Posing with Polly on Mhanach...

Route: Beinn Mhanach

Munros: Beinn Mhanach

Date walked: 02/03/2012

Time taken: 6.2 hours

Distance: 21km

Ascent: 819m

Beinn Mhanach was the Munro that got away a few weeks ago...the day that Polly's gear box gave up the ghost...and this needed remedied. I travelled down to Crianlarich on Thursday night to stay at Inverardran house B&B. Apparently I had brought the rain with me...the first they have had all week allegedly...but hopefully it would blow itself out during the night.

Crianlarich has not had it's problems to seek this week...it would appear that the water supply had been tainted by a new water pump pumping some chemicals into the reservoir by Scottish Power...to the degree that they then had to supply bottled water for all the residents in the area...indeed in the morning we noticed pallets of water strewn all around the local area for residents and visitors to utilise. Polly arrived in the morning with her courtesy car, a nice wee Polo, to pick me up and head out to the start point at Auch farm. Parking is sparse up on the roadside verge...surely the farm could be allowing walkers to use the site by the farm and charge a small fee for the upkeep of this?? Anyway, we parked up on the verge and looked at the clouds lying low on the tops of all the surrounding hills. There was another car pulled up and two guys planning on the same walk as us...perhaps we would see them later.

We were hopeful that this would lift as the day progressed, there was already some sun burning onto lower slopes around us, but at the very least we just didn't want it to get any worse. We set off and followed the track down to Auch farm, passing the various buildings on the way, and then being followed by a wee yappy dog for a while. Once we had gotten rid of the dog we continued on this track for a short distance until we arrived at a split in the track.

Not sure which one to take, Polly checked out the map board to get a clue, but it was rather inconclusive. A check of the GPS, and the map we had, informed us that either way we would arrive at the viaduct ahead anyway. We were aware that this walk involved river crossings but didn't realise that a mistake at this stage could lead to a crossing more than was required!! Having decided to choose the left track, over the stone bridge and out past another farm building, we set off following that track on the left side of the river...unfortunately this led us along a rather boggy route and could have easily been avoided...but hey ho such is life. Onwards we walked, eyeing the river to our right, always thinking it must be easier on the other side, wondering if we should cross here or not, but carrying on regardless. We arrived at the viaduct and realised that we had to cross a stile in the fence to get down to the river.

Once across this stile we headed down to the river to scout out an acceptable crossing to the other side (where we should have stayed initially). One step out onto the wet rocks told us all we needed to know about how carefully we would need to do this...VERY!! The water was flowing quite quickly but the main issue was the slidy smooth rocks beneath the surface...carefully we picked our way across...but regardless of this we were going to get wet, the depth was just too much to avoid. One step into water up to my knee saw my boot flood with water down the inside of my trousers!! Hopefully this would dry off as the sun was at least shining on us now...wishful thinking!! Safely across to the other side and only one boot full of water...bonus. There was still no sign of the two guys who had parked up behind us at the start of the walk so we decided to take a 'comfort break' before going any further...but sods law...as soon as we settled on a suitable location for each of us the guys appeared at the end of the track!! At least I was able to curtail my business before they arrived near us...poor Polly almost gave them quite a shock!! Anyway, off we set again, tabbing just far enough ahead of them that they couldn't know how close they had come to a shock.

Beinn a Chaisteil rises high above us on our right, I think it is a corbett, it is certainly intimidating from this flank...I would not fancy having to scale it from this angle. The misty cloud still clinging to its top and indeed rolling down its slopes briefly...though there was sun burning onto its lower slopes. It was hard to believe that this was the first week in March and not halfway through the year. The heat was a fantastic bonus today, we had already shed a layer of clothing after crossing the river, it really was like an early summer day. The only giveaway that it was technically still winter was the layer of snow clinging to the top of Beinn Dorain on our left of the track.

Although the mist was clinging to the tops of the hills the sun was still shining down on their slopes, the blue sky peeking through the clouds. We continued on the track for a while until we came to the first of our river crossings, though these were mere paddles compared to what we had already crossed. If the river was in spate some of the crossings could prove difficult, though still nothing impossible I would imagine. As we progressed along the path the views were improving by the second...especially Beinn Dorain.

After an hour and a half, at least, of walking along this track we passed some cattle sheds then headed NE along the track for another half a kilometre until we arrived at a split in the track. The choice now was to head off to the right, on the main track, and follow the track to it's conclusion then head up steep grass slopes...or head off to the left now and scale the very steep slopes up Beinn a Chuirn?? Decision made, we would head off to the left and follow the faint path up higher ground and then scale the very steep slopes towering above us. Beinn an Dothaidh was now visible as we headed up the faint path, snow still clinging to her higher slopes...

We stopped at the 300m line on the slopes of Beinn a Chuirn, primarily for a breather, but a chance to take off a sweaty layer again, letting the sun heat my skin. A bit of flapjack and some juice, Polly had some coffee with her's, then layers back on and off we set again. The views back down the glen were beautiful in the sunshine.

Then a strange thing happened...within a minute of soaking up the views in the sunshine the clouds rolled in and the mist dropped down the slopes!! The weather completely changed in a matter of minutes and instead of taking off layers we were applying them to stave off the ensuing dampness.

It has to be said that Polly sports a natty line in headgear...even if she keeps losing them!! She lost one the other week when she was away and thought she had lost another one today, but it was only misplaced in her rucksack thankfully. The rest of the slog up hill was in this condensed mist, thickening as we rose up the slopes. Passing some small patches of snow on the way to the summit, getting wetter by the step, all 600m of ascent was on this acutely angled boggy slope...the last 300m in the mist. But finally we were on the top of Beinn a Chuirn and now only had to negotiate the wide open grass plateau and locate the fence line to our East at the 850m bealach between here and Beinn Mhanach. Once at the bealach we had an easy haul up to the summit cairn at 953m, meeting the two gents from earlier on up there (they had followed the main path to it's conclusion instead of following us up the slopes). They informed us that they had seen a Jelly Baby on a cairn the other week, but had done quite a few hills recently and could not remember which cairn.

Polly was adding layers and feeling the cold as we stood yapping to the two guys...all I wanted was my photo taken with the bold hero of the day at the cairn. After two false starts (terrible eye for a pic Polly) she finally caught me on my good side and I had my picture.

I reciprocated with a pic of Polly for her album and then we were off, sandwich stuffed in my mouth as we headed off the freezing summit and back down to the fence line, hoping to be able to follow it off the hill. The bealach was very boggy and a bit peaty, so we steered clear of heading all the way back to it and cut down the slope instead so we could pick it up later on. This side of the mountain was a lot different from the side we had climbed up. For a start it was a lot less steep but also it had a number of gouges cut into the slopes...this meant we had to be careful of not crossing through too many of these small gorges or it would slow down our progress.

Polly was happy to pose for pictures on the way down, as she had been on the way up. After traversing a few of these gorges we managed to head down the top of a ridgelike gouge down the side of the mountain for the rest of the descent...taking great care not to slip and slide on our arses (I only had the one proper slip all day and still managed to not land on my arse!!). In one of these gouges in the hill we found the clean carcass of a dead sheep...hopefully picked clean by birds and not the beast of Mhanach!! Polly seemed obsessed with getting a pic of this poor unfortunate creature...and I was happy to get a pic of her getting a pic.

With the mist having long cleared behind us we now had clear views down the hill to the glen below and the path back following the river. We could see down to a small bridge at the bottom of the slopes, as the path headed out beyond where we were going to turn off, out to Loch Lyon. There were a few man made structures near the bottom of the slopes, apparently having something to do with the flow of the water down to the Loch below.

Once back at the foot of the slopes it was merely a case of heading back along the access path...crossing the river again a number of times...though one less than on the outward journey...back to the viaduct.

Once through the viaduct it was a mere half an hour back to the car along the access path beyond the farm buildings...but the rain came on and tried to spoil the end of our day...NO CHANCE. Back at the car in 6hrs 20mins...not a bad little trip, especially with the slopes we climbed and the wet windy conditions at the top. A short drive back to Crianlarich and my car to collect...then a three hour drive back up the road, via McDonald's at Glamis for tea, and home for a hot shower.

Until next time...possibly the 13th March...stay safe on them hills folks.


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Comments: 15

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Comments: 13
Views: 5180

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Date walked: 18/01/2012
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Views: 6466

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Location: Aberdeen
Occupation: Prison Officer
Interests: Munro bagging (hey its not as bad as it sounds) hill walking, keeping fit, relaxing after all of the aforementioned with a book and a hot chocolate for company.
Activity: Mountaineer
Pub: Clachaig Inn
Mountain: Aonach Eagach ridge
Place: Anywhere high and exposed
Gear: MRT Kongur jacket
Member: Caberfeidh Munro Baggers
Camera: Xperia x10
Ideal day out: Ridge walking with some scrambling thrown in for good measure...and some company to do it with once in a while isn't bad either. Though am happy slogging along being battered by the conditions, hatches battened down, just so long as i'm out there and doing it.
Ambition: Compleat the Munro's

Munros: 257
Corbetts: 6


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Distance: 95.5 km
Ascent: 4403m
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Trips: 8
Distance: 96 km
Ascent: 7153m
Munros: 19

Joined: Jun 28, 2010
Last visited: Jul 27, 2021
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