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Ben Lui & Beinn a Chleibh - 2nd attempt

Ben Lui & Beinn a Chleibh - 2nd attempt


Postby EmmaKTunskeen » Mon Sep 02, 2019 10:08 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn a'Chleibh, Ben Lui

Date walked: 06/07/2019

Time taken: 10 hours

Distance: 25 km

Ascent: 1108m

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In December 2017 in groin-deep snow I tried wading and swimming up Ben Lui from the Lochy side and got to about 600m before sinking to my waist in snow and bog and admitting defeat. The views were spectacular though, and no one else was around (because they're not stupid :lol:) and it's one of those favourite scuppered walks. (Some of it was walking, not swimming).

The winter 2017 attempt

Image002 River Lochy crossing and under-railway-bridge stoop by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image004 Blue rope across the Eas Daimh burn by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image013 The tiny missable cairn at the bridge - thank you Walk Highlands by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image022 Pano of the Ben Cruachan group by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image027 Discernable bog by Emma Kendon, on Flickr (as opposed to undiscernible b-waaah-glub)...

This time - July 2019

A trip up that way this July, en route to see some friends on Orkney, gave me a chance to see a) what the heck was going on under all that snow and b) the views to the south of Ben Lui and brother a'Chleibh.

This time, I fancied a riverside walk along the Cononish, without the forest assault course by the Eas Daimh.

And it was rewarding: grey wagtails, sandpiper, tormentil, fluffy oak eggar moth, bugbane... and gold.

Image002 Grey wagtail in River Cononish by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image003 Common sandpiper by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image014 Tormentil in flower and bud by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image027 Oak eggar moth by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image030 Bugbane - I think - and buttercup by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image011 Weekday gold mine blasts by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

I gather the gold mine started production this year and it's due to run for 8 years. What then, I wonder?

Image006 Brothers Oss and Lui by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

It was a hot day and about 10.20am when I started the ascent proper, after crossing the Allt an Rund. The Allt Coire Gaothach and its cascading, tumbling waters were a refreshing sound as I rose up the meticulously maintained steps, Ben Lui's pretty corrie ahead and Ben Oss to the left.

Image016 Shieling and Allt Coire Ghaothaich by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image017 Refreshing sound on a sunny day by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image021 The Ben Lui ridges - Stob an Tighe Aird on right by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image022 Ben Lui path maintenance by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

The clegs were out, but not a nuisance, and it was still cuckoo spit season too (though, apparently, cuckoo season itself was over - I didn't hear any on this visit I don't think).

Image018 Cleg by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image019 Cuckoo spit by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Yep, quite the transformation from its different beauty under a blanket of snow.

Image031 Summer floral view down Glen Cononish by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

I fancied heading up to the right rather than rising up straight through the corrie, and found a little cairn and arrow in the grass.

Image032 Cairn and arrow showing my route by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image033 Side view of Ben Luis tops by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

As I rose up to the bealach, a raven calling on the rocks just below me, I spotted a couple of guys taking the direct ascent, one in black, one in red. More about them later. For now, I'd reached the cairn on the ridge and the views were stunning.

Image035 Ben Cruachan to Ben Starav - Etive hills - from ridge-top by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image036 Etive hills and Ben Nevis behind on right by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image038 Back down Cononish to Breadalbane and Ben More and Stob Binein by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

There was a mini-scramble towards the summit, and I hoped there might be a bit more, but it wasn't to be.

Image039 Mini-scramble towards the summit by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

To my right were Stob Garbh and in the middle-distance Beinn Dorain, with Glen Cononish back over my shoulder.

Image040 NE over Stob Garbh to Beinn Dorain by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image041 Back down the glen by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

People handily appeared for scale 8)

Image042 Ben Cruachan behind with people for scale by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

To my left, Ben Lui's own craggy east face rose, with the neighbouring hills beyond.

Image043 Side of Ben Lui with Ben Oss and Ben More to Cruach Ardrain behind by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

A look up, and a short hop, skip and a jump to the top.

Image048 The view up by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

No idea what this is, so if anyone fancies enlightening me, go for it.

Image051 Needs ID by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image054 Huge quartz blob - Ben More and Stob Binein to right by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

At the summit, a stop to take in the views, drink some water, take in the views, decide where to go next, and take in the views some more.

Image055 Beinn a Chleibh- Cruachan and Loch Etive by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image056 Summit view over Glencoe to Ben Nevis and Mamores beyond by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image057 Ben Cruachan and friends from summit by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image058 SW to Beinn Bhuidhe in middle - Lochan Shira peeping by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image059 Ben Vane and Ben Vorlich and Crianlarich hills on right by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image060 ESE to Crianlarich Hills - Ben Ledi in middle behind by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Being a pointy summit, it's a small space to accommodate more than a few folk and had I been alone I'd have stayed longer. But, although the views were tremendous, it was getting crowded. Still, it's always a pleasure to linger a bit on a top that you spectacularly haven't got up to before, especially if you can picture yourself flailing in bog down below in a past incarnation. :lol:

Sticking to Plan A, I headed over to Beinn a'Chleibh. It makes little sense from this side, but I knew I wasn't likely to do it again from the north. The benefit of Beinn a'Chleibh, I discovered, was that if folk did gather at the summit cairn I could just walk on to the further cairns for some solitude. And I was looking at some old friends from the bealach.

Image062 Arrochar Alps on left by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image063 SE to Ben Vorlich - Ben Vane and Beinn Ime by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image064 Back up to Ben lui and my eventual descent left by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Looking back up Ben Lui, which was the obvious route back, I chose to put off deciding whether to go back that way or drop down to flail-land, though I think in my heart of hearts I knew I wanted to retrace the boggy steps, this time seeing where I was going. For now, though, up to Beinn a'Chleibh.

When I saw some folk coming up, one on all fours, I couldn't resist taking a picture. That's what I'd been swimming up... :shock: It really hadn't seemed so steep but even at 600m it's a fair old incline.

Image068 People coming up from Glen Lochy side by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

At the summit cairn, a little group of chatty students who'd been on Ben Lui's summit had parked themselves on the stones. So I left them to it and carried on past with a nod and a wave.

Image070 Ben Cruachan and Mull Ben More beyond by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image072 N to Ben Nevis and Mamores from Beinn a Cleibh summit by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image073 Pointy Stob Gabhar in the centre by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image075 Bidean nam Bian and the Glencoe hills by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image076 Zoom to Bidean nam Bian by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image077 Zoom to Stob Ghabhar and Aonach Eagach by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image078 Zoom to Creise by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image079 Zoom to the Easains by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image080 S to Ben Lomond Ben Vorlich Ben Ime Beinn an Lochain pano by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image081 Zoom to Ben Lomond and Ben Vorlich by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image082 Loch Etive and Ben Cruachan by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image089 Ben Cruachan pano by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image090 Ben Cruachan to Ben Starav range by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image083 Ben Vane and Arrochar Alps over to Cnoc Coinnich on r by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image086 Zoom to Ben Cruachan with Ben More - Mull - and Dalmally in front by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image087 N to Bidean nam Bian and Ben Nevis by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

And after all that zooming, admiring the magnificent, beautiful crest of Ben Cruachan, and a lot of soaking up the sun and the quiet on my private cairn, it was time to get going. I'd liked Beinn a'Chleibh more than I'd expected, not because it's an exciting walk, but because it's such a fine viewpoint. You can't see Ben Ledi and Crianlarich, obviously, but the ranges you can see, and especially the view of Ben Cruachan are stunning.

Bonkers as it was to drop down to the northwest when I had to end upon the other side of Ben Lui, east, I couldn't resist finding out what was under all that snow.

And what there was were lots of gurgling, babbling burns. It was a delicious sound, and sure enough, the streams just emerge from the ground with no warning. So no wonder whichever way I meandered in December I couldn't avoid plunges!

Image100 Gurgling burn emerging from underground by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

The flora was all bog cotton and butterwort.

Image101 Bog cotton by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image094 Butterwort dinner by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

And this. What's this?It's great!

Image105 Mystery purple flower by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

I dropped down towards the assault course woods and then turned east to walk above them, looking up to Ben Lui and imagining it under its snow-blanket again.

Image106 About as far as I got by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image107 What I looked up to in snow by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Curling round Ben Lui on its north flank, the long grass was full of horsetail and moths. Unlike bats, who avoid you pretty successfully with the echo-location, moths fly into your mouth to find out if it's where they want to be or not. Pfft ppfff pppffffftt!

Image118 Mystery butterfly by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image121 Mystery little moth by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image123 Black eyed moth by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

After a fairly hard-going clamber, on the steep flank, with bracken turning to bog, tussocks and more bog, rising up and down, dipping in and out, In the distance, I spotted a brown head peeping out of the grass like a deer. But it wasn't a deer. It was old mining remains, probably from led-mining rather than gold.

Image125 Not a deer by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image127 Approaching not a deer by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image131 Mining remains to Ben Lui top by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Above me, and above its garden of meadow and moths, Ben Lui was showing its secret craggy face, and a massive gash.

Image126 NNW flank of Ben Lui by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image136 That Ben Lui gash by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image137 Ben Lui burn in late afternoon light by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Image138 Old wood by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Ben Oss came into view, except with what looked like a massive cleft which threw me and I checked my compass. Trick of the eye from this angle.

Image135 Ben Oss by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

Back to the path, letting the folk ahead of me find out if the cow with the calf was in a bad mood or not :wink:,

Image140 So far so good by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

and back along the River Cononish.

And it was halfway back that I met the two fellas I'd seen ascending Ben Lui in the morning. They were walking towards me, hoping to find a path to take them to Tyndrum to catch a bus to Glasgow. The only paths I'd seen were the closed gold mine one and one going up to Meall Odhar, according to its signpost (though actually it just seemed to hurl you into a thick wood to thrash through the trees).

Image149 Not clear that this goes NE to Tyndrum by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

They decided to turn around with me and together we walked back to the A85, the two of them ducking off along the WHW route when we reached its turn-off path. They'd done the Tyndrum 4 while I'd been moseying and moth-eating - I thought they were coming back for a lap of honour. Extra points for that.

At Crianlarich I found a John Parminter book with a beautiful evocative photo of a wintery Ben Lui over the Cononish. Glad I've been there in both winter and summer and from both sides. It really is a feast for the eyes.
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EmmaKTunskeen
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Re: Ben Lui & Beinn a Chleibh - 2nd attempt

Postby perr » Wed Sep 04, 2019 8:52 pm

Very interesting report thanks. I think the plant in 030 may be Small White Orchid (Pseudorchis) - a great find if so as it's quite rare. 051 looks like Starry Saxifrage and 105 Bugle.
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Re: Ben Lui & Beinn a Chleibh - 2nd attempt

Postby Border Reiver » Thu Sep 05, 2019 10:34 am

The iron post with wheels is a fence post. Back many years ago rich land owners used to mark their boundaries with steel / iron posts. This one is used for tightening the wires. The end of the fence wire is inserted through a hole in a wheel and they turned the wheel using the square end. That wrapped the wire around the centre and pulled on it until it was tight. A small lever dropped onto a cog to prevent it slackening. They must have had pots of money because on rocky ground these post were set into the rock by chipping out a hole, dropping the post end in and pouring molten lead around it.
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Re: Ben Lui & Beinn a Chleibh - 2nd attempt

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Thu Sep 05, 2019 2:28 pm

As always with your reports, I loved the photos of wildlife and plants.

I've not got the camera (or, more likely, the observational skills) to get such photos - very jealous!

Tim
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Re: Ben Lui & Beinn a Chleibh - 2nd attempt

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:28 pm

I loved this side of Ben Lui :D We did the same route in late spring and enjoyed it a lot.

There is a plane crash site on the south-eastern side of Lui. We saw it from the summit and considered having a closer look, but like you, we also wanted to include Beinn a'Chleibh and didn't have enough time to take a detour... So next time we are going to climb via Coire Laoigh, to reach the crash site from below. It is said to be one of the biggest in Scotland with large amount of wreckage left, most of it situated in a shallow gully at about 900m.

The crash site from the summit of Ben Lui:
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Re: Ben Lui & Beinn a Chleibh - 2nd attempt

Postby jmarkb » Thu Sep 05, 2019 5:16 pm

Great report! The Lochy approach to Lui doesn't do the hill justice really: its popularity is due to the convenience of combining with Beinn a' Cleibh, I suppose.

perr wrote: think the plant in 030 may be Small White Orchid (Pseudorchis) - a great find if so as it's quite rare.


I'm going for Alpine Bistort (Bistorta vivipara) for that one.

perr wrote:51 looks like Starry Saxifrage and 105 Bugle.


I agree - Bugle is a good spot!

014 is a buttercup, I think - tormentil is smaller and has only 4 petals
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Re: Ben Lui & Beinn a Chleibh - 2nd attempt

Postby dav2930 » Thu Sep 05, 2019 9:57 pm

I love the Cononish approach as the views of Ben Lui are so compelling, but it does make Beinn a' Chleibh more awkward to get to doesn't it? I'd hoped to bag the latter when we went up by Coire Gaothaich last January, but with limited daylight in the snowy and misty conditions we ran out of time - we were walking back along Glen Cononish in the dark as it was. So I've still got that one to do sometime.

Very enjoyable report and super photos; looked a great day :thumbup:
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Re: Ben Lui & Beinn a Chleibh - 2nd attempt

Postby EmmaKTunskeen » Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:17 am

Thanks so much all. I'm really glad I got round to posting this because, as well as learning so much from excellent reports on this forum (WH, you are such a superb site and perfect for hanging out and procrastinating :wink:), I learn loads from replies like these ones ^.

perr wrote:51 looks like Starry Saxifrage and 105 Bugle.


Bugle, of course. I've looked for bugles since first noticing them a few years ago on Dorset cliffs. Then, la!, I see one and forget it's what I've been looking for :roll: Thank you Perr! :D


Border Reiver wrote: The iron post with wheels is a fence post. Back many years ago rich land owners used to mark their boundaries with steel / iron posts.


Silly me, thank you. Obviously mining had gone to my head what with all that gold... :oops: Like making the landscape fit the map through sheer force of will (a bad, bad habit of mine). Your description's really vivid - much appreciated. :clap:


HalfManHalfTitanium wrote: I've not got the camera (or, more likely, the observational skills) to get such photos - very jealous!


That's very generous. I always think my pics are pathetically blurry for something that's not even flying. Happily good enough for folk to ID, though, and make another day a school day. Talk about photos though, I think you've got an amazing eye for a scene. I especially loved your Ben Starav/Etive report and can't wait to see what you capture this Autumn!

BlackPanther wrote: There is a plane crash site on the south-eastern side of Lui.


Crash site sleuth extraordinaire! Thank you, again - I didn't know about this one. :clap: Keep learning so much from your crash site reports. Good luck with your and Kevin's go at reaching it. It sounds like you'll have a very atmospheric and moving pilgrimage to that secluded gully.

jmarkb wrote: I'm going for Alpine Bistort (Bistorta vivipara) for that one.[30].....

....The Lochy approach to Lui doesn't do the hill justice really: its popularity is due to the convenience of combining with Beinn a' Cleibh, I suppose.


Ah! Thank you! And doh, of course my "tormentil" is a buttercup. Rookie not counting of the petals. :roll:

Yeah, I'd agree, in the summer the Lochy approach doesn't compete with Cononish. I did actually enjoy the Lochy winter assault course in truth, though it was probably a mix of bog-plunge-hysterics and what-am-I-doing!-hysteria :lol: ... plus of course everything's beautiful in the snow. :D

dav2930 wrote: I love the Cononish approach as the views of Ben Lui are so compelling, but it does make Beinn a' Chleibh more awkward to get to doesn't it?


... or back from, yep. I feel for the baggers. It must be irritating if you've done the 4 and you're facing a traipse through the man-eating wood to bag B a'C. :lol: Thanks for your lovely comment.
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Re: Ben Lui & Beinn a Chleibh - 2nd attempt

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Fri Sep 06, 2019 12:00 pm

HalfManHalfTitanium wrote: I've not got the camera (or, more likely, the observational skills) to get such photos - very jealous!


EmmaKTunskeen wrote:That's very generous. I always think my pics are pathetically blurry for something that's not even flying. Happily good enough for folk to ID, though, and make another day a school day.


They are a great photos! - and add a lot of extra interest to the TRs.

Personally, I was pleased to get a photo of a Field Gentian (kindly identified by jmarkb - I thought all gentians were blue!) in Iceland, and some bird photos, although my camera is not very zoomy. The seabirds, especially puffins, were amazing, but I think my favourite was seeing Redwings in their summer location https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=91657

I forgot to say, your photos also brought back memories of going up Ben Lui and Beinn a'Chleibh from Cononish, in lieu of Mount Kazbek in the Caucasus - https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=83193. Views were a bit rubbish when we did it though! - you had better weather (on your 2nd attempt!)

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Re: Ben Lui & Beinn a Chleibh - 2nd attempt

Postby EmmaKTunskeen » Fri Sep 06, 2019 12:19 pm

HalfManHalfTitanium wrote: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=91657

I forgot to say, your photos also brought back memories of going up Ben Lui and Beinn a'Chleibh from Cononish, in lieu of Mount Kazbek in the Caucasus - https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=83193. Views were a bit rubbish when we did it though! - you had better weather (on your 2nd attempt!)

TIm


Yes, I'd clocked you had an Iceland report, and will enjoy reading that tonight :-) I was there a couple of weeks ago, but SW: (https://www.flickr.com/photos/153939885@N06/albums/72157710615315693 etc.)
Image020 Brennisteinsalda means sulphur wave by Emma Kendon, on Flickr

And I love your slug-shaped lochan on Beinn a'Chleibh!! :lol:
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Re: Ben Lui & Beinn a Chleibh - 2nd attempt

Postby Alteknacker » Sat Sep 07, 2019 11:26 pm

I read this with great pleasure on the day you posted it, and was going to express my appreciation then :clap: :clap: :clap: ; but i got sucked into trying to identify that wonderful-looking plant, the Bugle! What a cracker! But I think I need to stick to birds!

I loved the report, for many reasons, not least the suite of superb pics.

Also, I walked this during a period of wonderful clear winter weather in late February 2016, taking much the same route you did, and it is fascinating to see how different the character of the mountain is in summer. Fortunately I'd clocked in advance that the Cononish route was the way to avoid the bog fest!
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Re: Ben Lui & Beinn a Chleibh - 2nd attempt

Postby rockhopper » Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:57 am

Nice day for it and I'd agree that the approach from the glen is good - esp when Ben Lui looms into view. You have a great knack for pointing out the flaura and fauna - always something new to learn from your reports - thanks :)
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Re: Ben Lui & Beinn a Chleibh - 2nd attempt

Postby EmmaKTunskeen » Wed Sep 11, 2019 7:40 am

Alteknacker wrote:I read this with great pleasure on the day you posted it, and was going to express my appreciation then :clap: :clap: :clap: ; but i got sucked into trying to identify that wonderful-looking plant, the Bugle! What a cracker! But I think I need to stick to birds!

I loved the report, for many reasons, not least the suite of superb pics.

Also, I walked this during a period of wonderful clear winter weather in late February 2016, taking much the same route you did, and it is fascinating to see how different the character of the mountain is in summer. Fortunately I'd clocked in advance that the Cononish route was the way to avoid the bog fest!


Thanks Alteknacker. The bugle's lovely. Just read your Feb 2016 TR with Dr F and it's a real joy - some stunning pics! Got me hungry for winter...

Rockhopper wrote:Nice day for it and I'd agree that the approach from the glen is good - esp when Ben Lui looms into view. You have a great knack for pointing out the flaura and fauna - always something new to learn from your reports - thanks :)


Thank you. Isn't this a great site for learning all kinds of things. I'm very grateful to perr, Border Reiver, BP, jmarkb & co for their help on this TR. And of course, hats off as ever to Helen and Paul :D
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