had been another long spell off hills and with a big sponsored cycle from Glasgow to Edinburgh coming at the weekend, felt I had to do something. A good MWIS forecast of 90%+ chance of clear Munro's, no rain & clear vis clinched it and having plumped for Ben More and Stob Binnein, off I went at 7a.m. I just spotted the small wooden sign for the hill, too late and had to double back at the layby, to park just off the road, but I was the first arrival of the day.
"Mmmh? Looks a bit cloudier than it should! Ach, it's bound to improve (substantially)"
So, off I went, leaving the car about 8.45, crossing a wee ditch under the trees and then following the winding, rough track up the hill, through the wooden gate, all the time looking for that imminent sign of improving conditions and wondering how it could have started raining?? My good mate Jaffa, had said, he had went for the full frontal assault on Ben More, so how could I refuse to try the same, despite being somewhat put off by the steep, rising slope, disappearing into the clag.
The WH site describes the lower path/s as being indistinct, but I would say, it looks to be becoming more heavily established, due to wear and tear and also quite mushy here and there, though nothing a semi decent pair of boots couldn't handle. Anyway, it wasn't too long before my outer layer was coming off, sweat quickly increasing, altitude less so. Unfortunately, then had to get the jacket on all too soon, as the smir became heavier. Somewhat vexed to look down to see no views, though a few walkers heading onto the track.
Duly picked up the indistinct, drystane dyke by the side of the Sloc Curraidh, which gave reassurance that my route plan and navigation thus far, was roughly going to plan, (but as I got into the thick stuff I switched Jaffa's GPS on as back-up, 'just in case.') About an hour and a half in, I got to the rockier section of Cuidhe Chrom, which signals an easing off, from the unrelenting grind. (You will notice the word 'unrelenting,' in most reports on Ben More, so why should I differ!) A further 15 mins or so and I was relieved to see the trig pint and cairn emerge from the mist, before my eyes. Could that be an hour and 45, to the top? Must be, I suppose. Still could hardly see a thing, but then got a couple of seductive glimpses of Stob Binnein and my doubts about whether to head on her direction, or not were quickly banished.
A quick bearing in the direction of where SB was, then I was on my way once more. As mentioned there is a tricky wee bit of ascent which would require a scramble down a vertical bit of rock, but I thought "don't fancy that" and did the quick wee detour around and down. After about 20-25 mins of descent, I was just begining to wonder whether the elegant SB might have managed to give me the slip, so decided to plonk my bum down, have some grub and see if/where it would emerge? Sure enough the stiffening breeze blew away some of the cloud cover long enough to reassure me it was still there and I wasn't too far from reaching the bealach below.
It was by now, quite windy and cold as I made my way up SB, but at least the rain had stopped. The path was easy enough to follow, despite the vis being down to 20-30 metres and although steep, I didn't feel it as wearing as the hike up BM.
It was exactly three hours to the top, but alas no views, so no time to hang around. getting back near the bealach I could see another couple coming off BM and also, what looked like the path down the bealach, sneaking around the side of the hill. Alas, this is not "the track of descent," which soon loses its way and is boggy and very grassy in parts. That said, I didn't come to any seriously, steep slopes and it was clear that more than a few others are also heading up/down some of this route, which unremarkably was now clearing as the sun started to poke its way out.
It was simply then a matter of heading towards the end of the track along Benmore Glen, following it back through the gate and down to the car. All in all it took just under the four and three quarter hours, which I felt quite surprised with, although the muscle ache the next few days suggested a slower pace, or greater preparation may have been more advisable.
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