Though I've still got a big backlog of trips from over the last few years to write up here, I'm going to write up a couple of trips from within the last month as, with bank holiday weekends, I've been able to get into the hills a bit more than usual recently. I took the train up on Good Friday, arriving late in the evening, and the next morning my dad and I set off northwards, undeterred by an ambiguous forecast, to Tyndrum. We were a little late setting off, so we decided to limit ourselves to just Ben Lui and leave the other three Munros in that range for another time. Ben Lui looked truly stupendous from the road, towering above everything else, Coire Gaothaich full of gleaming snow. After parking awkwardly at a very full Dalrigh car park we set off down the dusty track alongside the River Cononish. Having done a lot of my recent hillwalking in the wilder parts of the NW highlands I was struck anew by how scarred the landscape around Tyndrum is by countless mining operations and forestry plantations, and the Cononish gold mine is a sorry sight indeed - but once Ben Lui returned to view, Alpine in scale and grandeur (at least to my eyes, which have yet to behold the Alps), it was impossible to look at anything else.
It's one of those mountains that seems to get bigger and more impressive the closer you get, and I found myself almost daunted by the sheer verticality of the corrie when we left the track and crossed the river.
My dad walking into the jaws of Coire Gaothaich
Christ on a bike it's huge
Some very tiny-looking people ahead
It was nonetheless a fairly quick climb into the heart of the corrie, following an attractive burn on our left, with a few small but beautiful wildflowers. How astonishing this would look if the slopes weren't overgrazed, and the tree line were allowed to reach its natural height! Once we were well into the corrie we forded the burn and climbed up steeply to gain the east ridge (on your left as you enter the corrie). This looks less exciting than the northeast ridge from below, but when you're actually on it it proves to be surprisingly rocky and provides some simple but enjoyable scrambling with great views into the depths of the corrie below. My photos don't do it justice (especially because they were backlit since we were approaching from the north) - it's hard to convey the rockiness and sheer scale of it. Higher up we encountered some people skiing on the large snowfields in the aptly-named east-facing Coire an t-Sneachda, crowned with a spectacular cornice.
The ridge ahead
Wow wow wow!
The scrambling seemed to be over before it began and we emerged on the summit, which was fairly busy, unsurprising given that it was a bank holiday weekend. It was almost windless and we sat and had our sandwiches and some tea, looking towards the ghostly shape of Ben Cruachan whose snows shone brightly through the haze.
Looking over a cornice into Glen Cononish
Oss and Dubhcraig
We had arrived at the summit faster than expected, having not stopped much on the way up, and so we debated whether to add Ben Oss and Beinn Dubhcraig as well, but my dad's knee was playing up and we decided against it, instead returning by the north ridge which looked a gentler descent route than the northeast ridge, our original plan. From there, back to the car park. It's a much easier mountain than it looks from below and provided a shortish but wonderful hillwalk.
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