DIDN'T then almost wished I HADN'T. Glad I DID!
by johnscot55 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 12:42 pm
Route description: Cruach Ardrain and Beinn Tulaichean
Munros included on this walk: Beinn Tulaichean, Cruach Ardrain
Date walked: 04/09/2018
Time taken: 6.75 hours
Distance: 12.5 km
Ascent: 1019m15 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
The second Tuesday (4th Sept) had a far better forecast and there was a couple of cars in the carpark when I turned up around 9.15am, and another turned up as I readied. New boots on, I set off at 9.30. Beinn Tulaichean still had some cloud but it was around it's waist and I was hopeful this would soon disappear. Cruach Ardrain could be seen behind. Past the farm, over the bridge, take the small signposted shortcut and eventually on to the track heading along Inverlochlarig Glen.
Here's where I made my first mistake. Instead of staying on the track for a little longer, I almost immediately took to the hill and was very quickly picking my way through long boggy grass and criss-crossing a small stream. This would have been the case no matter what but I think my early entrance just gave me even more bog to navigate. I was glad that, for the first time, I was wearing a pair of gaiters I'd bought some weeks ago.
Onwards and upwards. With no path it's just a case of plodding uphill as best as you can. And quite soon I was beginning to struggle. I neither want or expect a staircase to a summit, but the constant uphill trek through the longish grass and boggy ground was seriously taking it out of my ageing legs. Not to mention raising my heart rate and testing my lung capacity. Going was very slow. Stopped to take a picture. Eventually, after what seemed a lifetime but was probably around 1.5/1.75 hours I reached a fence and remembering there was mention of this in the WH notes I had in my rucksack, I took them out for a check. I nearly began to cry. The fence was at 500 metres, just over halfway. My legs immediately doubled in weight and 50% of my remaining energy escaped with my next breath. I sat on a rock and had a drink and a Mars bar while contemplating my next move. I have to admit I wasn't finding this climb hugely enjoyable at this point and briefly considered a retreat but I really hated the thought of giving in. I've quit a climb due to weather, another due to a knee problem but never because I was "knackered"! I was thinking every step of ascent was one further I'd have to retrace if I backtracked. The thought of more of the same (bog) was not appealing. Start? I began to wish I HADN'T.
Fed and slightly rested though, and at least helped by the thought there was no one around to see how badly I was struggling, I eventually decided to push on. I climbed the gate and began the push upwards. Between 500 and 700 metres I think I was stationery for longer periods than I was moving. Also, around this time my right foot went down an unseen hole and as I pitched forward both my left hand and knee landed on those circular stinging plants that grow all over the hillside. Cue small dots of blood appearing on the palm of my hand and I had to pick the little thorns out of my hand and knee. Still it was an excuse to stop for a while. This was going well! I was now telling myself that Beinn Tulaichean summit was now my single goal and I would have to be happy with that. Cruach Ardrain could wait. Finally at around 700metres I crested on to the first bit of level ground I'd trod on for well over a couple of hours. This area itself was another bog but I spied what seemed to be the semblance of a path leaving from the left hand side. Still making frequent stops, but for the first time in a while starting to believe I was actually going to make the summit, I eventually reached the summit ridge and began to make my way towards Tulaichean's cairn. Even as I approached the cairn I began to feel better. Breathing easier, heart not so loud in my ears, still "leggy" but moving better. I finally reached the cairn. It had taken me around 3hrs 15mins. Could I honestly say I enjoyed the climb? Well I could certainly say it it hadn't been my favourite. But I do know that I was glad I had resisited the urge to turn back at the fence. It felt good to be on the summit.
I took off my rucksack, drank and ate some, looked around at the amazing views and took a selfie. I stared at Cruach Ardrain, realised I was so close and so after 5-10 mins on Tulaichean's summit, I put my rucksack back on and headed for the next Munro. Let's get this done. How soon we forget the pain!! Down into the bealach and then the pull up to CA's summit. Still stopping but making better progress. Near the start of the pull up CA, I met and spoke to the first person I had come across all day. A lady who was doing the same hills but from the other direction i.e. Crianlarich. She had already bagged CA and was headed for BT. In retrospect I think this may be the better route. Does anyone else have an opinion?
I was now feeling OK again and I knew I was going achieve the goal of BT and CA. Shortly before the summit of CA I was overtaken by a young German guy and his dog that I had seen coming off of BT's summit some time before. I arrived at the summit a minute or so after them, chuffed with Munro No. 20 in my latestarting bagging career. A summit I had written off bagging 2 or 3 hours ago. It was now just before 2pm. We chatted, ate and drank, and marvelled at the views especially that of Ben More and Stob Binnein, siting majestically beside us. This was truly the reward for all the effort. He was also parked at Inverlochlarig and although we were both ready to depart the summit at the same time, I hung back to let him leave first, not wishing to let him feel that maybe he should accompany me back down. I would only have slowed him down.
I descended back towards the bealach, passing the lady once more as she headed back towards Crianlarich. From the bealach the descent conditions to Inverlochlarig Glen were pretty much the same as that of the ascent. No discernible path. Just pick your own way, and my way meant skirting round some crags and jumping over narrow streams. The ground was again grassy and boggy and once more the legs came under strain, but heart and lungs were aided by gravity's assistance of the descent.. The only obvious signs of previous descenders was the occasional run of flattened grass. As a final challenge, and with the track in the glen and it's easy walking, just a few yards away, I was presented with completely waterlogged ground beside the track and had to climb up a large boulder and then jump onto ground that I had to hope I wasn't going to sink up to my knees in, to reach the track.
The hard work done, I began the long trek back to the carpark. It was at this point the sun became it's strongest and the right hand side of my face was feeling the heat. Alone with my thoughts, I briefly entertained the notion of walking backwards for a while to even up the suntan, but fortunately managed to dismiss this idea.
Just after 4.15pm, I reached my car, just over 6hrs 45mins since I had departed. Tired, but happy. Good news was the my new boots (and gaiters) seemed to have performed well on wet, boggy ground, and also had had no ill effects on my feet.
Was this my favourite climb? Well no! But complete it, I'm GLAD I DID!
by HalfManHalfTitanium » Thu Sep 06, 2018 1:12 pm
"A lady who was doing the same hills but from the other direction i.e. Crianlarich. She had already bagged CA and was headed for BT. In retrospect I think this may be the better route. Does anyone else have an opinion?"
I very much enjoyed the Crianlarich route to CA and BT. I tend to be a very slow walker, due to a metal knee. I especially struggle with sustained steep slopes.
For me, the approach from the north was a very pleasant and easy way to see these two hills - https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=81151
I think I would have struggled on the direct ascent and descent of Tulaichean that you describe.
by Huff_n_Puff » Thu Sep 06, 2018 5:59 pm
Smashing photos - thanks for the memories
by johnscot55 » Sat Sep 08, 2018 12:01 pm
I certainly can't imagine what it's like to walk with a metal knee, but I know on this ascent it felt like I had rubber legs
by ArgyllGoSlow » Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:06 pm
by Graeme D » Tue Oct 09, 2018 3:55 pm
by johnscot55 » Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:24 pm
Graeme D wrote:And also on getting some peace on the hills without the wee lad banging on about the football!
Cheers Graeme. If it's not football then it's dinosaurs😁! He's good company really!! You met him on his 5th Munro. Up to 10 now.
by Sgurr » Wed Oct 24, 2018 12:28 pm