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Golden Cruachan and Diamh

Golden Cruachan and Diamh


Postby ScottishLeaf » Sun Aug 12, 2012 11:45 pm

Route description: Ben Cruachan and Stob Daimh

Munros included on this walk: Ben Cruachan, Stob Daimh

Date walked: 11/08/2012

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 14 km

Ascent: 1380m

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I had originally planned to do this walk last week, but totally forgot about the start of something called the football season, so it was off to a certain stadium instead. This week, with the sun splitting the trees and the football not until Sunday, Ben Cruachan came calling.

One thing I don't do is mornings, I hate them, especially when the alarm screeches into life at 6am and I am out driving just after 7am. The sky was pale and already I could feel the heat of the day starting to build as I left Super Stenny behind, hoping to beat the day trippers through Callander and up the A84/A85. I arrived in Tyndrum with yawn and pulled over to the The Good Food Cafe for a cup of coffee and roll on square... Coffee £1.60,no bad. Roll on square sausage £2.95??? :o Think they saw me coming with that one!!

So much poorer, but perked up on the coffee I was up at Falls of Cruachan train station about 9am. The wee layby had been coned off, but there was a gap in the coning off, so I re-estabilished the on-site car parking! One other car had managed to squeeze in before the cones at the foot of the steps, apart from that no others were in sight. Just as I began walking another car squished in beside mine.

Almost immediately the views behind of Loch Awe open up and it was dazzling in the early sunshine.

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The lower path has been a victim of the warm, wet summer and is very overgrown with vegetation, so much so I was wondering if this was the right way to go. It's a trickier than usual outset path with quite a few rocky steps and tree roots that a clumsy lump like me could quite easily stumble or trip over.

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But behind you the views over the fishery and Loch Awe are spectacular. This is a part of the country I had only ever driven through without stopping and now I was wondering, why?

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I stoppped to double check the map and tie a loose shoe lace when the two walkers from the car that arrived as I started walking, James and John, caught me up and we walked together for a spell afterwards.

Just under an hour after setting off we reached the Cruachan dam, it's an impressive sight, but somehow it doesn't feel as imposing as the Loch Sloy dam or the Lawers Dam.

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The views of the glen are spoiled by huge pylons and a rather odd wee road with a 24mph speed limit. The driver in me puzzled at this rather odd limit :lol:

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Just before the wee bridge in this picture is a small car park, I suppose if you knew the area, you could drive right up to this point.

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Climbing up the vertical, galvanised metal stairs onto the dam is a thrill.. Questions like, "How big is the reservoir?"; "How high is the dam?; "How long did it take build?" were ripping through my brain. I was enjoying the thought of both man's ingenuity to build this great, monstrous chunk of concrete capable of; along with the power station far below my feet; quenching our thirst for power and of the thought that I was conquering it! The paradox of man v nature startling in this beautiful place. The dark, man-made loch highlighting the natural, magnificent ridge above to perfection.

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We made our way along the side of the loch and quickly reached the cairn marking the point where a left turn is due, to begin the assault of Coire Dearg. The ground here could be really boggy on a wet day, but it wasnt too bad as wee began the trudge uphill. Here a re-located Yorkshireman paused for a brief chat as he overtook us on the way up the corrie. I found the corrie really energy sapping in the heat. It seems to be at the peculiar angle that's not too steep, but somehow leaves you knackered.

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By now my slow plodding pace was beginning to hold James and John back and soon they left me behind, their 70+ munro experience outclassing my huffing and puffing effort!

Annoyingly the only bit cloud in the whole area, seemed to be clinging to Cruachan's summit. I hoped it would disappear by the time I got there!

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I eventually reached the bealach an lochain and took the opportunity to rest up for a minute or two and splash some cool water from the wee lochan onto my fazzog to at least try and dampen the bright red colour that was swamping my face. (I'll say it was the sun that caused it and I'm sticking to that!)

I clambered up the boulder field without too much difficulty. Here the going is steep, but I just put my head down and watched where I was placing my clodhoppers and made a fairly good pace up the hill. However, I was once again overtaken by two gents just before the summit.

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As you're crossing the boulder field to your left the view over the long ribbon of Loch Awe with Lochs Tromlee and an Droighinn is impressive, but my eyes were drawn east to the ridge and Cruachan Slabs. The wee bit mist didn't hang around long.

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At the top I lunched and chatted to the two guys that had overtaken me on the boulders, they were from Inverness and had climed over 500 munros between them. For one of them this was number 262 and he was planning on compeating, with a big party, on Beinn na Lap! Good luck to him and all the best!!

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As this was the first time I had ever tried any kind of real ridge walk, apart from Tarmachan, I was a wee bit nervous of the slabs. So it was with much gratitude on my part that the two Inverneusians agreed to help me past the slabs. As it turned out the slabs were no real problem.

When you first come across them, move round to your right and wee gully provides a natural stair case up onto the top and then, it's just follow the path! Only in one place does the path stray into the squeaky bum region, with the edge to your left, but big boulders to your right, but that's over in a matter of seconds. (Please remember this was on a scorching hot day and would certainly be tougher in wet/icy conditions.)

With the slabs safely passed my guides waved good bye and put on the afterburners. As I was beginning the descent of Drochaid Ghlas, they were already at the top of Stob Diamh!

From the slabs, it's a rocky but pleasant stroll up to Drochaid Ghlas and I took the very short detour to it's summit to admire the views of Loch Etive. From the main ridge the views I had were always better to the south over Loch Awe than over Etive, but from Drochaid the roles were reversed and I could even see out to the sea and the Isles of Mull and Kerrera.

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I spent quite a bit of time on the ridge, enjoying the views back along the ridge and both of the north and west. Cruachan, Diamh and the weather were all co-operating in turning this into a special day. Even the other walkers had been good to talk with and share a story or two with. So, having not covered that much distance, but having had enough time blowing my mind with the scenery, I sat down at the foot of the pull up to Stob Diamh's summit to have second lunch.

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As I munched second lunch, the view back west was of Ben Cruachan just poking up above it's ridge and Drochaid Ghlas.

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Two more walkers, dressed in all white passed me by and we chatted for a bit. I caught them back up at the summit and one of them was kind enough to take my picture by the cairn.

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From here Ben Cruachan lives up to it's Gaelic name of being the conical peak and the whole ridge just looks great.

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I walked with the White Shirts for a while, but if I'm slow going up hill, I'm a dispraxic oaf going downhill, more chance of me stomping the hill into dust than getting down quickly! The guys put up with me long enough to clamber over Stob Garbh, where we took the usual summit pictures.

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From here it's an easy trek down to Lairig Torran, where a gully is found, we tramped down the right hand side of it, following a faint grassy path, in the shadow of the corbett Beinn a'Bhuiridh and crossed the small burn at an obvious rocky point. But by now I was holding up yet another pair of walkers and as we crossed the boggy ground above the Eastern bank of the loch they were soon way in front of me. From here I took one last look up at the fantastic conical peak.

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However, I wasn't so slow this time! I caught the White Shirts up on the roads by the dam and we cut the corner over some mildly boggy ground to regain the overgrown path leading back down to the railway. I was thankful here that I wasn't much later as the sun had really burnt off any remaining cloud/mist and it's full force was blasting down on me and with my water all but gone, I was starting to feel the heat and hating that big bright globe in the sky!! On the stoney, root strewn path the White Shirts left me behind never to be seen again, but I enjoyed the solitude of the last part of the walk, even although my feet were burning and blistering in my boots. (I really do need to get an insole for them!)

On the way back it was a stop at The Tight Line in Loch Awe Village for dinner and a long cold pint of Irn Bru... bliss! Then just to add the cherry on top of a peachy day, I detoured via Dunblane on the way back home to grab one last picture.

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Well Done Andy!
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ScottishLeaf
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Re: Golden Cruachan and Diamh

Postby Fudgie » Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:08 am

I did that circuit in similar conditions to yourself but the views were well worth the efforts put in to get round. I'll be back to do it in the other direction but not for a while :D
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Re: Golden Cruachan and Diamh

Postby meldonfoot » Mon Aug 13, 2012 12:05 pm

well done scottishleaf ,the two whiteshirts were colin and rick. hope to see u again sometime.
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Re: Golden Cruachan and Diamh

Postby gordonscott1974 » Mon Aug 13, 2012 1:25 pm

Great report ScottishLeaf,

I did that walk myself on the friday, and the views were ever so slightly different, (to be honest not much below 800m to be seen, but above that, wow it definatley makes it worth the hard slog to the top).
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Re: Golden Cruachan and Diamh

Postby ScottishLeaf » Mon Aug 13, 2012 7:51 pm

Thanks for replies :)
Fudgie, I spoke about doing it the other way round to Colin and Rick. Think I'd prefer doing it clockwise going up the hardest part of the slabs and also down the longest part of the ridge. Would be a gentler ascent I suppose.

Colin, Rick was good to meet you both, enjoyed your company over Stob Diamh and Garbh, thanks again.

Gordon, those pics are breath taking... Fantastic stuff. My views were hampered a little by a haze in the air, but special all the same. Just shows Cruachan and Diamh really are a pair of great mountains.
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Re: Golden Cruachan and Diamh

Postby monty » Mon Aug 13, 2012 7:57 pm

Nice set of photos on what was a beatuiful day. Love the postbox :lol:
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Re: Golden Cruachan and Diamh

Postby jaml23 » Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:34 pm

Scottish Leaf,
Great report, I was one of the two guys from Inverness you met on the summit of Cruachan. Really enjoyed the day, don't know about the after burners but we got round in reasonable time given what was a pretty hot day.
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Re: Golden Cruachan and Diamh

Postby DuncanMacleay » Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:27 pm

Scottish Leaf.

I am the second of the two Inverneusians who guided you across the slabs. Not that you needed any help.

With the slabs safely passed my guides waved good bye and put on the afterburners. As I was beginning the descent of Drochaid Ghlas, they were already at the top of Stob Diamh!
:wave: :wave:

I didn't think we were going that fast, but did look back from the top of Stob Diamh and see your red shirt in the distance
Great report. :clap: :clap: Hope to see you another time. Maybe Beinn na Lap. :lol:
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Re: Golden Cruachan and Diamh

Postby Alan S » Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:36 pm

Great report and pics, still one of my favourites this 8)
ScottishLeaf wrote:Roll on square sausage £2.95?

Thats shocking I would have demanded another for that price :lol:
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Re: Golden Cruachan and Diamh

Postby ScottishLeaf » Wed Aug 22, 2012 10:38 pm

macleay@bt wrote:Scottish Leaf.

I am the second of the two Inverneusians who guided you across the slabs. Not that you needed any help.

With the slabs safely passed my guides waved good bye and put on the afterburners. As I was beginning the descent of Drochaid Ghlas, they were already at the top of Stob Diamh!
:wave: :wave:

I didn't think we were going that fast, but did look back from the top of Stob Diamh and see your red shirt in the distance
Great report. :clap: :clap: Hope to see you another time. Maybe Beinn na Lap. :lol:


Hey! Just seen this post, not been on since last week.
I was nervous as this was the first time I had done a ridge, other than Tarmachan, and a couple reports on here had put the spooks on me! So your company and help was appreciated... big confidence booster.

I'll pinch my old man's Scotrail pass to get to Corrour for the party :D

AlanS... I nearly needed the Heimlich Manoevre to get over that price! Shocking!
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Re: Golden Cruachan and Diamh

Postby jmoran12 » Fri Aug 24, 2012 12:12 pm

hi scottishleaf. me n john really enjoyed your company on the way up . it really was a hot day .went round with the yorkshireman .got well sunburnt on the way round . hopefully see you out on the hills another time .
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Re: Golden Cruachan and Diamh

Postby Graeme D » Fri Aug 24, 2012 8:10 pm

Fine report SL. This is a very fine circuit indeed. It is still one of my finest days in the hills although the underfoot conditions were vastly different to what you got. I remember seeing that 24mph sign on the road on the way down and thinking it was a bit weird! :shock:
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