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Doing the Dubh - three Luss Grahams in the snow

Doing the Dubh - three Luss Grahams in the snow


Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Tue Mar 25, 2014 11:01 pm

Grahams included on this walk: Beinn Dubh, Beinn Eich, Doune Hill

Date walked: 23/03/2014

Time taken: 9.5 hours

Distance: 23.5 km

Ascent: 1620m

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Out on my own again, and after some March storms at the end of last week, it was very definitely Winter Conditions with a lot of fresh snow on the hills. However, the weather forecast was very promising for once :D , and with the days starting to get longer, I was fancying something a tad more ambitious in terms of distance than my last two outings. I thought the Glen Luss Grahams should fit the bill - good wee hills, not too steep, but still shapely enough peaks and with good views by the sounds of it.
Plan A had been to try to complete the classic round of the four middle Grahams from Luss, taking in Cruach an t-Sidhean as well as the three I did ultimately manage. However, I didn't get quite as early a start as I'd have liked (the usual Sunday-morning-after-Saturday-night issues :lol: ) and then I shortened my available daylight further by getting confused and parking one layby too far away from Luss on the west side of the A82 :( . Ideally for these hills it would be best to park in Luss Village, but the car park there is apparently a Pay & Display with a princely tariff of £7 for a day's parking, and there was no way I was paying that :shock: ! Nevertheless, there are parking bays off the A82 a lot closer to Luss than the one I chose... By the time I realised this I couldn't bother going back to move the car :? - a definite mistake, in retrospect.
Ah well, by the time I finally reached the Glen Luss minor road end, directly opposite the turn-off for Luss Village with a footbridge crossing the A82 to link the two, the sun was shining brightly and the birds were singing :D .
At the very start of the minor Glen Luss road, a signed gate gives access to a separate track on the right signed "Quarry Path". Just immediately through this gate, a stile crosses the fence on the far side of the track to give access to the open hill via a fairly clear path that goes right up Beinn Dubh's SE ridge.
WR1.jpg

It was a fairly easy plod up this gentle ridgeline, even once I hit the snowline a bit short of the 500-metre mark. Almost immediately, superb views opened up back down the ridge to the south end of Loch Lomond with its islands.
WR2.jpg

Beinn Dubh is a rather complex hill with two main summits plus a few minor ones, and no-one seems to have been able to agree on its name. In his "Relative Hills" book and website, Alan Dawson follows the usual convention of using the words on the OS map nearest the higher of the two main summits, which makes it "Mid Hill" - however, Fiona Graham (she of "Grahams" fame, no less) apparently insisted it should be given the Gaelic name "Beinn Dubh", even although the OS map gives this name to the lower South Top. I'd have to say that I'm with Fiona Graham on this one - her justification seems to have been that "Mid Hill" was a bit, um, boring... whereas "Beinn Dubh", Dark Hill, sounds all Gothic and romantic :lol: . Quite right, Fiona :clap: .
Anyway, the hill has a series of cairns to match its various names. The first and biggest one doesn't appear to mark a summit at all as such, just the wee initial shoulder marked on the map as Creag an t-Seilich. Nice views out west to Beinn Eich with Beinns Chaorach and a'Mhanaich lurking behind, though.
WR3.jpg

It wasn't long from here to the South Top, the one officially marked as "Beinn Dubh" as the map though not the true Graham summit. It sports a pert and shapely wee cairn, and there was a grand view north to the Arrochar Alps jostling behind the two northernmost Luss Grahams, Beinn Bhreac and Tullich Hill.
WR4.jpg

The main Graham summit, however, was a bit further over to the north-west.
WR4b.jpg

Nowadays this is also sporting a wee cairn, although a rather less grand one, and it's a fine viewpoint. Over to the south-west, Beinn Eich was looking a beautifully defined ridge under snow.
WR5.jpg

Fine views out north, too.
WR5c.jpg

I met a couple out with their dog at the summit, and passed the time of day, agreeing that we'd really lucked out on the weather. After a quick breather, I followed them down onto the shoulder marked as "Mid Hill" on the map, which eventually leads down onto a SE ridge back down towards Luss.
WR5b.jpg
Unfortunately I went into auto-pilot mode for a bit, getting too carried away with the views, and I followed the couple with the dog a bit too far down that SE ridge, missing the point where it joins the west ridge that leads down to the bealach with Doune Hill. At least I did realise eventually before it was too late, and I was able to traverse back round NW to get onto the west ridge and down to the bealach. There were good views across Glen Mollochan on the way. This glen is your typical Glacial Trench, and the eastern slopes of Beinn Eich were presenting a rather formidable-looking wall.
WR6.jpg

Fortunately, however, there is a fairly straighforward (albeit a bit steep) way up to Doune Hill, climbing a bit to the right of an incised stream gully to eventually reach the bealach between Doune Hill's main summit and its lower NE Top, as shown by the purple line I've drawn here.
WR7.jpg

First, though, I had to get down to the Beinn Dubh / Doune Hill bealach, involving a depressing (and in its lower bits very squelchy :( ) descent away back down below the snowline to the sweaty oxter of upper Glen Mollochan, where the bealach is marked on the OS Explorer map with a spot height of a mere 227 metres. Yep, I checked my mental arithmetic twice, but that made a whopping 507 metres of re-ascent up to the summit of Doune Hill :roll: ... as others have noted, this is definitely the toughest part of this round. I found it a long hard slog in the snow, and I got so fed up that I stopped for a fairly leisurely lunch break once I was a bit back up over the snowline. Luckily my lunch fair hit the spot, and I set off revigorated through a right shedload of soft, fresh snow towards the summit, meeting another guy coming down off the top (also with a dog) who was doing the round of four Grahams clockwise.
Doune Hill is the highest of the Luss Grahams, and sports a trig point: it's another grand viewpoint, although after all that snow on the way up, the rounded and wind-scoured summit environs had the cheek to be virtually devoid of the White Stuff in some areas, with grassy bits showing through. Again the Arrochar Alps were jostling for attention to the north.
WR8.jpg

A nice cloudscape over Loch Lomond to the south:
WR8b.jpg

It had taken me a long time to get up here though, and it was just after 2 p.m. already - I'd already made the Executive Decision that tackling Cruach an t-Sidhean, the Stack of the Fairies, was out of the question in terms of available daylight :( . When I got my first proper look at it, the lack of time was a bit of a relief to be honest - it's a steep wee brute, and it seemed to have caught a lot of snow. Definite falling-off potential :shock: ; possibly even avalanche risk. One for summer conditions, I'd say: just call me a wimp, I don't care.
WR9.jpg

So the Fairies would be left undisturbed for today, and I set off southwards towards Beinn Lochain (Doune Hill's minor south top), with the shapely cone and defined NW ridge of Beinn Eich rearing up ahead.
WR10.jpg

Down at the bealach, the weather took a temporary turn for the worse, with a brief flurry of snow, and Beinn Eich turning all moody and brooding for a wee while.
WR11.jpg

This didn't last, though, and the sun soon came out, with the views improving all the time. On looking back north towards Doune Hill, Cruach an t-Sidhean wasn't looking any less steep from this side:
WR12.jpg

Beinn Eich's NW ridge proved to be an absolute delight in the snow, complete with a shapely cornice and everything :D .
WR13.jpg

The summit views from its diminutive but perfectly formed cairn were undoubtedly the best of the day.
South to the bottom end of Loch Lomond:
WR14.jpg

South-west to Beinn Chaorach:
WR15.jpg

Over to the east, Ben Lomond was prominent behind Beinn Dubh, with the Crianlarich hills all lining up to its north. A zoomed shot with the prominent cones of (I think) Ben More and Stob Binnein in the middle background:
WR16.jpg

Looking north, that corniced ridgeline was looking delicious, with Arrochar-Alps-a-go-go behind it.
WR17.jpg

An intriguing view west to Beinn a'Mhanaich, with a reasonably high bealach with Cruach an t-Sidhein suggesting a possible future way of tackling those Fairies to bag my final Luss Graham :? - I'll bear this one in mind for a potential shorter outing fairly near home in summer conditions.
WR17b.jpg

Coming down off Beinn Eich summit on its equally well defined east ridge, there was an even better view of Loch Lomond.
WR18.jpg

And as a final treat, an unusual perspective on the Cobbler (zoomed shot here) with Beinn Narnain to its right and Beinn Ime looming up behind:
WR19.jpg

Lower down the ridge, the path eventually faded away, but by now Edentaggart Farm was clearly visible below. An obvious ladder stile over a drystone dyke led to a muddy path cutting left of the farmstead, to reach a gap in the fence to the farm track, and quickly thereafter to the minor road back down Glen Luss. A long walk, but a grand outing :D .
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bobble_hat_kenny
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Re: Doing the Dubh - three Luss Grahams in the snow

Postby pigeon » Wed Mar 26, 2014 10:07 pm

Great stuff bobblehat,a tough day in the snaw but you were rewarded with some cracking views.Got these hills in mind so will be looking at your report again soon :thumbup:
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pigeon
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Re: Doing the Dubh - three Luss Grahams in the snow

Postby BigT » Thu Mar 27, 2014 9:00 pm

Parking charge only apply April to October at Luss. I was up there this week and nearly had a fit when i seen the cost of the parking until I read it really carefully. £7 quid to walk up a hill ffs, must not care about summer walkers on the Luss hills. I also think a few cars can squeeze onto the little side road opposite the steel swing gate for the field. There were about 3 parked on Wednesday past.
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Re: Doing the Dubh - three Luss Grahams in the snow

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:28 pm

BigT wrote:Parking charge only apply April to October at Luss. I was up there this week and nearly had a fit when i seen the cost of the parking until I read it really carefully. £7 quid to walk up a hill ffs, must not care about summer walkers on the Luss hills. I also think a few cars can squeeze onto the little side road opposite the steel swing gate for the field. There were about 3 parked on Wednesday past.

A aargh! I could just have parked in Luss and saved myself that road walk, then :( - ah well, it's always a bit more exercise I suppose: won't have done me any harm...
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bobble_hat_kenny
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Posts: 328
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Joined: Sep 3, 2011

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