Sunday, 26 September 2010

Tarmachan Ridge September 2010

Picture of Ben Lawers/Beinn Ghlas from Taramachan

Meall nan Tarmachan is one of the 'easier' Munros to reach, thanks to the high level start point at the Ben Lawers visitor centre car park (in the process of redevelopment).
Meall nan Tarmachan is at the eastern end of a 'mini mountain range', whose twisting skyline, the Tarmachan Ridge, provides a dramatic and gothic backdrop to the wee village of Killin. The ridge snakes and 'undulates' along the skyline for around 3 miles.

Its a mixture of broad, narrow, rocky, grassy and boggy terrain. There is a newly renovated path from the parking area, leading quickly, but steeply to the Munros summit. The path continues along the ridge which is rocky, airy and has a short challenging scramble on the decent from Meall Garbh. From the summit of Meall nan Tarmachan, the ridge flows over three lower tops, Meall Garbh coming at you first, followed by a 50m narrow and hairy arete. You then decend first to a bealach before a steep climb on to Beinn nan Eachan and then to Creag na Cailliach which has a further three tops itself. Then you decend into Coire Fionn Lairge for a trudge along an old landrover track to the car park.

I've climbed Lawers and Ghlas, opposite, several times and looked at this ridge with great interest.Its a great wee range, with navigation easy going as is the ground underfoot.This 10k round route took me just under 5 hours to complete. The wind today could be best described as extreme!! At one point it was so strong that when my nose ran, the wind blew my 'snot' back up my nose!! Weird.

The views were stunning all around today despite the wind. The Lawers car park was full to bursting when i arrived, but i only met two people all day.Most folk were i presume climbing Lawers and its attached peaks of Ghlas and An Stuc.

Great day!!!

So, i've got the Baxters River Ness 10k in 7 days time.......

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Beinn Narnairn, Beinn Ime and The Cobbler August 2010

The next day I drove back up to Loch Lomond, this time I parked in Arrocher and I started out only intending to do Ben Narnairn and Ben Ime. Most of the guidebooks recommend you follow the 'tourist path' for the cobbler and once you get to the bealach between Naranairn and Ime you then tackle each in turn. But this 'tourist path' would drive you to drink and cheap women!!!

Instead as soon as you cross the A83 to start this abomination there is a small overgrown path that branches off the tourist route and climbs very steeply through think forest, following the old concrete railway sleepers, straight up the Loch Long face of Ban Narnairn.

For the first 30 minutes it very boggy and you have to pick you're carefully as the path disappears a few times. Once you break free from the trees its easier as you now walk on a gravel forest trail path. Looking back the views are fantastic and once again I had been extremely fortunate with the weather today. Ben Narnairn, as i discovered has several (dozen!!) false tops. Not so much 'are we there yet?'...more 'where is the ****ing top?' (Sorry mum!!)

I then came across a memorial cairn to Charles Paterson (Founder of Arrocher Mountain Rescue), beutiful spot to sit and rest.
So you climb over several knolls and craggy tops and ledges and eventually you reach a grassy plateau (not the top), and BANG!!....there, like a big slap is the Cobbler in all its majestic glory. It's a mysterious looking mountain.

On I trudge, more craggy scrambling, reaching the 'Spearhead Gully', an exciting scramble which has the most amazing views. And once you breach the gully you reach the barren flat summit plateau and you also get you're first real view of Ben Ime today.
To get to Ben ime you have to decend a steep grassy rock strewn bealach, which was a bit slippy in places. Once at the bottom, you have to cross the bealach, which was like a swamp and some. Then the climb up Ben Ime, which I'm afraid i found after the crag hopping on Ben Narnairn was pretty boring in comparison, but was a means to an end. It was on this section of my walk that I met the first people of the day, the only people of the day. It's a fairly straight forward accent of Ben Ime. A zig zagging boggy path which takes you about three quarters the way up. The last part is thankfully on a solid rocky path which leads you to the summit hump and the small stone shelter marking the top. I had lunch here briefly with the two guys I met on the way up here. I was enjoying the view so much across to arrocher and Loch Lomond that I nearly didn't notice the big black rain clouds approaching from the north. Time to make a run for it!!
I scampered down back towards the bealach to join the 'tourist route' that takes you past the Cobbler back to Arrocher. As i reached the junction of the paths I stopped and looked up at the Cobbler. Well seeing as i'm here........
The clouds weren't getting any closer for now so i thought i'd risk it and lollop up the Cobbler. I've done the Cobbler a few times but never from the path that climbs it from behind. I've done it from the face that we all know from postcards. It's a good stepped path all the way up to it's craggy summit. There wasn't a soul up here either. I suppose with it being a weekday (Friday) most folk were slaving away at work. This is when my shift pattern can really pay off, getting all this grandeur to myself. King of the Castle. The Cobbler is an awesome little mountain. I decended on the Rest and be thankful side and worked my along the thin path down the glen, parellel to the river and tourist path a few hundred metres away. It got very boggy the lower I got and then i felt the first spits of rain. Jacket and hat on. Leg it. It pelted down. I crossed the river at the wee dam onto the tourist path and quickened my stride. I was getting well wet now. But i really wasn't too fussed it had been a great couple of days up here. I'm not a Munro Bagger, but its a sense of achievement every time you summit a lump. Another tick on the list.

I've got a day of rest before the Paisley 10K, hopefully i've not taken too much out of the legs for Sunday..........

Ben Vorlich August 2010

Behave!!...its not that kind of a foursome.

Ben Vorlich towers over Loch Sloy, Inveruglas on Loch Lomond side. I've driven past this mountain a million times and looked over a it from Ben Vane, but this was the first time i've 'clumb' it. It's a pleasant stoll along the tarmac road up towards Loch Sloy dam. I came across a tent pitched in one of the laybys along the road, strange place to camp!!

I was then confronted by a heard of cows strolling down the road, including a HUGE bull which i gave a wide berth. About a kilometre from the dam there is a small cairn by the road side which marks the begining of the accent. For the first half hour the path is very muddy and boggy and in parts you have to skirt around to save being trapped in the ooze. Today was stunning....very warm, dry with no breeze and hardly a cloud in the deep blue sky. I had indeed knocked it off today. You keep climbing.....and climbing with ever expanding views of Loch Sloy and over towards Ime, Narnairn, a Chrois and the Cobbler, which at the start of my climb all had wisps of cloud covering their peaks.

Eventually the mud stops and you find yourself on a gravel path which leads you ever up. I was approaching the crags that over look the dam and I suddenly had an 'Indiana Jones' moment!!...I left the track and headed over to the crags to scramble up them to have a look into some caves I had spotted. I continued up the crags, walking along their rim, the views were spectacular. I reached a plateau, had a few minutes looking around and then began to traverse over towards the path again. Another 30 minutes of easy walking and i was at the summit. With it being such a clear day I could see a huge distance in all directions. I had my lunch and with regret left the summit. Not a whisper of wind, not a mechanical or man made sound to be heard. I met no one all day. As I began to decend the cloud that hung over the hills across Loch Sloy had lifted. I took my time on the return journey as there is so much to see on this mountain, caves, pools and hidden lochans waiting for someone to just leave the path for few metres. I found the perfect spot for wild camping up here, surrounded on three side by rock, with the fourth overlooking Loch Sloy. I'm not going to give away it's exact location because if i did i'm sure that by next week someone will have built a MacDonalds on it!!

This is a fantastic mountain, I don't know why I've never been up this one before. It's one I will return to. I've climbed both Ben Vane and the Cobbler before so tomorrow my plan is to return to climb Ben Narnairn and Ben Ime and therefore complete the 'Arrocher Alps'.