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Fifty shades of Graham

Fifty shades of Graham

Postby Graeme D » Mon Feb 01, 2016 5:50 pm

Grahams included on this walk: Beinn Bhalgairean, Meall nan Gabhar

Date walked: 31/01/2016

Time taken: 6.3 hours

Distance: 14.5 km

Ascent: 1020m

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Kev had texted me a couple of weeks ago to get the lowdown on the Corbett Beinn nan Oighgreag which he had lined up for the coming weekend but then I got a text to say he'd had to scrap the idea because his wee girl had been unwell. I felt his pain and tried to lessen it by suggesting we do something together the last weekend of the month. He replied saying that the Sunday was good for him so plans were made to meet up near Dalmally at 8am on the morning in question to take on the Grahams of Meall nan Gabhar and Beinn Bhalgairean.

I'd had an eye on the weather when I suggested this pair and reckoned that the option of covering much of the ground on forestry tracks might mitigate the effects of any deep, powder snow that might be lying.

In the fortnight since arranging the gig, I had treated myself to a new pair of Aku Superalp GTX boots and was keen to put them through their paces. However, as I drove up through Tyndrum and onto the Oban road, the fast deteriorating conditions made me wonder whether it wasn't going to be the 4 season boots and crampons that would be required today.

I pulled in at the start of the access track to Succoth Lodge just past the Glen Orchy junction and Kev was five minutes behind me. We decided to try our luck and take his car up to just before the bridge across to the lodge, saving ourselves several kilometres of walking in and back out on the rather grim and industrial looking track.

We set off at 8.15 in somewhat skanky conditions but there was the promise of improvement in the air and we soon climbed above the skank and into what seemed like clearer air. The landscape around the railway viaduct is pretty post-industrial looking and not enhanced at all by frequent pungent whiffs of sulphur. From where they came, it was unclear, but it certainly does not make for an aesthetically pleasing start.

Kev approaching the railway bridge

Meall nan Gabhar ahead

I had opted for the new Akus after all and it was immediately clear they were going to be a big hit. By the time we reached the last of the industrial hardware in the shape of a big yellow earth moving machine a couple of kilometres up the track, the sun was making valiant but ultimately fruitless attempts to break through and the scenery was altogether more picture postcard.

Back across Glen Lochy to Beinn na Sroine

Meall nan Gabhar

Picture postcard

We headed for Bhalgairean first and after a little bit of uncertainty, managed to locate the firebreak we needed that would lead us onto the open hillside. A tramp across a couple of kilometres of deep powder snow led us to the summit cairn on it's little rocky promontory, below which we had some food and hot drinks before retracing our steps (more or less) back to the track, where we turned right and headed for Meall nan Gabhar.

First firebreak

Second firebreak

Kev summiting Beinn Bhalgairean

Me on Bhalgairean

Each just one short of a significant landmark

After a short distance, we left the track and stumbled through deep snow and abandoned rolls of fence wire, following the deer fence up to the Eas a'Mhadaidh which would lead us up onto our second Graham of the day. This would represent a double milestone - my 50th Graham but possibly more significant, Kev's 55th and therefore exactly 25% of the total (any further demotions notwithstanding!).

News filters through that Terry Wogan is dead

Sadly by this stage it had become apparent that there would be no breakthrough by the sun today and indeed, if anything, it had closed in since we had come off Bhalgairean. That and the rather flat, large summit area robbed it of any sense of drama or perspective, a shame given that we knew the views over to nearby Ben Lui and Ben Cruachan would be stunning on another day.

Kev hits 25%

I hit the half century

We then started to make the descent north off the summit to pick up the line of pylons and complete a circular route back via Succoth Lodge, but it soon became apparent that it may not be a wise idea in the conditions. It was agreed that discretion would be the better part of valour and we retraced our steps once again back to the forestry track.

Descending between crags


Beinn Bhalgairean

Meall nan Gabhar

My calf muscles were feeling the burn on the walk back out the track, all that powder snow ploughing earlier in the day having taken its toll, and we were both very glad of the decision to drive Kev's car up as far as we could.

So, limited views and some eyesore scenery lower down, but a couple of big Graham landmarks and a very successful debut outing for the new Akus. Love 'em!!!!!

Quick stop in Tyndrum for a quick half in the Tyndrum Inn then over to the Real Food Café for soup and crusty bread before the drive back home.

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Graeme D
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Re: Fifty shades of Graham

Postby rockhopper » Mon Feb 01, 2016 6:01 pm

Congratulations on your half century :clap: lovely weather for it :wink: - cheers :)
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Re: Fifty shades of Graham

Postby Collaciotach » Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:53 pm

Well done in getting out quite a feat this last few weeks :D
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Re: Fifty shades of Graham

Postby kevsbald » Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:56 pm

Enjoyed them. Aye good to catch up.
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Re: Fifty shades of Graham

Postby dogplodder » Tue Feb 02, 2016 5:22 pm

Nice photos and good use of the window between Gertrude and Henry! 8)
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