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Catch Up in Glens Lochay & Orchy plus a Raspberry.

Catch Up in Glens Lochay & Orchy plus a Raspberry.

Postby weaselmaster » Mon May 19, 2014 3:29 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn a' Chreachain, Beinn Achaladair, Beinn Heasgarnich, Creag Mhor (Glen Lochay)

Corbetts included on this walk: Meall nan Subh

Date walked: 18/05/2014

Time taken: 17.45 hours

Distance: 53 km

Ascent: 3319m

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Another weekend of miserable weather, another opportunity to do some catching up on Sick Kid's remaining hills. Particularly galling to be stuck at work on friday with the sun dancing in the sky - made the most of the conditions to proof my tents in the back garden. This was timely, as it turned out.

Off early on Saturday morning to Glen Lochay, low cloud obliterating any visabilty across the Clyde as we drove along - it's going to be one of these days. The rain had dwindled to a drizzle as we parked at Kenknock, cloud base still very low. Wandered through the farm buildings and up the zigzag track past the pipeline, then a left turn along the glen. Not a lot to see in the conditions, but at least you move rapidly along. Made the turn up into the Forest of Mamlorn which has been fenced off since my last visit and has been replanted with assorted native trees, the hillside pockmarked with digger divvits where the ground has been turned over, each with a little tree on top, most seemed to have survived the winter. I normally dislike deer fencing, but for this sort of re-forestation I'm happy to accept the fences.

We headed up to the rocky gully on Coire an Fhithich and scrambled up the wet, slippy rocks. A raven was giving it laldy, croaking away at us then fixing us with a steely glare as we went by - possibly passing it's nest site. We left the bird in peace and walked up the appropriately named Sron nan Eun, marvelling on how rapidly and effortlessly we'd gained height. Unfortunately the clag was down for the day, so no views of the impressive ridge up Creag Mhor. There's some snow still in residence on the northern face but nothing to trouble us as we reached the stony summit. Last time I was here I got a bit disorientated with the sharp turn to the NE that's required to head for Heasgarnish, so today I was reasonably prepared and we didn't veer too far from the route. This brought us down below the clag line. Stopped behind a rock near lochan na baintighearnha for some food, and to contemplate the way ahead up Sron Tairbh, which I remembered doing in hard snow and being a bit of a puffer. No snow there today and a much easier ascent than I remembered. Up to Stob na Fhir-Bhogha then on to the top of Heasgarnish - unfortunately exactly the same views as from Creag Mhor...clag. The rain had come on persistently by this time, along with strong winds and we both discovered that our waterproof kit needed re-proofing. I had spent some time proofing my GTX boots, only to find that the water was running down the inside of my legs through my "waterproof" trousers so I was standing in puddles anyway :?

The descent back to the road was actually quite pleasant and less boggy than I remembered. We had a steep but short bumslide from the top of Heasgarnish, then some interest crossing the swollen streams as they cascaded down the hillside to join the Allt Tarsainn. Back at the road we decided to nip up Meall na Subh, raspberry Hill - well, it's only another 300m ascent from here, so why wouldn't you? We followed the boundary line on the map over wet grass and bog, everything higher up obscured in mist and rain. We reached the 795m point expecting a nice gentle stroll to the summit, but were faced with a brief descent into a quagmire then a rocky scramble up to the actual top. By this time my Dachstein mitts, which were doing a grand job of keeping my hands warm, had absorbed a fair amount of water and were becoming increasingly heavy - the downside of boiled wool. We stumbled about in the mist quite a bit on the descent, and ended up taking a line down a steeper gully to the S than the ascent route, which did have the advantage of bringing us back to the road quicker. Then it was a march down the road back to the car, rain continuing to pelt us as we squelched and dripped along.

Pockmarks of new tree planting
ImageP1010652 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Raven watching us
ImageP1010653 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Still some snow, Creag Mhor
ImageP1010654 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Summit CM
ImageP1010655 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View up to Sron Tairbh
ImageP1010656 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Summit Heasgarnish
ImageP1010657 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Wet descent route
ImageP1010658 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View over to Meall na Subh
ImageP1010660 by 23weasels, on Flickr

First of many false summits MnS
ImageP1010662 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Summit MnS
ImageP1010663 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1010665 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Back at the car there was little point in removing our soaking outerwear as we still had a tent to pitch. Stopped in at Killin to buy some snacks then drove along dreary wet roads to Achaladair Farm - scouted around the waterlogged fields beside the parking spot for a place to pitch - by this time the wind had got up considerably too. Oh joy! Found an acceptable spot with a little shelter in the lee of a small hillock and pitched - I was very glad to have completed my tent waterproofing the day before. An evening of constant rain drumming on the tent interspersed with wet road noise from the A82 and the occasional rumble of a train going past.

Had planned to get up and started early on Sunday morning, but the incessant rain was something of a disincentive to get out of the sleeping bag. Eventually, at about 8.30, decided we couldn't avoid the weather any longer and prepared to face the day. Wet trousers had been dried in situ overnight, but it was now time to put on wet socks and wet boots - I opted for my mesh trail shoes, which wouldn't keep my feet dry, but wouldn't collect water like my boots, nor weigh heavily when soaked. Inside the tent we watched a small deployment of ants removing food debris - a rogue porridge oat, a section of coriander stalk. Also found a frog loitering under some stuff sacks... Fortunately the rain abated as we packed up the tent and set off for Beinn A'Chreachain. There was a minibus from Falkirk parked alongside us - we met up with the party from it weaving their way across fields trying to avoid the numerous rivulets and streams that had sprung up everywhere. Being in my mesh trainers, I simply walked straight across the Allt Ur - it was only up to my knees - a skoosh! We didn't see the Falkirk contingent after that, so I suspect they went to find a drier hill. I'd read (on WH) that the footbridge up at Dun Aigheannach was down, therefore it would probably be wiser to keep to the eastern side of the Water of Tulla. The river certainly looked swollen and rapid downstream, but it was difficult to guess whether it would still prove a difficult crossing another few kilometres upstream. Good track on one side then a dodgy crossing or boggy trail through the woods on the other side? Boggy trail won out, and we squished and squelched along, sometimes on a waymarked trail, sometimes picking our own path through the trees. It was much prettier than going along the bulldozed track - rusty piles of last year's ferns alongside the vibrant greens of new vegetation, bird song assailed us from all sides and for once we managed to spot the Cuckoo that was bell-ringing her monotonous call sitting on a fence post, blue and white striped chest puffed proudly. There are still a number of streams to be crossed keeping to this side of the main body of water and on one of these crossings, SK twisted her knee after losing her footing. She was clearly in considerable pain. This was after maybe 2 hours of walking, so it wasn't immediately clear what to do - I had thoughts of fording the river and returning by the track on the other side at a slow hobble, but after a brief sit down she reckoned she could keep going. We were both only too well aware of the implications of a serious knee problem when we've a fortnight's climbing coming up at the end of next week :shock:

Anyway, she soldiered on after swallowing some painkillers and we headed up into the trees. Beautiful Caledonian Pines, younger birch and alder, sheltered from the wind and surrounded by woodland smells. We interrupted a small group of deer deep in one leafy enclave. Making our way round the edge of the fenced off area we came to the railway line and tracked a hundred yards or so northwards to reach the creep under the lines. There was a rank smell coming from here and as we approached it was clear why - the putrefying corpse of a large sheep was lying inside the creep. It's bad enough when you come across such things out on the hillside, but there you can at least give them a wide berth - here you had to walk right past the offending item, bent over double, so there was little to do but take a deep breath and try to avert the eyes, whilst not hitting your head on the low roof. A pretty unpleasant experience all round.

Into the clean air and some views up to Beinn A'Chreachain and the impressive Coire an Lochain, the top of the hill under cloud cover. We walked along the path beside allt coire an lochain, rising gradually in height. It does feel a long way into this hill. Stopping for lunch behind a bit of shelter, SK clearly not 100% as she declined to eat all her food. Resuming, we kept on the path longer than we should have done and ended up at the lochan, under brooding corrie walls. Heading westward we took an approximate line to where the path ascends and I thought I'd save a little time by cutting SE from the 961m point to gain the ridge. All was well til the last 20m or so, which was coated in wet snow. Below us, there was a small section of wet grass before the ground descended steeply into the coire. Mesh approach shoes might be good for some things, but dealing with quite steep snow and not slipping isn't one of them. I was acutely aware as I made my way up the snowpatch that if i did slip it would probably be quite hard to stop...walking poles - even ones with new tips on them - are no substitute for the reliable comfort of an ice axe. Anyway, I made it to the crest of the ridge and the security of the path and watched SK ascend to safety also. We then followed the well worn trail up to the summit of Ba'C for more views of...clag. Last time I'd stood here, on a perfect winter's day in Feb last year, the views were of an endless succession of snowy peaks in all directions. the same hills were there - somewhere - but visibility was at best 10m. Disconsolately we headed down the stony slopes to the SW, making for the invisible Meall Buidhe. managed to overshoot the descent a bit and had to contour increasingly steep slopes of Coire a'Mhath-ghamahna before meeting snow again on the south slopes of Garbh Meall and deciding we'd had quite enough snowy excitement for one day and hot-footing it back up to the path on the crest of the hill.

Plodding on through heavy rain and clag, wet through again and having a grand time :roll: Got down to the bealach with Achaladair and started up the steep western nose. When I'd been here previously this had been coated in icy snow, requiring crampons and axe and posed a major problem getting my dog up safely. No such problems today and heaight was gained quickly, scrambling up the slippy rock and muddy path. Up to the cairn, where the view was uncannily similar to the views we'd had from all the other tops this weekend, then off along the plateau into the wind and rain. Passed the second cairn - my map on the GPS puts this as the higher of the two, so SK touched it just to make sure, then onwards into the mirk. We both had to change soaking gloves which had become really cold by this point.

Descending to Coire Daingean our vision was restored as we could make out the slopes of Beinn an Dothaidh across from us. Then the long walk back along Coire Achaladair, water everywhere - coming and going into sinkholes in the grass, cascading joyously in a succession of waterfalls and plunges, roaring water noise everywhere around us. For all that people bemoan Heasgarnish as being a boggy hill, today's conditions coming down Coire Achaladair must rank amongst the wettest I've encountered underfoot. I lost count of the number of times I slipped and fell onto soft yielding -wet- grass and splooshed my shoes through streams, bogs and rivers. Enlivening, i suppose. Back at the car we peeled off the wet clothes and sat with the blower on warm and windows misting up on the way back down the road.

Gentle waters of Tulla
ImageP1010666 by 23weasels, on Flickr

One of many tributaries to be crossed
ImageP1010667 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Splendid hillside colours
ImageP1010669 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Continuing the watery theme
ImageP1010670 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1010672 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Heading towards A'Chreachain
ImageP1010673 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1010674 by 23weasels, on Flickr

The creep under the railway with its grisly secret
ImageP1010675 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Up the Allt coire an lochain
ImageP1010676 by 23weasels, on Flickr

The lochan
ImageP1010678 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Just past the scary bit of snow
ImageP1010679 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Summit Ba'C
ImageP1010680 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Summit Achaladair
ImageP1010681 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Nice and dry underfoot... :wink:
ImageP1010682 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Joyous gurgling and gushing streams
ImageP1010683 by 23weasels, on Flickr
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Re: Catch Up in Glens Lochay & Orchy plus a Raspberry.

Postby AnnieMacD » Mon May 19, 2014 5:20 pm

That was great! I'm glad you had a photo of the 'creep' as I had no idea what it was. Love that photo of SK at the lochan.

How is SK's knee? Hope you manage to get your two weeks worth of hills.
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Re: Catch Up in Glens Lochay & Orchy plus a Raspberry.

Postby weaselmaster » Mon May 19, 2014 6:30 pm

AnnieMacD wrote:How is SK's knee? Hope you manage to get your two weeks worth of hills.

Well, she was walking today, which is always a start, and doesn't seem to have done more lasting damage - whew - we've got 24 munros including the Cuillin to do over the fortnight we're off so no room for injuries in my schedule :lol:
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Re: Catch Up in Glens Lochay & Orchy plus a Raspberry.

Postby mrssanta » Mon May 19, 2014 7:33 pm

Well you are gnarly! For once I am not feeling jealous as it's been a gorgeous weekend here. Hope it's better next weekend
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Re: Catch Up in Glens Lochay & Orchy plus a Raspberry.

Postby ceaser » Mon May 19, 2014 10:33 pm

looked a wee bit better on the 2nd day Al ,.....it was a dead deer , not a dead sheep at the railway underpass , we passed it fully intact about 5 weeks ago :o
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