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Hillwalking or Bogtrotting. A lot of both!

Hillwalking or Bogtrotting. A lot of both!


Postby johnscot55 » Thu Sep 27, 2018 4:13 pm

Route description: Beinn Chabhair, from Inverarnan

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Chabhair

Date walked: 24/09/2018

Time taken: 7.5 hours

Distance: 14 km

Ascent: 1010m

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With the school holidays over, and daylight hours decreasing, the days where my availability, my grandson Matthew's availability, and decent weather, all lined up were becoming few and far between. Stuck on Munro no.9 for the last few weeks, he really wanted to get into double figures before the end of the year.
Monday being a school holiday, my wife, who was also off work for the day and had been hoping we would have some time to ourselves (for a change) to go for a drive and a meal somewhere, graciously agreed to let Matthew and me have the day for a climb. Unlike my wife's selfless action, I selfishly chose a climb that would not only give Matthew his 10th Munro but give me a new tick also, Beinn Chabhair. I had bagged four others in the group and this would leave only Ben More and Stob Binnein to tackle, should I ever find the gumption to tackle them.
The weather forecast was pretty good and Ben Lomond was clear of clag as we drove up the lochside towards Inverarnan. We parked behind the Drovers Inn and set of around 10am. I don't know if seasoned, veteran hillwalkers still get this feeling, but, being a relative novice, I always find myself hoping that I (or in this case, we) can actually DO THIS, not a confident assurance of knowing I will. Anyway, we were following the WH route, so on crossing the bridge we immediately turned right to skirt round the campsite. I must admit I found this detour absolutely pointless. Admittedly I don't own the campsite, but surely a handful of hillwalkers passing through the campsite doesn't cause much disruption. Was there a mass riot between campers and walkers in the past that brought about this detour? And, anyway, you end up walking through the camp wigwams at the rear to get to the style anyway🤔.
We crossed the style and immediately began the stiff climb up a pretty eroded stony path. There are a few points where the path is quite narrow with a steepish drop to the side, but nothing of concern. Somewhere on this part of the path there is a thickish branch overhanging the path and a careless walker could scrape the top of his or her head while passing underneath it, producing bloody fingers when surveying the damage. But you'd have to be pretty stupid to do that🤕!!
We crossed over the deer fence style which is at a point close to a biggish drop of Beinglas Falls. Eventually we reached the plateau through which the Ben Glas Burn runs. This is where the fun? begins. The plateau appears to be one large bog with very few bits solid underfoot. In fact, I would say that for pretty much the whole mountain, if you aren't heading uphill or downhill, i.e. if you are on level ground, you WILL be in a bog. We picked our way along the plateau in the general direction of Lochan Beinn Chabhair.
bcreport1.jpg
Matthew, ascent by the Ben Glas Burn.
It was a slog, not helped by walking for so long with little gain in height. I must admit to feeling a bit guilty here as I was giving my new leather boots just their second outing, while Matthew was wearing his nubuck style boots which were probably near the end of their life. I had been hoping to hold off buying him a new pair till next spring (no point in buying now and finding them too small for next year), but his boots were now in a right old state.
At last a small cairn was reached and from here we forked left over further bog till another rough path began the ascent to the ridge by Meall nan Tarmachan. This path is pretty rough too, but at least we had left the boggy plateau.
bcreport2.jpg
Matthew and Lochan Beinn Chabhair.
Now apart from a very short shower during the initial ascent from the campsite, the weather had been OK so far, but about half way up this path a glance back in a westerly direction showed that clouds had formed on nearby tops and rain was falling. And it was certainly headed in our direction.
bcreport3.jpg
Lochan Beinn Chabhair looking towards Ben Vorlich.
And sure enough just about the time we reached the top of the path, the clag arrived, bringing with it rain and fairly strong winds and I could see that it had unnerved Matthew a bit. We knew there was one lad likely to be between us and the summit and it was here we met him coming down. We asked how long he would estimate the summit would take, as although we should have had a visual on the summit ridge by now there was none. There was still a bit to go yet. Matthew has been in this weather before, but I think the high wind especially rattles him and he now had the knowledge that there was no-one ahead of us. I could tell he was thinking maybe we should accompany this lad back down. We briefly entertained the decision to turn back, but with the lad's persuasive help I convinced Matthew to stay where we were for a while to see if the squall would pass. We descended a little bit to find protection from the wind and waited. After ten minutes or so things brightened a bit and it was decided I would return to our high point and check visibility. It was significantly better, so I shouted to Matthew and up he came. For a short while I thought our attempt had come up short and I knew he would have been really disappointed to return without getting his 10th but we were back on track again.
bcreport9.jpg
Matthew ridge picture.

The ridge is undulating, but eventually a small cairn came into view and with that came the feeling the every walker knows. We were going to summit OK and I felt really happy for Matthew. Even if we didn't manage another walk together this year, he WAS going to get to double figures and not be stuck on an ugly 9 as it appeared he may have been just an hour or so before. Just as we arrived at the cairn and high-fived, a chap (Paul) appeared behind us and was at the cairn 30 seconds later. We ate and chatted for 20 mins or so on what was now a remarkably benign summit, and Paul took some pics for us.
bcreport4.jpg
Summit pic by Paul. Loch Long in the background.
bcreport5.jpg
Another summit pic.
But once again it could be seen that a further squall was on its way, so we all set off together on the descent before, after ten minutes or so, we said our goodbyes and Paul raced ahead. Took some pics and Matthew devised several word guessing games to pass the time on the descent.
bcreport6.jpg
Looking north westerly. Ben Lui.
bcreport8.jpg
Loch Long through the rain.

We were hit by two or three further squalls on the descent.
bcreport7.jpg
Some "weather" is on the way.
But we had our biggest problem returning over the plateau bog. I was leading the way when my right leg disappeared up to my knee in the ground, but fortunately my left foot hit reasonably solid ground and I was able to pull my right leg out. I turned round and saw that Matthew, who was supposed to be following me and seeing how I got on, had followed me into the same bit of ground and was now standing with both legs immersed up to a level between his knees and crotch. Mild panic swept over me for an instant. Fortunately he was not too far from the ground I was on and I was able to put my arms under his armpits and haul him out. What a mess he was in!!! As we began walking again and Matthew moaned about his condition, I realised we were lucky his boots had remained on and had not been sucked off in the bog. I'm not too sure what we would have done then!
At last the steep descent back to the campsite was reached and 7.5 hours or so after starting we emerged onto the quietish campsite. Given the state Matthew was in I decided to risk the wrath of the campsite owners (and maybe fellow WH members) and skip the detour and head straight down the road and over the bridge and hope the machine- gunner in the watchtower was asleep :lol: .
Back at the car it took about 20 minutes to get both ourselves in a condition that we could actually get in the car and begin the journey home. My feet were surprisingly bone dry after this extremely wet walk, but Matthew's were not and his boots went straight into the bin when I got home. A new pair of leathers are called for I think😁!
PS My advice would be to attempt this hill after a period of sustained drought or weeks of freezing temperatures :lol:!
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johnscot55
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Re: Hillwalking or Bogtrotting. A lot of both!

Postby prog99 » Thu Sep 27, 2018 5:59 pm

PS My advice would be to attempt this hill after a period of sustained drought or weeks of freezing temperatures :lol:!

Or of course via a different route for which there are a number of options.
Grandson looked to have enjoyed himself though.
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Re: Hillwalking or Bogtrotting. A lot of both!

Postby razzah » Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:13 am

I did this by the trade route and also found it a boggy plod. If I was to climb it again I'd definitely do another route.
I approached through the campsite though and there were no signs to route anyone round the campsite (other folk were doing the same). Are there signs to say you can't go through now? I'd be pretty surprised if there was as it is surely in their interests (you walk past the campsite pub on the way out...)
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Re: Hillwalking or Bogtrotting. A lot of both!

Postby jmarkb » Fri Sep 28, 2018 2:38 pm

I see that there is a new hydro track which starts from Derrydarroch and follows the Allt a' Chuillin as far as about NN357196. From there (IIRC) is is reasonably easy going to join the normal path at the col on the ridge at NN359184. Much as I disapprove of the proliferation of hydro tracks, this may offer a drier alternative.
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Re: Hillwalking or Bogtrotting. A lot of both!

Postby yokehead » Fri Sep 28, 2018 3:31 pm

Great report, really enjoyed your descriptions and well done for making it in the adverse conditions. Glad you weren't accosted by the campsite police! :)

Poor Matthew though, what a rotten thing for you to have shiny new leather boots whilst the poor chap's wearing a couple of sponges. :shock: But I imagine your boots weren't too shiny at the end, you had to clean them whilst his just went in the bin, smart move to avoid cleaning 2 sets of boots! :lol:

Looks like that route is quite a long one and with bogs thrown in for good measure. All the best for your next jaunts together.

jmarkb wrote:I see that there is a new hydro track which starts from Derrydarroch and follows the Allt a' Chuillin as far as about NN357196

Being just 4km further, albeit with an additional 300m of ascent, I recommend taking on Chabhair with Beinn a'Chroin and An Caisteal as I did a while ago. My return from Chabhair was along the Allt a' Chuillin so that track would certainly help, shame though it is that it is there now. Report here:

https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=789
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Re: Hillwalking or Bogtrotting. A lot of both!

Postby johnscot55 » Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:21 pm

prog99 wrote:
PS My advice would be to attempt this hill after a period of sustained drought or weeks of freezing temperatures :lol:!

Or of course via a different route for which there are a number of options.

I guess I should have written that my comment was related to this particular route.
razzah wrote:I approached through the campsite though and there were no signs to route anyone round the campsite (other folk were doing the same). Are there signs to say you can't go through now? I'd be pretty surprised if there was as it is surely in their interests (you walk past the campsite pub on the way out...)

There ARE signs diverting walkers as soon as you cross the bridge and it is advised on the WH site. As I said, not unless there is a story behind the diversion that I don't know, I can't understand it either. Having said that, the state we were in at the end of this walk, I don't think we would have been welcome in the bar :lol:
yokehead wrote:
Poor Matthew though, what a rotten thing for you to have shiny new leather boots whilst the poor chap's wearing a couple of sponges. :shock: But I imagine your boots weren't too shiny at the end, you had to clean them whilst his just went in the bin, smart move to avoid cleaning 2 sets of boots! :lol:

Matthew, surprisingly, had two summers from his boots and no matter what, this walk would have been their final appearance, so I was certainly happy to skip the task of having to revive them. The problem of buying walking boots for kids is balancing effectiveness of the boots, cost, and the length of time they will fit them.
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