Add an hour's cycling to and from Crianlarich station to get the full picture.
My rule of thumb used to be that the walk had to be at least half again as long as transport time. So 4 and a half hours driving gave a 7 hour walk at the minimum. Going by train, the criterion's not so severe - the time on board's not wasted like it is in a car. But if you come from Edinburgh, Ardlui is the break point. Return from there on the early train gives you a 6.5 hour window for walking. Crianlarich or beyond should be home by the later train and that's back in Edinburgh about 11 p.m., a fairly long day.
Which may be why I broke the rule and went for the early return from Crianlarich, a gap of only 5 hours 50 between trains. That's not enough to do Dubhchraig to Lui but I'd just been given the wonderful Grahams and Donalds book and I'd noticed something called Fiarach. For all the times I'd been on Dubhchraig I'd never noticed it, on the map or in real life, but the book was mildly enthusiastic.
Well I was off the train like a bullet from Crianlarich but I'd like to have hung around to listen to the driver bollocking two cyclists who'd dragged their bikes across the line in front of him. They said it was ok, they'd heavy packs and were late, he was pointing out in basic terms that a train was coming in one minute from the other direction and they were suicidal eejits. I wanted to hang around and enjoy, but time pressed.
I left the bike about a kilometre beyond the railway bridge in Glen Auchreoch and crossed a couple of burns to get to the Munro track. It was a cracking day, if somewhat hazy, and from the track I got my first and unimpressive view of Fiarach.
For a change I went up the NE ridge of Dubhchraig, which is mildly more fun than the usual route.
From the summit it's hard to see Fiarach but I went over a bit and got the full picture. It's the unimpressive hummocky bit in the foreground not the unimpressive hummock behind it, which I suspect is Beinn nan Imirean.
I'd been two hours from the station to the summit so I wasted a bit of time thinking I'd it all under control. I started the descent and looked at the mess in front of me and had second thoughts. I was travelling across the hags and round the forest.
I actually made decent time but there's been no rain for about 6 weeks. I seriously wouldn't fancy this surface when wet. The plateau of Fiarach would be a navigational challenge in mist, too. The descent of Dubhcraig goes on and on, losing about 500 metres. It's a relief when you get level with Fiarach, then you drop another 150 metres and set out across bog and hag.
Finally, one hour 50 after leaving Dubhchraig I reached the dolerite dike which crowns Fiarach. It's quite neat but I didn't hang around as train time was only 90 minutes away. Irritatingly I made Crianlarich, with just under 30 minutes in hand which is not quite enough for a decent pint. I went to Landis store instead and bought beer, water and paper cups (to add class to my drinking on the train.) It's a marginal contribution to the local economy.
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