walkhighlands

The Beinns Are Back In Town

Date walked: 06/07/2020

Time taken: 7.25 hours

Distance: 15.1km

Ascent: 1355m


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On Monday I was lucky enough to finally get back onto the hills, as my annual leave was extended to 6th July. The weather was atrocious throughout the weekend (actually at Weather Warning levels on Friday and Sunday), but as predicted the storms cleared to leave pleasant sunny intervals on Monday morning. The choice was a simple one: I had to be back in Glasgow by 4:30pm to drop my wife at work, but I wanted to get some Munros on the board again at long last. Cruach Ardrain and Beinn Tulaichean it was...

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For the first time in forever......

Went the classic Great Western Road / Citylink route rather than M8 / Erskine Bridge, as it felt almost like a pilgrimage at this point. Parked up at the long car park South of Crianlarich (usual starting point for An Caisteal and Beinn a'Chroin) at 8am, The Last Dance concert from Runrig still ringing in my ears. Don't think I've ever been so happy to see a car park. Put on my glove to open the gate (#StaySafe) and headed up the track towards the bridge. My mood was still pretty joyful at this point, but I knew the hardest part was still to come.

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The pull up towards Grey Height didn't look like the steepest from the map, but I knew that with so many months off the hills (and my sleeping patterns / routines shot to pieces by lockdown etc.) it would be a bit of a shock to the system. Right enough the climb took an inordinate amount of time. There was a Glen Falloch rainbow to brighten things up a bit, although I kept worrying that the accompanying rainfall was imminent.

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Passed a friendly Englishman just past the stile from the Crianlarich route (well, was passed by him, as my pace was awful by this point). We noted that the length of the layoff was making this tougher than normal. He seemed to be cutting up to the right rather than carrying on alongside the fence, so I just followed him (slowly). There was no proper path at this point, following the classic Southern Highlands tradition of 'Boggy Faint Route Lower Down / Brilliant Rocky Path On Ridges'. The rain was staying away, apart from some brief smir.

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Finally, after almost 1.5 hours(!) Grey Height loomed into view. Things were looking rather cloudy towards Cruach Ardrain, but I remained hopeful that things would clear up as I headed onto the ridge. I made a quick detour to the rock that sits atop Grey Height, to find the sunshine beginning to reappear over Crianlarich.

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As expected, a clear path suddenly appeared just before Grey Height, so i followed it up on the ridge towards Meall Dhamh. I was quickly stopped in my tracks by a view that almost literally took my breath away. Maybe it was just because lockdown was so long, or because the last few months have been so stressful for so many reasons. The photo doesn't do it justice, but there was something amazing about the view towards the corrie in front of Cruach Ardrain, Like...wow, they're still here. They're all still here. Fancy that!

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The cloud finally began to clear over Cruach Ardrain as I headed over a kind of 'Bad Step' on the Meall Dhamh ridge. I don't know if this would be classed as a very difficult scramble or a very brief Grade 1 rock climb, but it was tricky anyway. The rock was very slippery from all the recent rain, and I thought my new walking poles would be an added complication, but they ended up helping.

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One more descent took me down to the col, and a beautiful lochan.

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I had promised myself to stay on the path now I'd found it, but it just seemed to be traversing round the side of the hill. I wondered if it was actually the return path from Beinn Tulaichean, and headed off left up the steep hillside.

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This was steeper than Grey Height, but on better ground. It was a great relief to finally reach the double false summit after just over three hours :shock: and see the true summit of Cruach Ardrain in the near distance, beckoning me over.

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I've never actually wept at the top of a mountain before, and maybe it was just the biting wind at the summit, but I did seem to well up a little. The last few months have been indescribable, for a multitude of reasons, and I guess part of me just wondered subconsciously if I would ever be stood on top of a Munro again. And yet here we are.

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Reeeeeeally need a professional haircut

The most straightforward part pf the route was always going to be the traverse to Beinn Tulaichean. I hadn't really done a full investigation of this route (WH recommends going from Inverlochlairg but I preferred the A82 drive), so at the back of my mind I was wondering if I could actually get back to the car by 3pm. It was already midday as I headed over the col towards Beinn Tulaichean, passing a few groups.

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Reached the summit of Beinn Tulaichean just before 12:15, just gave me just enough time to finish my lunch before starting the dash back down to the car.

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If anything Beinn Tulaichean might be a better viewpoint than Cruach Ardrain. The views towards Loch Voil and Ben Ledi were superb, and I could make out Ben A'an, Meikle Bin and Duncolm too.

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I returned to the col and surveyed the options on the OS map. Heading straight down to the left wasn't an option, as I'd still have to get round the hillside and the track in the glen didn't seem to start until near the bridge from the morning. Going round the side wasn't an option (far too steep and too many cliffs). I briefly had a god at that but had to abort mission and head back to the path, tail between my legs. I'd essentially have to re-climb much of Cruach Ardrain until it was safe to start traversing round to the West, which I'd read was possible in previous reports.

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Nooooo chance...

After a few tricky minutes of hurting the ankles on the side of a steep slope, I stumbled across a path. Eventually (although I'm not sure where), this developed into the outward path and I started to recognise my route from the morning. At least I had cut out some of the re-ascent to Cruach Ardrain.

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Things were brightening up now but time was really of the essence. It was nearly 1:30, and if I didn't get back to the car by 3pm a volcano could erupt... :shock:

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Headed back up over the Bad Step (again the walking poles made this more straightforward) and down Meall Dhamh towards Grey Height.

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The time ticked past 2pm as I headed past Grey Height. I vaguely remembered from the morning that I should head to the right once I see the big rock, and curve round to the left to begin the descent to the bridge.

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Oh wait...maybe not that big rock then.

I seemed to be heading due North towards Crianlarich, so had to head West for a while on steep ground to eventually regain the path down to the fence. Already it was past 2:30. 3pm was gone, no chance, but perhaps if I made it by 3:15 and got a clear run on the roads...

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There really isn't much of a path here, more of a faint line through the grass...

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Was so relieved to see the bridge again! Even if the time was nearly 3pm.

In the end I was late...but only by five minutes (there is actually no overtaking lane on the Southbound A82 at Firkin Point, only Northbound for some reason, and I was caught unawares by traffic jams in Glasgow that were caused more by roadworks than commuters). The reaction was erm suitably measured... :lol: But it was a great day. I've never been more grateful for a hillwalk, and it was another reminder that we're incredibly lucky to be in a country with all this on our doorstep.

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Craiging619


User avatar
Location: Glasgow
Occupation: GIS Technician
Activity: Hill Bagger
Mountain: Goatfell
Place: Arran
Camera: iPhone 7
Walk wishlist

Munros: 54
Corbetts: 30
Grahams: 27
Donalds: 14
Sub 2000: 17
Islands: 21



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Statistics

2020

Trips: 2
Distance: 15.2 km
Ascent: 1360m

2019

Trips: 1
Distance: 2 km
Ascent: 180m
Sub2000s: 1

2018

Trips: 1
Distance: 1.9 km
Ascent: 270m

2017

Trips: 1
Distance: 3.8 km
Ascent: 390m
Grahams: 1
Donalds: 1

2016

Trips: 2
Distance: 20.9 km
Ascent: 1320m
Munros: 2
Sub2000s: 1

2015

Trips: 2
Distance: 15.4 km
Ascent: 860m
Munros: 1
Sub2000s: 1

2014

Trips: 5
Distance: 58.9 km
Ascent: 4120m
Munros: 3
Corbetts: 3

2013

Trips: 14
Distance: 205.05 km
Ascent: 12755m
Munros: 8
Corbetts: 6
Grahams: 7
Donalds: 2

2012

Trips: 3
Distance: 52.9 km
Ascent: 3650m
Munros: 3
Corbetts: 1
Grahams: 1
Donalds: 1

2011

Trips: 9
Distance: 122.8 km
Ascent: 8555m
Munros: 3
Corbetts: 5
Grahams: 6
Donalds: 1
Sub2000s: 1

2010

Trips: 5
Distance: 66.2 km
Ascent: 2950m
Corbetts: 1
Grahams: 3
Donalds: 4
Sub2000s: 1

2009

Trips: 1
Distance: 7.6 km
Ascent: 450m
Sub2000s: 1

2008

Trips: 2
Distance: 25.85 km
Ascent: 2545m
Munros: 2
Grahams: 1

2007

Trips: 1
Distance: 12 km
Ascent: 990m
Munros: 1

2003

Trips: 1
Distance: 11 km
Ascent: 420m
Corbetts: 1
Donalds: 1


Joined: Jul 21, 2009
Last visited: Oct 26, 2020
Total posts: 145 | Search posts