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Arrochar Cave Trip Plus Yet More Soggy Munroing

Arrochar Cave Trip Plus Yet More Soggy Munroing


Postby mountain coward » Fri Oct 08, 2010 2:10 am

Munros included on this walk: Creag Mhor (Glen Lochay)

Date walked: 05/10/2010

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The Arrochar Cave meet was the end of a frenetic two weeks for me – and what a fantastic end it was – it really saved my fortnight!

After a soggy week attempting to Munro bag around Crianlarich area with Richard where we spent two days train riding instead (to Oban & Fort William) and then went home early (some walk reports to follow), I had to nip home for a rock concert and 2 Scottish Country Dances. I was then back up on Tuesday to Killin where I wanted to finish my Glen Lochay Munros with Creag Mhor – a beautiful peak (luckily I’d seen it before!) I booked into Killin’s Braveheart bunkhouse (which unfortunately will be no more after this month) and then went out to phone Richard for a weather forecast. It will be sunny and lovely with maybe a couple of showers he assured me...

The next morning it was indeed sunny and lovely as I set out and I was parked up at the end of Glen Lochay by 1030. I walked the 4 or 5 miles along the Water/Hydro Board’s track which contours round the hillside. I was a little miffed when one of the employees sped up the road past me to the start of the track in a van and neglected to offer me a wee lift to the top but it would have only saved me 10 minutes anyway.

Creag Mor fm Meall Glas shoulder.jpg
Taken on a previous trip obviously...
Starting Out in Sunshine.JPG


An hour and a quarter later I was trying to puzzle out where the route up the end of Creag Mhor’s ridge would go as it looked very craggy. I found a path but it was heading off into the corrie to the east of the mountain. As I knew that side was less craggy I followed it and found a great grassy route up onto the ridge... where the clag began to descend and it started to rain in earnest. By the time I reached the ridge it was throwing it down and very windy as well (and blowing towards the ‘bad’ side). I sighed and once more donned all my clothing and plodded up into the mist. Just managed to get one photo before the mountain’s elegant nose completely disappeared.

Creag Mhor Clouding Over.JPG


The ridge up was very easy and had a great path and I was soon on the summit where I then set about compassing my way round to its top, Stob nan Clach. This was soon reached and I then backtracked and decided to descend though the thick mist into the corrie and walk out that way. After a few craggy bits which, with care, I managed to get down between okay (although they looked alarming when you looked back up them) I was down to the corrie floor. I saw a herd of deer and hoped the stag, if he was about, wasn’t feeling especially grumpy – I gave them quite a wide berth just in case. The corrie wasn’t too boggy but the rain had been running down my waterproofs into my boots and then the long and very wet grass completed the job. By now I was paddling inside my boots – I was very glad to regain the vehicle track, wring my socks out and quickly march out. I’d borrowed Richard’s new digital camera (for the cave - unlike me, my camera doesn’t ‘flash’) but took very few photos as it was just too dreish to bother really.

Very Wet Return from Creag Mhor.JPG
Creag nam Bodach.JPG
Pass to Glen Lyon.JPG
Very Wet Ben Cheetah & His Mate.JPG


By the time I reached the car, most of my kit was pretty well soaked... and I had a night in a cave to face still using most of it. I knew my boots would never dry in the next 3 or so hours (or even days) but hoped I could potentially dry some of my clothes so called back at the bunkhouse where the lady very kindly said I could put my stuff in the tumble dryer. Of course, I didn’t dare put my waterproof coat in so that just had to try to dry naturally in the warm room. I checked my soggy phone and Chalkywhyte had left me a voicemail about meeting up in the pub at Arrochar. I took the opportunity to ring him back and see if he could possibly bring me some dry stuff please – he said he’d see what he could do.

After about an hour and a half I had to abandon further drying of my kit and set off. I either had spares, or the originals had dried except my boots and gloves. My jacket was damp but getting better – I hoped the warm pub air would sort that out – especially with all the WalkHighlands hot-air! I put my gloves on for the drive down to Arrochar in an attempt to dry them but all that served to do was make my hands cold and damp – not great for meeting people and shaking hands!

I arrived at the pub and met Chalky, Walkaboot, Flipside and Magicdin and we settled down to a couple of drinks and a great meal. Chalkywhyte (Alan) turned into our impromptu support for the cave meet. He’d brought me dry gloves, a superb pair of waterproof and very warm and well-soled brand new boots and he also lent me his bivvy bag to put my sleeping bag and mat in! What a hero – certainly saved me from some potential discomfort through the night. When we’d finished eating, drinking and chatting, he also drove us to the old forestry cottage at the end of the driveable path to the caves.

We put our packs and headtorches on and I led the way to the caves... well I tried but we immediately ended up at the shooting club which we were supposed to bypass! I felt slightly stupid, especially when I still couldn’t find the path after scouting round – I’d been to recheck it on the Tuesday afternoon in daylight before continuing up to Killin to avoid such occurrences! Walkaboot (Janet) and Flipside (Billy) found the start of the proper path for me and we continued... The path, which had been wet on Tuesday was now pretty much a lake and we sloshed up it – me being very thankful for the waterproof boots!

There are considerable areas of slabby path to climb before the path levels out again through the forest. Most of the path was a pretty sketchy and narrow affair through the grass – good job I’d revised it the day before - it was totally different in the dark and with a huge pack! Janet, who was carrying a big bag of peats in her hand had quite a bit of trouble with the slippery path and fell a few times. Billy went back to help her while I checked my bearings and landmarks to ensure we were on route. Eventually we reached the huge area of spreading tree roots which signalled the start of the steep ascent to the caves. Looking high above us, my headtorch picked out the huge rockfall which forms the caves. Of course, finding the right cave in that chaos of fallen and slippery rocks is a bit daunting, especially in the dark – I was really worried in case we couldn’t find it. Luckily we found it (unoccupied) straightaway and the others followed me into our cosy home for the night. Favourable exclamations were being uttered behind me as Janet and Billy took in our surroundings. After the heavy rainfall we’d had and the soggy walk in I was pleased to see the floor area was pretty much dry everywhere.

By the time I’d dropped my pack Billy was scattering green light sticks everywhere and the cave started to look really magical. Janet lit and placed loads of tealights and then she and I stood looking round admiring our surroundings some more. Moments later when we looked back, Billy had the fire built, lit and going pretty well! There was a perfect fire place (obviously much used) between some rocks in the middle of the cave so you could seat yourselves round it nicely and the fire couldn’t get out of hand and consume sleeping bags and the like. The cave also had a great natural chimney consisting of a natural sloping gap in the roof so we didn’t get smoked out. There was also a dry rock area at the far end of the cave which we used for our outer clothing (and me for a while also most of my other clothing as I was sweltered by the time we reached the place!)

We discussed who wanted to sleep where – Janet getting a cosy corner with a bit of dead bracken bedding in a nice recess, me getting a nice, smooth bit near the fire and Billy the other side of the cave. It was a really roomy abode, even with the 3 of us installed and all our kit unpacked.

We spent the next few hours taking photos, telling tales – including a hilarious one from Billy about being repeatedly attacked by a billy, eating buttered tea-loaf and chocolate and drinking the cider Billy had carried in and the white coffee flask Janet had blagged in the pub before we left. We celebrated Janet’s birthday around midnight, chatted some more, stared mesmerised at the fire (as you do) and eventually turned in for the night – I glanced at my watch and saw it was 3am! Time really does fly in such a magical place!

The Arrochar Cave.JPG
The Arrochar Cave-Nightlights & Glowstick.JPG
The Arrochar Cave-sleeping bags & candles.JPG
The Arrochar Cave-Sleeping Bags, Candles & Fire.JPG
The Arrochar Cave-meditating by the fire.JPG
The Arrochar Cave-Chilling in the warm.JPG


I couldn’t believe I hadn’t felt cold once (but then we had fed around 15 peat blocks to the hungry fire) and even getting into bed – traditionally a very cold time for me – felt warm and cosy, even my feet were warm - without my electric blanket that never happens! I don’t usually sleep much until around 5am so lay awake looking at the flickering firelight on the ceiling and the green glows in the corners and listening to the continual roaring of several stags (they literally roared all night – goodness knows how they find the energy to mate after all that!) There was also the roar of a nearby waterfall which was increasing in strength as the night, and the rain, went on – it sounded horribly wet outside.

To be honest, it wasn’t just that I wasn’t tired, it was also that I didn’t want to sleep – it seemed a waste of such a superb experience and I felt it was for such a short time. Also I felt smug that we were cosy in there with such an awful night outside.

Eventually I slept a bit and we all woke around 8am and got up to pack – the fire was still glowing warmly. I was pretty sad to be leaving and went out with Janet to take a few more photos.

The Arrochar Cave-looking out from within.JPG
The Arrochar Cave - Main Entrance.JPG
The Arrochar Cave - smaller entrance.JPG
The Arrochar Cave up the Arete.JPG
The higher cave up the arete
The Arrochar Cave - Packing Up.JPG
The Arrochar Cave - the start of the route down.JPG


Then we had to leave and we set off very carefully down the soggy and slippery paths and slabs back to the shooting range. When we got there, a guy in a yellow and black jacket and black crash helmet was waiting for us. OMG! I thought it was the police and that the owner of the forestry cottage where we’d been dropped off the night before had complained. While I was turning over in my mind what we should say and thinking that we hadn’t committed any offence Janet said “Oh, there’s Alan”. Phew! so it was – he’d come on his bike instead of by car. He offered to go off and get my car and meet us – as it was getting pretty late for Janet and Billy’s bus I gave him the keys.

We were soon at the petrol station snack bar where Alan and I ordered breakfast rolls and coffee while the others had to dash off for the bus. I was feeling smelly and dirty so popped into the garage toilets to get a good wash before my breakfast. By now it had turned from steady rain to heavy rain so we were hoping the bus had arrived for the other two as there was no bus shelter! Then it was all over and I sadly filled up the car and headed for home. By the time I got to the south end of Loch Lomond, the weather was beautiful and remained so all the way back. Everyone back home said it had been beautiful all the time I’d been away and had I enjoyed getting good weather at last?!

A very big thanks to Alan for the great backup and dry clothes :D and to Magicdin for meeting up for the meal and chat in the pub, and to my two fellow troglodytes for a superb evening in the caves
:D
Last edited by mountain coward on Sun Jan 02, 2011 1:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Arrochar Cave Trip Plus Yet More Soggy Munroing

Postby mountainstar » Fri Oct 08, 2010 9:16 am

Cracking stuff...it's good to do something totally different now and again, isn't it. That's certainly something I have not done.
Where do you get the peat logs from?
After all your fun, it's back to work now......I mean trying to guess "give me a P bob Wales" :?
See you at the end of the month :D
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Re: Arrochar Cave Trip Plus Yet More Soggy Munroing

Postby iainwatson » Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:15 am

sounds like a really good experience and i'm still gutted that i had to miss it :( but i hope this will be repeated again and i can join in next time
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Re: Arrochar Cave Trip Plus Yet More Soggy Munroing

Postby Scotjamie » Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:23 am

Brilliant MC - climbing, paddling, caving.....also sounds like floating, and will take a while to land
not to mention writing WR at 2.10 in the morning.
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Re: Arrochar Cave Trip Plus Yet More Soggy Munroing

Postby walk aboot » Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:32 am

What a great report MC (despite the rain) :D . You've conveyed how magic it felt to be sleeping in one of the caves perfectly 8) .


It was still dry when we got on the bus - I even assumed you'd end up doing another walk after all, so completely missed that, the downpour that followed :? .


I'm a big fan of 'Mountain Days and Bothy Nights' as you know, and that's why I've always wanted to visit the caves. I was e-shopping after I got back yesterday, and I've now ordered 'Always a Little Further' too :thumbup: . For those of you who are interested, second-hand copies are being sold on Amazon but there is also an eBay seller who is selling new (re-published 2004) copies for £5.99. (Both books mention the caves, but 'Always a Little Further' tells tales about their use amongst regular hill walkers and climbers in the 30s).


Can't wait for our next visit :D 8) :D .
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Re: Arrochar Cave Trip Plus Yet More Soggy Munroing

Postby magicdin » Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:38 am

walk aboot wrote:What a great report MC (despite the rain) :D . You've conveyed how magic it felt to be sleeping in one of the caves perfectly 8) .


It was still dry when we got on the bus - I even assumed you'd end up doing another walk after all, so completely missed that, the downpour that followed :? .


I'm a big fan of 'Mountain Days and Bothy Nights' as you know, and that's why I've always wanted to visit the caves. I was e-shopping after I got back yesterday, and I've now ordered 'Always a Little Further' too :thumbup: . For those of you who are interested, second-hand copies are being sold on Amazon but there is also an eBay seller who is selling new (re-published 2004) copies for £5.99. (Both books mention the caves, but 'Always a Little Further' tells tales about their use amongst regular hill walkers and climbers in the 30s).


Can't wait for our next visit :D 8) :D .


Yes that is a great book walk aboot :D
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Re: Arrochar Cave Trip Plus Yet More Soggy Munroing

Postby walk aboot » Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:40 am

Oh nearly forgot...

MC was busy telling us all in the pub that every time she visits Scotland for a bit of walking the weather is usually awful and it rains, rains, rains. Uh oh we thought, she's coming to the Glencoe meet at the end of the month and she might curse it :shock: . Just before we decided to tie her up and leave her in the caves (only until after the meet, mind :shh: :wink: ) , her very own weather system became apparent...

any time she places a bottle of water in the side pocket of her rucksack she forgets to put the lid on it, and it 'rains' all over her as soon as she lifts her rucksack to wear it!!! :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Arrochar Cave Trip Plus Yet More Soggy Munroing

Postby walk aboot » Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:43 am

...she isn't tied up in a cave in Arrochar somewhere but her leaky bottle of water is! :lol:
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Re: Arrochar Cave Trip Plus Yet More Soggy Munroing

Postby Stretch » Fri Oct 08, 2010 11:21 am

There will be no cursing of the weather for the end of the month! Every time I go to the Glencoe area I get the following weather . . . maybe our powers will balance things out.

Summit of Stob na Broige.jpg
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Re: Arrochar Cave Trip Plus Yet More Soggy Munroing

Postby magicdin » Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:02 pm

Great report MC - I'm sorry I could'nt get up to the caves
Nice to meet you all
Your "Weather Gods" will change ! :D
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Re: Arrochar Cave Trip Plus Yet More Soggy Munroing

Postby mountain coward » Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:37 pm

Stretch wrote:There will be no cursing of the weather for the end of the month! Every time I go to the Glencoe area I get the following weather . . . maybe our powers will balance things out.

Summit of Stob na Broige.jpg


Great - a challenge - see whose powers are strongest at the end of the month... mine or Stretch's! Bet I win :lol:
Bring your rain-gear everyone...
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Re: Arrochar Cave Trip Plus Yet More Soggy Munroing

Postby mountain coward » Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:40 pm

walk aboot wrote:Oh nearly forgot...

MC was busy telling us all in the pub that every time she visits Scotland for a bit of walking the weather is usually awful and it rains, rains, rains. Uh oh we thought, she's coming to the Glencoe meet at the end of the month and she might curse it :shock: . Just before we decided to tie her up and leave her in the caves (only until after the meet, mind :shh: :wink: ) , her very own weather system became apparent...

any time she places a bottle of water in the side pocket of her rucksack she forgets to put the lid on it, and it 'rains' all over her as soon as she lifts her rucksack to wear it!!! :lol: :lol: :lol:


Except that I rarely carry a water bottle - I carry a flask - so it would be nice, warm rain if so... Still haven't found the top that came off my water bottle that night so assume it's in the Arrochar car park which means I'm a litterbug now! Sorry about your wet car boot Chalky...
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Re: Arrochar Cave Trip Plus Yet More Soggy Munroing

Postby mountain coward » Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:42 pm

Scotjamie wrote:Brilliant MC - climbing, paddling, caving.....also sounds like floating, and will take a while to land
not to mention writing WR at 2.10 in the morning.


Thanks Scotjamie... If you look at my average walk report posting time, 0210 is pretty early for me :lol:
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Re: Arrochar Cave Trip Plus Yet More Soggy Munroing

Postby mountain coward » Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:46 pm

iainwatson wrote:sounds like a really good experience and i'm still gutted that i had to miss it :( but i hope this will be repeated again and i can join in next time


It was so good, I'm very seriously considering organising another trip - possibly in summer/May/June - would be before the midgies got bad... Might have to be in the week again though as I think the caves probably get busy on a weekend - they were obviously being regularly used...
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Re: Arrochar Cave Trip Plus Yet More Soggy Munroing

Postby mountain coward » Sat Oct 09, 2010 12:41 am

mountainstar wrote:Cracking stuff...it's good to do something totally different now and again, isn't it. That's certainly something I have not done.
Where do you get the peat logs from?
After all your fun, it's back to work now......I mean trying to guess "give me a P bob Wales" :?
See you at the end of the month :D


Hi Mountainstar - hope you're having a good time up there and better weather than I had! I got my peat blocks from Huntingtower petrol station near Perth - not sure where everyone is getting their fire logs from though...
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