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Loch Leven - Garbh Bheinn - mitt Midgies

Loch Leven - Garbh Bheinn - mitt Midgies

Postby Gordon Ballantyne » Tue Sep 06, 2016 11:17 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Garbh Bheinn (Loch Leven)

Date walked: 05/09/2016

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 6 km

Ascent: 890m

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Found that Mamore Lodge hotel had closed and were rearranging their turnoff from the main road. A sign declared "no unauthorised cars" so decided to change my original plan for Mam na Gualain & Glas Bhenin by bike from Mamore lodge & headed for Kinlochleven.
Wandered round the climbing centre in Kinlochleven and had a couple of drams in the bar next door,
I had a wide-ranging conversation with the Transylvanian barman called Attila, who was a mechanical engineer.
So having solved the UK's problems again, I dossed down in the car in the car park outside ( was too late to get into any of the hostels, which were all full ). Comfy night anyway, while the forecast rain honked down outside.
In the morning,I spotted the midgies hovering outside, so cooked breakfast inside, cleared up and shot off.
Parked up by the bridge over the Alt Gleann na Chaolais, just before the Caolasnacon campsite.

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Got out of the car to take a look at a Heron skulking on the other side of the road, but had to dive back in again to take refuge from the clouds of midgies. Left the car in such a hurry to get away from the wee critters that I left my keys on the seat of the car and forgot to lock it. Fortunately most tourist seem to be honest or not very nosey !
The first bit of the track was through fairly lush vegetation which put up more clouds of midgies who launched attack after attack in squadrons - nay Douglas Bader wings ! The ascent up the NW ridge is fairly steep and starts from 40m, so no car assist today.

First view of Loch Leven from the hill.jpg
First view of Loch Leven through the cloud.

Having managed to get up the first bit to Torran nan Crann, I was wondering where the forecast winds were, to ground the dreaded Midg. I just had time to take a pic of a lone holly tree before the midge caught up and further on, spotted a bumble bee on a bonny wee blue floo'er. Of course, by the time I'd got the camera back out - the bee had moved on, so just a pic of the floo'er.

Holly tree.jpg
Holly tree on the lower slopes of Garbh Bheinn

Teasel-like Scabious - maybe - floo'er.jpg
Teasel-like Scabious, maybe. Minus bumble bee.

But now my attention was distracted when the cloud cleared a wee bit to reveal the great prow of Stob coire Sgoilte rearing up like the Dru from Montenvers.
However, the path up it was like a winding staircase, so it didn't seem too bad. Better still, the first atmospheric movement was detected, which gave my legs a much needed respite, as any stop by me allowed a biting session when the Midges caught up. Didn't they know I needed a rest from yesterday's exertions ?
The top bit of the ridge gets a bit rocky and then - oh no - a descent, must've been at least 10m ! ( it always looks like a hunderd when you're tired )
Anyway, it wasn't as bad as it first looked - just a psychological surprise after the toil of gaining the height.
Ridges are like that.

Top of Garbh Bheinn from  Stob coire Sgoilte.jpg
Top of Garbh Bheinn from Stob coire Sgoilte

Just as I was approaching the summit I heard folk shouting across on the Aonach Eagach. Didn't sound like an alarm call, so just carried on to the top of Garbh Beinn, with its triple cairns - one of which is a wee howff.
The cloud was beginning to lift, so i started to get views across to parts of the Aonach Eagach.
During a previous traverses of the AE, I'd looked across to GB from Meall Dearg and thought of nipping across, but the ridge down to the bealach between the two hides the 400m drop, so I'm glad my indolence got the better of me then !

The summit cairns of Garbh Bheinn in the rain.jpg
The summit cairns of Garbh Bheinn as the rain starts

The Aonach Eagach.jpg
Looking across to the Aonach Eagach from the top of GB

A shower of rain drove me off the top, and as I descended the cloud cleared after the shower had passed, giving a great view of the Pap of Glencoe, reminding me of a lazy day sunbathing on top of the breast, last century.

The breast of Glencoe reveals herself.jpg
The breast of glencoe reveals herself

The sun strikes the Pap of Glencoe.jpg
The sun strikes the Pap of Glencoe

Next the sun broke through, giving grand views of Loch Leven.
Meall na Gualain & the Mamores across the glen were still shrouded in cloud, so my change of plan had worked in my favour - twice in a lifetime - and in one weekend, that must be a record of some sort !

Looking down the NW ridge of Garbh Bheinn.jpg
Looking down the NW ridge of Garbh Bheinn

Garbh Bheinn from across Loch Leven.jpg
Garbh Bheinn from across Loch Leven on the way home

On the lower reaches of the ridge the midges were joined by the clegs, who took off in front of me to intersect my trajectory but Ifought them off with my walking poles. The path had also been lubricated by the previous rain, so my downhill technique deserted me as I landed on my arse about a dozen times, staving my finger in the process and arriving back at the car a soggy, muddy mess.
No time to do anything other than throw my bag in the back of the car & drive off - " ha ha, ya Loch Leven midgies, ye canna catch me", I yelled at them, scratching furiously at my lumpy skin & pressed the ones who had made it into the car against the back windie with fierce acceleration !

Drove back via Laggan and Tomintoul to catch the tail end of my grandson's birthday party and soak my wrecked body in my son's hot tub - sheer bliss !
Gordon Ballantyne
Munro compleatist
Posts: 239
Munros:282   Corbetts:89
Grahams:20   Donalds:7
Sub 2000:59   
Joined: Jan 30, 2011
Location: Westhill, Aberdeenshire

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