Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Monday 1 July - A wander from Kenmore to Remony, Acharn and back.

A late start but there was still plenty of parking space in Kenmore at the entrance to Taymouth Castle or, as a German motorcyclist parked beside us said, 'Taymooth Chateau'!

At Remony we left the south Loch Tay road for the path to Balmacnaughton and gave a wave to a chap relaxing by his summer house where woodcarvings of rabbits adorned the decking. Beyond the stone circle was a stand of beautiful Scots pines, the sound of the wind blowing through them reminding me of the Cairngorms. 'If I close my eyes we could be at.." But I didn't get to finish the sentence. "Derry Lodge", said Lynne. Exactly so. This spot was a haven in what was now fairly bleak country, though I suspect in brighter weather, which seemed to be everywhere but here, it would be pleasant enough. Not often I feel like this about hill country.

Our plan had been to follow the track until it crossed the Acharn Burn and then decide what to do at the small wooden hut, visible from the track. However, neither of us was particularly enjoying the walking so after a bit of indecision we abandoned the route and retraced our steps to find a spot in the sun for tea and biscuits, just beyond the bridge over the Remony Burn.

Descending by the way we'd come would have meant too short a day so back over the bridge we went to take the lovely route to the Acharn Falls and so to the road. Signs proclaim speed limits (40mph mostly, in places 20mph) and the road is 'walker and cycle friendly' but, as usual, only the odd driver pays much attention to it.

We stopped on the beach at the head of the loch , finished our tea and watched the boats bobbing about on the choppy water, trying to remember the name of the nearby island. I've brought 'Swallows and Amazons' with me to re-read and the scene put me in just the right mood for it.

Note: The island has several alternative names: Spry Island, Spries Island, Spray Island and Spar Island.

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, 1 July 2019

Sunday 30 June - By way of a record

With terrific thunder and lightning storms in the area yesterday (29th) we weren't about to venture onto a hill, even though that day marked another anniversary - twenty eight years since we completed the Munros. We had a hill earmarked but it will keep until later this week.

There has been a dramatic change in the weather overnight with the temperature today around 14°C some 10°C lower than on our Ben Lawers day. Winds gusting to 42mph this afternoon, and obviously much higher speeds at altitude. A good day to read and plan what to do next and for brief visit to Kenmore.

Photo: Fortingall Yew

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Friday 28 June - A short day out on Meall Buidhe 932m. A 45th Wedding Anniversary Munro

Meall Buidhe to the north of Loch an Daimh is often climbed along with Stuchd an Lochain but this involves returning to the dam after doing whichever one is done first. We did them separately rather than rush.

It's probably not a hill to do after very wet weather if you plan to go via the peat bog that is Coire nan Miseach, but we had it dry fortunately and I doubt that it was in such a state back in 1983. However, the name of the 878m hill, Meall a' Phuill gives the game away, the rough translation being 'The Round Hill of the Peat Bank/hag'.

Today, it took us only an hour and a half to the top where the wind was unexpectedly quite ferocious and almost blew us off our feet. Luckily it wasn't too cold, but we did need to dig out windproof jackets from the sacks before taking some photographs. The jackets would have been gone forever had we lost hold of them.

The hill is often unfavourably compared to Stuchd an Lochain which is undoubtedly the finer hill, but the final level ridge above Glas Choire to the large summit cairn on Meall Buidhe is over far too soon.

Photos -  ridge to summit
               struggling with camera case in the wind.
               Orchid but not sure of name despite Lynne
               studying our wild flower book

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Thursday 27 June - Beinn Ghlas 1103m and Ben Lawers 1214m

We were at the carpark early given the popularity of these hills and previous parking difficulties, and were well up Beinn Ghlas before we spotted two figures far below. The light breeze was a blessing after the delightful but hot, windless approach through the birch trees beside the Burn of Edramucky. Beinn Ghlas at 1103m is a substantial Munro, its small cairn perched at the edge of its north face which falls steeply into Coire Odhar. Often regarded as a mere point on the way to its more lofty neighbour Ben Lawers and its 4000ft magic contour, Beinn Ghlas is a very fine hill in its own right.

A lengthy break by the cairn to take in the view allowed the two figures to catch up and we enjoyed a pleasant fifteen minutes or so in their company. They were from Crieff, a mere forty minute drive away, and were in training for their planned fourteen day walking trip to the Pyrenees in September.

The Lawers range was very much part of my early hill days, courtesy of the newly formed school climbing and walking club - a winter ascent of Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers around 1966 or '67 which today, sadly, would probably never get off the ground once the 'risk assessment' had been completed. I don't have a date for when Lynne and I climbed them so that suggests 1976 or 1977, since for some reason we only started dating ascents from 1978. Much later on I was persuaded to 'lead' a party from work up Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers which was a real pain in the neck, particularly since all but one of them had never been on a hill. This nascent company walking club didn't develop any further, thankfully.

With a 'see you on the summit' we left our fellow walkers from Crieff and departed down to the bealach. So far my concerns about the crowds likely to be encountered were unfounded and there appeared to be only one or two people at the trig point on Ben Lawers. Indeed by the time we'd made the fairly steep and enjoyable ascent those figures had gone.

We had lunch just below the summit, overlooking beautiful Lochan nan Cat lying below An Stuc's south-east face and enclosed by three Munros.

Back at the bealach we took the path which skirts the north face of Beinn Ghlas and descends to the lovely and very hot Coire Odhar, which at one time was popular with skiers.

The National Trust for Scotland has done an excellent job on this and the main path up these hills. Often constructed paths are badly done and don't sit well in the landscape, but this is not the case here. Even the relocation of the carpark has been done with care, being reasonably well hidden from the summits and from the road. Well done NTS. No-one could grudge the £2 parking fee.

Another memorable day, both of us savouring our return to the fine hills in this area. Life well spent.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Wednesday 26 June - Stuchd an Lochain 960m

This Munro, first climbed in August 1982, was not our intended hill for the day but parking space, or rather the lack of it, forced a change of plan. We weren't late in setting out but others were earlier so Meall Corranaich and Meall a' Choire Léith will have to wait for a second visit. Fortunately, I'd anticipated this sorry state of affairs so had The Stuchd in mind or its neighbour across Loch an Daimh, Meall Buidhe.

So, onwards we drove down to Bridge of Balgie and along Glen Lyon to the Giorra Dam where, surprisingly on such a fabulous June day, only one car was parked.

When, in the early 1960s, I think, the Giorra Dam was built and Glen Daimh flooded, Loch Giorra, Loch Daimh, the land in between the two lochs and Lochs Farm were covered and Loch an Daimh, part of the Breadalbane Hydroelectric Scheme, was formed. I can't say that I find hydro schemes such as this a blot on the landscape but I suppose that's because they've been a feature of the hills since I started climbing and walking. The recent Run-of-the-River schemes seem to me to scar the hills in a much more brutal way with their horrendous access roads and so on.

Anyway, to the hill. It seems that the first recorded ascent was made in 1590 by Colin Campbell who built the first tower of Meggernie Castle. Apparently, 'On the brow of the hill, Stuic-an-Lochain - a huge rock beetling over a deep circular mountain tarn - they encountered a flock of goats'. It is one of the first accounts of the ascent of any ascent of any Scottish mountain (D. Bennet).

A short distance past the dam we took the path which, after traversing the hillside for a time, climbed quite steeply until a line of old fence posts lead west along the ridge to the fine 887m summit of Creag an Fheadain, a Corbett Top, though we didn't know that at the time. The weather forecast of 'sunny intervals' was well wide of the mark - not a cloud in the sky - and we were very glad of the breeze at the cairn.

To the west was Stuchd an Lochain and, some 215 m below its steep, broken headwall in the floor of its northern corrie, the as yet unseen, Lochan nan Cat.

Across a dip to the south-west of the 887m point was the Munro Top of Sron Chona Choirein but having done it first time round we bypassed and savoured the high airy stroll towards the final rise to the top. We stopped often to look down on and photograph the blackness of Lochan nan Cat. A gem.

The small summit cairn sits on the edge of the previously mentioned headwall and is an excellent viewpoint: down the whole length of Glen Lyon, Ben Nevis, the Mamores and Grey Corries, the Buachaille, the Achaladair group.

A grassy spot just below the cairn was a perfect place for lunch in the light breeze and we lazed about there for a while, reluctant to leave. Eventually we tore ourselves away, not having seen a single goat, never mind a 'flock'.

The final descent was rough on the badly eroded path and it seemed to take ages before the small orange boat moored by the loch side got close enough to answer the question 'a RIB or simply and inflatable?' Neither. It was a GRP tender-type (nautical authorities, feel free to correct the terminology).

It was stiffingly hot back at the car.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Return

With three good days forecasted we've returned to the Killin area to re-visit some Munros and enjoy the peace and quiet of some other hills and places.

We're not exactly sure which Munros to choose - we are spoilt from choice - but if you watch this space you might find out.

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.

Friday 17 May - Meall Odhar 656m Graham. L50. NN298298.

Rising to the north of Cononish,  Meall Odhar can perhaps lay claim to providing some of the best views of Ben Lui, Beinn Dubhchraig and Ben Oss, all fine Munros, though Lui stands supreme in this company. The Corbett Beinn Chuirn holds it own though and so does rough Meall Odhar.

Starting from an almost full Dalrigh carpark in slightly cloudy weather, we were soon on the wide track which leads to Cononish farm and the gold mine. Two other walkers were following us heading for Ben Lui we assumed and the three others we met were on the WHW. The track has been widened and resurfaced since we were last here and if this sort of scar can be inflicted on a National Park, there is little hope for other areas in the long run. The River Cononish was very low.

We had to stand aside a couple of times to allow mine traffic to pass and were glad to eventually spot the gate through the deer fence giving access to the hill.

Deep grasses led through a firebreak where we stopped for the inevitable tea. Higher up, firmer ground with small slabs of rock scattered about brought us to the summit where a few more layers of clothing were needed against the cold easterly wind. A clump of moss campion added some colour around the cairn. There was a distinct lack of bird song.

The cloudy conditions had quickly improved as we walked so we took lots of photos of the surrounding hills, both near and far. Much duplication I expect.

It's possible to make a circuit over two small tops down to Tyndrum and back along to Dalrigh by the WHW but we declined. It does avoid a return along the track which is a definite plus.

Nearly back at the carpark there is a small information plaque in the vicinity of the lost township of Newton. Dating from 1867 it is thought to have housed workers from the former Lead Smelting Mill. The horror of working in the lead mines is captured by a photograph of a miner's graffiti. Courtesy of John Pickering Archaeology, it reads: "God save no here or anywhere". You can feel the despair.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Thursday 16 May - Coffee and cake (loaf) at The Paper Boat, Kenmore.

After the exertions of a drive along Loch Tay and a walk down to the lochside we headed for The Paper Boat coffee shop. What a delightful place.

The banana loaf served warm with a pat of butter was superb, the coffee excellent. Highly recommended.