Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tyndrum Halloween 2011

On Friday Oct 28th,
 I set off from Mallow for the long journey to Scotland for a few days hillwalking. The travel is exhausting, a train to Dublin followed by another to Belfast. A ferry to Stranraer followed by a five hour wait for a train at 7am to Glasgow followed by another train to Tyndrum. So 22 hours after setting out from Mallow I stepped off the station platform in Tyndrum and into the By The Way Hostel. It is beautifully located in the little hamlet nestled in the hills of Argyle. The reason I do this is as I work for the railway the travel is practically free. Anyway unfortunately the hostel was fully booked for the weekend so I was stuck with the tent. As the weather was to say the least uncooperative even pitching the tent was an effort. Still after I was settled in ,I was restive after the confinement of travel and decided to go for a run. I went through the forestry and emerged on the road into Cononish. When I arrived at the farmyard I turned right and ran up to the goldmine. Though it was pissin down It was just what I needed and when I turned back downhill I was feeling strong and enjoying myself. I stayed on the track until I reached the West Highland Way and I followed this back to the campsite. I went into the village and bought myself a few beers and had a bite of dinner and settled down for the evening. All the travel and lack of sleep caught up with me and I had to give up and go to sleep at eight pm. A long great sleep followed.

Sunday 30th,
I awoke at eight am to a dull wet morning. I lay awhile and listened to the wind and rain and contemplated staying where I was, still I hadn't come all this way to do nothing so I groaned and groused my way up and made ready for a day on the hills. I set Ben Lui as the target for the day and after breakfast I set off once again foe Cononish. I was feeling very sorry for myself as I walked in. The view was limited to say the least, the wind strong and the rain constant. All this coupled with the memory of what the first time I came in here a year previous was like only further dampened my spirits. It would not have taken much persuasion to make me turn about and head for home. Still I persevered. Eventually I reached the end of the track and the point where the climb starts only to find that the stream was in spate and dodgy to cross. Not really being in the mood for a long detour to the bealach on the right I turned instead for Beinn Chuirn, a Corbet which rose just to the north of the track and would allow for a horseshoe walk (of sorts) back in the direction of Tyndrum.

There followed a steep 350meter slog before the gradient eased and I headed for a subsidiary top. The cloud was after lifting and I didn't need any navigation aids to make my way over the bleak terrain. I turned and crossed the saddle and climbed the easy slopes to the summit 880meters. A little cloud had come down so I had to be a little careful to avoid the cliffs to the southeast as I made my way down the east side and back to the track to Cononish. Now that I was actually doing something I felt much better and my spirits were further raised when I happened upon two startled stags only about 50meters away who seemed to stand and stare in disbelief at the intrusion. If only I hadn't forgotten my camera. Anyway the rest of the walk passed without incident and I was soon back at the campsite enjoying a beer and dry clothing. I finally felt that the holiday had begun.

Monday October 31st.
View northwest fron Coire an Dothaidh

Changing light

I know there is gold in the hills around here, but really||
I rose early and caught the first train to the Bridge of Orchy. The plan for today was to climb Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh. The route starts directly from the station platform and follows a boggy path gently up into Coire an Dothaidh and a bealach at 744mtrs. Last year the weather here was fierce and I had to retreat from just above the bealach from storm force winds and horizontal blizzard conditions. Today there was merely horizontal rain and strong winds to endure. The cloud was up at about 800mtrs but it clung stubbornly to the summits. I opted for Beinn an Dothaidh first as I would have the wind at my back on the way up. It is a gentle enough pull and soon I was on the summit at 1004mtrs. The return to the bealach was less gentle and I was battered by the full force of the wind and rain. Fortunately on the way up Beinn Dorain I was sheltered by the slope and it was a pleasent enough walk to the summit at 10076mtrs. As there was nothing to be seen I didn't tarry and returned quickly to the Bealach. I retraced my footsteps back to the train station and here enjoyed a spot of lunch and contemplated my next move. So far I had done 14K and about 1200mtrs of ascent but I was feeling good and the day was showing signs of improvement so I opted to return to Tyndrum via the West Highland Way which meant a further 11K. This I had also done last year but today it was quite enjoyable just to amble along and let my clothes dry a little.
Viaduct under Beinn a Chaisteil

Tuesday November 1st.
Tyndrum nestling in the valley

Towards Bienn Dorain
It had started raining as I returned to camp the previous evening and continued heavily right into the night. So, it was with some surprise and delight that I awoke to a fine bright morning. This was my last day here on this trip and I was catching the train out at 19.15 that evening. I decided that I would climb Beinn Odhar today. At 901mtrs another Corbet and just a few meters short of Munroe status. I set off north once again along the West Highland Way. After a couple of kilometers I turned right and went up the spur that decends gently all the way from the summit. It was great to be able to enjoy extensive views but there was a distinct wintry nip in the air. The views from the summit were great and I savoured my time there. Thge eyes were constantly drawn south towards the hills of Crianlarich and Arrochar. All my previous misgivings were gone and my mind was filled with possibilities for my next trip.
Towards Crianlarich

Gleann Achadh-innis Chailein. Wildcamp anyone?

Beautiful colour by Fillan river
The day was still young so I decided to add another Corbet to my route. I turned from the summit and headed southeast towards Beinn Choarach 818meters. This meant a big drop down to about 440mtrs and a steep climb of over 350meters to the summit. From here there is a great view to Beinn Challuim. I was really tempted to include this as well but it would have meant another big drop and over six hundred meters of ascent and I was worried that darkness would arrive before I was down. So I headed instead for Auchtertyre Farm and there once again joined the West Highland Way and so back to the campsite. The weather held good and I was able to do all my packing in the dry and I once again settled down to wait for my transport. All in all I was once again enthused by my trip and I'm already planning for my return. Crianlarich next maybe or perhaps the fleshpots of Fort William, who knows.
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