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Got you, you little begger!

Got you, you little begger!

Postby Pastychomper » Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:22 am

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Ben Griam Beg

Date walked: 28/01/2018

Time taken: 2.3 hours

Distance: 6.3 km

Ascent: 405m

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After going over its partners-in-climb earlier in the month I've been itching to come back and deal with Ben Griam Beg. Saturday looked like my best chance, so I oiled hat and boots and headed south.

The forecast for the day started the same as my last trip: cloudy with 20mph winds from the south, though this time with a band of heavy rain between 9 and 10 am. After the last trip my knee said it wasn't sure it liked pedalling up and down the A897 in the wind, so I decided to take it easy and drove to my starting point. When I parked it was raining steadily, but it stopped by the time I'd extracted my bike, and I set off around 7:40.

I'd decided to take the forest road, signposted "Dyke" from the main road, thinking it would be passable on a bike and the trees would give me shelter from the wind. The road was well-maintained with all gates unlocked and some impressive blue-green lichen on later sections.

All the middle section of the plantation was recently harvested so I faced the full force of the wind for most of the journey. With a mild sense of deja vu I wound steadily upwards, crunching my ageing gears (and the ones on the bike... :wink: ) and wondering why anyone ever chooses to buy derailleurs. Especially when my trouser leg got caught in the chain. :roll: At least the lack of trees meant a good view of Ben Griam Beg, with its head firmly in the clouds.
Ben Griam Beg and Mor in the clouds

After a while the clouds darkened and I felt drizzle on the wind. I paused to check my watch: 9:00 on the nose.

I think it was Barry Pilton who divided liquid precipitation into rain, heavy rain, torrential rain, and walkers' rain. This downpour didn't make it far along that scale, but fit neatly into what I think of as cyclists' rain: a spray calculated to get an uncoated individual exactly as wet as (s)he would become through sweat if pedalling in a coat. Eventually I decided to use my coat and go easy on the pedalling, which was handily downhill from there. I was heartened to see that, though the clouds were getting darker, they were also a little higher up the hill.

The last section of plantation was still standing, providing a sheltered bike park as well as a surprisingly pleasant forest ride. The clouds were descending again and the glimpses of the mountain down various burns and firebreaks looked less and less promising. I parked my bike around 9:30, had a few snacks and waited in the dry to see if the rain would pass.
Bike shed

In the woods

By ten I could see a patch of blue sky through the trees, so I re-packed my bag and headed into a firebreak. The hilltop was now clear with the sun shining over the ridge.

Fir plantations are not the most natural or popular of forests but I've always enjoyed the quiet and the smell of pine, and there was something supremely peaceful about this one. The trees were arranged in numerous irregularly-shaped stands so that it felt like walking through a maze without any dead ends, and with dark green walls and a yellow carpet of grass. I thought I'd come for the hills but his part of the walk set me up for the rest of the day.
In the maze

I can't be quite so enthusiastic about the ground conditions - that yellowish carpet was extremely lumpy with plenty of burns and boggy sections, so this was both the best and the worst part of the walk.

Coming away from the woods I found a few deer grazing on the other side of the boundary fence.
Ben Griam Beg

The fence was one clue I'd basically ignored on the map. Maybe I've been spoilt by meeting too many passable deer fences - those with a slit at waist height, or regular styles or gates or even gaps. This was one of the other kind. I followed it for a while and found an extra-thick fence post that I could climb more or less safely. I don't like doing that even at "strong" points, if only because I have some experience of maintaining fences, but I had an appointment with a haggis in the afternoon and considered that even my weight would cause less wear than a typical winter wind out here. Later from the hilltop I could make out the deer fence wrapping around the woods, but couldn't see an obvious crossing point.

I was now presented with a steady climb to an inviting-looking ridge that joined two lesser peaks to Ben Griam Beg on my right. I chose a route across one shoulder and onto the ridge near where it starts to climb up Beg. Above about 350m there were some gusts blowing around the hill from the west, though I was still sheltered from the south. By sticking to the north side of the ridge I avoided the wind almost all the way up. The sun was warm in that sheltered strip, and the climb was smooth and steep with one small scramble.
Going up the ridge

I reached the top at 11:45. There were great views in all directions, though a bit hazy, but the wind was blowing strongly from the south and the sun was bright enough that I had trouble seeing anything on my 'phone screen. I took a load of pictures, hoping some would look OK. Oddly, my hat didn't blow off until I was half way down.
Remains of the trig point

View north from summit

I'm sure Saruman never had trouble with his autoexposure.

That's a bit more like it.

ETA: view of B.G. Mor

I meant to carry on and look at the hill fort on the west side before turning back, but after about 20 minutes enjoying the views I forgot all about that and headed down. It might have been covered in snow anyway.
The way to get down

Just below the summit I found a perfectly sheltered spot for lunch. Maybe the woods weren't the best part of the walk after all. :mrgreen:
Sometimes it's best to stick with what you know.

Looking back from the canteen

Rainbow, looked more colourful in the flesh

Occasional lonely-looking deciduous trees had been planted between the stands of fir. These made good way-markers on the way back to the bike park.
A birch between two thousand firs

Another band of rain blew in just as I set off for the ride back, but it didn't last long. Most of the journey was plain sailing, almost literally with the tail-wind. :)
I generally prefer forest roads that have, well, forests around them. I might make an exception here.

Section 1 (wheels):
Ascent 268m
Length 14.5km (one way)
Time Out 1h50', Back 1h, Total 2h50'.

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Section 2 (boots):
Ascent 410m
Length 6.3km (total)
Time Out 1h30', Back 50', Total 2h20'.

our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Last edited by Pastychomper on Thu Apr 04, 2019 10:51 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Got you, you little begger!

Postby weaselmaster » Tue Jan 30, 2018 5:37 pm

Enjoyed that. The Griams are high on my priority list for the summer, good to have a look at the landscape
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Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

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