It was only when I saw that my last walk was on the 17th, and today was the 21st, that I realised why my legs were getting awfy tired while climbing Beinn Narnain... taking days off work can give you false weekend syndrome and my legs had only just recovered from my quick hike up Culter Fell last Sunday... I forgot this in the morning, along with the stiffness I felt on Monday and Tuesday, due to being tasked with a taxi service into town.
I then had the joy of 5 days off with the car and anything was possible, my only thought was "i'm in town from 8:30am, already a head start, where would I go...? The days before (this may sound familiar to some of you) were spent in a flurry of reading walk reports, viewing maps and google earth, trying to decide on where to go, along with listening to the gut feeling to see what felt good, combined with lots of forecast checking and re-checking...
"I've had my eye on Ben Cruachan for ages... those pointy peaks keep teasing me, first from Tarmachan Ridge, then Ben Lui, then Beinn Ime... it's time!"
Unfortunately the forecast said it would be wet everywhere until around midday before clearing up into a dry and clear afternoon and evening. I still had my head start, so my first thought on leaving the City Centre was what direction do I go...? I'll just drive to where the hills are and judge what I can observe as i'm driving.
Local Glasgow hills were covered in cloud on the drive in... having been to Ben Chonzie recently I thought i'd go north west instead of north east, even though Strathyre and my plans for a Munro/Corbett/Graham triple looked like it "could" have better conditions.
Luckily I was going the other way from rush hour traffic and made good time up the side of Loch Lomond after getting some supplies at the garage. Ben Lomond was clear and looking grand in the morning light, with just a tuft of cloud and mist over Tarmachan... but it was at the other side of our largest loch from me... damn. Oh well i'm still trying to keep this as my (if I get there one day) last Munro so no worries, plenty more to choose from...
Arrochar and Tarbet hills were cloud covered and by the time I eventually got through the roadworks and past slow drivers (while avoiding suicidal overtakers) to drive up Glen Falloch it had turned for the worst and the Falloch Munros were doing their best ghost impressions with white sheets from summit to base.
A green Welly pit stop was next on the cards, I would wait and see how I felt about Cruachan, which was still my plan, but it was supposed to be in worse conditions until later on than everywhere else. I decided i'd drive south again and leave Cruachan for another day, see where the aether of time/space took me... plus Gregor had said the day before that it's worth keeping for a clear day.
Decision made I would drive south... on the approach to Crianlarich I was left with instinctual decision number 1, where was I going... Stuc a'Chroin... I turned left, but on reaching the Crianlarich Hotel where the last minute change of mind road back to Glasgow was, i was hit by another feeling... this time logic, I parked the car.
"It's pishing doon, the rain is going west to east, i'm not driving east..." so I took the right turn and was soon heading back down Glen Falloch, Cruach Ardrain, An Casiteal and friends all still covered... slow progress down Loch Lomond again, the Ben still clear... maybe i'll just turn into Arrochar and if Ben Arthur is visible as I enter the village (that view still blows me away every time I see it) then i'll do a hill here, maybe Beinn Narnain, I just found out that Iain did it the other day and it's needing done, plus i've got the good camera in Arrochar for the first time so I don't mind a similar view to when I climbed Ben Arthur and Beinn Ime. Also... scrambling potential...
The Alps looked glorious on entering Arrochar, Loch Long was also resplendent. I think the flow has just taken me to the perfect place, it felt like being in the eye of a storm. Arrochar was fairly quiet but on entering the Succoth car park it was surrounded by busy road workers beavering away in diggers, lorries and the car park!
There were no spaces on the right, or the first few bays on the left, but further left was a space between to white contracters vans, I pulled in, sat in the open boot and slowly got ready, keeping an eye out for any objections. Not an eyelid was bat, so after packing my bag (again this may be familiar to some of you) which had to be done from scratch because I half filled the boot with more than everything I needed for speed of preparation, knowing that after my taxi service was done, I had all the time in the world... to both pack my bag and eventually settle on a hil to climb!
The flow of time had brought me to the base of Beinn Narnain.... Ok so it's the 259th highest Munro at 926m/3038ft, but you can knock at least 430 metres from Meall nan Tarmachan in 89th place with it's 1044m... it's really a Graham in prominence (roughly 626m) while Beinn Narnain is a sea level start and worthy of every metre of it's Munro status:
DSC_3391 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Off i went and at the very start of the path I passed a couple who smiled and said hi, amazingly they would be the only people i'd see until leaving the summit and after that I still only saw a few others on the hill and that was at the end of the path. Definitely the quietest I have ever seen the Arrochar hills, they are usually mobbed!
Almost immediately, referring to my pre-planned route, what I thought was a stream that looked a bit like a path was a stream/path combo and it was the way I wanted to go. I have to say it was much more fun than the zig-zag tourist path, it doesn't get too wet or boggy and is very clear all the way up, with large concrete blocks acting as markers on the way:
DSC_3394 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Going up the flow on the stream/path:
DSC_3398 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The view also opens up very quickly and before long I was at the base of the crags, where the path goes left and right and there should also be one heading up Creag an Fhithich:
DSC_3406 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
A butterfly (or some weird anime cartoon character!) stopped on a rock to say hello:
DSC_3416 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The way ahead, I should have taken the easier slop mid-left but ended up going mid right up to the crag above the small tree further mid right:
DSC_3421 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Oddly, at this point I found my legs were pretty heavy and tiring quickly, not like me at all. In my head it was Saturday and all thoughts of Culter Fell 4 days earlier had left my mind!
It was after 1pm, ach I just need my lunch, so I picked a large concrete block to sit on and enjoyed this view for lunch....
DSC_3434 20170921_131400 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Refreshed and refuelled, checking the map showed the path going left then up, while my route said straight up... the perils of using multiple maps (OS and opencyclemap) to plan routes in order to see all available paths. I wandered along a bit, couldn't see an easy path up, then returned to my lunch spot where my route took me up to a steep path next to a crag...
DSC_3435 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Scrambling time! I put my camera in a dry bag in my rucksack and climbed up the path, through a small waterfall, great fun:
DSC_3436 20170921_134505 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
After the climb the view south down Loch Long and the Clyde opened up...
DSC_3444 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Easy going now...
DSC_3447 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I was making decent progress, the joy of walking solo, and behind me the view kept on improving, Ben Venue and others now in view, time for a nosey...
DSC_3450 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
L to R: Ben Ledi behind Cruachan, Ben Venue, Cruinn a'Bheinn & Cruach Tairbeirt in the foreground:
DSC_3459 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Heading up Cruach nam Miseag, Ben Arthur now in view to the south:
DSC_3471 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Loch Long, the Firth of Clyde and Arran:
DSC_3473 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The Brack directly south:
DSC_3477 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Right next to Ben Arthur, probably one of my favourite shots:
DSC_3478 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
It's hard not to love it, despite popularity:
DSC_3480 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Atop Cruach nam Miseag I stop for a photo break...
DSC_3484 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Loch Lomond and Loch Long Grahams:
DSC_3485 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Distant Arran peaks:
DSC_3489 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Crowds of ants atop Ben Lomond:
DSC_3496 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Venue, climbed a few months ago, a great hill and viewpoint:
DSC_3500 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Stob a'Choin, looks like a steep and rocky Corbett, another one of those hills that keeps popping into view and into the mind, making me want to climb it sooner...
DSC_3503 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Summit of the Brack:
DSC_3507 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Arthur summit:
DSC_3514 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Satisfied, I press on to the top of Cruach nam Miseag...
DSC_3525 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
...passing a muddy bit and continuing up the path:
DSC_3529 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Again the view opens up and changing light conditions make it a joy to be out on the hills, time for another nosey...
Mid Hill (Beinn Dubh) behind me:
DSC_3530 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Vane & Ben Vorlich above Creag Tharsuinn:
DSC_3531 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Beinn Narnain's Corbett top A'Chrois, Crianlarich Munros now coming into view. I was very tempted to finish the walk that way but decided to leave it for another day:
DSC_3532 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Up ahead, the Spearhead comes into view... cool!
DSC_3534 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Meanwhile, down Loch Long a rainshower targets Coulport...
DSC_3537 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Things just got interesting!
DSC_3543 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ah the joy I felt looking at the Spearhead, I feel i've been restricted on recent walks, now I could have some proper fun!
DSC_3545 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
It was still raining around Cove Bay and Gareloch:
DSC_3550 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
DSC_3556 20170921_145115 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Although looking impenetrable at first, the closer you get you can make out the path going up to the left, then it goes right through the boulders, then up towards the Spearhead and to the right:
DSC_3557 20170921_145241 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Rain passing now:
DSC_3557 20170921_145334 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
It was a fun path to climb, a piece of cake actually:
DSC_3561 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The scenery was like something from a sci-fi film:
DSC_3564 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben More and Stob Binnein looking dominant to the north east:
DSC_3567 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Campsies, Conic Hill, Loch Lomond and Glasgow beyond:
DSC_3571 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Yet another view down Loch Long and the Firth of Clyde... sorry!
DSC_3576 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
On the right I could see a fair few folk enjoying Ben Vorlich:
DSC_3580 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
To the far east, the other Ben Vorlich, Stuc a'Chroin and Beinn Each:
DSC_3595 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Loch Arklet and Loch Katrine:
DSC_3596 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
DSC_3597 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Venue summit, a very enjoyable walk:
DSC_3600 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
DSC_3604 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Dumgoyne, Glasgow and distant Biggar hills including Culter Fell:
DSC_3615 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Culter Fell, Tinto and Glasgow:
DSC_3616 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Tinto Hill, Loch Lomond, Glasgow and Auchineden Hill:
DSC_3617 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Duncolm, Glasgow and Cathkin Braes with the Lowther Hills beyond:
DSC_3623 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Beinn Dubh, Corse Hill and distant Cairn Table, i've walked up most of the hills south of Glasgow now enjoying the view north to Beinn Narnain and friends, it's much more fun being on the bigger hills enjoying the view south though.
DSC_3626 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The mouth of the mighty River Clyde, Gare Loch, Cumbrae, Ailsa Craig and Holy Isle:
DSC_3636 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
DSC_3640 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
DSC_3642 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Yet again the changing light and shadows was illuminating the landscape and it was as if the hills were lining up to be in shot...
DSC_3651 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
DSC_3652 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
DSC_3656 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Happy at having a good gander south to the big smoke of Glasgow, I continue the climb to the Spearhead:
DSC_3674 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Just below the summit and Spearhead is a large boulder ampitheatre, impressive:
DSC_3677 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Atop the Spearhead, having a lord of the rings moment!
DSC_3679 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Back on the path it's just a short distance tot he big flat top of Beinn Narnain, so the view north opens very quickly and is brilliant, Beinn Bhuidhe on the left with the Glen Coe and Glen Etive giants in the distance, from the huge looking Ben Starav to the mini-mountain range Bidean nam Bian:
DSC_3684 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Directly north is Ben Lui, Ben Oss, Ben Vane in the foreground, Beinn Dorain and Tyndrum hills with Beinn a'Chreachain prominent in shadow:
DSC_3687 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The Crianlarich 7 with Ben Vorlich front left and A'Chrois summit front right:
DSC_3692 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Strathyre and Trossachs with the 3 lochs:
DSC_3695 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Lomond in full glory:
DSC_3699 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Right enough! I'm almost at the summit and make a bee line for the trig point:
DSC_3704 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
DSC_3706 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Made it, Munro number 13 with Beinn an Lochain and Beinn Ime (both conquered earlier this year) framing a nice summit shot:
DSC_3714 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
In the distance is Mull and Ben More, visibility is great today!
DSC_3719 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Beinn Ime and it's impressive crags, plus to the left of that you can see the line of rocks where my bro made it to on my 40th earlier this year before turning back. He was above Munro height but didn't have the will power and leg strength to continue and I didn't want to force the issue. I'm sure i'll get him back there one day to finish what he started! Distant Dalmally peaks can be seen to the right, in the background above the crags you can make out Stob Diamh, Beinn a'Chochuill, Beinn Bhuidhe & Beinn Eunaich:
DSC_3721 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
It's a huge summit area, you could easily have a gathering of hundreds up here:
DSC_3726 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
DSC_3728 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
To the south west, Ben Donich with the Paps of Jura behind the summit and Islay in the far distance on the right:
DSC_3733 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Beinn an Lochain west with Mull beyond:
DSC_3735 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Mull and Beinn Luibhean:
DSC_3736 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
By now i've moved to the cairn west of the trig point as it's a better viewpoint to the east. Behind it creates a nice shot of Ben Lomond with the pillar:
DSC_3745 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
This shot is for my mate Drew who was up Ben Arthur for the first time recently and loved it as he saw this view down to the Rosneath peninsula where he grew up, the first time he had done so. He enjoyed it so much he's now itching to climb more of these hills!
DSC_3752 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
DSC_3755 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Goatfell, Mullach Buidhe, Beinn a'Chliabhain, Cir Mhor, Beinn Tarsuinn and Caisteal Abhail:
DSC_3758 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Arthur with Ben Bheula behind it:
DSC_3762 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
THE summit... nobody threading the needle and scrambling to the top... very unusual, it's usually mobbed!
DSC_3764 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
To my surprise though, when looking at this photo of Arthur's Seat at home I spotted the red jackets of two climbers making their way up, hope they knew what they were doing, looks pretty exposed where they are...
DSC_3766 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I do spot a few people on the north peak, maybe I just missed them at the summit:
DSC_3767 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I zoom in on Beinn an Lochain's steep and rocky summit area, what a hill it is, it packs a lot into a short walk!
DSC_3771 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Beinn Ime summit, with the crag/shelf on the left now know as "Stu's failure". Look how close he was to the top, maybe I should have tried to persuade him harder to continue but those last two steep sections were just too much for him. Another day bro....
DSC_3774 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I might be in love with this lens... Stob Diamh:
DSC_3776 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Beinn Bhuidhe and Beinn Eunaich...
DSC_3779 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Starav.... instantly jumping up to the top ten of hills I want to climb next!
DSC_3781 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Glas Bheinn Mhor:
DSC_3786 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Stob Coir'an Albannaich in front of the mighty bulk of Bidean nam Bian which is every background peak in this shot!
DSC_3790 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Meall nan Eun:
DSC_3791 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Nevis, heid in the clouds...
DSC_3793 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Stob Garbh behind Beinn a'Chleibh, Criese back right:
DSC_3796 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Lui, a grand mountain and fine walk, need to return to it one day to climb it from Cononish and hopefully on a day when i'll be able to see from the summit!
DSC_3798 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Oss with Stob Coire Easain and Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin behind to the left:
DSC_3803 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Beinn dorain back left, Beinn Dubhcraig middle and Ben vane summit in foreground:
DSC_3805 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
L-R: An Caisteal, Beinn Chabhair, Ben More, Cruach Ardrain, Beinn a'Chroin and Stob Binnein:
DSC_3807 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben More dominant:
DSC_3808 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
DSC_3811 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
To the east Ben Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin:
DSC_3812 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The changing light made being on Beinn Narnain today an absolute joy, with all the time in the world to take photos and enjoy the scenery:
DSC_3814 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Having taken photos of almost every peak around me I decide to make my way down to Bealach a'Mhaim, leaving the summit cairn where I sat and snacked while soaking in the brilliant surroundings:
DSC_3818 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I really enjoy the Arrochar Alps, so many easily accessible hills in close proximity, you can either fully enjoy one or do multiple hills in many orders. Then it's just an hour back to Glasgow but as I climb more of them, the distant peaks especially around Glen Coe & Glen Etive keep on teasing me and it's only a matter of time until i'm flying past the southern highlands en route to these giants with every trip north.
Beinn an Lochain, Beinn Luibhean, Binnein an Fhidhleir and Mull beyond:
DSC_3822 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
It was coming down off the summit of Beinn Narnain that I was shocked to bump into two other ramblers, having had the hill all to myself until now. I chatted briefly to the guy ascending to the summit and said a hello to the guy sitting having a snack a bit further down.
Beinn Ime on the descent:
DSC_3823 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Vane and Ben Vorlich, the two remaining Munros for me in Arrochar:
DSC_3828 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
On the descent I somehow found myself between the path I should have been on and what looked like another down to the left, I managed to get back on track and the path improved significantly:
DSC_3838 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
A sign indicated recent path work and I was surprised to see that this had now been extended along to the base of Beinn Ime so it must have been done this summer as Stu and I had to traverse the older muddy path when we climbed in May.
DSC_3852 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Down on almost level ground I head down the path and encounter this wee toad on the path, luckily spotting him in time and he kindly allowed me a very close up shot:
DSC_3859 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The Allt is that way buddie >>>
DSC_3867 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Arthur looks majestic as I pass with the sun about to pass behind it, autumn colours starting to show through:
DSC_3877 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I make fast progress down the path and enjoy the new evening colours on Ben Lomond and Ben Reoch on the way:
DSC_3882 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I've never actually sat under the Narnain Boulders before and as I was one of only a handful of people enjoying the Alps today it was available for a quick seat and photo opportunity:
DSC_3883 20170921_163812 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
At the zig zag path I finally met a few other people, what looked like tourists heading up in shorts with cameras, hopefully not starting their walks this late in the day. I then passed a couple who had been up Ben Arthur but didn't do the summit. I may have annoyed them when I mentioned that the scramble is the most technically difficult mainland summit, the girl looked like she wanted to go back and try it!
Longer shadows indicate the tail end of the day, Cruach Tairbeirt ahead:
DSC_3884 20170921_165837 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I then passed a woman with her two dogs and we got chatting, she was visiting from Yorkshire and we had a right good blether about Scotland, walking, mountains, dogs, Arran, the Lake District... it felt like I was catching up on human conversation and contact after a day on the hill when I only met two other people!
With the dogs stalling we said cheerio and I made my way back to the car in just under 5 hours, not bad going considering all my photo stops.
Beinn Narnain's Creag an Fhithich and Cruach nam Miseag now looked raidant in the evening sunlight with the colours even more vivid than earlier in the day:
DSC_3888 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I saddled up and headed in to Glasgow to visit my bro and sister in law. In the time between then and now I have become a proud Uncle and look forward to taking wee Sandy up his first hill in a few years time!!
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