This was a great day out but mostly I'm going to moan. With clocks changing, there'll be no value till Spring in taking the train beyond Crianlarich for hills - the 7pm return's just too long after sunset. So I wanted one last shot. It was also my 200th consecutive month on a Munro and the run had started on Stob Ghabhar so a symmetrical ending seemed worthwhile. (I'm not sad enough to count months - I just realised that was how long since March 2001 when foot and mouth disease resulted in us all being banned from the hills that month. That was the last time I missed.)
So I'd booked my bike as far as Crianlarich and got a separate ticket on to Bridge of Orchy because I wasn't able to get the bike booked that far. Anyway on Thursday evening I went in to the Scotrail website to confirm the time of the return train and it had disappeared from the system. I thought of doing Dubhcraig to Laoigh instead but decided just to do Ghabhar and cycle back to Tyndrum Lower where there was a train still running.
On the train next morning I asked the guard about the missing train. He said, no, it was running. That left me in two minds but they change crew at Crianlarich. I asked the new guard. Och no, he said, they couldn't get a crew so there's no train. There'll be a bus instead. I can't say how poor this is. There was no announcement and no notices at the stations. I'd planned my fallback, but tough on someone who'd walked into Corrour.
It was a cracking morning and I was off like the clappers. The time pressure wasn't for the train. I just didn't want to use the main road back to Tyndrum so it would be the West Highland Way and I really wanted daylight for that. I was thirty minutes to Clashgour and then two hours to the Stob Ghabhar summit. Wildlife was scarce. Some French lassies had got really excited seeing a roe deer from the train but that was within 2 miles of Queen Street. Then just short of the summit I was pleased to meet a bunch of ptarmigan, changing into winter attire. Just at this point the cloud came in for the first time but I got this glimpse of my downward route. Note the sunshine on Rannoch Muir. From now on I'd be seeing sunshine in the distance but wherever I was would be cold.
The top was Baltic, with just flashes of visibility so there was no urge to hang around. I was going down Sron nan Giubhas. This is a really neat route I got out of Storer's 100 walks. I've encountered dotterel and allsorts on the plateau between Stob Ghabhar and the Sron. With the cloud coming and going I nearly departed down the Aonach Mor to Creise, a 90 degree error, but I woke up in time. The ridge is an amble though it gives occasional challenges in snow.
Crossing the bottom of the corrie (Coire Dearbhadh, which I think means butterfly corrie), I was heading back west and then had to climb 20 metres on the far side, both of which seemed an imposition. On the other hand the climb up Stob a' Choire Odhair's a really easy angle and the view, like most that go directly onto Rannoch, is superb. The cloud was low overhead, the sun was playing on the moor, I just sat and drank it in.
Time was pressing. It was 4.40 by the time I got to Clashgour and the bike. I blew up the tyres. I've recently changed to a hybrid which I like a lot better than the mountain bike. But it's got narrow 28 inch tyres and I managed 4 simultaneous pinch punctures on a rough track in the Lammermuirs this summer. So I keep them tyres hard! The WHW was easy, a really fun evening cycle with a touch of aid from the west wind. The Real food Cafe was a disappointment. Fish and chips was expensive, the batter was soggy and the fish did not taste fresh. I took one of their paper cups and headed across to the Green Wellie shop where I got a bottle of wine for the train. It rolled in to Tyndrum Lower on time. I was hoping nobody was waiting up at Tyndrum Upper for a train that would not arrive.
Now it's back to the car for the rest of the year. Let's hope this winter there's an excuse for an ice axe too.
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.