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Beinn An Lochain wows us in the sunshine

Beinn An Lochain wows us in the sunshine


Postby BigT » Sun Oct 13, 2013 2:53 pm

Route description: Beinn an Lochain

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn an Lochain

Date walked: 12/10/2013

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 5.5 km

Ascent: 720m

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The hill had been calling out to me for a while. From Donich the view had been too enticing, it had become only a matter of time. That time came on Saturday. Walking campadre was Dave. Time was a little over 5 hours in weather that was excellent even if quite blowy at the top.


12_10_2013 Beinn An Lochain (NW Ridge).gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



Getting to the rest about 12.00 meant the WH route lay-by was full, luckily a rough lay-by is available directly on the other side of the road. Got changed and underway for 12.30 and immediately had to negotiate the stream. Following perhaps a path less well traveled, this brought some early excitement. Without too much trouble we stepped across the water. But the path was nowhere to be seen, so we stated traversing the bog toward the foot of the ridge. I caught the path out the corner of my eye, and headed to pick it up. It's not much drier than the bog in all honesty.

The path leads you too a small steep incline that turns you onto the ridge proper once you have got up it.
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Now the fun can begin. It's rocky, very rocky. I had a firmer boot on and was glad for the support, as some of the early rocks step ups are quite substantial. With lots of edges available it was quite manageable without stressing out my feet in the process. Mostly you will zig zag up the ridge for the entire route, only in a few places do you get any short respite from the ascent. There are lots of big boulders to have a seat on for a rest as any flatter ground is wet. Nice views all round as you go up the ridge.

Loch Restil & the Rest'
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Glen Croe from a bit higher
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The exposure is nothing to write home about in the first few hundred meters of ascent. Once at about 400 onward, concentration is paramount - edges get closer, falls get deeper, crags appear adjacent to the path and feel part of the some rock outcrops that you are scrambling up on-path.

If you have read the route in advance you know what is coming, but that does not quite prepare you when it peaks into view. A tall rock face appears once you reach the 637 top.
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Immediately, no obvious path is clear. You have to descend 50 m and as you get closer you begin to see the path eek out a line across the NE face.
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It's about a 90m ascent over a "not very long" distance. Exposure is high but the path is solid (if narrow). This gully on corner of the path should give an idea.
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My calf muscles felt the burn on quite a few occasions getting past this. Wanting to pause was tempered by the exposure and wanting to get up on more sensible ground before having a breather. I tried not to think to much about coming back down, it was going to be my steepest descent yet when the time came.

Getting over the peak leaves you a couple of hundred meters below the summit cairn. Look behind you are you see all the way into Glen Kinglas
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Hoping for respite was dumb, and the final ascent looked just as intense as what had been scaled. We paused to decide if this was one we were going to manage today and get off the hill in daylight. Advice from returning walkers let us know we had 25 mins left. Approaching the beginning of the last ascent, whilst the path does appear steep, it's not as bad as what we just got up. What's not clear from looking at it, is that it's exposure to the wind is greater. Up we plod, and there are some pretty big rock step-ups to get over. The wind picks up and wants to blow us away like swatting a couple of flies. There is not a lot you can do except plant your feet, stay low and continue. As you approach the top-most verge, the summit cairn appears out of nowhere, the path eases up considerably and you can plod onto the cairn. It's small summit, but you can descend 10m off the summit to the south and rest on some rocks.
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The 2nd top looks ominous, but this is an illusion, and it is easily walkable in less than 5 mins.
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I recommend you visit it, as the views are pretty epic; both Ben An Lochain itself and the surrounding area. A small cairn has been started and awaits you at this second top. This is probably the only place you can get a full view of the length of Ben Donich as below
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After a relaxing 30 mins at summit, refreshments of sugar and carbs, obligatory summit shots were taken and it was time to descend.
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I took the opportunity to tighten my laces for this, new boots working their way loose on the way up. It was slow going given the steepness and my inexperience, but I remained steady on my feet. There was near constant adjustments of hiking pole length to suit the changing steepness. Large drops in rock were negotiated by my bum. I was a little transfixed by getting past the two main steep drops - and really had forgot just how long it took us to get to 600 m in the first place.
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Once those two were dealt with, slowly, there is still a heck of a lot of mountain to deal with. You notice this when you look down and see the A83 road is still so small.

Going down seemed to require dealing with a lot more mud and loose soil. Slippy for me in my boot, straying from the path by even 1 foot was a poor choice. On the plus side I was easily stepping down some small edges and sharp rocks and feeling really stable doing so.

Once below 400 there was not much to deal with, nothing too steep over a short distance, but even on this ground where we should have been able to move quicker, it was difficult - it was muddier, looser and my legs had lost a lot of flex, tiredness had crept in. A real struggle to get it done, but a relief when we turned off the ridge and practically slid down the side of the ridge to the swamp\path. Took a few looks at the stream to pick the right spot, and got over it to bring the trip to an end.

Epic is word often used around here to talk about the views you get from a summit etc, but this hill deserves the term for itself and what it takes out of you to get up and down it safely. It is, as many say, full of character. And if you are fancying some scrambling amidst your walking it fits the bill. I learned more on that one about me and what I can do and what I'm prepared to do. I very much recommend it if you have a head for heights.

Edited for typo and height correction.
Last edited by BigT on Thu Oct 17, 2013 11:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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BigT
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Re: Beinn An Lochain wows us in the sunshine

Postby jonny616 » Sun Oct 13, 2013 10:04 pm

Loved this hill when I did it. Cracking day you had.
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Re: Beinn An Lochain wows us in the sunshine

Postby Graeme D » Mon Oct 14, 2013 10:04 am

Great report! :clap: I am considering this one as an option for later this week (weather permitting :crazy: ).
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Re: Beinn An Lochain wows us in the sunshine

Postby BigT » Tue Oct 15, 2013 3:01 pm

Cheers guys, was brilliant day, I'm in awe of the members whom did the ascent in the dark to catch the sunrise, and the ascent in the heavy snow - that one just about makes my head explode.

My mum was heading up to Kennacraig today on the bus - and has just given me a ticking off by text message when she looked at the hill :D

.....I'm 41 FFS :lol:
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Re: Beinn An Lochain wows us in the sunshine

Postby soulminer » Wed Oct 16, 2013 2:15 pm

It is indeed a fine, and rather majestic hill to climb. So many fine views from the summit, be it day light or dark :-). I have climbed it in both dark, and snowy conditions- and it just fills me with pleasure as the characteristics of the hill are so different depending on the time of year. Climb it again, in winter, and you will know what I mean 8) Cheers BigT :wink:

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100_1514_01 by BoydBlair, on Flickr
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Re: Beinn An Lochain wows us in the sunshine

Postby JimboJim » Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:30 pm

Nice one. Good hike.
Now to be pedantic, the A82 would indeed look very small from up there. As no doubt you're probably aware, the road beneath you there is of course, the A83.

Sorrree.
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Re: Beinn An Lochain wows us in the sunshine

Postby BigT » Thu Oct 17, 2013 11:02 am

JimboJim wrote:Nice one. Good hike.
Now to be pedantic, the A82 would indeed look very small from up there. As no doubt you're probably aware, the road beneath you there is of course, the A83.

Sorrree.


fixed it. not pedantry, accuracy :)
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Re: Beinn An Lochain wows us in the sunshine

Postby PeteR » Thu Oct 17, 2013 9:19 pm

Well done on tackling this hill :clap: It really is a beauty :D One of my favourites, especially in winter :D
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