A surprisingly fine outing to bag a Big Clootie Dumpling

Grahams: Cruinn a'Bheinn

Date walked: 01/12/2019

Time taken: 5.25 hours

Distance: 15km

Ascent: 650m

Since an epic outing to the Grey Corries back in August, a combination of a prolonged busy spell at work and crap weather on the few weekends that I'd had free had kept me off the hills :( . At last, however, I found myself with a free Sunday in early December, and the forecast was actually excellent! Shurely shome mishtake :lol: ...?
Anyway, I didn't take asking twice and set off to bag a wee winter Graham. For some time I'd had my eye on Ben Lomond's somewhat less shapely northern sidekick, Cruinn a' Bheinn, also known by the Anglicised version of its name, Crinaven.
"Cruinn a ' Bheinn" translates as something along the lines of "Rounded Lump of the Mountain", which is a good description, assuming that the "Mountain" in question is Ben Lomond, since this unlucky lower peak is indeed just a big rounded excrescence on the Ben's northwestern flanks. None of the books give it a great write-up: in his old 1990s "Grahams" book, Andrew Dempster describes it as "a classic example of a Graham totally overshadowed by a Munro neighbour", while the new SMC Grahams guide wryly comments that "the glaciers gave Cruinn a' Bheinn fewer favours [than practically any other hill in the vicinity]" :? …As seen from the A82 across Loch Lomond, or from any other angle come to think of it, it resembles nothing so much as a Big Clootie Dumpling, being relatively steep-sided but then excessively flat on top :lol: .
Still, a Graham is a Graham, and it was one near home that I still had to do.
In terms of approach routes, it's something of an awkward customer, with the only feasible approach with limited daylight on a winter day being from the Inversnaid Hotel as described in the SMC guide, so that's what I did.

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It was a lovely day right enough, but there was a lot of ice on the roads, and the drive west to Inversnaid from Stronachlachar was a tad more adventurous than I'd expected: Loch Lomond was looking lovely, right enough, but I didn't fancy an early dip in it :o ! However, I finally arrived at the hotel, all shut up for the winter and with the car park virtually deserted. I set off on the start of the waymarked West Highland Way southwards along Loch Lomondside, enjoying a grand view of pleasingly pointy Ben Vane across the loch.
WR1 - lovely first view of Ben Vane across the loch.jpg

I paused for a quick photie of the impressive Inversnaid Falls from below, before climbing the stairs (with care, given the amount of ice around!) to cross the wooden footbridge above them.
WR2 - the impressive waterfall at the start.jpg

The walk south along the Bonny Banks East through beautiful oak and beech woods was absolutely idyllic on a fine winter's day like this, and I only met a couple of other walkers (and one cyclist, although I'm very dubious about how feasible a route this rather rough path really is on a bike!) all day. There were continuous spectacular views across the loch, with Ben Vane very much stealing the show. The big Hydro Scheme at Inveruglas was also clearly visible a wee bit further to the north:
WR3- another nice shot of Ben Vane with Inveruglas hydro works visible to right.jpg

A few kilometres further down the WHW, and yet another grand vista of Ben Vane through the trees:
WR4 - Ben Vane again through trees.jpg

A bit further south again, and Loch Lomond was just looking unfeasibly scenic, with a good view across the water to … yep, you guessed it, Ben Vane :lol: .
WR5 - loch with lovely ripples and Ben Vane yet again.jpg

The lovely woodland and spectacular scenery made the time fly by, and it seemed like much less time than it actually was before I reached the cottage at Cailness with its striking red-and-white colour scheme.
WR6 - cottage at Coiletur.jpg

As directed in the SMC guide, I looked out for a smaller, rougher path branching off left uphill just before the start of the cottage's fenced-off enclosure, and sure enough, there it was. This soon led onto the zigzagging vehicle track that heads steeply uphill from the cottage to eventually run the length of Gleann Gaoithe to the east. There was a pleasing signpost at the locked gate from the track into the cottage's environs, warning of private land with "dogs running free", which sounded rather fun for them :D !
It was a bit of a slog up the track to the high bealach between Cruinn a' Bheinn and Cruachan that leads over into Gleann Goithe. ("Cruachan" is a western outlier of the S2K Marilyn Beinn Uamha, and altogether less impressive than its Loch Awe-side namesake.) As usual with a steep ascent, however, there were fine views by way of distraction. Yet again Ben Vane was very much the star turn, with the rest of the Arrochar Alps jostling for a bit of attention, and some lovely winter colours in the foreground.
WR7 - loch and Alps with lovely winter colours in foreground.jpg

There was a good view southwards down the loch too, towards Tarbet (I think):
WR8 - nice view southwards down loch to Arrochar I think.jpg

All the same, it was a relief to reach that high bealach at last, and to get a first proper view of The Big Clootie Dumpling itself over to the southeast, with the much shapelier Ben Lomond directly behind it, and with some rather unpromising-looking marshy and tussocky flatlands to be crossed on the way over.
WR9 - first proper look at the Clootie Dumpling with Ben Lomond behind.jpg

I trudged a wee bit further eastwards along the Gleann Gaoithe track, to what I reckoned was about its highest point, before heading off piste towards the Clootie Dumpling. There was an interesting view down the glen to Beinn Uamha, that famously "steep, rough and undistinguished" S2K Marilyn that actually turns out to be a surprisingly good wee walk when tackled from the Stronachlachar road, as I did a couple of years ago.
WR10 - looking east along Gleann Gaoithe with Beinn Uamha to left of the track in distance.jpg

However, it was now time to gird my loins for the Crossing of the Plains :? ... Actually, it turned out not to be quite as boggy as it initially looked, although it did have its squelchy sections. Winter is definitely the time to do this route, when the wetter bits are well frozen :lol: ! Again there were some fine views for distraction, this time of the Cobbler, which predictably enough was showing off in the sunshine as it always does.
WR11 - the Cobbler & Alps from the head of Gleann Gaoithe.jpg

Now, I feel that it's far too long since we had a shot of Ben Vane, so here's a nice zoomed one from the foot of the Cruinn:
WR12 - a zoomed shot of Ben Vane.jpg

...And the Cobbler again from a slightly different angle:
WR13 - nice view of the Cobbler on the way across to the Cruinn from the track.jpg

Finally I had crossed the Grassy Flats, and the Cruinn was now looming very large indeed, Fair Fa' its Honest Sonsie Face!
WR14 - a fine view of the Big Clootie Dumpling - impressive cliffs to the right.jpg

I headed directly up the visible notch towards the centre of the photo above, heading up the line of a small burn. It was a bit steep in places, but I just took my time and before long I was up on the Cruinn's excessively flat summit environs and the summit cairn was coming into view, with Ben Lomond looming large and shadowy to the southeast.
WR15 - at the summit cairn with Ben Lomond looming large and shadowy.jpg

Looking back northwards from the cairn, with Beinn Uamha in the middle distance to the right of this shot, and Ben Lui and its companion Munros away in the distance to the left:
WR16 - Beinn Uamha and distant Ben Lui from summit cairn.jpg

The Cruinn sports not a bad summit cairn as Grahams go. This was the fine view from it back west to the Cobbler and Arrochar Alps:
WR17 - Cobbler and Alps from summit cairn.jpg

The obligatory Summit Selfie, and actually wearing a Bobble Hat too, although said bobble seems to have got lost round the back of my head somewhere :lol: !
WR18 - BHK at summit with Cobbler & Alps behind.jpg

A final summit view looking north, with the Crianlarich hills to the right and the Ben Lui group on the left:
WR19 - looking north - Crianlarich hills to right and possibly Ben Lui to left.jpg

Enough with the photography, however: it was a short winter day after all, and it was a fair hike back to the car. I set off downhill again, taking a line a bit further north than my ascent route so as to make a shorter crossing of the Plains and to reach the Gleann Gaoithe track a bit further east.
Another zoomed shot of the Cobbler and Alps on descent from the Cruinn:
WR20 - zoomed shot of Cobbler and Alps on descent.jpg

And a final fond look back from the Gleann Gaoithe track to the Great Chieftain o' the Puddin' Race, with Ben Lomond looking decidedly pointier over its shoulder:
WR21 - view back to the Clootie Dumpling with Ben Lomond behind.jpg

It didn't take long to trudge westwards along the track to the start of the steep zigzagging descent, with more fine views across Loch Lomond to .... yes, Ben Vane.
WR22 - at the bealach at the end of Glenn Gaoithe and about to start descent to the Loch - nice view of Ben Vane.jpg

The sun was getting fairly low in the sky now, and there were some lovely sunset views southwards down the loch:
WR23 - nice sunset view south down Loch Lomond.jpg

Thankfully the track took much less time to go down than to go up, and soon enough I was back at the "Dogs Running Free" sign at Cailness Cottage, with (inevitably) one last view of Ben Vane :lol: :
WR24 - sunset view of the loch with Ben Vane again.jpg

Although I was getting slightly concerned about the amount of daylight I had left, it didn't actually take me that long to walk back north along the West Highland Way, and I got back to the car with about half an hour of daylight to spare.
Sometimes the "undistinguished" hills give surprisingly good walks. The Cruinn itself seems unlikely be winning any prizes in the "Scotland's Shapeliest Geomorphology" category any time soon, but it sits amidst some glorious scenery and boasts impressive summit views. Definitely one to leave for a fine day, I'd say!

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Comments: 3

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User avatar
Activity: Walker
Pub: Kilchoan Hotel
Mountain: Cir Mhor
Place: Arran
Gear: walking poles
Member: none at present
Ideal day out: A multi-peak walk with good views.

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Corbetts: 33
Grahams: 35
Donalds: 19
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