Munros: Beinn a' Chlèibh, Beinn Dubhchraig, Ben Lui, Ben Oss
Date walked: 02/07/2011
Time taken: 9.5 hours
I had mixed emotions when I got up this morning, sad because today was my last day in Scotland for nearly two months, but happy for various reasons, the sun was out, I had a great walk planned, and I could put my feet up for a long rest soon as I'd managed all the walks I'd planned for this week.
I parked in the area just off the A85 and was walking by 08:15. Already the sun was strong so I slapped on the suncream and cap straight away. The first hurdle came pretty soon after starting, getting across the River Lochy. I'd read how the ford can be quite difficult in/after wet weather so wasn't sure what to expect. Luckily the stepping stones were mostly above the level of the water so with the help of my trusty walking pole I managed to get across without having to paddle.
After going across the railway track I set off through the trees, the path was very boggy in parts and my route notes said to cross the river soon after the railway line, however, as I could see no way to cross the river I just kept going. Eventually I came to an area where two rivers joined and where I could see a path between them. Someone had also made a half-hearted attempt at building a small cairn to mark this spot. I crossed over and took this photo when I passed it on my return. GPS said it was at 24263 27487.
I then came across this new bridge in the forest, not quite finished, and my route went past it, directly up the hill keeping the river to my right.
After a few more boggy patches I eventually came to a gate in the fence and a quick check of the GPS showed this was where I was expecting to come out. Lucky or what. It was now 09:05.
Great views up to the first two Munros of the day and I was so looking forward to getting stuck into them. I could see the bealach so struck out for it, more or less following a faint path across the grass. Half way up the Fionn Choiren I felt my right knee give a horrible twinge which hurt, an old "war wound" which comes back to haunt me every now and then. Great, I thought, that's put paid to my last day, the week's walking has finally caught up with me. I stopped for about 5 minutes just stretching it out thinking maybe I would carry on a bit more just to see how it goes. I might only manage the two today. I could feel my knee wasn't right when I started again so all the way up to the bealach I protected it a bit by ensuring I was pushing directly upwards with my right steps and using my walking pole as much as possible. This seemed to work as it felt a bit better by the time I got to the bealach at 09:50.
I headed right, up the good path and 20 minutes later was at the first cairn on Beinn a'Chleibh. I noticed a second cairn just past this one so went to that one just in case. When I got there I noticed a third cairn. I went to four cairns in the end and according to my GPS the first one was the highest. It only took just over 10 minutes to walk to the fourth one and back to the first.
I was back at the bealach by 10:40 looking up the path to Ben Lui which appeared very steep. I wasn't wrong but I had great views everywhere I turned, and my knee seemed to be holding up which was good.
The path was quite easy to follow and so I eventually made the col between the left and right tops by 11:15. Stunning views down the Coire Gaothach towards Cononish.
I went to the left top first which was supposed to be the highest then to the right top which seemed higher.
I met a man and his dog on the right top where we had a little chat. He told me about a light aircraft which didn't quite make it over the hill and ended up in one of the gullies below. His dog (Jake I think) then spotted a rabbit just below the top and was off after it. Thankfully as I set off for my next target at 11:35 he came back empty-jawed. My knee was feeling ok and as it was still morning I decided I would commit myself and try for the other two aswell.
By 12:15 I'd managed to get down to the bealach from Ben Lui ready for the ascent of Ben Oss.
There is something of a path down from Lui but I lost it a few times near the bottom. Lui was looking much more pointy from this angle and I could see why some people call it one of the most beautiful mountains in Scotland. My knee didn't like the descent, however, by taking care trying not to twist it in any way, and sticking to any path I found I made the top of Ben Oss an hour later.
I met a guy on the summit who had overtaken me on the ascent. We chatted for a bit while I had some lunch and massaged my knee. He was a member on this site but I didn't get his name. Hope you got back to Dalreigh ok.
25 minutes later I was off to my last one of the day. It was the busiest one today and I passed several walkers going up or coming back down it. Still great views in every direction. I reached the top at 14:45 with the help of a good path. Great views towards Loch Lomond. I'm glad I made the decision to carry on as the weather was perfect for walking. My knee wasn't too bad but I wondered if I would pay for it in the morning. Just the small matter of the long walk back to the car now.
A quick chat with some other walkers on the summit and I headed back down to the small lochans at the start of the ascent up Beinn Dubhchraig. I then went North along the ridge for a wee while before picking out a pathless route which would lead me down to the River Cononish. It was steep in places and with a dodgy knee I wasn't looking forward to it. I took my time and luckily it was dry so I didn't have the worry of possibly slipping with every step. Lui and Oss were looking great from this angle and I could see why walkers prefer to walk into these hills from the Cononish direction.
I was down by the river by 15:50 and luckily there were several places to cross. I wandered up river a bit and came to the waterfall I'd read about in other reports. Looking very pretty with Ben Lui looming behind.
I then took a direct route up and over the grass to reach the landrover track near it's end where I stopped for another drink and to marvel at the hills yet again.
It was now 16:15 and time to get back as I was getting weary. Although I had great views of the hills this walk back wasn't the most enjoyable. It was very boggy so by the time I reached the edge of the forest again my feet were pretty much soaked through. Not only that but where I thought I would find another gate there was only the signs of one in the process of being made. Not the easiest fence to get across. It was even boggier on the other side but I was just marching through it now.
There isn't a path as such through the forest from here but it is obvious where others had been before so it wasn't too long before I came to the spot where I crossed the river on the way up. I was keen to get my boots off so when I came to the ford in the river I just splashed across which helped get the mud off my boots. Reached the car at 17:50 and collapsed into the seat. Really pleased with my day and glad I'd left this one to last, finished on a high for sure. I celebrated with a double helping of mint-choc-chip ice cream and a cold Irn Bru at the Green Welly Stop.
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- Location: Bristol
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