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Fifers take a long overdue bath on Ben Lui

Fifers take a long overdue bath on Ben Lui


Postby cmarcol » Sat Jul 26, 2014 10:40 am

Route description: Ben Lui and Beinn a'Chleibh

Munros included on this walk: Beinn a'Chleibh, Ben Lui

Date walked: 25/07/2014

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 9.5 km

Ascent: 1020m

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Thought I would get in with the Fifer jokes in the title before anyone else got there in the comments! :lol:

It was set to be a scorcher. Leaving Dunfermline the thick har made the coast cold but the further inland we got the clearer the skies got and the temperature dial on the car just kept climbing. When we arrived at the carpark the temperature reading had reached 24c and it was only 1030!!! :shock:

We set off at about 1045 after spending a solid 15mins applying suncream. My friends frequently think it's funny to refer to me as a vampire due to my pasty white complexion (I prefer the term porcelain), my complete inability to hold a tan and my usual fear of sitting out in the sun in case I turn to dust.

I'd heard the river/railway crossing could be an issue so we had packed flip flops in case the river needed waded. We set off down the path to the river and crossed the river immediately (found out later the path on the side of the car park is better) and followed an overgrown path to the railway bridge. Going under the bridge definitely needs a spare pair of shoes/flip flops. The shallow part comes well over the top of your boots and the deeper part was almost up to my knees!

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The heat was relentless and the humidity in the forest was horrible. I said more than once to my friend "I can't see us making this today" but we decided to plod on at a slow pace, taking plenty of breaks rather than using the usual romp up approach. The path branches right and crosses a small river which needed very little care crossing. In spate conditions I would assume this to be a tricky one because someone has tied a rope between two trees to assist crossing. I'm not so sure getting there in spate would be all that easy either due to the previous river crossing and railway crossing!

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The path became increasingly muddy and boggy and the odd fallen tree and overgrown section was ALWAYS over the boggiest part to make things nice and easy for us.... Crossing the forestry road there is a cairn marking the path to the hills. The path (if possible) gets boggier and walking poles were invaluable for prodding and testing the footholds. Some parts were almost thigh deep! At some points further up, old fence posts have been laid down to assist crossing particularly bad bits but some of these sink the moment you put your foot on them. My confidence in completing the walk we had planned today was very low. Immediately after the road crossing the small river starts pooling nicely beneath a small waterfall. Why I never took a picture I don't know. My friend said at this point that he could just picture Peter Andre singing in it.... I think this says a lot about him!

Finally the path emerges from the forestry. A path sort of follows the fence for a bit but is soon lost. By this point it was so hot that I was taking ten paces and stopping, ten paces and stopping. The hill doesn't look steep from the forestry opening.... It is A LOT steeper than it looks and I did consider giving up. The hill will always be there and there is a nice river I could go and sit in all day instead? But we plodded on.

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We could see one other person behind us making similarly slow progress. It made me feel a lot better to see that the other walker wasn't catching up too quickly until he got into better view and we could see he was carrying a mountain bike!!!!! A MOUNTAIN BIKE!

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He embarrassingly caught us up on the ridge and told us he was going to ride back down the same way and film it. I struggled to carry my rucksack up in that heat never mind a bike. He ditched his bike at the mildy scrambly bit and tanked on ahead of us to the summit where we met him again. We sat on the summit for ages and had lunch. We reapplied the sunscreen in copious amounts and enjoyed the views. The number of black flies up there was horrible but at least they don't bite. I tried smidging them but they didn't seem phased. By now the concoction of suncream, mud, smidge and sweat was quite unpleasant and the stream at the car seemed very invitingt.

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When we began to descend to the bealach I said "there's no way I can make it up Beinn a'Chleibh. I'm dying in this heat" but by the time we reached the bealach and looked at the map and saw how little ascent was really involved my mind was changed. Taking a looooooong drink of water before ditching my bag at the bealach we set off for Beinn a'Chleibh. We were at the top in no time. It's amazing how much easier it is without a pack. We visited all three cairns before deciding the first was the highest. The views across to the coast here must be great on a very clear day but the haze was just a bit to thick for it to be brilliant today. Ben Lui did look huge and the climb to Lui which didn't look steep from the forest looked STEEP! We sat up the top for a while before dedscending.

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The descent was surprisingly pleasant despite the bog. I think this was probably due to the fact that a nice coverage of white cloud had bubbled up making it a fair bit cooler. Before we knew it we were back at the railway for what was the best bath I've ever had! Boots tied to our bags, the flip flops came out and into the water we went. The suncream/smidge/sweat/mud concoction was soon washed off and we spent ages playing the the pool under the railway. It was so refreshingly cool that we really didn't want to leave. I already got there with the joke about Fifers needing a bath but I'm sure someone will have some further joke to make! Hopefully the photos give some idea as to the depth of the water under the railway. Definitely a change of footwear job!

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Now we were squeaky clean we didn't want to walk back through the overgrowth and end up covered in bits of plant and bugs so we kept our flip flops on and just waded all the way back to the car along the river. The river was much warmer than the railway pool and it was one of these experiences that will, cheesily as it sounds, stay with me forever. It's not often warm enough to be wearing shorts and t shirts, whilst voluntarily wading through a river in Scotland! It was terrific.

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On arriving back at the car I took a selfie. When I looked at how it had turned out I realised I was no longer wearing my sunglasses. Yes! I had left them at the railway! They were an expensive Ralph Lauren pair so I had to go back for them! On returning to the river I noticed a path on the carpark side which I followed. It was much nicer than the one on the other side we had followed that morning and is probably why the WH route follows it (OOPS). The better path meant I retrieved the shades within 5mins and was back at the car in no time.

All in all it was a great day even though the heat dragged it out to eight hours!

Some more photos from the day taken by my friend Stuart who is a much more talented photographer than me:

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Sundews

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Beinn a'Chleibh from Ben Lui

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Ben Lui Pano
Last edited by cmarcol on Tue Jul 29, 2014 7:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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cmarcol
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Re: Fifers take a long overdue bath on Ben Lui

Postby kmai1961 » Sun Jul 27, 2014 9:31 am

Nice report, Cat. Friday was a scorcher, to be sure. Considering your description of railway undercrossing (a nearly knee-deep paddle) and the bog thereafter (thigh-deep in places), it sounds like you'd have an uphill swim to do this route after a period of heavy rain...

Well done for carrying on to the second summit in spite of melting in the heat.
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Re: Fifers take a long overdue bath on Ben Lui

Postby Gordie12 » Sun Jul 27, 2014 10:37 am

I would never make a comment about Fifers but at least that's the bathing out the way for another year :lol: :lol: :lol:

In a strange way it's good to know other people struggled on Friday as I was knackered just walking to the first of three Munros I did at Loch Tay and could have chucked it without climbing any of them - turns out I wasn't alone in struggling in the heat. I started at 7.40 so was finished before there was any cloud cover but at least after a few hours there was the tiniest of breezes which helped.

Still to do these two, looks like they would be best after a dry spell.

Good effort to stick it out and get them done on a boiling hot day :clap: :clap:
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Re: Fifers take a long overdue bath on Ben Lui

Postby cmarcol » Sun Jul 27, 2014 4:24 pm

kmai1961 wrote:Considering your description of railway undercrossing (a nearly knee-deep paddle) and the bog thereafter (thigh-deep in places), it sounds like you'd have an uphill swim to do this route after a period of heavy rain...


Yeah I think either webbed feet and gils or a canoe would be helpful in the wet! When I do Lui again I fancy it from Dalrigh. Looks like a much more exciting route even if it is longer.

Gordie12 wrote:In a strange way it's good to know other people struggled on Friday as I was knackered just walking to the first of three Munros I did at Loch Tay and could have chucked it without climbing any of them - turns out I wasn't alone in struggling in the heat.


That's until you see the photo of the guy who ran up with his bike! :crazy:

Was certainly hard going in the heat!
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Re: Fifers take a long overdue bath on Ben Lui

Postby jupe1407 » Mon Jul 28, 2014 11:22 am

That slog through the forest is awful. We did a month ago in hot conditions, and to make matters worse missed the wee cairn that marks the proper path. We ended up roughing it through what felt like Fangorn Forest, squelching in boggy bit, with trees trying to stab us at any given opportunity. It's a good feeling getting out the other side of it then looking back to see that great view of Ben Cruachan.
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Re: Fifers take a long overdue bath on Ben Lui

Postby Fife Flyer » Mon Jul 28, 2014 10:03 pm

Nice one Cat, you did really well to continue in that heat :clap: :clap:
I don't half struggle when the big yellow thing appears in the sky :(
Itching to get out, but it won't be for at least another week :wink:
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Re: Fifers take a long overdue bath on Ben Lui

Postby cmarcol » Tue Jul 29, 2014 7:58 pm

Finally got around to adding my friend's photos. He's much better at taking pictures than me.

jupe1407 wrote:That slog through the forest is awful. We did a month ago in hot conditions, and to make matters worse missed the wee cairn that marks the proper path. We ended up roughing it through what felt like Fangorn Forest, squelching in boggy bit, with trees trying to stab us at any given opportunity. It's a good feeling getting out the other side of it then looking back to see that great view of Ben Cruachan.


Hawk eyes here spotted the path rather than the cairn and I knew we wanted to be following the river so we kept to the path. Looks like a lot of people had made the mistake of continuing on through the forest though. The actual path was bad enough. I would hate to imagine what it would be like after rain! I would have almost certainly given up if we had missed that path!

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Fife Flyer wrote:Nice one Cat, you did really well to continue in that heat :clap: :clap:
I don't half struggle when the big yellow thing appears in the sky :(
Itching to get out, but it won't be for at least another week :wink:


Yeah me too. I dunno how the hell I survived in Queensland. Give me a shout when you're going out again. Not much of the summer holidays left! :shock: :(
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