The plan for today was to have a wee wander up Cruinn a' Bheinn via Ben Lomond, well why not eh! It has been many, many years since I had last visited Ben Lomond so wimped out and decided to take the M74 up to the top.
They are currently working on a section of the path in Rowerdennan forest so a detour is in place along an old forestry track but the commission has gone to great lengths to try and minimise the disruption, you do get a nicely framed view of the Ben though.
Just a quick note to give a massive thumbs up to the lads and lasses that maintain and improve the paths. They do a grand job regardless of your feelings about them.
So I patiently made my way through the hordes of German, Dutch and Italian tourists (some of whom even wore suitable clothing ) taking advantage of the beautiful weather and headed up Sron Aonaich and on to the summit. the views south over Loch Lomond and the Inches proved exceptional due to the weather, though my camera phone was not up to the task to take advantage, but I only had eyes for Cruinn a' Bheinn.
I dropped down the Ptarmigan before pushing out down the ridge from the 768 spot height towards the Bealach, half way down I had the unexpected privilege of the company of a small herd of red deer which yet again I succeeded in failing to capture on my camera phone, (really need to invest in an actual camera, but that is so last century!) There is no path here so it is down to your own best judgement as to the route, I kept to the west side of the ridge, but there are no massive problems other than a deer fence in the Bealach itself.
As I stood in the Bealach looking up the southern flank of the Cruinn I experienced a moments hesitation, it actually looks a lot steeper and higher than it is from this position and just for a moment I considered calling it a day and heading back up to the Ptarmigan and back to the car. However, after a stern talking to, I girdled my loins and dragged myself up the final 150 meters to the summit of Cruinn a' Bheinn.
From here you have a great view across Loch Lomond to the Arrochar Alps, North to the hills of Tyndrum and East to Ben Venue. It had taken me three and a half hours to get to this point, and the heat had sapped most of my energy, a wee cup of tea helped slightly.
My original intention was to drop off the North side of Cruinn a' Bheinn and pick up the ATV track towards Cailness and follow the West Highland way back to Rowardennan, however, I must have been slightly addled by the sun because instead I decided to climb Creag a' Bhocain as it was just sitting there.
I still dropped off the Cruinn on its North face to avoid the crags that bar the route directly west and then contoured around the hill. Once I was opposite Mulan Cnumha I then started west and went straight up to my waist in bog, this, was a surprise.
I managed to drag myself back onto dry land and reappraised my options. By probing west I discovered that it was all bog, just not always as boggy a bog as other bits of the bog. I found a route through the aforementioned bogs that was only knee deep and made my way slowly and profanely to the Cailness burn which counterintuitively was drier than the ground I had just moved over, To travel 500 meters had taken me nearly an hour, I would have been quicker using a boat.
Once over the burn the ground dried out and I eventually found myself on Creag a' Bhocain, a distinctly underwhelming pleasure after the epic to get here. The view up and down the Loch was a treat though and I have been inspired to get out the old Kayak and go exploring around the islands. If I had the energy I would have wandered up the ridge to the Ptarmigan, but by this point I was a wee bit annoyed and just wanted to get back to my car.
It was a simple task to drop down the west side of the ridge to the tree line where I found an animal track that ran down the hill and through the forest to the land rover track back to Rowerdennan. Be warned, it is very steep in places and there are a few hidden crags that I had to scramble around.
I finally emerged looking like a wild man from the wilds of Northern Canada rather than someone who had just spent the day on Ben Lomond, I was caked in mud up to my waste and elbows, I had mud and twigs tangled in my hair and my boots made a disgusting squelching noise every step I took. Added to that was the smell, which I did not pick up on until a lovely German family out for the day along the banks of the Loch pointed it out for me, their looks of fear and shock as I dragged myself out of the undergrowth a fine counterpoint to the days activities . It had taken me three and a half hours to get from the summit of Cruinn a' Bheinn to Rowardennan, so all in 7 hours, not my finest days climbing!
Next weeks enthralling instalment, Beinn Bhuidhe to complete my Arrochar Alp adventure.
I hope the photos work.
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