Munro #2: English, Dutch and Frogs on Beinn Chabhair

Munros: Beinn Chabhair

Date walked: 04/04/2019

Time taken: 7.1 hours

Distance: 15.5km

Ascent: 1044m

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Still chuffed from ticking off Munro #1 the day before (https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=88052), we had started planning what we could do next on the descent of it and realised the choice we had was as big as it’ll ever be. That said, staying in Tarbet is great for reaching a few Munros but you quickly run out of options if you don’t fancy more than a 45 minute drive. We proposed walking the three of An Caisteal, Beinn a’ Chroin and Beinn Chabhair but with one of us (not me!) having a potential case of needing the toilet in a matter of steps rather than a matter of time we thought another single target would be best, but still having the option for doing three if we were up to it. Therefore we inhaled a kilo of porridge each (this often eases the threat of the unmentionable squirts like an extra shovel of cement can make the mix set), loaded with honey and banana and set off for Ben Chabhair from Inverarnan.

Parking at the Drovers Inn is very handy

The second day of our long weekend was meant to be clear having looked at MWIS for the few days before. I’ve never had cause to complain about their forecasts and still don’t as the skies were more than half blue and when the breeze dropped it was warm enough for sleeveless shirts. The opening view from the car, parked at the Drovers Inn, was of the waterfall formed as Ben Glas Burn drops almost 300m after draining the bowl of land under Beinn Chabhair and its subsidiaries. It is a tremendous waterfall with drops, cascades, pools and spray and is the first target of the day as the initial climb from the valley floor rises sharply to the plateau beyond. On warmer days it might be good to climb down for a closer look at the pools in the upper section but it wasn’t a wild swimming day.

The water fall of Ben Glas Burn from the car park

Crossing the River Falloch a minute or two from the pub. On hotter days I'd have dived in.

Once level with the waterfall you'll be puffing

Ben Glas Burn is a constant companion on this route for more than 4km in and 4km back and would be a good handrail in mist. It’s a pleasant watercourse with the upper sections also forming many miniature cascades and falls. Two small and newish hydro schemes barely reveal themselves and whatever pipes are there are invisible and a credit to those that built it for not interfering too much with the landscape.

The first of the hydro schemes. Worth a look but the one you pass for Ben Chabhair is the one not accessed by crossing a wooden bridge.

The greater part of the walk is very soggy and the large volume of water on the plateau allows innumerate frogs and probably toads to live up here. A few weeks ago it would have been under feet of snow so how they survive I don’t know. They spawn all over the place and in any standing water they can find. Any larger pools are hives of amphibian procreative activity and if you approach quietly you can hear the constant croaks of slimy amorousness. Should you disturb them then they all disappear making the water boil leaving only the spawn as a clue to their presence. I had frogs in my garden growing up and have always liked them. Some people are frightened of or disgusted by them but I find them to be very characterful. Beinn Chabhair should be nicknamed ‘Frog Mountain’ there are so many, not the ‘hill of the hawk’.

One of the many cascades. The sound of the river follows you all the way to the larger lochan.

Lochan Beinn Chabhair

The lochan again with Ben Vorlich (Lomond) behind. It looks vastly different to when we were up there yesterday.

At one point a brief scream in the distance gave away the presence of a group of eight ladies. I assume a froggy friend had made one of them jump but we didn’t see them for little while before we eventually caught up. We had a quick bite resting on a couple of neatly positioned pathside boulders overlooking the lochan which was home to about 200 swans, then rounded the corner south of Meall nan Tarmachan (not the Munro of that name) to find the same group of ladies looking ponderously at their surroundings. In some past life it would have been an absolute dream come true to find eight ladies lost on a mountain requiring help but now that the three of us had between us spawned five froglets of our own with two more being baked those days were long gone. They were though, clearly impressed with our decisiveness, guile and immeasurable masculinity so half the fantasy came true. Maybe we’re not 36…or is it that we are 36...when did we stop being 25...I had better buy a motorbike...

They couldn’t find the path and asked us if we knew… hmmm… did I say decisive?! I knew we had to head for the ridge but it was immediately apparent not all of them were used to hill walking given their attire. They were certainly not used to hills being from the Netherlands but they kindly agreed to let us lead the way up to the ridge that leads to the summit, chivalry and all that. Maybe it was the wind blowing downhill but they were soon a fair few metres back but within our sight. We kept an eye on them but also didn’t want to linger around as the wind was starting to bite as we got above 800m so we layered up also covering whitening hands with gloves and I caught a flailing strap in the eye, right on the pupil you swine. Once you are about 400m walk from the summit, the effort of a few steep climbs is behind you and the view opens up in all directions, limited by the proximity of taller neighbours to the east.

An Caisteal. Another for another day. I bet it rains stair rods when we do it!

At the summit we decided against the drop down to the bealach that links Beinn Chabhair to An Caisteal and Beinn a’ Chroin. We had only managed a double length walk of the Malverns and a bit in the Cotswolds in the weeks before we came up so we weren’t the fittest we’ve been and that drop and re-ascent would’ve written-off the next day as we were starting to flag. An absolutely filthy 'steak' pastie (the earlier threat had passed without further issue), some nuts and some popping candy(!) while lying in the lee of a boulder meant the summit was a pleasant place to be with views to Ben Nevis and Bridge of Orchy and our primary aim for the following day of Ben Lui. It was even warm when the breeze halted altogetherm so we relaxed and absorbed it. Despite being one of the smaller Munros, the climb from close to sea level and the several steep sections of this walk allied to the long walk in mean it is not what we came to call a ‘dobbler’ in the Lakes, a sub 600m lump you can whip up in an hour or so, you have to earn it and hope the mountain lets you up.

Two down in two days. Not a huge count but this is fun.

Beinn Bhuidhe, Ben Lui and Beinn Dorain. It was possible to see Ben Nevis for glimpses but I got the camera out too late. Not bad though!

Our new Dutch friends were five minutes behind though a couple of them had decided against the final climb and all of a sudden the top was a busy place with another couple having come up from Inverlochlarig. They took a few photos for us and us them as they encouraged us to go to the Drovers Inn for the evening, watch the live band and share a few drinks (fantasy at 70% now). We giggled inside and said ‘see you down there’ but six in a group is often slow and we were soon several hundred yards ahead.

Loch Lomond shimmering with the Arrochar Alps and Beinn Bhuidhe far right


You can always tell when someone is taking a panorama photo!

The way down proved just as boggy and with a few daring leaps over patches of really thick bog a few clattered knees and a slide of Jason Robinson World Cup Final 2003 standards from Nick (oh how I laughed, that gave us several hundred metres of joy and by the way England used to win tight rugby matches, who gives away a 31 point lead at home?!), we were quickly back to the waterfalls and making one of those descents that take forever when the finish line is in sight. All the way down while the pub was in view we mentioned little else than beer and crisps. We had a couple in the Drovers Inn but alas the offer of drinks made by our new friends never came as they were still only at the waterfall as we were getting back in the car.

Once again it was back to the digs for more feeling smug, a little chafed, discussion on what to do tomorrow, more carb loading, Loch Fyne beers and a half decent Loch Lomond single malt (nothing special but fitting given you can see the loch). That’s a routine I could turn into a rut!

As was yesterday, this was a good day.

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Comments: 4

Munro #3: Happily Settling on Meall nan Tarmachan

Attachment(s) Munros: Meall nan Tarmachan
Date walked: 31/03/2019
Distance: 10.4km
Ascent: 706m
Views: 792

Munro #1: First Times and Film Sets On Ben Vorlich

Attachment(s) Munros: Ben Vorlich (Loch Lomond)
Date walked: 29/03/2019
Distance: 13.7km
Ascent: 1027m
Comments: 4
Views: 1741


User avatar
Location: Cirencester
Occupation: Accountant
Interests: Hill and mountain walking, skiing, family and friends
Activity: Mountain Walker
Pub: Kirkstile Inn
Mountain: Liathach
Place: Wester Ross
Gear: Three litre water bladder
Member: None
Camera: Nikon D7000
Ideal day out: A ridge, some scrambling, a lake, blue skies, long views, light breeze, pub
Ambition: 7 Volcanic Summits

Munros: 9
Wainwrights: 214
Hewitts: 154
Sub 2000: 3
Islands: 1

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Trips: 3
Distance: 39.6 km
Ascent: 2777m
Munros: 3

Joined: Jun 20, 2014
Last visited: Apr 16, 2021
Total posts: 9 | Search posts