Och, I really meant to take a camera but I forgot.
This trip started off ambitious. Take the train to Ardlui, get the wee ferry across Loch Lomond then climb Beinn Chabhair, then an Caisteal and finish in Crianlarich. But I was trying to do it returning on the 3.57, so time was tight - just under 6 hours.
The online Ordnance Survey indicated it could be done in 5 hours 30 but the package uses strict Naysmith, 5 kph and a minute for 10 metres climbing but no allowance for downhill. This meant it indicated 10 minutes for the three hundred metre descent to the bealach between the two Munros because it's less than 1 k distance. I'd have to make compensatory gains on the uphill sections. Anyway, I never got anywhere near it.
From Ardlui you can get a ferry across the loch so I did. Neat trip, £4 a skull, £6 if it's just one passenger. I’d have been better starting from the north but I’d no idea how or if the ferry worked so I wanted it at the start of day. I found the ferryman in a garage and I found out there’s a mast with a ball to be raised on the far side to summon him. We crossed and I went about a kilometre along the West Highland Way then cut up through bracken, sweaty and stumbling, and over the ridge to the Ben Glas burn and that's what I'd like to whine about.
There's a mini hydro development slap across the baggers' rout to Chabhair and it's a mess. The tracks are unstabilised bull-dozer scars. From train trips up Glen Falloch I'd seen the disturbance at low level. Up high it's appalling. I've seen hydro that's quickly faded back into the landscape - the one at Inverlochlarig, for instance. The scars here, on the other hand, are going to last. The whole planning process for this must be shambolic.
Once past it, I followed the path to the pretty lochan then to the ridge and familiar territory. Looking down I could see there's another major track been driven along the Allt a'Chuillin, my normal approach.
By contrast, here's a picture of the ridge that my mate Gordon took on a cracking trip we did in November 2013. Cruachan’s looking great in the background.
This time instead it was ultra hot and humid. I was sweat soaked and I was only 20 minutes ahead of schedule. But hey the clouds cracked and disappeared.
Still, I changed plans, headed back. Instead of cutting directly for the ferry I took the path to Inverarnan - only a couple of kilometres more but no bracken. Not a clever idea, the last drop is horrible, eroded knee-crunching stuff. I reached the WH Way with 50 minutes to the train. I'd still 3k and a 100 metre ridge to cross to the ferry.
I made a bit of a spectacle of myself, running when it seemed profitable. I got to the ferry with 20 minutes in hand but the boat was crossing away from me. I hoisted the ball to ask for its return. When it arrived (it's very dependable) I leaped on and at the other side leaped off. I ran the 400 metres to the station, arriving dead (and dying) on time. The train arrived apologetically 10 minutes later.
A good day, but I should have just decided I was getting the later train and done the whole traverse. The ferry's really neat but the route's unattractive now the Inverarnan approach just looks devastated.
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