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Beinn Fhionnlaidh - relieving the lockdown pressure.

Beinn Fhionnlaidh - relieving the lockdown pressure.

Postby mproudfoot » Sat Jul 04, 2020 9:34 pm

Route description: Beinn Fhionnlaidh

Date walked: 04/07/2020

Time taken: 4 hours

Distance: 15.4 km

Ascent: 1m

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After what seemed like an eternity, first in lockdown, then under a 5-mile travel restriction, it came as no surprise that the decent weather we'd been having for past few months would come to a screeching halt, and normal service would resume. However, having already agreed to go (socially distancing) hit up a Corbett with my walking buddy John on the Sunday, I decided that I needed to get a munro ticked this weekend, so started looking for reasonably close options that might not be too busy on the Saturday.

Unfortunately, when I bagging doing the munros, I made the mistake of hitting most of the closer and easier/quicker ones ealy one, leaving me largely with the most remote or tricky munros to complete. However, I still had a few of the munros between Glen Etive and Glen Creran to do, so I picked Beinn Fhionnlaidh, saving Sgulaird for a weekend with better conditions (and views). I figured that Etive might be fairly busy despite the weather, given that it was the first weekend without travel restrictions, so opted to head for Glen Creran instead.

I'm a bit of an early bird, so I left Helensburgh at just after 5am, and was parked up in the Glen Creran car park by 7am. I prefer starting early as it means the A82 is usually quieter and I can always find a place to park at my destination. I guess the powers that be were expecting a lot of visitors at the Falls of Falloch, as there were temporary 30mph speed limits there and signs telling people not to park on the verge near the entrance to that carp park. I did take a few pics on the drive there including a moody view over Loch Lomond from the A82 north of Tarbert:


And a moody, cloud-covered Beinn Sgulaird over a high tide River Creran:


And after the recent dry spell, I was happy to see a lot of water tumbling down to the River Creran:


My car was the only one in the Glen Creran car park, a good sign, so I quickly changed into my boots, locked the car and off I went. The start is just a small road leading down past some houses to a bridge over the River Creran:


Any hope that I might have had for views on the hill, were quickly dissipated as I walked along and the clouds seemed to be getting lower with each step:

002_Claggy Hills.jpg

The road curves around then and heads straight towards Glenure Lodge, I saw some deer in the field but they scarpered as soon as they spotted me (not hard with my bright red top) - when you get closer to the lodge, it's reasonably clear which route to take, but I was happy to see signs dotted around to highlight the route onto the hills:


No signs of life at the lodge so I continued around onto the forestry track up to the start of the path.. However, I saw some plant machinery up there:


And that got me curious, so I took a wee detour to see what was going on. Still not quite sure though - seems like the burn was dammed, funneled into a pipe and that pipe getting covered over:



Maybe some hydro power work? Or water supply for the Lodge? not sure but will be interesting to see what they've done with it next time i'm up there.

Just up from that, i encountered this little chap (or chapess, I didn't bother checking :p)


A few minutes later, I realized that I had a wee tick crawling along my hand! I quickly flicked it off (no pics I'm afraid but I'm sure you understand) - I can only assume it crawled off the grass onto my hand as I put the camera low to get a pic of the frog. My first tick encounter of the year >.<

Even though we'd had a pretty dry spell for most of May and June, the rain from the last few days had already made it's mark and the ground was pretty soggy from the dam, up to around 600m. I was being watched though - this big cow standing on a knoll, observing my progress:


As I got higher, the visibility inevitably decreased but I caught a snap of cloud a covered Beinn Sgulaird before it disappeared:


After a while the path seemed to disappear and with visibility getting low, I did a quick position check and headed up in a direct line. Before too long, this big rock appeared out of the clag.. I call these "Road Runner rocks" because I can easily imagine Wyle E Coyote standing behind one ready to push it onto a road below. This one was extra odd though as it looked almost as if it had been placed onto several small supporting rocks.



Each of those supporting rocks is the size of my backpack!

Given that had been off the hills for a while, I was actually feeling pretty good - no fatigue and a pretty good pace. Above 600m, the path reappeared and I followed that right up to the first of the lochans up around 650m


There was very little wind at this point, just that kind of weird eerie silence, surrounded by clag, so I skirted to the right of both Lochans and continued up. At around 750m, I lost the path again and the terrain got a bit rocky


I don;t mind rocky terrain, but the rocks were a bit slick after the recent rain, so careful footing was required.

Before I knew it, the summit came into view


And of course I had to take my standard summit selfie. It was actually starting to rain by now (all the way up it was just the usual drizzle associated with clagfests) and I wondered whether to don the waterproofs, but i figured it wouldn;t make me any more comfortable so didn't bother.


All in the ascent had taken me around 2h 45m from car to summit, not bad considering I wasn't exactly hurrying up the hill. I figured the descent would take around 1.5 to 2hrs due to the wet ground (I tend to be overly cautious on descents in the wet or snow, much to the chagrin of any walking companions). It actually landed in the middle of that time range with a 1h 45min descent time. The descent was fairly uneventful, just a few muddy slippages but nothing too dramatic.

One thing to note though was that, as I came back past Glenure Lodge - the smaller house opposite the lodge had it's front door open with a very large dog sitting at the door. As I walked past, it bounded over to me barking, followed by two smaller dogs - I'm quite the dog person so I was happy to see the doggies but the big one just brushed my hand with it's teeth and then ran back to the house. Kinda weird and didn't bother me, but something to watch out for those who may be nervous around dogs.

As i walked back to the car park, away from the lodge, there was a family of deer in the next field - unfortunately I didn't have a very good zoom with me (16-50 was pretty much useless for that) so apologies for the lack of sharpness:


During the descent, below around 500m, I was out of the clag and my layers started to dry out a bit, but just as I got to the car, opened the trunk and took that first boot off, the heavens opened and it starting bucketing it down.. talk about good timing!

And to top it off, I didn't see another human at all during my walk - my car was still the only one in the Glen Creran car park when I got back, which surprised me as I thought most car parks would have at least one or two cars, despite the weather, but I guess I picked wisely :) It gave me no end of amusement on the drive back home, to see the usual roadside munro parking spots absolutely full (including the big layby by An Caisteal and Inveruglas).

All-in a great morning - not the return to the munros I'd have liked, I wouldn't have minded some views from the top, but how often do we get those? - but it was so good to be back on the hills, that even the weather couldn't stop me thoroughly enjoying the walk.
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Re: Beinn Fhionnlaidh - relieving the lockdown pressure.

Postby dogplodder » Sat Jul 04, 2020 10:07 pm

You must have felt chuffed to get a new Munro on first possible day for it. I enjoyed reading that as it was the same route I took last year. My views from the top weren't all that great either. :lol:
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Re: Beinn Fhionnlaidh - relieving the lockdown pressure.

Postby past my sell by date » Sat Jul 04, 2020 11:44 pm

Lovely boulder - looks like a piece of precision engineering - but that's how the melting glaciers dumped them :D
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Re: Beinn Fhionnlaidh - relieving the lockdown pressure.

Postby trederdog 100 » Sat Jul 04, 2020 11:48 pm

You would think that boulder was placed there like that - very strange! We were up Kinlochleven and quite surprised how quiet it was, thought they'd be hoards of people escaping the central belt!
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