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Beinn Narnain for a 1st Munro + A’Chrois for a look at No.2

Beinn Narnain for a 1st Munro + A’Chrois for a look at No.2

Postby alan mckenzie » Sun Apr 12, 2015 9:52 am

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Narnain

Date walked: 10/04/2015

Time taken: 5 hours

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This is my first report (and my first WH post) so I thought I’d offer a little background. I’m an (average) amateur sometime runner trying to slow down. I ran my last race 6 weeks ago, a 27.5 mile coastal trail run. After a training schedule beset by injury, illness and birth of first child (not sure “beset” is the correct term here), I struggled terribly. For a good while I had been planning on hanging up the running shoes. This race was to be my (dying)swansong, and my performance was confirmation that I was doing the right thing. My knees rejoiced.

So, seeking new pursuits to pursue, I bought myself a pair of boots and turned my gaze to the hills. I’ve spent a lot of this past winter reading user reports on here, buying magazines like Trail and Great Outdoors. I also bought the lovely little brick that is the Walkhighlands Munros book. This website is great and the users here have provided a wealth of inspiration and motivation to me, so thank you all for that. I don’t know what sort of aspirations I have yet with regards to attempting the whole lot or anything as ambitious as that. I’ll just plod along and pick a few off for now. We’ll see how I get on.

I’ve been looking forward to starting my spring/summer hillwalking career for a while, the desire heightened by a horrible winter’s marathon training on the Ayrshire coast. Finally, this weekend looked to offer the first opportunity, the weather being great all week. I don’t really ever expect to be anything but a fair weather walker (at least when I can help it). I’m lucky enough to live and work with some of these hills on the doorstep, and so on Friday afternoon, after an early finish at work, I planned to seize the opportunity to take my first jaunt skywards.

NB: The title states that this is my first Munro. In fact, I’ve been up Ben Lomond a few times (as many who grew up where I did have been). However, the last time was around 14 years ago and I’m not counting it towards my “bag list”. It doesn’t feel like part of this. I’ll get up it again soon and iron out this little anomaly in my record.

The initial plan had been to do Ben Vane, it’s quite close to my work and I felt that I could get up and down and home again for a reasonable hour. However, my friend who had wanted to join me had to pull out and postpone. I wasn’t sure what to do with my Friday now. I considered doing Ben Vane anyway, but felt that I should wait and climb it with my pal as originally intended. I thought about just doing a smaller, easier walk or even not walking at all. I didn’t want to waste the good weather though, and I was all geared up to get my first (or second) Munro ticked off. So after a little thought and research I decided on Beinn Narnain. I hoped that I would comfortably be able to get it done and get home before it got too late, and it offered the attractive option of a detour to A’Chrois for a look at my original target and target for the coming weeks. I wasn’t going to attempt tie in Ime and the Cobbler. I thought (rightly) that it'd be too much for my first run, and first decent bit of exercise in 6 weeks. They’ll still be there for another day.

So off I set. This was the view from just past Glen Mallon on my drive to Arrochar....

I see the amount of snow up there and already I'm having my doubts. And I know that it's been said often, but some of these hills really do look so much smaller on the map. It's also evident from here that this isn't going to be a great day for photography. Unfortunately for anyone reading this, that didn't stop me taking lots of pictures. My apologies. The walking conditions were great however.

I parked at the carpark, paid my pound, and got suited and booted. It was still reasonably warm down at this level, so short trousers and short sleeves was the decision. I tend to run quite hot and didn't want to start out under too many layers. I had a few extra packed for later anyway.

The initial walk up along the forest path was very pleasant. Regular glances over my shoulder confirm that I was steadily climbing and I was looking forward to breaking through the trees to see more of my road ahead.

Sure enough, it wasn't long before I did....

And another look backwards sees Ben Lomond watching over my climb from a far. It was to be a constant presence throughout the afternoon....

Not far ahead I had to make a decision that I had been pondering for the last couple of days.... Straight on, or hang a right?....

I could follow the normal path towards the Cobbler and Beinn Ime and turn back to Narnain, or I could take the steeper route from the East via Cruag nam Miseag. In the end I took the latter. This had been my original intention and I decided to stick to it. My reasons were that I was worried I wouldn't be able to resist Ime once I had walked to the point of turning towards Narnain and so risk overdoing it, trying to do two Munros and missing out on A'Chrois as a result. I also fancied the scramble that the Cruag nam Miseag route offered. I'm glad that I made the choice that I did, but the climb I embarked upon was much tougher than I had anticipated.

So, blissfully unaware of the extent of the trials before me, I set off on the path to the right, not climbing for now, parallel with the tree line on my right. I followed this path for a while looking for the trail on my left which would lead upwards. I passed two small concrete structures (Inlets 4 and 3 they were labelled) and began to wonder if I had missed my turning. I kept on a little bit, and it wasn't long until I bumped into this chap who was standing right by the path, making sure I didn't go past it....

You can see the little trail snaking up past the concrete block. If anyone else might be looking for this path, you'll know you've found it if you stand on top of the concrete, turn towards Arrochar, and see this waterway directly before you....

This confused me a little as the OS map suggests that the path upwards would be a bit before this water feature. I found it to be right in line with it. It could be, of course, that I simply missed the path on the map and stumbled upon another path carved out by others in a similar position. Either way, I was heading upwards...

It was rather boggy and muddy here, but it was about to get muddier.... and steep....

Shortly after making my way up through here, I reach my first little bit of snow. I've hit it earlier, and lower than I thought I would....

Another short climb and I see my next step. This, I believed was Cruach nam Miseag....

I turned for a quick photo down Loch Long. Again, not the best conditions, I'm afraid...

I went on, climbing for what I believed was Cruach nam Miseag. It wasn't... Well, it was, but there was a lot more of it than I thought.....

Turning round, looking back towards where I'd just been. I believe now it was the little finger on the OS map around 630m....

Eventually, calves now beginning to tighten, breathing starting to get heavy, I reach the top of Cruach nam Miseag. Climbing slowly and heavily, I knew that at this point I would finally be able to see the summit of Narnain.
However, as it slowly came into view,I realised that I wasn't prepared for exactly how it would look....

To me, it looked impossible. I could see no path that I was very confident about taking. My legs were heavy, I was getting tired, the breeze was starting to get up, and for the first time, I began to think that I'd chosen the wrong route. I admit that the thought of turning back was beginning to creep into my head. I looked right towards A'Chrois. Here, with Ben Vane and Ben Vorlich visible behind the ridge...

I wanted to get there.

So I bimbled down to the base of the climb. Still unsure, wondering if I had bitten off more than my inexperience and lack of condition could chew. As I got closer however, I grew more confident. As I got closer, I could see something of a route, I could see that the rocks were huge. Where initially I worried that I would be clinging to a rock face like a fly to a car windscreen, I could now see that the rocks would help me, protect me from the wind, and even allow me somewhere to lean myself whilst taking a breather or pausing to figure my route.....

So up I went. Excited now.

And I made it! The Cairn at the top....

That last climb was great. Tough, and just far enough out of my comfort zone to be fun, but never worrying. Great it was. After a little look around I found the trig point, balanced my camera on the little wall next to it, set the timer, and quickly posed shamelessly for a photo.....

I then gratefully put on my hat, fleece, and took a sheltered seat, a bite to eat and cup of tea. If there is a better summit snack than tuna mayonnaise on tiger rolls, then tea and a Cadbury's fudge, I'd truly love to hear about it.

I rested for around twenty minutes, looked over the map, looked towards A'Chrois, looked at the map again. Then stood up and walked towards the ridge....

I was feeling rested and reinvigorated and confident that the hardest part of my walk was behind me. It was a short, slippery plod through a bit of snow to get down onto the ridge. Once on it, I marched on. The ridge was broad, the breeze fairly tame, and the views were good. Looking back towards the summit of Narnain, I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly I'd managed to get down and halfway along the ridge. There were a few small humps to get over along the ridge but soon enough I got a good look at where I was making for...

It looked higher up and further away than I'd have liked it to be, but it looked reachable. I was also enjoying how the cairn looked like one of those cool beacons from Lord of the Rings (the geek inside never leaves you). By the time I reached it, my legs were aching again and I was glad to take another short rest....

A small bag of pretzels, another fudge and more tea cheered me up. And here, finally was the view that I was here for... A good look at what was to be my next Munro, Ben Vane..... Vorlich behind it and Sloy in between, it did look a steep, tricky little beast. After the climb I've just completed though, I'm more than confident that I can take it.....

As much as the initial reason for hitting A'Chrois was to get the view of Ben Vane, this next photo is the reason why I'm so glad I did get across there.... To get a good profile view of the route I'd just taken to bag my first Munro.....

I walked back down towards the ridge again and set about trying to pick out a route down. There was no discerable path that I could see, but it was fairly straight forward if a little steep in places. I just took my time and aimed for the trees.

One last photograph looking back at Narnain as I hit the tree line....

From here (to my left as I took the picture) I could see the later parts of the path where I met my sheep friend earlier. I contemplated making for it and tracing my steps back from there to the car park. The river was between myself and there however, and I wasn't too sure how easy it would be to cross. I decided just to head towards the trees, knowing that if I continue downwards I would eventually hit the forest road. Sure enough I walked on following the fence line by the forest, picking along a narrow trail with the trees to my left and the river falling to my right. Eventually I hit the road just as it crossed the river. From here it was a slow, pleasant stroll back to the car and to a welcome comfortable seat, fresh socks and old trainers. Magic.

Two days later, my legs are still feeling it a little, blisters, one on each heel, are healing and I'm thinking about my next walk. It may be Ben Vane, although maybe I'll try a slightly gentler looking one. I'd like to be in a little better condition before going too steep again. Wherever/whenever it is though, I'm looking forward to it.

I hope you enjoyed the report assuming you stayed with it this far. Reading back, I have droned on a bit. Apologies also, once again, for the poor photos. Hopefully the next trip will be met with better conditions.


Alan :thumbup:
Last edited by alan mckenzie on Mon Aug 03, 2015 8:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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alan mckenzie
Hill Bagger
Posts: 3
Munros:25   Corbetts:3
Grahams:6   Donalds:2
Sub 2000:1   Hewitts:1
Joined: Oct 6, 2014

Re: Beinn Narnain for a 1st Munro + A’Chrois for a look at N

Postby alan mckenzie » Fri Apr 17, 2015 8:11 pm

Seven days later, I've made it up Ben Vane as planned......

Weather was great. Climb was great. Slide/scramble down the SW face was great. Afternoon was great.

P4170260 - Copy.JPG

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alan mckenzie
Hill Bagger
Posts: 3
Munros:25   Corbetts:3
Grahams:6   Donalds:2
Sub 2000:1   Hewitts:1
Joined: Oct 6, 2014

Re: Beinn Narnain for a 1st Munro + A’Chrois for a look at N

Postby dooterbang » Fri Apr 17, 2015 11:08 pm

Well done on your first report, and first munro...as an adult :wink:

Running those type of distances will keep you sound for pounding the hills.

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Location: Isle of Skye from Feb 2019 (Originally Glasgow)

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