The forecast was for 90% clear summits and I just stopped my self believing that would also necessarily mean bright warm sunshine - I've had peas out of that pot before, so I armed myself with rain jacket; mid layer and shorts as well as long trousers and gaiters - just in case a stream ended up in spate!
However the drive up Loch Lomondside was spectacular - clear azure blue skies with wispy cotton wool clouds behaving as they should and all the way through Tyndrum and onto the Oban road, everything was looking like a 90% with sunshine! As I drove down out of Glen Lochy I spotted a large non fluffy cloud hanging kind of over Cruachan and Dalmally but it was high up in the sky, unfortunately covering the bright June sunshine.
Anyway I headed up the B8077 - missed the parking spot as did the others who were arriving as I was starting to walk. So that everyone knows - the spot is 0.4km EXACTLY from the second you turn off the A85 on the right hand side. There is barely space for 1 car on the other side of the road after the bridge literally 1 second from the other space.
I was trying out my new Tog24 teeshirt today: first time with technical wear and after a false start ( I forgot my walking pole) we (Sparky the dog and me) eventually started walking about 8.45. I was following the typical route and made good progress up the ATV track on the hillside but it just seems to go up and up and I decided I would stop just before it went down to cross over the river on to Ben a'Chochuill. You do wonder why the hills got their names the way they did - I mean really, The hill of the seashell - what is that all about?
Anyway Sparky was having fun trying to chase the sheep all the way up to here; I wasn't as he was pulling hard on the lead and it was all I could do to stop myself being pulled off my feet. Thankfully, the sheep came to an end.
After our first stop we headed down to the wee bridge and on to the hill proper and our first decision. There is some debate about should you leave teh path at teh cairn or carry on round teh corner for a bit. It all seems to boil down to how good or visible the path is up the hill. I decided we were going up at the cairn. There is a path of sorts which comes and goes and if you follow your instinct strangely and almost miraculously you arrive at the real path about half way up. It feels sometimes at the beginning though as if you're not going up at all but more like going West. Anyhow there are as usual in our hills many false summits and this one is no exception. We stopped about 4 times on the way up and drank in the views - they were fantastic but nothing to what you are met with at the "top".
It is a panorama the like of which I have never seen and today with the weather fine and clouds high I got to see as far as Jura and Mull and even back down as far as the Cobbler and Ben Lomond. The pictures tell the story. We arrived at the first summit about 11.35 - just under 3 hours which for me is good going.
Next it was off back down and along the broad ridge to Munro #2 - The fowling hill or may be that is the fouling hill? Sparky was full of beans (not literally) and rushed me along at a fair pace and as we reached the cairn marking our upward path, he - without any indication from me - turned right as if to go back down again! No lad, I said, its a bigger walk today and pointed teh way ahead and off we went once more. We had left the summit around 12 and reached point 730 on the bealach by 12.35 - no stopping on the way down. We chilled and took in the sights especially the steep sided end of Beinn Eunaich and the boulder field surrounding its top.
We set off. I decided to split the ascent into small chunks not being ashamed to stop and rest as we went up: sometimes we sat and others we just stopped but broadly divided it into linear distances of about 100m which for me is 72 full paces on the flat. We were soon at the boulderfield where Sparky started to seem unsure of himself for the first time today but he is an expert at path finding and within a few seconds usually found the continuation of the path which I had lost. By 13.20 we had summited for the second time today and treated ourselves to a more exorbitant lunch adding in carrot cake (home made): it was yummy.
The bit I wasnt looking forward to was the steep descent down back of Stob Maol into the glen, and I was alos unsure if it would be obvious where on was to turn and start headlong down the path. On the second point I needn't have been bothered as the path stops going South and turns obviously West just before the large peat bed which sits about 4 or 5 feet up above ground level. It is steep but the steps cut into the turf work well enough however the 2nd quarter of the path is quite slippery with lots of small rocks and not much to grab hold of. Even Sparky lost his footing on teh way down a couple of times. This section does pass though and for most of the remainder of the descent its earthy steps mainly but I was sooooo glad to see the cairn on the path edge. I got attacked by clegs on the way down and stopped to put on my Skin So soft on the arms and legs - no more bother from the clegs but I smelt like a tarts boudoir for the rest of the trip! The descent from just before where the path turns right to go down was about 45 minutes for us. We were now officially out of water and the flask was empty and we still had the trip back to the car to go. It took us about 30 minutes at a fair pace (but not fast asit might have been since Sparky wanted to play with the sheep again) but we made it back to the car by 15.55
Sparky instantly headed for the back seat,on to his cover and went straight to sleep - and apart from while he was eating his Sausage supper - that was where he stayed till he got back home.
Route - bog standard
Pics to follow
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