Beinn Challum South Top - 998m
Beinn Challum - 1025m

Thursday 9th August 2012

Weather/Conditions: A weird mix between sun, high winds and rain - sometimes really heavy and sudden. Thankfully none of the thunder forecast. Spicy.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 13.9km / 1000m / 5h 05m
Accompanying: Uncle Steve

Only a few days had passed since the epic Affric trip and I was still burned out. My uncle Stephen was getting back in hillwalking and Beinn Challum was his plan.

I couldn't say I was immediately excited. I was still feeling tired from Affric, the weather was looking atrocious and Beinn Challum was a hill I had done before. Those aren't bad points in themselves: by atrocious weather, I meant the possibility of lightning. I love mental weather on the hills, it's part of what makes them great, but lightning leaves me cold. (It's something I should dealing with a bit better...) Challum wasn't a hill I was so inspired to return to. I love the Mamlorn/Glen Lochay area - it's got a real empty, lonely feel. But the hills themselves usually feel like plods. Anyhow, for all my reservations, he dragged me along and I'm so glad I went.

After a quick scoot up the A82, we watched water droplets falling on the windscreen. At times like these, leaving the comfort of the car can be challenging! But it's only a bloody hill. What's the problem? A walk up through the broad lower slopes didn't fire the imagination; but up we went. Uncle Steve usually led the way - I think I did better than I'd expected to considering how tired I'd been feeling. Rain was periodically falling, but in general conditions were better than expected. I always had one ear open for thunder - probably the one thing that would stop me climbing this hill.

We got onto the hill's south ridge and followed it into the mist. An amazing things happened here. From a moderate wind, one blazing gust and heavy, thick rain pelted down through the mist. A few droplets of rain had given seconds warning before the great shower began. I thought I'd been really clever to get my jacket out there and then. But the rain came on so heavy and suddenly that we both struggled into jackets in the roaring wind and ended up pretty wet anyway.

Ironically, the summit was quite a calm place, enough to sit for a few minutes. We decided to make a round trip of the day and descend via. the north-west ridge, to Gleann a' Chlachain. Dodgy compass bearing brought us onto the west face instead of the ridge, but we made it down... In the lower glen, it was heartening to cross the deer-fence and see the results of a regeneration project here. Unlike the scoured upper slopes of the hills, the glen floor was thick in heathers, little pines, birches as well as a million other species of plant and moss I don't know the name of.

And we also noticed that we'd had a really damn good hill day. And as we walked out of Gleann a' Chlachain, a deep peace settled and soothed the soul. For an 'uninspiring' hill, it's a place I love deeply. We returned to Strath Fillan and walked the short distance by the monastery back to the car. Some day.

Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 11.40am Parking
(2.35) 2.15pm Beinn Challum
(5.05) 4.45pm Parking

Written: 2012-10-29