Month: July 2011

Beinn Bhuidhe

The final, for me anyway, Arrochar Alp was Beinn Bhuidhe and yesterday seemed to be a fine day to tackle this munro. It was rated more difficult and required a four mile walk before beginning the climb but for me this was probably my hardest walk.

We started early from the head of Loch Fyne on our 4 mile walk. First mistake of the day was heading through the quarry. Think of the Doctor Who episodes from the 70’s and 80’s which were all set in quarries and you’ll get the idea – not exactly picturesque. We cracked on and it was pertty warm/muggy even though it was only 09:00. After 4 or so miles we were starting to wonder where the path was for Beinn Bhuidhe. We kept walking until we got to a sheep dip on the map, thinking that maybe this was the route up? After 10 mins of discussion we cracked on until we had walked 5 miles – we were then convinced we had missed the path but never mind – lets crack on up the hill and we’ll find it soon enough.

Beinn Bhuidhe Route Guidance

In case you’ve stumbled on this website looking for advice look at the map above. The path is halfway between the abandoned house and the stream, directly on your left after you pass through the safety gate. In winter/spring it might be obvious but at this time of year almost impossible to spot. We bumped into a couple of groups later on who had made the same mistake which made us feel a whole load better…one day we will learn.

Anyway, back to cracking on up the hill. We skirted around a small woodland and walked up some steep undergrowth – thick grass and bracken. It was warm and unpleasant and the midges were out in full force. Nice. This was much the same for a lot of the walk. We also got split up and were walking as individuals for much of the first 2/3rds of the walk. Around 600m I had to stop. Was feeling very ropey, sweating buckets and convinced I was going to be sick. Was also thinking Danny had dropped back quite a bit so I may as well wait. 5 minutes later and I was sick. First time on a hill walk that I’ve been that unwell. A few mins later and despite being that far up I was convinced that I should turn back. A couple of mins later I spotted Danny ahead of me – he had taken a slightly different route and was now looking for his lost sunglasses. A quick shout and he buddied up with me for the rest of the walk and I carried on. Big thanks to him – he will now be known as sherpa Dan.

View from Beinn Bhuidhe

The walk up was great after 800m. Some ridge walking and we also found a path! Finally! The views from the top were stunning. Photo’s really don’t do it justice – it was some of the best views from a munro yet. After a quick lunch (half lunch for me as I still felt ropey) we cracked on down following the path this time.

Squirrel

The path from around 500m follows the stream all the way down to the starting point and was steep and pretty awkward in places requiring a wee bit of scrambling and searching for hand holds. In some ways it felt no easier than the route we eventually took although with hindsight it was more straightforward. I’m sure taking the path is also more scenic as there are a few waterfalls to see on the route up. We couldn’t believe how obscure the path was when we reached the start point – no wonder we missed it!

Beinn Bhuidhe Runkeeper

We walked back to the car, this time avoiding the quarry which was a far better option. We also indulged on some ice cream at the car park. I’m sure Bounty ice cream isn’t recommended for an upset stomach but it helped me! As usual, full photo set is on Flickr but not as many as usual – didn’t feel up to it really which is a shame as some of the ridge views were great.

So a tough walk especially on a warm muggy day but the views are stunning. For me, that was the last Arrochar Alp and was actually the most rewarding after The Cobbler despite the heat, sickness, my burnt neck and arms or the extra midge bites I picked up. Well worth doing but start early and if you’ve got the option, take a bike and cycle the first three miles. Your legs will thank you later.

Decision made

Cars. Not really my favourite subject. For whatever reason I’ve just never really got the bug. I love my gadgets and tech toys and I guess thankfully for my bank account, that love has never transferred to cars. Maybe it’s the fact that it sits in the street devaluing daily and at some point after buying a car some git will hit it with a door, or scratch it lightly as they pass by in a car park. Odd viewpoint I know, but it’s not changed in 14 years of driving and owning cars.

However, I did need to replace my Focus. It was 9 years old, I’d fell out of love with it a while ago and in my head I had to replace it. This wasn’t helped by a few fresh scratches from work recently that I hadn’t bothered fixing and a couple of bad pothole problems this year. Yes I would have got that no matter what car I had, but it still lead me to replacing sooner rather than later. But replace with what?

I set a budget and also decided that I would’t be buying new again. The Focus was my first new car and although it was great to get brand new and it felt like mine from day one, the amount I lost on just driving the car of the forecourt isn’t an experience I’d like to repeat…until the lottery win happens. Which it will. One day. Maybe. Onto the more tricky decision – what car to get? I picked up a few magazines, looked through hundreds of options, toured a few garages, test drove a couple of cars and ended up with…

Civic

A Honda Civic. It’s just over a year old so still has 20 months left on it’s warranty and it’s a 1.8 SI petrol edition. I love the interior – the dash is colourful and clear and there’s lots of nice little features inside that tick the boxes for me. It’s comfortable to drive and has plenty power to keep me happy. I also like the exterior styling – I know it’s not to everyone’s taste which is similar to the Focus in that amongst my friends they either loved it or hated it. Obviously I love it!

Civic

I bought the car from a garage in Edinburgh so the first actual drive back was interesting – torrential rain and the joys of the M8 but it was a pleasure compared to the Focus on the way through, but then it should be given the age difference. The ride is slightly harder than the Focus but the steering is more direct. There’s also some gamifaction on the dashboard – an eco rating to tell you how you are driving and when to change gears to optimise fuel usage.

Overall I’m delighted with it although I have only had it a few days now. Hopefully it lasts as well as the Focus did. One last geeky point that I like – it has a USB port and I can plug in the iPhone, and control navigation of the iPhone from the steering wheel. It’s the small things. Bliss.

Ben Vane

A couple of months since the last walk but the weather was too good to ignore. This time it was to tackle Ben Vane, another one of the local munro’s. Setting off early on a glorious day we were surprised how quiet it was for a mid summers day.

Ben Vane

We were quickly rewarded with some great views back over Loch Lomond. It then turned quite boggy – wish I’d worn my gators as the boots were caked in mud on the way up and down. The boggy ground only lasted for 15-20 mins though and the rest of the way was on ok but steep paths. There’s plenty of false summits and also some scrambling near the top but it was worth it.

Ben Lomond from Ben Vane

For a summers day when temperatures at ground level were nearly 20C, it was a wee bit chilly at the top with temps nearer 5 or 6C. Still, it was nice to cool off, grab lunch and take in the views which were stunning. Usually in summer you get a lot more haze but not today.

Alistair, Danny, Ian and Allan on Ben Vane

A very helpful fellow walker took the above photo. More telling is that while the camera was in her hands it seemed to perform so much better. I need to spend time revisiting many of the 550D’s features!

Ben Vane Runkeeper

Considering the stops and the 30 mins for lunch we made really good time on Saturday. Even on the way back down I was surprised by the lack of fellow walkers. Also surprising is the impact on my thighs this week – it’s 5 days since the walk and they are still a bit tender. I must look into improving strength/recovery as it seems to impact me more than others. As usual, all photo’s can be found on Flickr and also Facebook and Google+. Trying other ways of getting photo’s out to friends as not everyone likes or uses Flickr.

So that’s five out of the six munro’s that make up the Arrochar Alps ticked off, leaving just Beinn Bhuidhe which will hopefully be this weekend as the weather is looking good if not a tad hotter. Early start required.

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