Archive for the ‘loch lomond’ Tag

Small but Challenging – Beinn Bhreac   13 comments

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The final day of our trip and more of the same in terms of weather. It’s a long way home on a Sunday afternoon so we were after a shorter day. Somewhere down by Loch Lomond would be on the way home as it were. After much scouring of maps I found the small hill of Beinn Bhreac that seemed to fit the bill. We toyed with the idea of an end to end traverse splitting the cars but decided that was too much hassle and a round trip from Glen Douglas was settled on.

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We’d hoped for a few coastal views and over Loch Lomond but it turned out to be the worst day of the trip. After the steep lower slopes we found a very handy large boulder that made a perfect first lunch stop

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The cloud was much lower today and we were enshrouded in mist most of the way to the top. There were some steep rocky steps that proved interesting with loose powdery snow covering frozen grass. I took no other photos on the way up until we reached the summit

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It was, as expected, brutally wild up on the top. In strong easterly winds even a smaller summit like this (681m) represents quite a challenge of technique, route finding and resilience.

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Much like yesterday you’d think this would make for a grim outing but we were all in our element. We thrived on the challenges and we were all sharing smiles again even on the summit with the wind blowing us around

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However we did agree that there was little point in making a circuit of the day and that returning the way we had come would be adventure enough

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The descent presented no problems and as we dropped down the wind abated and we were able to enjoy the walking in good company again

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Looking back to the summit and our route up, still shrouded in cloud

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Mandatory selfie

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The weather improved as we descended and we got some views of sorts. Not exactly expansive but you take what you can get on a day like this

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We returned to our lunch spot for a second bite

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Before the finally steep and slippery descent down to the cars and the long drive back south

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Only 4.5 miles and a couple of thousand feet of ascent but it felt much longer and tougher. That’s winter mountaineering!

Beinn Bhreac

Not the sunniest weekend I’ve ever had but still memorable for the conditions the challenge and the company. Already seems a long time ago and possibly a while to wait for more of the same as winter starts to draw to a close

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Southern Highlands Weekend – Sunshine and Snow on Day 3   21 comments

EWO had been telling us that the weather forecast for the Sunday was great, but as I hope you’re starting to realise, he ALWAYS says that. The law of averages says that sometimes he’ll be right and today was one of those days. There was low cloud but it was clearly thin and out west you could see the clear blue sky. After saying farewell and thanks to our hosts at Suie Lodge we all agreed that Ben Vane down by Loch Lomond was a good choice as a shortish day on the way home for most of us.

Ben Vane, 8.6 miles, 3,100 feet of ascent

By the time we reached the car park at Inveruglas the sun was out, the sky was blue and it was a stunning morning. The views across the Loch to Ben Lomond was classic southern highlands.

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Ben Lomond across Looch Lomond - early morning

We strolled up the access road that leads to Loch Sloy in bright warm sunshine. The only down-side of this area are the strings of power lines and electrical substations that are part of the Loch Sloy HEP scheme. The upside is that Arrochar Alps as these hills are known are dramatic and rocky. I did Ben Vane on the very first of these weekend gatherings and a few of the others but for some reason I haven’t really explored them properly, surprising seeing as they are the most Southerly munros. Ben Vane itself rises dramatically as a rocky sentinel and looks pretty impregnable from this angle. Fortunately there is an excellent path that turns all the crags with only one very short easy scramble near the top.

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Ben Vane - our target for the day

The newly formed “Low-level walking and beer drinking club”, namely TBM and ED had picked another suitable route and they headed off to walk the Three Lochs Way and we guessed find a pub to partake of some beers. You can read his report of the day here

The rest of us started the steep climb towards the top.

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MM and EWO on the lower slopes

As is my style I decided a halfway stop for some lunch and a brew was on the cards and I was joined by EWO and GM. Everyone else decided it was too cold for that and carried on without a break till they got to the top. We were caught in a couple of heavy snow showers on the climb but they were pretty moderate and were adding a very flattering cap of snow to all the surrounding hills.

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GM looking across Loch Arklet to Loch Katrine

As we crested the final rocky knolls the sun came out in full force and the views were quite simply breathtaking. Across Loch Sloy was Ben Vorlich, one of my first munros back in the 80’s. Across to the west was Ben Arthur or The Cobbler, possibly my first Corbett back in the 80’s and a mountain that needs another visit on a better day than when I first climbed it

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Ben Vane - final approach

The low light, scudding cloud and snow were creating some superb vistas and I was in my element. On an isolated and steep mountain like Ben Vane it’s like walking in the sky and it makes you want to shout out loud to exclaim your good fortune that you’re there to enjoy it.

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GM and the view east

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Playing catch up

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EWO and OFS approach the summit

The summit views were equally sensational. Most of us wandered around for ages taking photos, playing name that peak, and generally taking it all in. The views across Loch Lomond to Ben Lomond were particularly magnificent. The dusting of snow had given a wintry feel to the day and as ever I didn’t really want to go down.

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Ben Lomond and Loch Lomond

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Time to leave

It would have been a superb time for a leisurely stop but Ben Vane is an isolated summit and the wind seemed to be blasting it from every direction so a summit stop was out of the question. The rest of the party were stomping about impatiently waiting to head down so we decided to find somewhere lower down, especially as some of the party had been allowed to stop for lunch yet!

The views continued as we headed down and the weather continued to clear.

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Ben Lomond and the lower slopes of Beinn Narnain

The main group disappeared and seemed intent on completing the whole walk without a pause. This is never an option for me and me, EWO, GM and OFS found a little sheltered spot overhanging the edge with excellent views across to the Beinn Ime, The Cobbler and Beinn Narnain. Time for a second lunch and another brew. A trifle cold I have to admit but a sensational spot to enjoy the situation. I’ve said many times if you don’t stop to take it all in, what’s the point.

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Lunch v2.0

Days like this in Scotland in winter are a rare commodity and need to be savoured. We’ve been doing these weekends for 7 years now and we’ve only had a couple of days this good.

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Ben Arthur/The Cobbler

Suitably refreshed and enchanted we plunged down the steep lower slopes to the pretty valley at the bottom. It would be a great wild camp spot if you could find a dry spot, I warn you it was exceedingly wet down here but it is stunning especially as the sky was now pretty much clear and we were in the full sunshine.

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Ben Lomond

We came across the rest of the party who had now finally decided their conscripts were to be allowed a rest. We all headed down together, past another small piece of HEP engineering that me and GM had some fun scrambling about on and found a rather dead sheep squashed against the outflow. Reminded me of my rather nice lamb shank I had for tea the night before

The walk back down the road to the car could have been a drag but in the clear afternoon sunshine I really enjoyed it. Even found time to ask MM some stupid questions about what would happen if we touched some of the scary looking bits of the sub-station on the way down with fairly obvious answers (he’s an engineer you know). When we got back to the car the views across the loch were as good as in the morning, a fitting finale to a cracker of a day.

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Ben Lomond across Loch Lomond - evening light

We said goodbyes to some of the crew and headed over to Arrochar to collect TBM and ED. They were ensconced in a local ale house enjoying the beers, warm fire and good food. As they rolled out they appeared to both be very “happy” – must have been the stunning views across the loch that was putting them in such a good mood.

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View across Loch Long from Arrochar

More goodbyes and it was time to head back to Berwick for a mighty fine roast dinner and pudding that Jane and her sister had prepared and a very long drive back to Hereford via Stafford. Home by 2am, completely knackered and wiped out for the rest of the week but worth every missing minute of sleep. It’s become another fixture in my yearly calendar of regular get-togethers and I’m already looking forward to the gathering of the clans in 2013. It’s great that everyone really seems to enjoy it and this year we had some new recruits and some old friends we hadn’t seen for a few years. Weekends don’t come much better. Enjoy the slide-show.

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