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Ben Tulaichean and Cruach Ardrain from a hot Inverlochlarig

Ben Tulaichean and Cruach Ardrain from a hot Inverlochlarig


Postby Claremac » Fri Jun 26, 2015 4:26 pm

Route description: Cruach Ardrain and Beinn Tulaichean

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Tulaichean, Cruach Ardrain

Date walked: 08/06/2015

Time taken: 5.3 hours

Distance: 11.4 km

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Monday 8th June 2015

I awoke on a lovely Monday morning, the tent had stopped shaking in the wind and warm sunlight was filtering in so I decided to press on with the decision I had made last night courtesy of advice from the ever referred to Cicerone walking the munros (south) book, which stated that it was a much better route up Ben Tulaichean and Cruach Ardrain from the south, the Glen Voil side. The reasons it gave for this were that you don’t have a very boggy plod through a forest that will possibly drown you in a mire of peat, that there is less overall ascent, and that the drive up through Glen Voil is “spectacular”.

All of these things individually would be enough to sell it to me so taken as a combination it was a no brainer. And as I had already Inverlochlaraig the previous day after descending Stob Binnien, I pretty much felt l I knew the area like the back of my hand.

Just after 10 am i headed off on the A85 towards Crieff and then down to the turn off for Balquidder and Glen Voil. The road straightaway proved to be challenging and not quite what the word “spectacular” tends to conjure up. Yes it was nice in parts, lovely flowers, the sun shining brightly and some views of the loch. However as I was far too busy staring fixedly at the 10 or 20 meters of road I could see until the next sharp bend, trying to remember where the last passing place was and ramming the car between 2nd and 3rd gear up and down this twisty and busy single track road the views were only briefly caught during frantic sideways glimpses.

After 3 years of this I at last arrived in the car park at Inverlochlarig. Normally a car park wouldn’t be worthy of a mention but this car park is great. It has a shelter with a picnic bench, maps of the area and some advice and notices. Although there were 2 other cars in the car park I saw no one as I headed off at about 11.40. It was a beautiful day and consequently my pack was quite heavy when I set off as I wasn’t sure what I needed to take, practically everything I can find being my usual philosophy.

I walked up the road past the farm where a sign invited passing walkers to knock and have a chat, past Rob Roy’s house, (still not in) and on to the hillside where the going was up. There seemed to be a straightforward line running up the side of the hill which I followed, hopping over the fence half way up the slope and carrying on until reaching the shoulder.

The hill was a bit boggy but not actually too bad. With the amount of rain over the weekend and the general bogginess of all of the hills around Lomond I assumed it was going to be a lot worse. Maybe the dry April had an impact.

It was hot. By this time I was regretting wearing a fleece as both it and my t-shirt were soaking at the back where my pack was pulled against me. The pull up was simple and nowhere near as steep as Ben More although my legs and thighs were aching as I pushed on up a very steep section higher up, unnerving in the knowledge that this would also be the way down. A final rocky slope and I reached the 946 meter summit of Ben Tulaichean at about half one, not breaking any speed records there but hey, it was darned warm!

Picture1.jpg
At the top of Ben Tulaichean


I stopped for a break, changing my top – always good to get the boobs out in the sunshine at the top of a non-sacred mountain - and having a smoke before checking out the views which were worth taking a lot of time over. Rolling vistas of mountains, the Arrochar alps and the closeness of Ben Lomand, and being able to see into the far distance and making out ranges of hills miles away, Lui, Os and Cruachan, Glen Co, possibly the Mamores and over to the other way the Ben Lawyers five and Shehallian. A bumble bee dive bombed around me seemingly quite annoyed at my presence before I shrieked and batted at it with my map case (not the best way of dealing with a bee but it worked).

from Ben Tulaichean looking west.jpg


Then I looked down the path towards Cruach Ardrain. At 1046 the summit of Cruach Ardrain is 100 meters higher than where I was presently sat, a psychological disadvantage with doing the two hills from the Inverlochlariag side. And it really doesn’t look easy. Very undulating on stony ground over little tops and nobles before a massive pull up towards the end. My hope of a wide plateau resembling a gently sloping football field faded. And of course the fact that after going up Cruach Ardrain I had to go back over the top of the Ben Tulaichean in order to get down was starting to dawn on me.

Just a word on that note. After I got back I read some walk reports of doing the 2 summits from the south and you obviously don’t have to go back over the summit of Ben Tulachian but can in fact drop down from the beleach and find a traverse around the top of to get back onto the shoulder. I didn’t figure this out.

I pushed out onto the path, striding manfully in a womanly way, enjoying the sunshine and the views. As I came close to the Cruach Ardrain summit I noticed another walker heading down towards me. Even from a distance it was obvious that this guy was moving quickly. He had 2 poles with him – I’d left mine in the car by accident and was seriously regretting it – and was young and fit.

And when he got closer to me I could see that he was pretty darned gorgeous as well. I pretended that I too was young, gorgeous and fast moving as we exchanged hello’s but I don’t think he was fooled.

We went our separate ways and I focused on the path - although it’s not an easy push to the summit it wasn’t quite the diabolical experience I’d been dreading. This was my last hill of the trip so I took my time and drank in the peace and decided that my life needed to change. I often think that at the top of a hill.

Cruach Ardrain summit.jpg


Picture7.jpg
Crainlaraich from Cruach Ardrain


Testing my thigh and calf muscles I set off back, head down and focusing on the path. Facing the other way the path is a lot nicer. It’s reasonably wide and doesn’t feel exposed but care is required as there are a lot of stones about that you could potentially fall over if you are given to silly accidents. The path going to the summit of Ben Tulaichean from Cruach Adrain is quite inviting so I pulled my tired legs together, picked myself up after falling over a stone and revelled in the occasional short bit of bouncy grassy ground giving respite to the muscles.

Boosted by the knowledge that this was last time I’d be going up I made it back to the top of Ben Tulaichean and stopped to have a moment. Suddenly all the tiredness and aching just disappeared as i felt immersed in the hill and in the activity. Its that peace that comes with the challenge that makes me come back time and again and I’m sure it’s something that all hillwalkers experience. I tried to capture that sense of wellbeing to keep with me, feeling that hill.


Then my legs started hurting again and I was thirsty and hot, or cold, or whatever and the moment had gone. With a final look around I headed for the ground which I nearly tracked down on the first attempt.

My mind had been occasionally harked back to the steepness of the path so with wobbly tired legs I was a tad nervous of the descent. However the really steep bit that I’d been worried about didn’t give me much in the way of problems and was straightforward with an occasional bit of bum shuffling over bigger rocks. I was sure that this couldn’t possibly be the worst of it and in my mind a massive steep section similar to a great stony slide which went on for thousands of meters was just over the next drop. This proved to not be the case and with a light heart I set my sights on the ever closer track, traversing my way over steep grassy slopes and plodging through occasional boggy sections. The path kind of gives up again but if you follow the mud then its quite easy to stay on course. The steep bits were easily negotiated until, like a magnet draws enthusiastic iron fillings, I managed to find the only bit that there is any actual difficulty in. I realised as I headed to some birch trees that actually they were on a cliff. I had no idea how big the cliff was or if there was a route down so I did my usual dithering activity for a while then reluctantly headed back up using a process of momentum and hand and feet scrambling because the slope was actually very steep. My mind had woken up now though and sent out a few adrenalin troops to get the limbs moving properly and in some sort of coordinated rank and file, we went back up, over a gap to the left and down the next slope instead which proved to be the correct way. I looked at the trees and cliffs as they passed on my right noting a clear way down that route that I’d been unable to see from above.

I continued walking, nearing the end of the day now with that chilled out feeling of achievement, through boggy sections to avoid the cows that had congregated on the track, possibly to greet me, and then back to the road. At the car park, humming to myself and getting busy in the 5.00 evening sunlight with my stove, coffee, pot noodle, fag, and change of clothes i gazed back at the hills before driving with painstaking alertness down the twisty lane of Glen Voil and back to the motorways that would take me south.
Claremac
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Re: Ben Tulaichean and Cruach Ardrain from a hot Inverlochla

Postby dav2930 » Fri Jun 26, 2015 8:43 pm

Well done! Nice report that and a nice pair of hills. I thought your face looked familiar - that young fella you said hello to on Cruach Ardrain was me! (only joking - sorry) :lol: Keep up the good work!
User avatar
dav2930
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Joined: Feb 13, 2015
Location: Cumbria

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