Category: Hill Walking (page 1 of 5)

Drymen Circular

Scary – it’s almost 2 years since my last hill walk which was a return to Dumgoyne. We wanted to tackle a munro but time and weather meant a more sensible first walk of the year – Drymen to Balmaha via Conic hill and back again. Unlike the previous weekend, the weather had closed in and there was a cool breeze and a bit of drizzle on the way up Conic.

I didn’t bother taking any photo’s from the top of Conic as I’ve been up there a couple of times now and the winter set from 2011 on Flickr contains some far better photo’s. It was also windy with not much of a view. Speaking of views, there’s been quite a bit of deforestation on the route from Drymen which really opened up the route to more impressive views.

We chose to walk along the road back to Drymen rather than following our footsteps but to be honest there isn’t much to see from the road apart that Conic looked far better as the day cleared up for a few hours. Timing is everything. RunKeeper stats for the walk are below.

Hiking_Activity_11_55_mi___RunKeeper

Overall a good walk that got the legs going and hopefully isn’t the last one for another couple of years. Maybe a munro next?

Dumgoyne

With the weather finally taking a turn for the better it was time to get the walking books back on. I’ve not walked since November much like my walking buddies so we decided to start small and picked Dumgoyne as its close by, not too tough and the views are great.

I walked up Dumgoyne at the start of 2009 and I found it pretty tough needing lots of stops. However today felt like a hard stroll and I was surprised how quickly we got to the top. We carried on to what we thought was Earls Seat but we were one summit short of that one.

So a great day especially with the weather. Not so great was me totally fluffing most of my photos on the walk as my settings were for indoors and not the clear blue skies we had today. When will I learn! Full set of the photos that did turn out (auto FTW!) are up on Flickr.

Ben Chonzie

It’s been over three months since my last hill walk, due to a variety of reasons mostly involving the pish weather we’ve been having recently. So I was sitting with Danny on Friday moaning about our lack of walks and mentioned it was to be nice this weekend. We both had some muscle pains though. A quick Google search for the easiest munro turned up Ben Chonzie – 12 hours later and I’d ticked off another munro. Result!

Ian on Ben Chonzie

Ben Chonzie is easy for a few reasons. Firstly, you start from around 200m unlike the many that start form sea level. Secondly for 2/4 of the route you follow a land rover track which isn’t too steep. Once you come of the track and get near the summit there is a fence post that you can follow to take you to the summit. Overall it’s an undemanding walk but we struck it lucky with the weather and it was a great day considering the cold start.

Ben Chonzie

Great views all around but sitting at the top for some lunch was pretty chilly and I was glad of the hat and gloves. If someone is keen to try walking, pretty fit and wants to do a munro then Ben Chonzie is a good choice, but with the warning that this is a lot easier than other munro’s that I’ve done. It’s also a good winter hill as the fence posts at the top and wide track on the way up help with navigation in the snow.

Ben Chonzie - Runkeeper

The full set of pics (not many) is available on Flickr. One final thing. Me and Danny can easily talk all day about a variety of different topics, funnily enough we always agree that we’re experts in these topics :-) One that we stumbled on was McEwan’s Lager and this advert. Enjoy.

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.

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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