Beinn Eich - 703m
Doune Hill - 734m
Doune Hill East Top - 701m

Sunday 30th November 2008

Weather/Conditions: Beautiful day. Snow, blue skies, clear air, cloud inversion for miles.
Accompanying: Alone

This was yet another beautiful day. As far as the weather goes, this walk tops Beinn Dorain and Dothaidh on the 2nd of November. Funnily enough, I was told by walker on Dorain that "you don't get many days like this, so make the most of it." I agreed with his statement but I struck lucky on this day. The conditions were the best I've ever seen them.

Edit, Feb '09: The best of my Winter 08 walks came to a head on 31st December on Beinn Ime, the third (and perhaps final?) of this succession of clear and beautiful winters days.

Beinn Eich

The forecast was to be good for Sunday and on Saturday night, fog fell upon the Central Belt. Based on experiences from an earlier walk outside Arrochar, (12th February 2008) I knew that fog down below could be good news up top. If I was lucky I could witness a cloud inversion. I was dropped off at the head of Glen Luss at 8.10am, just as the sun was coming up. The journey to Glen Lus had been fog-ridden, so by now I knew what was in store. I wasn't in a walking mood at when I began, but knew that should I climb quickly as the most beautiful cloud inversion must be awaiting above. Anticipating the views to come, I'd even borrowed a Canon 5D camera to capture the day in photographs that would turn out a bit better than an old point and shoot would have done. (It turned out to be a bulky option, and I wouldn't bring two lenses and large camera case if I were to use an SLR myself) I walked along the road, and found a stile with a signpost directing the way up Beinn Eich. Even if I wasn't in the mood, I couldn't just sit down here. Snow-clad Doune Hill was glowing pink and more views were awaiting should I just walk.

I headed up Beinn Eich, first over grass, then then up to the snow. There was a substantial amount lying although it was powdery and didn't hold any weight. Behind me, the sun rose and it was beautiful. I'd seen a couple of cloud inversions before but they weren't like what I saw on this day. The Campsie Fells and Kilpatrick Hills rose up as silhouetted islands. Even the Ochils were their own 'island' and under the rising sun, this glowing bed of cloud travelled unbroken to the eastern horizon. I hate to use clichés like "sea of clouds" just like every other writer does, but there were really is no better way to put it. It was like a "sea" and I was sure glad to be standing at the western end, looking out upon it.

On my way up Beinn Eich, I ran into footprints, the first I'd seen. It first of all occurred to me that there were perhaps others about but the footprints indicated that whoever was here was descending and they may have been of those who were last off the hills yesterday. I continued onwards at a moderate pace, not quite fast enough to fatigue myself, but slow enough as to enjoy myself. If I went faster the going would get tedious, and I'd want to race around summits. Racing myself is something I've had a tendency to do: wanting to be somewhere else than where I currently am drives me onwards, and I go faster and faster wanting to be on the next hill. I'm not sure what fuels the compulsion to be on the next hill, but avoiding such a mindset, I careful to take things slowly because these hills had to be enjoyed at a slow and relaxed pace.

I was on top of Beinn Eich at 10.05am. It took about two hours to climb the 650 metres, and I stopped for a while to take pictures. I wrapped up more too as I'd not been wearing enough on the way up to stay warm. At points, breathing onto numb fingers brought blood back into the vessels and pain followed. It was at the summit that I realised I really was cold. Keeping warm on the winter hills is something that may need some work.

Beyond Beinn Eich, the ridge took me on a gradual slope downwards to the Doune Hill-Beinn Eich saddle where I stopped for ten minutes. I'd figured I'd need this rest as I had been feeling dizzy coming off the top of Beinn Eich. Perhaps the lack of food to eat or lack of warmth brought it on, I'm not sure, but I was fine quickly afterwards.

Doune Hill and descent

My non-walking mood hadn't disappeared yet. Doune Hill was going to be a slog and I knew it. I took it slowly, first heading to Beinn Lochain, the west top, and then onto the final slopes up to the summit. I had planned to climb Cruach an t-Sidhean before setting off but now edging on fatigue, I decided against it. I was using the trail yesterdays hill walkers had broken and they hadn't gone up the Cruach either. If I were to climb it, it would leave me tired in a low mood because I couldn't say no to climbing. Feeling low and tired was not an option on a day like this.

I was at the summit trig point of Doune Hill at 11.55am and took a panorama. The cloud inversion was still standing to the east and the sun reflecting off the snow, all around, was immensely bright. This was undoubtedly the finest winter day I'd had yet and I sat with my back against the trig point, looking eastwards to the horizon. It was midday, the sun was as high as it would get and I spent a lot of time watching the stillness of this quiet, beautiful day.

I left the summit and felt a bit better. I felt in the mood to walk now, and a quick jaunt down the east slopes brought me to the saddle between the east top and main summit. Climbing the top could be another slog, but I'd give it a go. I took it slowly, steadily, and working this way brought me to the top a few moments later. I didn't stay long and left after a round of pictures. I descended down to the saddle, and then headed down to Glen Mollochan by following a stream. The descent was quick and when I reached the valley floor, the walk out began. I was tired now, but definitely in the mood to walk. The ground was rough, but I took things as they came and enjoyed myself along the way. After 20 or so minutes of negotiating the broad valley floor, I picked up the rough (and often ice covered) track which would take me back to the head of Glen Luss. The sun was creeping lower in the sky and I brought the camera out at several occasions to photograph cross-lit Doune Hill.

After nearly seven hours on the hills, I arrived back at the houses in Glen Luss. I spoke to an old couple here about the hills, Munros, and so on. They seemed to be surprised to see me walking here, as do others. Sometimes people seem surprised to see a 17 year old walking on his own, however whether they do or not, it does offers some good conversation. I continued on my way and ten minutes later, while walking on the road, I was picked up. From there it was a quick visit to Loch Lomond Shores and then home.

I hadn't seen a soul in nearly seven hours during my walk. The Luss Hills are a quiet place for being so close to Glasgow. Maybe they're overlooked for being peat hags, not close enough to the city to justify travelling to when Dumgoyne's nearer? Maybe they're boring rolling hills where the mountains around about are "better", whatever that means. I have to say I'm probably guilty of missing out on them myself, heading either to the Campsies to Arrochar and beyond when Luss was sitting in the middle. I had simply the most beautiful weather here, and my opinion of them is so high. They're lower, quieter and far less craggy than those around about, but I reckon I'll be glad to think of them in future and remember this day. It really was almost too good and it'll be a one to remember.


Glen Luss, morning

Beinn Eich 360°

Arran from Beinn Eich

Doune Hill 90° NE - Orchy, Crianlarich, North Luss Hills, Loch Lomond, Ben Lomond, The Ochils

Doune Hill 90° SE - Campsie Fells, Loch Lomond, South Luss Hills, Southern Uplands, Kilpatrick Hills

Doune Hill 90° SW - South Luss Hills, Firth of Clyde, Cowal

Doune Hill 90° NW - Beinn Reithe, The Brack, Arrochar Alps

Written: 2008-12-04
Revised: 2009-02-09