I had attempted Cruach Ardrain before with a friend and failed to even get started properly. We have been advised by someone who had done it previously to start at the small "lay-by" a few hundred meters before Crianlarich, opposite a cottage. So we did, crossed over the railway bridge, into the trees and into the boggiest mess I'd ever been in. It wasn't long before I had sank up to my knee on one leg, over the gaiters and soaked my boot. Even after a change into dry socks this put us right off finding the "clear gap between the trees and the path beyond". Thanks for that!!
So....I looked into another route, as there was no way I wasn't conquering Cruach Ardrain after this!
We started at the proper parking lay on the A82, crossed the gate, followed the path under the railway and up and along before breaking off and crossing River Falloch over the small bridge. Now...every report I have read states that this bridge is falling apart, however it looks like it had been repaired as it was very stable.
I knew that the trail started for the Grey Heights at the top of the grassy slopes before us, so we started walking up, just to the right hand side of the tree line and the fence that was ever present. This was a great and unexpected slog!!
When we reached the 2nd style over the deer fence, the trail was very clear running away over to the top of Grey Height.
We followed this, losing it a couple of times through some boggy bits but it was really easy to pick back up again.
Once past Meall Dhamh, the trail got pretty steep and the climb up the side of Cruach Ardrain was a bit slippy and even steeper at times. (Coming back down was going to be fun!!)
We reached the small fork in the trail, marked by a small cairn. It was the middle of the afternoon, no bad weather in sight so we decided to push over to Bienn Tulaichean first. Again, there was a couple of pretty hair descents where the trail was wet and slippy but we managed without incident and reached the summit of Bienn Tulaichean within 35 minutes, stopped and had a brew and a bit to eat and then followed the path back the way we had came, picked up the cairn at the fork again and quickly climbed over to the true top of Cruach Ardrain. Second Munro done and feeling pretty good!!
The wind was picking up so after a few snaps we headed back down. The next part I blame on myself because I was nattering far too much...I completely missed the cairn that marked the route. So after finding a route that looked safe we started descending down the grass....which was a bit slippy and hairy in places but after about 10 minutes we could see the route we climbed up and made our way back over to it.
The rest of the walk back down was generally easy enough but was still difficult in some places, due to the steepness and the bogginess of some parts. Again, the path was easy to lose because of the bogs, but easy to pick back up again.
Thanks, Cruach Ardrain. I told you I'd be back
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