For my first solo post-lockdown walk I decided to go for Blairdenon, the last of the Ochils Donalds I had still to do. I hum'ed and haw'ed about which particular route to take. None of the reports sounded appealing to me, either too long or too much route improvisation. In the end I decided to do a bit of both. I had been up Alva Glen and back down the track at Cloves before, also up The Nebit via Silver Glen and up Ben Ever and Ben Cleuch also via the Silver Glen so I thought I knew the place ok'ish. I should know by now never to assume on the hills. Complacency always bites back. I decided on a route up the Alva Glen track to save energy rather than the path through the gorge and then once I got to the sheep pens below Bengengie I would head slowly and carefully up Blairenon and from there get to the top of Blairdenon itself. I reckoned there would be a bit of rough walking to the top by heading up the track I would save some energy. My intention was to come back the way I came. I thought I'd better ready myself for a long day and not be thinking about this being a 3 to 4 hour jaunt.
I parked at the Alva Glen car park and headed up the path. It's such a gorgeous place full of magical potential as E would say. One I will have to show her this place I thought. Anyway rather than heading up the Alva glen I took the path over to the zig-zags that take you up to Silver Glen. Since I was by myself, without T, L or E I could do my slow shuffle and take my time going. Well I obviously got far too zen'ed since I walk straight past the turn-off for Alva Glen track. I even looked at it but importantly I did not check my map. What use is a map if it's still in your ruck sack. Anyway I carried on shuffling up the Silver Glen in my bliss'ed out zen state marvelling at the wheatears and warblers that I could not identify, listening out for the buzzards until I came to the gate where you can take the path up the Nebit or head up Ben Ever. I carried on a bit more and since I had been going for an hour, thought a drink was in order and also a photo since all was wonderful with the world.
After the photo and drink I decided to look at the map at which point I realised my stupidity. Thankfully I could see that if just kept going up this track then at its head I could go off-piste and still get to the top of Blairdenon. It would mean trudge through some boggy ground but it was not raining so why not.
So I continued up the track until I got to its end, just past the Ben Buck Burn.
By this time a couple of hours had passed. I had a brief chat with a couple of fellow walkers who said they had just come from Blairdenon via the Alva glen track. Up here it was not immediately obvious what the best way was to head out over the moor towards the top. They said to head along a sort of path/faint atv track that headed towards Craighorn but that before you hit the fence the track would swing back up to Blairdenon. So I did that, at first time it did not feel like it was going in the right direction but after a short while there was fork in the path, with one heading towards the fence and the right hand one swing round towards Blairdenon.
This path continued to meander through the boggy ground and peat hags. Every time I thought it was going to take me down one of the burns it would swing back round and head up towards the gate in the fence above the East Cameron Burn.
It continued through the peat until I got to the gate and climbed over it.
From there it was fairly straightforward to get to the small cairn on the first summit and from there to the fence junction where the high top is. What a view you get towards Ben Lomond.
Pictures never do this justice. At least mine don't. So that was 3.5 hours for me to get to the top. From there I decided I would head back the way I had originally intended coming. So once I got back to the smaller summit I headed south over the rough ground to get to Blairenon. Not the best of walking this but it was not boggy, just lots of tussocks so quite tiring. After not too long I reached the top of Blairenon. This looked steep. I was going to head over to the shoulder by the West Cameron Burn but there was a craggy bit, not marked on the map, so I decided to zig-zag more towards the Alva Burn with my get-out, if necessary, to walk right over to the burn itself walk down the side of it. Well in the end I did not need the get-out.
The ground was steep, pictures never capture that fully to my mind, but by taking my time and doing lots of big and mini zig-zags I got down safe.
My thighs and the muscles above my knees though were feeling it. Got to the track and then headed back along that.
This valley with Bengengie on one side and Cloves on the other and the Torry blocking the south end feels very much like a hidden valley but obviously it's not.
It reminded me a little (only a little) of some the places I'd seen on the GR10 many, many moons ago. From there it was back along the track, all the way to the Gowls. There's was fair bit of up and down on this walk and I am amazed that the route map attached ended up saying over 900m of ascent. No wonder my legs were tired. Anyway made it back to the car in 6 hours.
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