Showing posts with label Munros. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Munros. Show all posts

25 July 2015

Ben More, more and more........the slog of all slogs!

Has it really been so long since I updated my blog, June 7th since our last venture out on the hills, goodness me that's not right, surely!  In between then and now has been Silverstone weekend and bad weather stops play but hopefully now that we're in the midst of Summer we can rectify any further time delays between walks.  Yes I said the S word, summer.  Hot and sunny weather, long light days, t shirts and shorts.......oh how I long for those days, perhaps August will bring our summer!

So back to the walk.  We had planned a weekend in Scotland, visiting family and bagging a Munro or 2 along the way.  Ben More and Stob Binnein were our targets so early on Saturday we ventured north from the B & B of Mum and Dad to Crianlarich and the foot of our first target of the day.  Armed with our staple Scottish hillwalking fodder - Tablet and Tunnochs Caramel Wafers the day was sure to be epic, right?

I'd read a walk report the previous evening in the car and it did mention the steepness and the bogginess but oh my goodness what true slog it turned out to be.  Literally straight up from the roadside with no room for a breather on a nice wee plateau anywhere.  It was tough going and I struggled quite a bit.  Mentally I was all over the place and announced on several occasions I was heading back down to the car which doesn't happen often but somehow I kept putting one foot in front of the other and kept moving forward.

There were a few other peeps on the mountain side that day and it seemed to be a popular route.  The weather on the way up was not as forecast and was quite pleasant by all accounts.  Big billowing fluffy white clouds, patches of blue sky but about 3/4 of the way up we could see some dark clouds looming and streaks of rain falling on nearby hills.  Sure enough the rain made its way over to us so it was cameras away and waterproofs on but these were only showers so it wasn't too bad.
The summit finally (after what seemed like a lifetime) came into view.  First was the large cairn which by all accounts is the true summit and then the trig point and standing proudly behind was Stob Binnein.  All of the reports I'd read said this was the prettier of the 2 summits and from where I was standing it certainly seemed that way.  We stopped on the summit of Ben More for a bite to eat before tackling the down, the very steep and rocky down and now with the added rain, the very steep, rocky and wet down.  The views around however made this bearable and again my breath was taken away by the sheer majesty of the peaks around us.
Getting down off Ben More and onto the plateau area was a little bit trickier than I had hoped, there was a bad step area that needed a longer leg than mine but thankfully there was a bypass route which circumvented it easily.  I hate not being able to do stuff but I cant magically extend my legs by 5" so just had to deal with it.
The rest of the way down was zig zaggy and steep and I just took my time.  At this point I'd decided that I wasn't going to venture up Stob Binnein and that Ben More was more than enough for me that day.  Chris decided to head on up and I would wait for him at the flat area between the 2 mountains.

Whilst waiting I tucked into another caramel wafer, more tablet and some cheese and was quite happy sitting on a nice big rock with my boots off with my binoculars watching Chris's progress up the steep path in front.  That was until the hailstones started and the sleet.  Welcome to Scotland !!!

30 mins up and 20 mins down was all that it took Chris which was quite brilliant.  We then headed off the path downwards and it was a slog.  There wasn't much of a path in some areas and you just had to pick your way through the boggy bits and hope that your next step wasn't going to land you in a deep hole up to your knee or worse in bog.  Challenging to say the least and with the recent hail and sleet it was just a wee bit slippy.

I kept looking at the path below and thinking, soon, very soon you'll be there and sure enough after an hour or so plodding sideyways down we were on the path that would take us back through the valley to the stick of the lollipop and down back to the car.

The sun came out for this last part of the walk and made it really pleasant indeed.  As with all walks you do get an immense sense of satisfaction at the end and all the unpleasant thoughts you had earlier in the day just disappear and you remember what you've achieved and why you do what you do.

So that's another Munro ticked off my list taking my tally to 11 I think.  I'll never do them all and I'm not sad about missing Stob Binnein but looking forward to a nicer one next time we head north of the border as Ben More was a bad ass beastie !

29 December 2014

Tales from the Tarmachan Ridge

Up and out of the hotel before breakfast and before any light was shed upon the day we headed for the Ben Lawers car park where the path to the Tarmachan Ridge started.

The light was just beginning to creep in from the surrounding hilliside as we got out of the car and changed into our boots.  For the first time this year I had my winter mountain boots on as the woman in the outdoor shop in Killin said that part of the route we'd need our crampons and ice axe so out came the good old faithful Mammut monolith GTX's.  After missing breakfast we had an empire biscuit to initially sustain us and then it was on with gloves and hats and we were ready for the off.

It wasnt long before the sun was streaming over the hills and the sky was bluer than blue.  This was turning out to be a spectacular day and if the weather held we were in for a superb walk.  Ben Lawers behind us was basking in the morning sunlight and looking spectacular.

The conditions were excellent.  Some tretcherous icey patches but mostly nice deepish snow that was hard going but a pleasure to walk in.  The path was straightforward and took us gently upwards.  We saw 2 other groups of people all heading in the same direction and enjoying this fine walking day.

At the first plateau the path took us up and over a false summit and there before us was a clear path almost vertical up through the snow gully.  Ice axes would definately be required (just incase of a slip) and we could see the other 2 groups of people ahead of us making their way up the steep gully, they looked like little ants.

It was a great route up, energy sapping but the bright sunshine and clear day made up for it.  We took our time and before long we had reached the summit where a group of lads were sitting having their lunch.  After being sheltered from the wind going up through the gully it suddenly hit us full force (not enough to blow us off our feet but enough to make your face tingle) at the summit cairn so hats and gloves were back on for the obligatory pics.

 We didnt stick around long on the summit as we had the rest of the ridge to walk and conditions whilst fine in the air on the ground were a bit slippy and always harder work in the snow so as we are always concious of the time, off we went along the path that would take us to the next summit, the one with the pointy bit and the ridge...oooooh!

On our way there the 360 degree views were immense.  We could see right over to Ben Nevis and the CMD route was clearly visible.  In another direction Ben More was prominent and everywhere you looked was mounds and mounds of white peaks.

The next peak, whilst not anything tickable, was a wee pointy affair with the delight of a short ridge walk on the other side.  I love a good ridge walk, being up on an airy arrete is incredibly exciting however I was  hoping that today's ridge wasnt going to be too icy.  I wasnt dissapointed.  It was snowy and the path was wide enough to divert any dodgy icy bits.  All in all the ridgy bit was too short and over before you knew it.

The trickiest bit of the ridge was the downward scramble at the end which luckily we didnt have to attempt as there was a downward bypass route to the right.  Looking back up at the scrambly bit it was just downward sheets of rock and ice and not something that I would like to have attempted either upwards or downwards.....perhaps in the summer though!

So on to the next and last peak of the day.  Again it wasnt anything tickable but still an integral part of the ridge so off we went.  The snow was quite deep here in some parts and the upward climb onto the summit area was a complete delight.  Ice axes  still in hand aided us through the deep white stuff and as our heads peeked above the rock onto the summit area the wind just took your breath away.  Wonderful day!

Now early afternoon we knew the light would start to leave us at 3pm so we decided to make our way down so a sharp left hand turn at the plateau area took us down through a gully (which was normally a little stream but iced up today)  to the area where the quarry is.  From there we would make our way to the road that would take us back round to where the car was.   The route down was straight forward and fun walking in the snow and dodging the ice.
 The day was one of the best days out we've had in a long time.  Another munro ticked off my list and near perfect conditions.  The last of the light was just leaving us as we reached the car park, cheeks rosy from the earlier sun, legs burning from the trudging in the snow and hearts happy at another wonderful days in the mountains.

23 April 2014

Ben More (Isle of Mull) the long route with the tasty ridge !

It was billed as probably the most difficult walk I'd ever done and it didn't disappoint on that score.  Before we even got near the flanks of Ben More we'd done a days walk and been up and down 2 peaks but never the less it was a hill that tested and challenged as only those beautiful mountains can........

Up early we left Tobermory and headed down to Grulin where we'd start the walk up to Ben More.  We could see the summit, as we could for most of the day, but knew that we wouldn't be anywhere near its top until later in the afternoon.
 Car parked and bags packed we headed up the path from Dhisaig that would take in Ben More via A'Chioch and Beinn Fhada.

The first part of the walk took us through some boggy ground as we rose higher and higher up the side of the first peak (nothing tickable just a vehicle for getting you closer to the ridge of Ben More)
There were more false summits on this hill than I've ever known and it was a hard and steep slog up but the views made up for all that.  Clear blue skies, a bit of haze but full sun.  Perfect.

It was almost lunchtime when we reached what seemed to be the top so we stopped for a snack break.

The next section would take us up the Graham of Beinn Fhada before heading right towards the steep and rocky slope that we would have to get up and over before we even got to the tasty ridgy bit.  By this point I really didnt think I had the fitness in me to get up and over this beastie and it was messing with my head.  Of course I could do it, only the previous weekend I'd been up and over Tryfan and the Glyders in Wales and they were just as steep in parts.  I'll put it down to having an off day but kept putting one foot in front of the other and made steady progress.
We did infact make quite good progress.  There was a fear that this long walk would take longer and we'd be out as the sun went down but we were motoring on and up and over the last peak before Ben More we were presented with a glorious sight.  A rocky precipitous ridge that looked brilliant.  Scrambly bits and ledgy bits and it all seemed incredibly tempting.  There were several bypass routes below the top ridge and we opted for one of those as after feeling a bit dizzy earlier (probably from the sun) I didnt want to risk it.  I'll be back though.

Like all good ridges it was over all too quick and the final "very" steep bit was the last bit of ascent for the day.  This was airy, rocky and very exposed and a delight to climb through.
This route took us right to the summit and some suprised faces from people (with handbags !!!) who'd come up the "tourist" route and wondered where on earth we'd appeared from.
The summit was flat and rocky and we enjoyed a cadbury's cream egg at the top as it was Easter Sunday. A nice man from Staffordshire took our picture and we made our way over the plateau to the route down.
 After an hour or so of boring shale zig zags we followed a stream as it flowed down the side of the hill remarking at its little pretty waterfalls and having a bit of a splash in the water as the afternoon sun bore down.

It was a right turn then, off the path to take us round the base of the mountain taking us back closer to where the car was parked.  It was a slow and laborious tramp through bog and grass but before long we'd reached the road and was on the final march back to the car.

Faces sunburned and extra water taken on board we had had a great day.  As usual it was full of challenges, scardy bits, funny bits, good bits, bad bits but most of all another munro was conquered!

29 March 2014

Beinn Narnain and the swirling mist !

Up in Scotland for the weekend meant we got a chance to spend a Saturday conquering a few more Munros and Arrochar was our destination with Beinn Narnain, Beinnn Ime & if we had time, the Cobber in mind.

Arriving in the car park at Loch Long early doors it was a tad claggy but the forecast said it would come good later on in day.  So we set off up the path, through the forest, leaving the village of Arrochar behind.
 The mist was still clinging to the day and the first part of the ascent was pretty steep and pretty rocky which suits me to a tee.
 It wasn't long before we left the rocks and grass and ventured into a new land of snow and ice.   Its always exciting to be in and amongst the snow on a mountain because it sharpens your mind and suddenly there are many more things to be taken into consideration, things that could potentially save your life.

Today the main problem that we encountered was the lack of visibility.  Cornices, ledges and snow fields are tricky enough when you can see what you're dealing with but without that then its a whole other ball game.

We took our time and kept checking our bearings to make sure we were on the right path.  Maps and compass's are virtually redundant when you cant establish any geographical features around you to plot yourself but through a series of deduction and common sense we finally made our way to the top.  

It was here we encountered Callum,  a young lad from Glasgow who like ourselves, hadnt anticipated such a white out and asked if he could walk with us up and over the mountain and down the other side.  So now we were 3.

We finally made it to the top with Callum (our new wee friend from Glasgow) taking our picture, thanks Callum.

Time to get off the mountain and by all accounts the descent was much gentler than the ascent and that was music to my ears.  Owing to the time and the energy used in getting to the summit we decided that perhaps we'd give Beinn Ime a miss, it would still be there another day.

So off to find the path down.   Where was it?  Right? Left? The map showed it straight ahead but the mist and fog made it impossible to determine what exactly was straight ahead.  Before long and after consulting with the compass we had a few attempts at locating the path we heard voices and the voices seemed to be getting closer which meant possibly they could be ascending on the path and if that was the case we could use their footprints to descend. 

Luckily that was the case and before long we were heading downwards on a lovely gentle sweeping path.   Down through the snow line, into bog city and just as we reached the end of the path the sun came out and my prediction of having my sunglasses on at least during part of the day came true........surprisingly.
An eventful day but an incredible achieving.  Pushing ourselves and our limits and skating that fine line between utter fear and absolute enjoyment.......thrilling stuff ! 

18 June 2013

Bens, beasties and breath-taking views….08.06.13

Here in Gods country when the sun shines you make the most of it and making the most of it we did.  Up early after a good nights sleep we were soon parked by the shores of Loch Earn and could see Ben Vorlich behind us.  It did look impressive and the walk in was lovely by the burn and then a fairly good path up the lower flanks of the mountain.
The weather was perfect.  Warm sun and not a breeze to be felt and it wasn’t long before layers were coming off.  Views opening up, as usual behind us took our eye further and further as the higher we got the more peaks that became visible.  Little silly moment as I remarked that the clouds seemed to be in 3D, d'oh!

As with all walks where you are consuming water in great amounts you do get caught short and on an exposed hillside it isn’t really the best environment to have a quick pit stop.  The only thing I’ll say about this incident is that having bits of dried grass where it doesn’t belong isn’t very comfortable  at all but after the initial shock it provided a good giggle which lasted well into the day.

We met 2 other walkers on the hillside that day from Fife who were, like us, taking advantage of the brilliant weather and getting out and about.   Like us their plan was to get to the top of Ben Vorlich then tackle the beastie that is Stuc a Chroin.

The path was reasonable, rocks winding in a zig zag fashion up the side of the Ben and with several false summits to tempt us.  Nothing prepared me for the final path up to the summit.   It was long, steep and looked incredibly inviting (actually it doesn't look that steep on the picture, but it was lol).  At the top was the trig point but there was still 30 mins + of hard work before that was reached.  Heads down and onwards and upwards.  This was turning out to be one of the most enjoyable days ever.

The summit was a surprise in many ways.  Firstly the views were tremendous, breath-taking.  Secondly we could see our next target for the day Stuc a Chroin and it looked amazing and thirdly there were millions of midges, swarms of the little blighters all over the place.  I’m sure as we stopped for first lunch a few were consumed with my sandwiches.  Horrid little bity things invading our space…….welcome to Scotland! 

Lunch had, including a wee bit of tablet bought in Callendar this morning we headed off down Ben Vorlich in the direction of Stuc a Chroin.  The closer we got to this impressive piece of rock the more exciting the prospect became.  I really do enjoy being amongst the rocks and having a bit of a scramble in my day.  I would scramble all day long if it was available but with this bad boy there was the challenge of potentially choosing our own route up.  This reminded me of the day on Tryfan in Wales where there wasn’t really a recognised path but boulder after boulder to pick your way through.  This seemed similar and that was indeed an exciting prospect.
We followed the path round the base and even contemplated leaving our bags at the bottom to collect on the way up but we’d gone past the point where that would have been an option.  Skirting our way around the hill we continued to follow a path, eyes focussed upwards to see if we could see somewhere that would lead us up the hill.  It looked both daunting and thrilling at the same time and one of the reasons why I love this pastime so very much.  Your mind is saying no you cant do that and then in the next second its silently giggling with glee knowing you can and you have before and you will again.
The path continued round the boulders and took us round to the south face of the mountain.  Here we could see a gully carved out of the side of the hill which was steep but filled with lovely lovely rocks and that seemed to be the way upwards.  There were others on the path and a crag rat who’d passed us not 10 mins ago we could see was more than half way up.  Oh to have the fitness of youth!
Making our way through the boulders I was in my element, enjoying every moment and not giving a hoot about steepness or the way ahead.  Just picking our way through the rocks and moving upwards.  Behind us was Ben Vorlich looking very impressive indeed and it was funny to think that only an hour ago we were up there.  Amazing!
It was a great walk up through the gully in between the boulders and through the rocks and it seemed like no time at all we were up on the ridge.   Over to the left was the summit and it was a nice walk across the rocky plateau to the summit cairn.  No flies on this summit, probably because it was less grassy and there was a nice wee breeze forming.   One of my most memorable moments on the side of a hill was here, as we stopped for second lunch, on the side of Stuc a Chroin with Ben Vorlich towering in front of us.  2 Bens, 2 beautiful Bens and as I lay there on the grass, eating the rest of our sandwiches, grapes and tablet I felt incredibly content.   What an amazing day.

All good things must come to an end the saying goes and we had to get up and start our descent off the mountain.  It was mid afternoon by this point and the sky was clouding over and the strong sun of the day was weakening.  A cool breeze was refreshing and we made our way down the path that skirted round the base of Ben Vorlich that would lead us back to the initial path of the morning.  The first part of the path was fine and then suddenly we were on a horrid shaley descent.  Ankle turning stuff and I got the poles out to steady myself on the slippy scree.  Not a nice descent at all and I just took my time and made my way down the zig zaggy path.  Thankfully it didn’t last for long and we were down on the valley floor with only a slight incline back up and round to meet the path from this morning.
This path was filled with people coming down off the hill and it seemed to have been a day out for many, young, old, some with dogs, some walking in groups and some walking alone.  The wander down the hill was lovely until a slip caused me to fall forwards and bang my knee on the rocks.  I thought my camera was damaged, I thought I was damaged and for a moment I went into “woe is me mode”……that didn’t last long as Chris, concerned that I was hurt, snapped me right back into reality.   He’s good at that J.
The path continued downwards and my legs were starting to feel it.  A slight distraction was the black clouds looming to the left and we wondered, if after such a glorious day, we were in for a spot of rain.   True enough, as we entered the last few 100mtrs of the walk the heavens opened.  Running back to the car with legs that felt like lead we didn’t get too wet and had a moment to sit back and reflect on what was another truly amazing day.

Can’t wait to get back to Scotland ……..lets make it soon x