Mixed pleasures of a Lussful Foursome

Grahams: Beinn Dubh, Beinn Eich, Cruach an t-Sidhein, Doune Hill

Date walked: 20/11/2021

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 25km

Ascent: 1414m

10 Sithein.JPG
Cruach an t-Sidhein in the Luss Hills.

It was just one walker but four hills; Luss Hills, that is. Also, as it turned out, it was two walks in one (perhaps one 'into' two, more accurately). Perusal of my Harvey’s Munro & Corbett Chart (including Grahams and Donalds) revealed that there are 8 Luss's altogether, all ‘mere Grahams’ – a phrase I will soon unlearn – and I intended to put 4 of them together in a loop to make what looked a perfectly manageable walk even for winter. Then, on the second day of this two-day trip, I would tackle the more serious fare of Ben Vorlich, Munro, a short distance further up the A82. That was the plan.

1 Dubh.JPG
Luss and Loch Lomond.

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Day 1: Ascent of Beinn Dubh.

Ascending the first hill on the itinerary, Beinn Dubh, it quickly became apparent that limited visibility, but plenty of wind and rain, was going to be on offer. I was vaguely aware of an unsettled forecast, but I felt I could handle whatever the November elements threw at me. These were ‘mere Grahams’, after all, and I had the best possible map (a Superwalker) and it was not as if this was the outer reaches. However, mood is mood, and my mood was crap. There was the intimidation of the next and biggest hill, Doune, in that I couldn’t see it. I envisaged myself only getter wetter and colder, maybe running out of daylight, and I just wasn’t up for the compass challenge. The bottom line, though, was that I was of the ‘what am I even doing here, there is no pleasure in this’ state of mind. After summitting Dubh, I decided to call it a day. Even the sight of a solitary walker up there ahead of me failed to inspire me (he appeared to quickly dip down, or get blown down, a different route to mine anyway, towards the Doune-Inverbeg road). I am glad I at least had the presence of mind to make a little horseshoe out of things, and I descended into Glen Luss.

3 Dubh.JPG
Summit of Beinn Dubh 642m (2,107 feet).

4 Dubh.JPG
Descent to Glen Luss.

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So much for day one, and I even contemplated driving home that very evening and, with just one Graham to show for 400 miles of petrol, I probably would indeed have to ask myself why do I bother. At least part of that answer is in the satisfaction of conquering the anxiety of being out there alone, especially if conditions are less than ideal, as well as – in theory at least – the actual pleasure to be had from the landscape. Now, the Loch Lomond Arms in Luss does a very nice little soup and a perfect latte, and this raised my spirits so much that once more I believed I could achieve all the above. I made eager plans to do the rest of my foursome tomorrow, meaning now it was just a threesome, but I reckoned it would feel better to return home with that than, say, one Luss plus Ben Vorlich. One must of course beware of reducing the beauty of the mountains to arithmetic, but these Grahams – ‘hills’, call them what you like – are proper mountains. Fact!

Day 2: Beinn Eich looms above Edentaggart farmstead at top of the Glen Luss road.

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Ascent of Beinn Eich, with Doune Hill in view beyond.

6 Eich summit.JPG
On Beinn Eich summit 703m (2,307 feet), with Doune Hill (right) and Cruach an t-Sidhein (left).

Passing over Beinn Lochain en route to Doune Hill.

View of the Arroachar Alps.

9 Doune summit.JPG
Summit of Doune Hill 724 m (2,409 feet).

One bonus of my revamped plans was that I was getting to know Glen Luss quite well now, although time did not permit a hunt for fairies (faeries), which I have learnt 'dwell in this prettiest village of Scotland', plus perhaps trolls. The onset of winter had evidently not stopped a couple of families from going on the official trail in search of these creatures, but I bypassed the temptation and marched an hour up the lane to access Beinn Eich. Achieving this entailed a moment of confusion in passing through the farmstead of Edentaggart at the top of the lane, and I may or may not have selected the correct gates to climb over, but this was no problem and nothing snarled at me. No sooner had I reached the ridge than a cold squall came down, but overall conditions were better than yesterday with fitful rather than enveloping cloud, symbolized nicely by the fact I could often see my key destination of the Hill of Doune. On reaching that highpoint of the Luss Hills, the views were as good as most, including sight of the famed Cobbler ('mere Corbett' :? ) and Arrochar Alps.

11 Sithein closer.JPG
Cruach an t-Sidhein 684m (2,245 feet).

12 ascent of.JPG
Ascent of Cruach an t-Sidhein.

13 summit.JPG
Doune Hill (left) and Beinn Eich (right) from Cruach an t-Sidhein.

0 Eich & mid.JPG
View of Beinn Eich from Cruach an t-Sidhein.

14 me.JPG
Success today; I descend to the Glen behind me instead of going back over Beinn Eich.

My third and final peak of the day, Cruach an t-Sidhein, was a little character (well, not so little) with its steep pyramidal form and a fence right the way up it, kind of wild and tamed at the same time. A feature of the day had been moments of tranquillity interspersed with huge blasting winds, and this was certainly true up there. Once more there were fine views, which now included Loch Long in the distance but not least the two southernmost Luss Hills, which on another day (namely a summer one) might have tempted me with a grand endurance walk. As it was, I was pleased with myself to avoid repeating myself over Beinn Eich and instead return by Gleann na Caorainn.This was devoid of a path until reaching the abandoned farmstead (called 'Glean na Caorainn'), but I didn't mind a rough squelch after the success of this day. I'd even been treated to the most perfect complete rainbow, like a mystical portal in the way it framed Doune Hill for me. Returning to Edentaggart, the way I had negotiated it last time was now blocked by two large rams, so I climbed over a couple of different gates this time, seeing no need to take risks at this stage with creatures whether imaginary or otherwise.

15 rainbow.JPG
Camera cannot do justice to magic portal around Doune Hill.

16 ram.JPG
I should have lashed it to my rucksack, and cut an interesting figure returning to Luss in the dark.

17 valley.JPG
Gleann na Caorainn.

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The walk took longer than I anticipated (7 hours), and I now realise this is because of underestimating the amount of ascent when linking hills together like this (they’re mountains, at least in England they’d be called such!). In fact, it had added up to more than if I had ‘merely’ done the mere Munro, Ben Vorlich, individually, and more mileage to boot. Night fell as I hit the lane back through Glen Luss, but that was fine. As if to seal my satisfaction, the one person I met all day, a resident at Edentaggart, said to me “you’ve just got down before dark.” The last word, however, me being a space-head, goes to Jupiter which sat above the Luss Hills in glory that evening. Saturn too. Cool.

18 Jupiter.JPG

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Comments: 2

The Glen Lyon Ring of Four

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Comments: 4
Views: 339

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Ascent: 1041m
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The English Alpinist

User avatar
Location: Lancashire England.
Occupation: Food delivery driver.
Interests: Mountaineering, music, movies, writing.
Activity: Mountain Walker
Pub: Loch Lomond Arms
Mountain: Ben Nevis.
Place: Strathmore, Sutherland.
Gear: DMM cirque mountain axe.
Camera: Digital camcorder.
Ideal day out: An epic ridge-walk such as CMD Arete, or a horsehoe such as Helvellyn.
Ambition: All the British mountains

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Grahams: 6
Wainwrights: 214
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Sub 2000: 1

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