Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Friday, 31 May 2019

Friday 31 May - Home

A very wet cloudy morning and an indifferent weather outlook sealed the decision to come home, regroup and prepare for another trip.

During our (almost) three week holiday I have, for the first time in recent years, posted on most days. I rather enjoyed it, although no matter how often I read the draft the outcome was never quite right. Never mind, the posts provide a good enough record of the days for my purposes. Comments from Sir Hugh, AlanR, Dave and Gayle were most welcome.

Posting to Blogger on my iPhone using a BT email address was very easy on 4G, including uploading up to four photographs. Occasionally after publishing I was able to upload an additional photograph via Blogger itself, though the photo appeared smaller than when added to an email. Ironically, last September using Gmail I found posting with photographs a nightmare.

I'm about to sign up for a Flickr account and I'll provide a link when this is done.

Photo: Croft Moraig, Double Stone Circle

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Tuesday 28 May -Meall Mor 819m L51

We progressed quickly up the track from the parking place then onto easy slopes of rough grass, blaeberry bushes and bog cotton. Luckily, there was no bog to go with the cotton today. We arrived at the obvious dip between Tullich Hill and the long escarpment of Creag Gharbh with relative ease. As readers will know we climbed Tullich Hill last Friday intending to continue on today's route, but my left Achilles pain foiled that plan. No such problem this time.

An ATV track led out of the dip and we then alternated between using the sheep trods by the edge and the broader grassy expanses. The views ahead were good, but the scene across Loch Tay and to Ben More etc were incomparably better. We did most of these hills in winter, a long, long time ago, when doing the Munros, and haven't been on some of them in summer. So, Lynne suggested revisiting if we're back here in the next few weeks. They would feel like new hills I expect. Cruach Ardrain, Beinn Tullaichean, An Caisteal, Beinn a' Chroin, Beinn Chabhair to name a few. What a great idea.

The fine 819m top of Meall Mor was a tad too windy a place to halt for a much needed bite to eat so we said our goodbyes and retraced our steps, more or less. The Corbett Top, Meall nan Oighread was tantalisingly close, but we passed by. A reason to come back.

A kilometre or so from the car a ewe and her lamb got separated as we approached, the lamb squeezing under a gate, and we spent some time playing collie and shepherd trying to get it to go back through the gate, which I held open. All to no avail. I hope they were reunited.

Monday, 27 May 2019

Sunday 26 May - an encounter

Another very wet day so coffee and cake at The Paper Boat sounded like a good option. But first, we walked to the Crannog Centre in the hope that they had a book or two on standing stones and related matters. Yes, but not any that interested us.

As we returned to Kenmore along the stony beach, a swimmer, whom we'd noticed well out in the loch earlier in the morning, was emerging from the water. We engaged her in conversation making the obvious comments about it being cold etc (like the TV and radio reporters I criticise for asking the most stupid questions) and eventually she modestly told us that she was the first person to to swim 27 miles across the North Minch from the Western Isles to the Scottish mainland, taking under 19 hours. She only wore a swimsuit, hat and goggles in accordance with the rules of the British Long Distance Swimming Association and was stung many times by Lion Mane's jellyfish. Her many other achievements are online but she didn't mention them - like swimming the Pentland Firth when she was nineteen for example.

Modest and delightful. Unusual these days where celebrity rules i.e. "those known for being well-known".

The Paper Boat did not have any of their warmed banana loaf served with a pat of butter, but their coffee and walnut cake was not a poor substitute. Excellent.




Sunday, 26 May 2019

Saturday 25 May - a visit to two stones





On this, possibly the wettest day of the holiday so far, Lynne suggested another visit to the stone circle by taking the track from Remony, just before Acharn.

At Balmacnaughton swifts were tearing through the air feasting no doubt on the abundant insects around the house and trees beyond. Always a wonderful spectacle.

A group of walkers approached from the other direction, the first of them greeting me with a 'Bonjour'. I replied likewise, hoping that he didn't continue the conversation in French. Probably not much danger given my pronunciation.

From the bridge over the Remony Burn, the Allt Mhucaidh, the track goes uphill to the stone circle which sits on a small grassy mound at 378m, its position giving magnificent views of Loch Tay, Ben Lawers and Schiehallion. Of the original nine, there are six stones remaining of which four are still standing and two lying down, with the remaining three thought to lie among the remains of a dyke built straight through the circle perhaps a hundred years ago. The rain stopped for us thankfully.

There's a circuit to be made from this point on good tracks, and 697m Creag an Sgliata can easily be included. We will no doubt get round to that sometime, but today we were off in search of the Cup and Ring Marked Stone. We found it roughly half a kilometre east of Balmacnaughton
and took lots of photographs. Some clearer than others it must be said. 

"This cup and ring marked stone is recorded as Canmore ID 25010, an extract of which reads: " 'On the top of an outcropping rock are nineteen cups, two cups each with a single ring and two each with double rings. The cups vary from 40-75 cms in diameter x 6-12 cms deep while the rings are very faint." The Canmore record also contains a drawing of the motifs' Courtesy Megolithic.co.uk

Another enjoyable and interesting day finishing with a walk back in heavy rain.


Crannog on Loch Tay
Standing Stones near Acharn



Sent from my iPhone 

Friday, 24 May 2019

Thursday 23 May - Tullich Hill. L51

From Shee of Ardtalnaig (May 2017) the steep broken slopes of Creag Gharbh of Meall Mor looked worth exploring and a walk from Tullich Hill to Meall Mor itself, diverting to take in the Corbett Top, Meall nan Oighread, looked no less appealing. Today, the plan was to go to Meall Mor via Tullich but I made a bad decision: I decided to try my boots again.

It didn't take very long for me to realise that I'd taken leave of my senses. Worse still, I could easily have turned back and changed into trail shoes when I felt a twinge in the tendon only five minutes into the walk, but decided against. Persevere, I thought, and pushed on through the tussocks to reach easier ground. However, on the top of cold, very windy Tullich Hill, I decided enough was enough, and reluctantly we called it a day and headed back, a stop for tea easing the pain. We will return, of course, but as the weather improved with every downward step I felt pretty fed up at having ruined the day for Lynne, though she would hear none of it.

At the car I changed immediately into my Merrell trail shoes and sighed with relief. I've rested the tendon today (a day to be on the hill for sure) and while in Killin bought another pair of the same shoes - just in case Merrell, like so many manufacturers these days, 'improve' a perfectly good design. The owner threw in a pair of socks worth £14 which I appreciated. The weather appears to be on the change so we'll have to have a think about what to do next.

Photos: (not many were taken on this walk).

Summit of Tullich Hill with route to Meall Mor right of Lynne.
One of five antlers we found.
The Tarmachans from Killin (today)

Wednesday 22 May - Kenmore to Kenmore

More a record of the day than a post of any interest to others, this was nevertheless an enjoyable short excursion.

There wasn't a great deal of traffic on the road from Kenmore to Acharn and, as always, it was an enjoyable stroll. Stopping occasionally to let various vehicles pass, Lynne spotted an early purple orchid hiding among the grasses on the roadside verge. (List of wild flowers seen this holiday to follow, courtesy of L). Unusually, there were no cars parked at the start of the walk to the Falls of Acharn and no-one at the Hermit's Cave either. Last time we were here it was busy so we passed quickly on, but today we had a look at said cave, built by the 3rd Earl of Breadalbane in the 1760s. Wordsworth and Burns visited apparently, but such things were fashionable then. I could never be a caver so the entrance was as far as I was prepared to go.

Beyond the Falls the grassy track traversed the hillside, by the so-called Queen's Drive, the views never failing to please no matter how often seen. A diversion can be made to visit a stone circle, which we had done previously and we may do so again when the forecast rain arrives. Two walkers passed going in the opposite direction wearing boots fit for Ben Nevis in winter, the only other walkers seen all day. After passing Balmacnaughton (Cup and Ring Marked Stone nearby) the RRW continued until it reached the hill road from Kenmore to Amulree. Tea and hot cross buns then down the steep road to Kenmore.

I was wearing my new Merrell trail shoes, still letting my tendinitis settle which it seems to be doing. I'd say my current pair of Keen Targhee II Mids are destined for the bin despite having at least another year's wear in them (confirmed - see next post). I bought the new version, the Targhee III, before leaving home but didn't bring them with me. They were meant to lie in a cupboard until needed but they'll have to be used later this year probably, or tested next month. The cuff is softer and lower than on the Targhee II so I hope they will be fine. If not, that's more money wasted.

Orchid
Kenmore and Loch Tay
The track from Balmacnaughton
Loch Tay from near Balmacnaughton

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Tuesday 21 May - Dunan




At Ardtalnaig, a young lad (delivering cattle) demonstrated great skill reversing a huge tractor attached to a massive container within inches of our car and gave us a cheery wave and smile when we signalled we could move it for him. No need, he knew what he was doing. We've always had pleasant encounters in this area and this continued throughout the day as various people went about their work on the estate.

It's a steady climb up the road to Claggan with good views back over Loch Tay and the hills beyond. On reaching Claggan we were sad to see it apparently abandoned as a working farm and the house being renovated. Hopefully, it is just being renovated. Alistair, who owns the site we're staying on, will know I expect.

Beyond Claggan we passed the ruin of Tullichglass as the track headed south beneath the slopes of The Shee of Ardtalnaig and Creagan a' Beinne. Oyster catchers flew close to us, as if to warn us off; a stone chat chatted and flitted from one clump of heather to another. The glen was obviously well populated at one time with the remains of several clachans in evidence.

Ahead we could see the bulk of Ben Chonzie but I doubt it's approached and climbed from this direction being a much easier proposition from Invergeldie in Glen Lednock or from Loch Turret Reservoir.

Though we don't use them, much preferring to camp, there is something special, I think, about that first sighting of a bothy in the hills. At Dunan, we both felt near to home because, beyond the bothy, the track, now beside the River Almond, makes its way to familiar Amulree or Newton Bridge. Cross the bridge over the Almond a short distance from the bothy and another track goes over the hills to Glen Lednock and on to Comrie.

As we sat replacing calories we heard an estate ATV approaching and pretty quickly it sped by, rifles on the front. That's the second time we've seen estate workers with guns this holiday.

Dunan, a former cottage, is situated in a lovely spot at the head of Glen Almond and is now a locked bothy not available for accommodation. We wandered round it in the hope of getting a glimpse inside, but to no avail. It's strictly for use during the grouse shooting season.

It wasn't exactly warm at our lunch spot and we were glad of our ME jackets to fend off the cold wind as we made our return journey, but, right on time as we stopped for afternoon tea and biscuits, the sun appeared and we took full advantage of it for the next half hour.

Back at Claggan, the cattle delivered earlier in the day, complete with bull, watched us pass. With calves all around, the bull never took his eyes off us. Nothing to worry about though. Just don't bother his offspring.

The route we walked today is part of the RRW if you choose the variant via Amulree. In fact using the RRW routes and other tracks in the area a pleasant backpacking trip could be enjoyed.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Sunday - 19 May. Trail shoes and Aberfeldy

A wet morning near Killin, with cloud well down on even the lower hills. It was supposedly slightly better further east, so Lynne suggested a visit to Aberfeldy and a walk through The Birks, and beyond, which would allow me to try out my new shoes and maybe give a half-decent walk as well.

The Birks were gloomy in dull weather and that's how I remember them from a visit in the dim and distant past, but things brightened up a bit when we emerged on the road to Urlar. A narrow path bounded by a fence and trees led to a track, which I think Martin and SueB trod recently on their current TGO Challenge - but in the opposite direction of course). The road to Urlar is private to vehicles and a sign makes it clear they do not welcome walkers near the farm either.

We didn't go far along the track which follows the Urlar Burn for a large part of the way across open moorland, before finally terminating at a small lochan beside the twisting hill road from Amulree to Kenmore. Instead we retraced our steps but kept to the quiet road (the Urlar 'private' I one) down to Aberfeldy and Wade's Bridge across the Tay.

The new Merrell trail shoes were excellent and my Achilles gave me no problems whatsoever. It wasn't exactly a long walk, but had I been wearing my boots I know I would have been in pain. Whether they will be comfortable on a proper hill day remains to be seen, but so far so good.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Experiment

While mobile blogging last week I've been restricting photo size to 'medium' and that obviously affects image quality. This has worked fine with no problems uploading using 4G so long as the photos are added after the text. They then appear at the top of the post. The following photos are 'large' so let's see what happens.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Saturday 18 May - new trail shoes

On this wet morning thoughts turned to my Achilles problem and I starting thinking about footwear. For about 10 years now I've used Keen Targhee II mids and found them excellent in all but winter conditions for which they were not designed. However, there is no doubt that the cuff on the left boot of my newest pair is tapping away at my tendon as I walk and making it worse.

So, I went in search of footwear that might be kinder to my tendon and maybe allow some healing to take place without me actually stopping walking for a while, a prospect that fills me with horror. The Dutch owner of the shop in Killin, The Outdoor Centre, was extremely helpful and I bought a pair of Merrell MQM Flex GTX, which feel as light as a pair of non Gore-tex shoes. I've always liked Merrell and these new ones were comfortable around Killin in the rain. I'll try them properly tomorrow on a low level route, in the wet if the forecast is right. I recommend The Outdoor Centre. Not in any way pushy but very helpful and knowledgeable. I'll go back.