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Suffering Stacath’s Snowy Spring Surprise

Suffering Stacath’s Snowy Spring Surprise

Postby old danensian » Thu May 16, 2019 10:42 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Stacath

Date walked: 07/05/2019

Time taken: 4.5 hours

Distance: 14.6 km

Ascent: 695m

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“Wintry overnight showers,” they said on the forecast.

That means an icing sugar dusting that disappears with the first rays of sun at this time of year, doesn’t it?

Er ... no. Not this year apparently.

Plan A had originally focussed on Stob a Choin, the Corbett west of Inverlochlarig and Balquhidder. As days are getting longer there would be plenty of time then to head east and take-in the neighbouring Beinn Stacath. Another mug for the “best laid plans” and all that guff.

With rain smearing the windscreen and clag hanging low as I turned off the A84, I drove on, oblivious. I passed the Monachyle Mhor and recalled a stupendous meal and stay there a couple of years ago. I was still in an optimistic mood.

Then, as I strode away from the car park, the clouds started to break.

The unappealing face of Stob a Choin - maybe another day

A few inches of fresh wet snow, laying on a steep grassy slope, was a recipe for too much risk and an accident waiting to happen. Discretion, valour and all that stuff: I turned round and wandered back.

Plan B, a gentle walk up the glen, had quickly been consigned to the bin as it would inevitably mean a plod up then a plod back, all on the same track. Scintillating and enticing it was not.

Plan C could retain Beinn Stacath as an objective. Approached from the east, up the so-called rising moor, the map suggested a long gentle ridge. There would still be snow, but at least the slopes wouldn’t threaten a control-free descent.

And so the day turned out.

A gloomy approach to Beinn Stacath - round the corner and into the gloom

The car was left just short of Ballimore and I strode past the result of local forestry clearance at the side of the track as it rose. Dire warnings told me not to play on the log piles: as if.

The so-called interests of land management halted progress after half a mile or so with a padlocked gate. A “diversion” sign lay in tatters by the side of a shoogly gate. I was forced over a fence to wander among the tussocks and boggy patches just a few metres from a perfectly serviceable track where nothing appeared to be happening. Cones and empty motorways sprang to mind.

Walkers were finally allowed back on the track which could then be followed to the cattle sheds and excavations at the foot of the spine dropping from Creag an Tuill

Beinn Stacath lies in the mist beyond the spine of Creag an Tuill

The bowls of two glens lay to either side, offering the prospect of an extended skyline walk on a long summer day connecting Cnoc Odhar in the south with Ceann na Baintighearna in the north. But not today. The spur directly in front of me awaited.

Over the bridge and up … along … and along

A charm of Corbetts is often the lack of paths, in this case a euphemism for the lottery of weaving a way through a mini bog-fest. Once negotiated however it was simply a case of ... up and along, up and along, up and along ... and ... up and along. It was another one of those interminable hills: false top after false top and my naïveté succumbing to each.

Oh for a bright spring morning

When I finally saw what I knew to be the top, it was still a mighty long way away.

I’d been walking in an increasing depth of soft snow since about 450m, and by the time I reached the Bealach Stacach, what might have been rain down in the glen was now snowing on me. Darker clouds hunkered down to the east, behind and beyond Stuc a Chroin and Ben Vorlich but it was patchy and not too threatening.

An unremarkable top - rusting fence posts lead to the trig point on Beinn Stacath

Once there, the top wasn’t exactly welcoming, apart from the trig point and the bristles of rusting fence posts stretching away. The horizon offered mood and atmosphere rather than panoramic spectacle. It’s a shame that maps don’t even grace it with a name, just a number and a pair of converging lines.

As the next snow squall hit, it was time for a choice. Retreat the way I’d come? No. Too many ups and downs. I’d follow the fence posts down the other arm of the horseshoe that enclosed Fathan Glinne and back to the sheds and diggers at. It was the nearest I was going to get to a circular walk today.

Fence posts guide the way down towards Ceann na Baintighearna

The bowl of fathan Glinne with Beinn Stacath above

While watching the clouds alternately darken and lighten over Beinn Tulaichean and Stob Binnein, the walk down the ridge was pleasant, especially when it stopped snowing. I’d already identified a rake of vaguely snowy grass that would see me get safely below the crags on my right and it luckily lead to even vaguer ATV parallel lines heading towards the outward track.

Four kilometres of track-trudge was briefly interrupted by the diversion back to the other side of the fence and then I was back at the car, still not having been tempted to challenge the warning signs about playing on the log piles. I know, I’m a boring law-abiding soul really.

So, the day had been salvaged.

A marginally more spring-like prospect back in Glen Buckie

One Corbett may not be as good as the originally planned two, but definitely better than none. More importantly, legs had been stretched and a bit more hill-fitness gained.

To date, 2019 had been a Corbett-only year. I now felt fit enough to step it up a gear. The Munros were calling ... one in particular ... just one.

My nemesis beckoned.
User avatar
old danensian
Posts: 418
Munros:282   Corbetts:64
Joined: Jul 6, 2009
Location: Ayrshire

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