr
At this point I noticed the very faint and overgrown path heading up to the right, and identified this as the one on my new-ish OS map. Right enough, it followed the same shape in reality, eventually turning into a series of zig-zags heading towards another forest road at 360m. The views started to open out across Strathyre to Ben Vane and Ben More/Stob Binnein, with increasingly swift bouts of rainfall seemingly coming and going every five minutes.

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Sciath6_1083881_10153136394965014_508277369_o by Craiging619, on Flickr

Eventually the path seemed to peter out, leaving me with a bit of a struggle to clamber up the hillside to 360m. If it had gone on for much longer it could have become problematic, but as it was it was more of an added extra to the sense of adventure I felt in planning the day so suddenly.

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Sciath7_1090405_10153136393980014_1715356386_o by Craiging619, on Flickr

Finally, after rather too long hauling myself up the uneven hillside, I stumbled across the remnants of the old track, and a couple of minutes later I was back at a proper forest road, this time 360m up. Result. :D

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Sciath8_1084145_10153136392505014_1226664986_o by Craiging619, on Flickr

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Sciath9_1090661_10153135253400014_2046015535_o by Craiging619, on Flickr
Conditions switched again in an instant, with blue sky appearing over Strathyre.

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Sciath11_1083651_10153135247605014_1024712311_o by Craiging619, on Flickr

The road edged up the hillside towards 450m, switching back at a junction with a mobile mast to head South-east towards the summit ridge of Sgiath a'Chaise. It was quite unusual to heading towards the 2,000 feet mark on a clear track surrounded by forestry, and it felt even stranger when I reached a turn in the track to be greeted by a single faint-looking cloud of mist.

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Sciath12_1084806_10153135241125014_170322808_o by Craiging619, on Flickr

Assuming that it was an outlier of the low cloud drifting over the top of the hill, I walked on towards the large mast near 600m and the end of the bulldozed road.

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Sciath13_1090216_10153135048275014_1049059674_o by Craiging619, on Flickr
Cool, thanks for that.

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Sciath14_1083681_10153135046530014_153727078_o by Craiging619, on Flickr
At the highest point of the track, a gate appeared to the left. I had to hop over it in the end, as it was firmly locked and quite unstable, but the short wooden fence next to it was much more secure.

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Sciath15_1092275_10153135046070014_1074517778_o by Craiging619, on Flickr
Strathyre hiding behind the gate/fence.

The final furlong of Sgiath a'Chaise is a five/ten minute ramble up onto the main spine of the hill, which runs from South to North for what seems to be miles. I reached the main ridge after about 1.5 hours, relived to have conquered the disappearing path early on and hoping for a good old-fashioned summit cairn to round off proceedings.

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Sciath16_1090352_10153135045290014_1251043762_o by Craiging619, on Flickr

Um...right, where is it?

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Sciath17_1090379_10153135043690014_1483192467_o by Craiging619, on Flickr

I looked around to my left and right. This was surely the summit of the hill, unless the OS survey was wrong and the 644m top was actually the higher of the two. How could a hill like this in the Southern Highlands not have a...wait a minute, what's that thing to the left of the picture?

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Sciath18_1084850_10153135040310014_1045232198_o by Craiging619, on Flickr

You're kidding, right? This is it? This IS it! Victory!!!

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Sciath19_992278_10153135039730014_1669109765_n by Craiging619, on Flickr

My arrival at the summit was met with conflicting emotions. And eventually, a jig. I've never before climbed a hill deemed so insignifcant that it lacks any of the traditional features of a summit. However, in my befuddled search for the true top, I had ignored the view that had opened out to the East. I had a front seat view of the whole ridge from Beinn Each to Stuc A'Chroin, with Ben Vorlich tucked away behind, from a vantage point barely a couple of miles away. And the rain had stopped. I had lunch on the Eastern edge of the 'summit', scarely believing my luck at the phenomenal view that had opened out.

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Sciath20_1090405_10153135039560014_551007298_o by Craiging619, on Flickr

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Sciath21_1093503_10153135038670014_1093944981_o by Craiging619, on Flickr
Loch Earn shrouded in mist.

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Sciath22_1091889_10153135038390014_1665989770_o by Craiging619, on Flickr

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Sciath23_1093592_10153135037510014_1976227040_o by Craiging619, on Flickr
Glen Ample looked very inviting underneath the Vorlich-Stuc ridge.

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Sciath24_1091273_10153135036975014_1067342671_o by Craiging619, on Flickr

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Sciath25_1092693_10153135036665014_24759207_o by Craiging619, on Flickr
Meikle Bin appeared in the Campsies, reminding me that Sgiath a'Chaise shares a view with my office complex. If anything, this hampered the mood.

On the way back I had a donder round the huge mast that overlooks Strathyre. I attempted to reach the other summit (a metre lower) but couldn't get through the mess of peat bogs, let alone the imposing new fence round the area.

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Sciath26_1148259_10153129006150014_1597356214_o by Craiging619, on Flickr

Between the mast and the forest roads, you would hardly know you were 2000 feet up were it not for the Highland character of the summit itself. At least it made for an easier ascent on a day of volatile weather!

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Sciath27_1092716_10153129005835014_595503787_o by Craiging619, on Flickr

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Sciath28_1090029_10153129001280014_1989573005_o by Craiging619, on Flickr
Ben More and Stob Binnein, as ever, struggling to shake off dark cloud cover.

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Sciath29_1084845_10153128999770014_1837294800_o by Craiging619, on Flickr
Makes a change from my usual boggy/pathless/wayward descent route.

On the way back to the 450m mast, I walked back through the wooded area that contained its own misty microclimate on the way up. What do you know, it was still the only part of the hill shouded in mist... :shock:

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Sciath30_1083554_10153128999235014_1403189331_o by Craiging619, on Flickr

Nothing was on fire in the surrounding area, so there must be some simple climatic explanation that I couldn't think of. Why was it in the same place on my ascent and descent? :?

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Sciath31_1090567_10153128998895014_1966800199_o by Craiging619, on Flickr

The descent took a full two hours, as I headed back by the southern spur of the forest track. The man in Strathyre had warned against the Northern route for the time being, and I wouldn't go back by the central 'path' if I was paid. Eventually I got back to Strathyre at about 4:15, had an ice cream and relaxed with a local.

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Sciath32_1091545_10153128964205014_898812779_o by Craiging619, on Flickr
A local.

All in all it was a fun afternoon, and the bus journey back to Callander via Loch Lubnaig was a delight. As I waited for the First Bus to Stirling, I couldn't help thinking that the Southern ridge of Stuc A'Chroin looked like a fun approach. It had been a while since I had a tried a linear route, starting at one village, climbing two or three hills and returning by bus in the evening. Beinn Each/Stuc A'Chroin/Ben Vorlich seemed to tick all the boxes, but it would require a very early start to get to Callander in time. Unless...

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Sciath33_1091896_10153122658430014_1671534024_o by Craiging619, on Flickr

(To Be Continued......)
User avatar
Craiging619
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 119
Munros:50   Corbetts:29
Grahams:26   Donalds:13
Sub 2000:16   
Islands:21
Joined: Jul 21, 2009
Location: Glasgow

Re: The Hill With No Summit

Postby rockhopper » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:17 pm

Nice of your wife to be concerned about you :wink: Sounded a problematic start but at least you got a good result in the end - well done for persevering. Re Stuc a Chroin and Beinn Each - they do make for a nice walk with a partial loop - cheers :)
User avatar
rockhopper
 
Posts: 6229
Munros:282   Corbetts:187
Grahams:59   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:8   Hewitts:2
Wainwrights:3   Islands:19
Joined: Jun 1, 2009
Location: Glasgow

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