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Heaven can't wait

Heaven can't wait

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Nov 01, 2018 7:17 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Tulaichean, Cruach Àrdrain

Date walked: 28/10/2018

Time taken: 7.5 hours

Distance: 17.3 km

Ascent: 1236m

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Just over a month ago, when we walked the Twistin' Ridge for the second time, we had a good look at the northern approach for Cruach Ardrain and Beinn Tulaichean. Logistically, this was the only way we could climb this duo in a day-trip. The long northern ridge of Cruach Ardrain looked walker-friendly, and after some WH research I found out that the footbridge over River Falloch marked on 1-25k map still exists, so hey-ho! I couldn't wait to lay my paws on Grey Height!
The starting point is from the same spot as for An Caisteal - Beinn a'Chroin circuit. There are different options for this route. After walking the northern ridge and visiting both Munros (which is a straightforward, if steep in places exercise) one can 1. return over Stob Garbh 2. descend into Coire Earb via Stob Glass 3. return via the same ridge. We opted for solution no. 3, simply because this way we'd keep the views for longer and at the same time, avoid the boggy nightmare in the glen, where the path along River Falloch is not a path, but a splogathon.

Track_CRUACH ARDRAIN 28-10-18.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

It was a lovely morning, from the very early minutes. Blue sky everywhere. Having been dragged out of bed at 4am, initially I was not in the mood to appreciate the glory of the raising sun :lol: but as soon as we started walking, I was wide awake!
The morning glory :lol: :lol: :lol:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 002.JPG

The track in the glen divides after about 1km, the left branch descends slightly to an old bridge over River Falloch:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 004.JPG

More morning glory, this time Beinn a'Chroin:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 013.JPG

We were surprised about the lack of snow in the south (yes, for us Glen Falloch is Southern Scotland!). Ben Wyvis was all white the day before and sow were the Cairngorms. I even considered repeating something local just for the fun of walking in the snow, but Kevin said, with days getting shorter, this would be our last chance to drive down south to tick a couple of new Munros. And in the end, just as well we wend south, we had a great day!
At the moment, we're climbing the initial, steep-ish section along the forest to the top of Grey Height:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 021.JPG

As soon as we emerged from the shadows onto the ridge proper, it felt much warmer. We had of course packed extra tops and bodywarmers, now we had to stuff them in our rucksacks :think: But despite the extra weight, I was suddenly transferred into the state of utter happiness...
Feels like heaven! The Twistin' Ridge behind me:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 027.JPG

View north along Strath Fillain to Tyndrum and beyond:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 029.JPG

The initial ascent from the glen is pathless (if there was a path, we didn't follow it), but once on the ridge proper, we located a well-worn path. In places, it was covered in ice, so we walked on the grass alongside. A few boggy sections, now mostly frozen solid, didn't cause any upsets. Overall, this is a fantastic ridge to walk and a superb way to approach Cruach Ardrain.
Panther playing her usual games:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 032.JPG

Posing by the little lochan near the top of Grey Height, with Ben Lui group behind me:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 036.JPG

Feels like heaven, vol. 2:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 045.JPG

Ben More peeking out from behind the ridge of Stob Garbh:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 051.JPG

The ridge rises slowly to 814 m, before dropping slightly to a dip with two small lochans. From there, it's still another 300m steep ascent to the summit, but the path is obvious and no scrambling involved, just lovely ridge walking :D
We were following another group of walkers just in front of us, not bothering to overtake them. We could, but there was no hurry, the day was still early and we used the time to photograph the landscape. With the first touch of winter and excellent light, we brought home far too many photos, so just a few of them here, to share the magic of that late October day...
Cruach Ardrain enters the stage:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 052.JPG

Panoramic version:
Image2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 055 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
West to Cruachan group:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 059.JPG

On the descent into the dip, just before the final push to the summit, we encountered the only slight problem. A short, steep section of the path was covered in hard ice, so we had to be double careful not to go A over T:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 058.JPG

Hills to the north-east seemed to hold much more snow than "our" ridge:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 063.JPG

Past the shallow dip, we tackled the final slopes leading to the summit. The other group in front of us stopped for a short break, but we pushed on, planning to have a longer siesta on the summit. I was still in a state of elation, feeling like walking up to the doors of heaven :D What a day.
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 068.JPG

The final push:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 071.JPG

An Caisteal and Beinn a'Chroin from just below the summit of Cruach Ardrain - pano version:
Image2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 074 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
The path circles around the western slope, before emerging on the southern side about 50m below the summit. I had a look around and noticed an outlying top to the right of us.
What is that pimple on the ridge? I asked.
Kevin, who had done this duo before (albeit from Inverlochalrig), just laughed.
It is our second Munro of the day, darling!
:shock: :shock:
Beinn Tulaichean looks so small and insignificant from the top of Cruach Ardrain! It's surprising it has Munro status. I know a few more outstanding tops which are just tops (the Affric Sgurr na Lapaich for example).
Panther wondering about "that pimple on the ridge":
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 082.JPG

In comparison, the higher Munro is a giant entity, a massive bump of rock, impressive even when compared with more shapely Ben More and Stob Binnein. This pano illustrates it best:
Image2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 081 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
The final 50 m over a false top was straightforward and soon we reached the summit, which was crowded like a busy High Street. Most people came from the direction of Inverlochalrig.
The busy summit of Cruach Ardrain:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 096.JPG

Ben More and Stob Binnein calling us... The last 2 Munros to-do in this area. Maybe we'll keep them to be our final two? Don't know but it's a tempting option!
Image2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 100 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
At the moment, we were happy to celebrate our 38th Munro of the year, my overall 245th and 94th for wee Lucy. She's pushing towards her first ton :wink:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 093.JPG

Kevin not happy... He has nearly been caught on his Munros... Only 3 left between us now and when we reach Beinn Tulaichean in half an hour, it will be just 2!
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 094.JPG

A few snaps from the summit. Weather was excellent, no wind, great light. Enjoy.
Coire Ardrain from above:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 087.JPG

South to Vorlich, Stuc a'Chroin and other stuff I haven't even touched yet:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 091.JPG

More walkers arriving:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 098.JPG

Looking through the gap between Ben More and Stob Binnein, it must be Ben Lawers and friends:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 101.JPG

The hills of Tyndrum:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 103.JPG

After a lengthy break on the summit, filled with tea, cookies and photos, we packed up and continued our walk to add the second Munro to our (my) tally. We were glad to leave the crowded summit behind. We were not sure yet about our return route, but it wasn't likely we'd walk back over the summit of Ardrain.
The summit area from the lower top:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 104.JPG

Let's go to "that pimple on the ridge" :lol: :lol:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 107.JPG

Opposite to us, people coming from the south still had a big workout and a lot of ascent to do before claiming the 2nd Munro of the day... For us, it felt like a stroll :D
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 118.JPG

The reascent for Beinn Tulaichean is only 120m and soon we were on the second top, basking in sunshine. Munro no. 246 (95 for Lucy).
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 129.JPG

Summit views from Tulaichean are not as extensive, as the bulk of Ardrain block the northern side, but still impressive on a good day like we had.
Ben Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin to the south-east:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 119.JPG

Due south:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 125.JPG

Ben More and Stob Binnein - a different angle:
Image2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 126 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
North to Cruach Ardrain and more distant Ben Lui and Ben Cruachan:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 135.JPG

Sitting by the summit cairn, we discussed our return options. Kevin mentioned descending into Coire Earb, but I when reminded him how wet and squelchy it had been only a month earlier, he changed his mind. Going over Stob Garbh looked like too much contouring around on pathless ground, so eventually it was decided we'd simply return the way we came. I suggested we could avoid some re-ascent by skirting below the summit of Ardrain, following the 900m contour. I read somewhere that there should be a faint path, so we agreed, we'd try to locate it.
On the way back, with "the pimple" in the background:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 142.JPG

When contouring around the western side of Cruach Ardrain, it is important to first climb to the height of 900m, to avoid crags. Then it's a relatively simple procedure of careful walking on steep grass, aiming to meet the path descending from the summit. There are traces of a path but very faint. After 0.5km or so, we found the main route again.
Back on familiar ground:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 145.JPG

The rest of the return route was spent on jumping, hopping and enjoying the views once more. We knew we had more than enough time to descend before sunset, so there was no need to hurry.
One last look at the monstahhhhh:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 149.JPG

At some point, the path traverses above vertical cliffs. Beware, vertigo sufferers!
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 151.JPG

Cruach Ardrain and Stob Garbh ridge in the afternoon sun:
Image2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 156 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
A delightful walk down:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 169.JPG

Sinking in the views from the top of Grey Height:
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 168.JPG

Descending into shadows...
2018-10-28 cruach ardrain 174.JPG

A wonderful day, what else to say?
Having walked this route, now I must recommend it as the more interesting way up this duo, also adding more options for a circular if you are ambitious and don't want to retrace your steps. I heard, not only from Kevin, that the southern approach is very boggy. Well, the initial stage of this version is wet, too, but once on Grey Height, it's an amazing ridge walk.
These were probably our last new Munros of 2018, all that's left is either too remote or too far away from home for a short winter outing. But we don't plan to take any breaks. Here comes the autumn WH Meet. Please, may we have the weather we had last Sunday???
Last edited by BlackPanther on Sun Nov 03, 2019 2:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Heaven can't wait

Postby Chris Mac » Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:31 pm

Nice photos, it's good to see some of that side of Cruach Ardrain. I'm the opposite to you, i've done Ben More and Stob Binnein but none of the other 5. I want to do them in one go so will probably save them until next year now, the big two would be great to finish on but which one would you choose...? :crazy:

It will be some time until I have to worry about what my final Munro will be :lol: , have you and Kevin got one in mind for the occasion?
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Re: Heaven can't wait

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Nov 01, 2018 10:49 pm

We have already discussed a few options. One for sure, it won't be Ben Lomond, as Kevin has done it already and we'd like to compleat together. Ben More-Stob Binnein finish is very tempting. Ben Cruachan is also an option. Also Ben Starav in Glen Etive. Another idea would be Lurg Mor (or Cheesecake) as they are the only two M's north of Inverness we haven't done yet. Maybe the other Ben More on Mull. But we are in no hurry, may not finish for another 3 years. It's such an enjoyable journey, we don't really want it to end :D
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Re: Heaven can't wait

Postby Alteknacker » Thu Nov 01, 2018 11:41 pm

These Crianlarich hills are just superb - really characterful. And you got such a wonderful day for your expedition :D .

It's over 4 years since I was in them, but I'm surprised how much I recognise in your photos.

Excellent pics... :clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: Heaven can't wait

Postby dogplodder » Sat Nov 03, 2018 12:39 pm

Did these two in cloud so lovely to see the views I missed. What a beautiful day you got! :mrgreen:
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