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'.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Aonach Eagach August 2010

'The most sensational scramble on the Scottish Mainland', Ralph Storer.

Aonach Eagach lays claim to being the finest ridge walk / scramble on the Scottish mainland. It's 3miles of pinnacled jagged saw like crest provides exciting, exposed, dauntingly bum quivering scrambling. Once you are up on the ridge...there is no escape route except back the way you have come. We started at Allt na reigh and traversed all the way along to decent into Glencoe Village at the 'Pap'. Aonach eagach has two munros (Meall Dearg and Sgorr nam Fiannaidh) and another two 'tops' over 3000ft. This was my fifth time doing this ridge walk and there is always something new to see, something you missed from the last time. Myself and Jim were here today with two first time ridge walkers, so we were taking our time today. The two girls who joined us today had never been up and along any kind of ridge so this was a baptism of fire. We started out early, but already there were many in front of us and within half an hour we could see people strung out along the ridge behind us. This ridge has many many exciting highlights and I could never do it justice by trying to describe them so the best way for you to appreciate it is to go climb it yourself!!....or have a look at my photos here.....i took over three hundred!!!'s just a few.....(sorry they aren't in any particular order, but im sure you'll get the idea!)