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Settling on and for Suidhe
by Graeme D » Thu Aug 20, 2020 3:58 pm
Grahams included on this walk: Beinn Suidhe
Date walked: 11/07/2020
Time taken: 5.5 hours
Distance: 18.3 km
Ascent: 610m1 person thinks this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
In the event of an early enough start and favourable weather, Sgulaird offered the possibility of combing with the Corbett Creach Bheinn whereas Aighenan could be combined with one or more of the Grahams around Glen Kinglass. However, with the weather again looking questionable, I decided against Sgulaird, renowned for its stunning coastal views, and at the roundabout just over the Ballachuilish Bridge, carried straight on towards Glencoe.
So far over the last 48 hours I had seen nothing of any significance in the way of unusually heavy traffic, increased numbers of vehicles parked in lay-bys or on verges, or camper van activity. I guessed that would change once I hit Glencoe and right enough, the place was rammed, with vehicles parked up in all the usual access points for the Aonach Eagach, Bidean nam Bian e.t.c. And the various parking areas for Buachaille Etive Mor were beyond rammed. I drove past the end of the Glen Etive road wondering just what scenes of carnage lay that way.
At Bridge of Orchy there were the usual tents pitched down by the bridge and one or two along the single track road to Forest Lodge but the parking area just before the Lodge was something else. The car park as well as the access track into it and the verge most of the way back to the bridge over the Allt Tolaghan was bursting. I would say that in the main part of the car park itself, it was all camper vans save for perhaps a couple of cars. It looked for all the world like a refugee camp for camper vans. I managed to squeeze into a space on the access track but while I made some porridge and coffee and got changed, a few cars came into the car park and were less fortunate, driving back out to think again.
I quickly tidied up my breakfast stuff while the bloke in the camper van behind me fixed his binoculars on the collection of tens at the bridge and reported to his wife that Boaby was up and about but looking slightly disorientated and dishevelled. Then I made myself scarce, heading through the car park and past the little stand of trees at the far end, where an enormous tent was pitched and half a dozen or so people were sitting round looking a bit rough from what I could see from a suitably socially distant vantage point.. Then it was onto the tarmac across Victoria Bridge and the left turn onto the track at Forest Lodge for the Right of Way through to Glen Etive. I was on familiar terrain as far as the Allt Toaig and the turn of for Stob Gabhar and Stob a 'Choire Odhair, then it was uncharted territory.
The Abhainn Shira upstream from Victoria Bridge
Onto the well kent track
Back to Beinn an Dothaidh and Beinn Dorain
Beinn Suidhe ahead
I still wasn't 100% sure where I was headed. If I headed out to Aighenan I would probably want to try to tag on Benn nan Lus as well but the weather was still looking unpredictable. Without waterproof trousers, I was keen to avoid a repeat of my brief but unpleasant drenching on Carn nan Gobhar yesterday, so I opted for the nearest, handiest option - the Graham Beinn Suidhe. There would still be the option of Meall Garbh if I felt like it and the weather played ball. As it turned out, I didn't and it didn't.
I met a few folk walking out, including a couple of blokes on their own who looked like they had been fishing out at Loch Dochard and a couple of younger dudes with what looked very much like a suitcase on a trolley of some sort!
The Aibhainn Shira running deep and still
Squall rolling in over Beinn Suidhe
I stopped for a breather and a bite to eat at the ford over the Allt Gabhar where the track runs down through the forest from Clashgour Farm. I spoke for a moment or two (socially distant of course) with a bloke who was walking out to Bridge of Orchy from Taynuilt and had camped overnight near Glenkinglass Lodge, where he reported it had been windy enough to at least keep the midge down. I advised that at the Mullardoch Dam it had been windy enough to keep large birds and small aircraft down! He had come along the muddy track through the trees from the footbridge but after crossing the Allt Gabhar I carried on across the Abhainn Shira and the Allt Suil na Curra before starting the ascent of Beinn Suidhe.
First fording - crossing the Allt Gabhar
Now these are what I call stepping stones!
Once across the water obstacles, it was a long, hot haul up the eastern slopes of the Graham onto the undulating summit ridge. The views back towards Loch Tulla and down to my right across Loch Dochard provided some interest and distraction from the heat and the clegs and looking across to Stob Coir an Albannaich and Meall nan Eun brought back memories of a fine day on that pair in April of last year. It was one of those cracking April days where the weather strongly hints at the approaching summer but on exposed aspects, the wind reminds you in no uncertain terms that winter isn't quite done with you yet. And of course with everything that has occurred in the intervening 15 months, that day really did feel like a different lifetime.
Hot, pathless and cleggy - you can't beat the Grahams in July!
Loch Dochard comes into view with Stob Coir an Albannaich and Meall nan Eun beyond
Back to Loch Tulla
Did I mention it was hot, pathless and cleggy?
A bit cloudy on the roof of the Loch Etive Munros
By the time I could sniff an easing of the gradient as I approached the summit ridge, the weather had taken an ominous turn again and it looked like I may once again have to pay for my forgetfulness where the waterproof trousers were concerned. I zipped my jacket up tight and got my head down, marching on with some urgency along the broad, undulating grassy ridge towards the summit.
Clag chasing me up Suidhe
Back to the start from the summit ridge of Beinn Suidhe
Eventually the small summit cairn was reached and I could tick off my first Graham since Beinn a'Chearchail in Torridon in March of last year.
My first Graham summit in over 15 months - nothing to see here!
I began the descent by continuing due west off the summit for a short distance to avoid any problems with the crags shown on my OS sheet before turning north and descending the grassy slopes towards the path in Glen Kinglass.
A nice wee spot of bog cotton
West along Glen Kinglass between Meall Garbh and Beinn nan Lus and Beinn nan Aighenan
As is often the case, the slight drizzle on the summit had now stopped and there were brief hints that it might clear up a bit, just enough to get me thinking about carrying on over to Meall Garbh. Then I studied the terrain carefully, then the map, and quickly binned that idea and any others like it. I had had a fairly successful, highly enjoyable three days back out in the hills after the ordeal of lockdown, so probably it was time to quit while I was ahead and go home and enjoy a few cold beers. With that I set off down the grassy slopes towards the path in the glen.
Cloud shroud on Aighenan
Looking north up Coire na Caime towards Glas Bheinn Mhor and Albannaich
Time to make tracks
Once onto the track, it was a long but easy and pleasant wander back to the now slightly quieter car park. I guessed the Friday night bookings had moved on and the Saturday night guests hadn't yet all checked in. On the way I had a brief chat with three anglers standing chatting next to a little wooden hut at the side of the track, just at the far corner of Loch Dochard. I asked how their fishing was going, to which one of them, the one standing bare foot with a can of beer in his hand, pointed to his two mates and said "He's caught one, he's got a couple, and I've got sweet F*** all". "No f***ing wonder" I replied, "standing around with no socks and shoes on drinking beer!". "Fair point" he replied, and took another swig.
Track descending to Loch Dochard - spot the angler in front of the jutting spit of land
Angler in the shadow of Meall nan Eun
Stob Coir an Albannaich and Meall nan Eun across Loch Dochard
Last look back at Beinn Suidhe
Somewhat rickety suspension footbridge over the Abhainn Shira
A very fine three days back out doing what I love. Let's hope it's not another four months until I'm allowed back out again!
by Gordie12 » Thu Aug 20, 2020 5:01 pm
I think those two "dudes" were heading for the airport Graeme.
by Graeme D » Thu Aug 20, 2020 7:16 pm
Gordie12 wrote:That looked hot, pathless and cleggy.
No idea what gave you that impression!
Gordie12 wrote:I think those two "dudes" were heading for the airport Graeme.
Yes, I got that distinct impression too. I think their staycation on the shores of Loch Dochard had lost some of its appeal (probably due in no small part to the aforementioned clegs) and they had decided to take their chances in Spain, quarantine risk or no quarantine risk!
by rockhopper » Thu Aug 20, 2020 11:52 pm
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