My old friend Roy recently got into hill walking with his son and with his 40th approaching he asked if I fancied a day off and hill walk with him. Absolutely, however as fate would have it the day we chose, Monday the 25th November, typically had an awful forecast the week before but when you have committed to a day to go up the hills then you don't have much choice!
I was lucky having been up Beinn Narnain before on a lovely clear day, in fact I think every Arrochar hill I have been up was in good weather, until this walk! Our initial plan was just Beinn Narnain and the ridge along to A' Chrois and we would see how we got on before deciding if we would definitely do this. Unfortunately low cloud would be the order of the day but Roy didn't mind, he's still at that early exited stage where the weather doesn't matter and you are just happy to be out exploring!
I picked Roy up and we were soon heading up Loch Lomond to Arrochar where I grudge paying the extortionate parking fee but hopefully this would be a fairly quick walk in less than 6 hours so that's what we paid for and it worked out fine. A reminder that it is only £3 to park for the whole day at Rowardennan, much more reasonable!
The cloud base was around 500m or so, at least we would get some views at the start and end of the walk and I was hopeful of any form of cloud clearing up at any point of the walk, much to our disappointment this never happened:
IMG_20191125_105139 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We went up the normal route by the burn/path and had a break before we entered cloud land:
IMG_20191125_105728 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Roy was loving it regardless and we were blethering away about all sorts. After our break we continued uphill:
IMG_20191125_105930 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I noted how the path has been improved at this section since I was last up Beinn Narnain, when I decided to scramble up a steep waterfall bit on the left here instead of taking the easy path route to the right, although it wasn't this good when I visited!
IMG_20191125_111953 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Roy had bought some new boots in preparation (and got lots more quality kit for his birthday which was handy) and being a bit of a runner going on regular trips up the Braes in Paisley meant he was keeping up with my fast pace no bother, result!
Heading into the clouds now:
IMG_20191125_112952 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I annoyed Roy by telling him what we could have been looking at in various directions if we had a view:
IMG_20191125_115158 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Not long after Cruach Nam Miseag I had an unfortunate mishap. Stepping down from a rock onto what I thought was solid path, it turned out to be a hidden soft spongy bog section of path that even had grey to make it look like solid rock! My left boot sunk in fast but this resulted in my right knee coming up towards my chest. The hip strap on my rucksack then dug right into my ribs, nothing broken but defintely bruised or strained and an unfortunate first injury in a long time on an easy flat section of path, typical!
After a while we were at the rocky scrambly bit of path below the Spearhead:
IMG_20191125_121634 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
It's up there somewhere:
IMG_20191125_122343 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Despite zero visibility Roy was loving exploring and climbing, his parents are experienced hikers so it's in his genes. After a while we were topping out on Beinn Narnain first cairn:
IMG_20191125_122946 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
On to the summit:
IMG_20191125_123101 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Congrats Roy, Munro number 3 in the bag!
IMG_20191125_123118_1 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We had energy to keep going and had a choice to make, continue off-piste around to A' Chrois, or alternatively, we could continue on to add in Beinn Ime. When Roy got a sniff of climbing two Munros in a day to take his tally to 4 (works well with 40) and heard that I was up Beinn Ime for my 40th (albeit on a glorious day!) the decision was made, sack this Corbett Top nonsense, Roy wants another Munro!
We set off down the back of Beinn Narnain, attempting to follow my previous track and the path but some snow and mist was making path finding and navigation tricky. During the descent to Bealach a' Mhaim we were as surprised as two other Glasgow lads to meet some other walkers on a day like this, we thought we were the only maniacs out today?!
They would be the only other people we met on the walk.
We reached the Bealach a' Mhaim and had a break for lunch to give us energy to get up Beinn Ime where pathwork was ongoing, again a big improvement compared to my last visit.
Right number two, let's go:
IMG_20191125_134558 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
As we approached the crag known as Stuart's Failure (see my 40th Beinn Ime report) we encountered some snow but it was very soft so only poles were required for some extra support:
IMG_20191125_140846 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Roy was loving some bonus snow!
IMG_20191125_141153 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
IMG_20191125_141203 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
It wasn't as bad for the final section and summit:
IMG_20191125_142019 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Another 40th up Beinn Ime for me!
IMG_20191125_142054 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Here is what Roy could have won:
20170508_150701 DSCF10038 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Video of the summit approach - https://flic.kr/p/2hQZG3o
We had another wee break then it was time to head back down. With nothing but clouds and mist for company, it did at least clear up a little as we approached Ben Arthur:
IMG_20191125_150427 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Pose Birthday boy:
IMG_20191125_150443 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
It's on days like this when boulders become much more interesting since there is little else to see!
IMG_20191125_152454 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Roy was very impressed with the Narnain Boulders and I told him stories of early mountaineers using them to camp under:
IMG_20191125_152626 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Just the long walk down Coire a' Bhalachain to finish now but at least it has cleared up a little:
IMG_20191125_153128 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
One very satisfied old man although it would have been nice for him to get a view, maybe our next walk will be different:
IMG_20191125_153746 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Zig-zag path done, almost there:
IMG_20191125_160051 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We were back at the car in just over 5 and a half hours which was good going and Roy had two new Munros in his bag so was well chuffed at that despite the low cloud for almost the entire walk! My rib was still reminding me of my incident on Beinn Narnain but it would thankfull clear up a few weeks later.
Roy had a great day out and we're planning our next walk towards the end of this month, hopefully we will get a good day for this one and we may leave the planning until the last minute, just to ensure we get at least some views!
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.