Ben Oss

Munros: Ben Oss

Date walked: 15/10/2013

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 19km

Ascent: 1100m

Dalrigh - Allt Gleann Auchreoch - Coille Coire Chuill - Coire Dubhcraig - Beinn Dubhcraig (900m level) - Bealach Buidhe - BEN OSS (M, 1029m) - Bealach Buidhe - Coire Buidhe - River Cononish (ford) - Glen Cononish - Lower Tyndrum stn - Tyndrum - Glengarry.

The day had dawned well enough, with a clear view of Ben Lui summit, the highest hill in this area. However, by the time I’d downed breakfast and started this one, the cloud had dropped a bit, covering all four Munro summits to the west. Disappointing, but not disastrous: the forecast was positive for later in the day. I envisaged myself taking a good two hours or more to the upper reaches of Ben Dubhcraig, by which time I hoped the tops would be clear. Time would tell!

It was an easy enough start from Dalrigh, as I followed the easy path west over a couple of bridges. However, my third bridge - the one that would take me across the Allt Gleann Auchreoch - was gone. It had apparently been dismantled, the wooden planks removed and left on the riverbank, leaving just two iron bars across the burn. I dropped down to the water for a closer look. It wasn’t too wide, but a foot deep in places. There were a few uneven rocks would perhaps allow me to cross dryshod if I was lucky, but having made it across two slippery rocks, and balancing precariously on a third, I decided not to chance my luck. The potential for a slip, and serious injury, was certainly there. I turned back, and decided on my tried-and-tested method: boots off, socks off, boots back on, and trouser legs rolled well up for a shallow wade across. This did, of course, mean wet boots for the rest of the day, but surely better that than a serious injury!

Bridge (remains) across Allt Gleann Auchreoch

So, having waded across, I dried my feet and ankles as best I could, donned the boots and socks once again, then started up the path through the old forest of Coille Coire Chuill. How refreshing to see ancient Scots pine instead of the usual made-made forests! Actually I would have appreciated all this even more if it weren’t for the sodden, boggy footpath I was now following for the next couple of miles. Several times I slipped into the morass, cursing. This was not an easy approach! :evil:

A view through the old pine trees to Beinn Chuirn

Eventually I came out of the old forest and into the bowl of Coire Dubhcraig. Things were still looking a bit bleak at this point, with the summit of Beinn Dubhcraig still under a bit of cloud. I struggled up into the open ground, with no footpath to follow now. I headed up onto the north ridge, and as I gained height, fine views opened up of the Coire Buidhe and Ben Lui. It wasn’t too long before I’d gained enough height to reach the two small lochans on Beinn Dubhcraig at the 900 metre level. By now the views were pretty clear, and I particularly enjoyed the view south to Loch Lomond.

Loch Lomond from Beinn Dubhcraig

Having climbed Beinn Dubhcraig in 2010, reaching the very summit today (some 80 metres further up) was not top priority. Instead I dropped down to the Bealach Buidhe, from where I would ascend a new Munro for me, Ben Oss. But before I headed up again, I heard the distant, spine-tingling roar of a stag. What with the autumn colours, the stag was all but invisible. And this is where my new binoculars came into play. I heard the roar several times again, which allowed me to determine its rough position from my viewpoint. I scanned the view south-east with the binos… and there he was, close to Loch Oss, replete with a generous set of antlers, not to mention at least a dozen hinds!

Unfortunately this herd of deer were much too far off for any decent photos with my 18-55mm lens, so I headed on up to Ben Oss, and reached the 1029-metre summit before long. When I got there, I quickly noticed a small memorial at the summit cairn, dedicated to two fallen Royal Marines, victims in 2010 of the ongoing war in Afghanistan. But I didn't want to dwell too long on this. The views in all directions were quite superb. To the east were, of course, Beinn Dubhcraig and Loch Oss; to the south, the northern reaches of Loch Lomond and its eponymous mountain; west, and the great mountain mass of Ben Lui, the highest and most eye-catching peak in this area.

A sober reminder at the top of Ben Oss

Ben Lui from Ben Oss

Loch Oss below Beinn Dubhcraig

By now pretty pleased with myself, having come through the morass of the old pine forest and reached a new Munro, I headed back down to the Bealach Buidhe, from where I had to make a further choice. Which way did I want to make it back to base? I could, of course, simply retrace my steps all the way back. This would entail a further 80-metre climb up to Beinn Dubhcraig’s lochans - followed by that dreadful, squelchy walk down the sodden footpath, not to mention another wade across the river. Or I could, as I did three years ago, head down the Coire Buidhe and across to Glen Cononish.

I well remember my descent of the Coire Buidhe last time. It was a steep, rough, trackless descent to the River Cononish, followed by a wet ford of the river, then a struggle across deep grass and then an uphill slant to the landrover track in Glen Cononish. This time I would check out the initial descent first before plunging down. After five minutes of swithering between the two options, I decided that the Coire Buidhe descent was the lesser of the two evils.

So down I headed, with nothing so much as a faint sheep track to ease the descent. There were one or two dodgy moments where I had to put hand to rock to steady myself. The steep gradient eased but the rough, trackless descent continued. It was tiring stuff, but as I eased myself slowly down, another potential problem was now looming. Down by the River Cononish grazed several hefty Highland cattle, with no fence or dyke for separation between man and beasts. :shock: I did not relish this! Although my nervousness over similar situations in the past has mostly come to nothing, I found this little comfort, as my now exhausted physical state meant that I was in no position to make a fruitless dash for freedom, should the need arise. I made a bit of a diversion to the west, to avoid the beasts completely. Thoughts of attacked hikers were hard to dismiss as I struggled across first the river, then deep grass the final uphill gradient before my salvation (ie the landrover track!) was reached. I rested for ten minutes as I viewed the now distant cattle, quietly grazing and minding their own business. Physically I was now utterly spent. I felt this had, for me, been quite an effort - and also, if I'm honest, a stark reminder of how unfit I've become in recent years. I finished my meagre water supply (half a litre for a longish daywalk - far too little!) before starting back to base. Three more miles lay before me, before I flopped exhausted into the guesthouse! :crazy:

It had been a great walk, with some superb views all around. But by heck, I need to get fitter!

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Location: Fife
Interests: Scottish hillwalking, photography, travel and all things Scottish
Activity: Walker
Mountain: Stob Ghabhar
Place: Glen Kinglass
Camera: Nikon D40
Ambition: Get paid to walk hills!

Munros: 36
Corbetts: 14
Grahams: 15
Donalds: 28
Sub 2000: 10
Long Distance routes: West Highland Way   

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Trips: 3
Distance: 44 km
Ascent: 2500m
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Trips: 1
Distance: 23 km
Ascent: 760m
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