Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Monday, 23 August 2021

29 July - a third and special visit to Ben-y-Hone

On a very misty February morning in the late 1970s we arrived at Invergeldie after a a snowy drive up the narrow twisty hill-road. Only one other car was parked, a yellow Saab which we were sure belonged to my brother and his wife - Saabs were not common in the UK at the time, let alone yellow ones! The snow was at road level so we donned skis and set off into the mist, following the Invergeldie Burn to Coire Riabhach and so to the large summit cairn. The mist never lifted but we did see other ski tracks which we assumed belonged to brother and wife, although we never stumbled across them and their car was still at Invergeldie when got back. That was Ben-y-Hone but it could have been anywhere. 

It was many years after finishing the Munros when we returned to enjoy a perfect spring day, crossing the Turret Burn before Lochan Uaine then through the moraines to reach the snow patches shown in the photo below. These are the sort of days we all dream about.

Snow patches and Carn Chois distant

Sadly nowhere to be seen on our latest ascent

Biorach a' Mheannain from the slopes of Ben-y-Hone. 

Some rough going through deep heather and the moraines 

When we first did Ben-y-Hone we weren't actually 'doing' the Munros in any serious way. It was just a convenient and easy hill to ski. Later, that was all to change and on the morning of 29th June 1991, 100 years after the publication of Munro's Tables, we stood on the summit of Sgurr Dubh Mor having come up by Coire a' Ghrunnda from our camp in Glen Brittle. In November of that year the SMC (Scottish Mountaineering Club) held a dinner in Edinburgh to mark the 100th anniversary of publication of The Tables - we used the 1974 and revised 1981 editions, which kept the spirit of exploration and adventure alive (they are not guidebooks). We were fortunate enough to get two tickets and had a grand evening of celebration with talks and slides, speeches from SMC stalwarts and enjoyable swopping of experiences with fellow Munroists, particularly when the wine began to flow. 

Since then we've always tried to be on a hill to mark the occasion, sometimes a Munro, sometimes not, and in 2019 we chose Meall Bhuidhe in Glen Lyon since we were on holiday in the area. However, given the invasion of people in 2020 and with some pretty unsavoury behaviour on display, we gave the Highlands a miss. This year though, we were determined to be on a Munro on the 29th no matter the obstacles. It was, after all, the 30th anniversary of our 'compleation'.

Invergeldie in Glen Lednock is a popular start for the hill so we were there early to guarantee a parking spot and avoid the anticipated crowds. Surprisingly though, it was relatively quiet with plenty of parking available and we were soon away crossing the bridge beyond Coishavachan, making swift progress to get high before the mist burned off and temperatures soared. 

Gloomy conditions and the unsightly track which thankfully stops before the broad ridge is gained (below)

The broad ridge to the shooting butt (just visible) gives lovely walking

Looking towards the summit

Lower down we'd overhauled a few walkers who were clearly feeling the heat and seemed very unfit, so we were soon on our own enjoying the gentle stroll across the sort of terrain which, I'd guess, every walker loves. We expected to find the summit environs quite busy but only one couple were at the large cairn and they didn't stay long after our arrival. 

Approaching the large cairn. I love these old fence posts in the hills

Lunch spot

We lazed about a short distance from the cairn, reflecting on how enjoyable all our recent days had been on these hills around Loch Turret and Glen Almond. Sadly, where mountain  hares in abundance were once a delightful sight there were none, slaughtered along with those in Glen Shee and many other areas in the name of grouse shooting. I detest every one of you involved in this.

Our first ascent of this Munro on skis followed the glen (above) and Invergeldie Burn before breaking off right. The path, (faintly visible) continues to Dunan Bothy in Glen Almond and ultimately to Artalnaig on Loch Tay.

The forecasted high temperatures didn't materialise until late in the afternoon and the last of our tea was gratefully enjoyed in fairly intense heat. Our only other pause was to take a photograph of these lovely orchids, then it was home for a celebratory meal with a bottle of Chablis going down rather nicely.


AlanR said...

Great story. Thanks for sharing it.

afootinthehills said...

Thank you Alan. I quite enjoyed writing it although, as always, I note some typos. My proof reading gets worse by the day I think but at least I can edit the blog unlike Twitter.
I notice I no longer get notified when people I follow post on blogger. Google changes?

Sir Hugh said...

All that Scottish ambience shines through. Some days stand out more than others. My own ascent of this one was on 16th October 2004. I too have seen the mountain hares in abundance in their white coats. How those people get enjoyment out of killing things is beyond me. The argument for it providing employment for locals does not stand up. If grants were available and more emphasis placed on re-wilding to attract visitors interested in bio-diversity and wildlife there would be plenty of alternative employment.

afootinthehills said...

It's a fine hill Conrad, particularly when viewed from Lochan Uaine. The killing of so many hares is utterly disgusting but in March this year mountain hares were given full protection, by being included on Schedule 5 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 so a licence is required to kill or take a mountain hare at any time of year. How much faith I have in that working well is debatable, but at least the legislation is in force. Brown hares have more limited protection, open season being 1 February to 30 September.

I don't hold out much hope for a ban on grouse shooting up here unfortunately.

Off on holiday soon and hope to see lots of mountain hares.

Phreerunner said...

That's a great story, Gibson. Shame about the hares. We saw quite a few on our trip to Braemar in May.

afootinthehills said...

Good news on hares Martin. I hope we see them too.