Stob na Fhàinne - 655m
Beinn a' Choin - 770m
Maol Breac a' Bhealaich - 599m
Maol Mor - 694m

Thursday 28th February 2013

Weather/Conditions: Beautiful weather. Just look at those pictures... what more?
Distance/Ascent/Time: 11.5km / 950m / 4h 50m
Accompanying: Alone

It was the end of February, and I'd only been out once that month. So with the arrival of some beautiful high-pressure weather, I headed to the east bank of Loch Lomond for a trip into what is a stunning, and oddly wild and remote area.

After an obscenely early start, I drove up via. Aberfoyle, with the moon out in the sky and complete stillness all around. The area really blew my mind from the outset. I felt very remote driving out there, into an area of Scotland I wasn't at all familiar with. And to see the moon across Loch Ard, framed by the mature pines was quite a way to start the trip.

It only got better after that. I parked up by Loch Arklet as the first signs of morning brushed the south-eastern horizon. I had an odd moment here, a feeling intimidation, of setting off into a wild world, epitomised by the sight of wind-blasted cloud against a far mountain slope. Maybe it was the darkness that made me feel that way. But as soon as I was going, I was on a solid pace to the summits. I climbed the southern flank of Stob na Fhàinne in an exhausted lack-of-sleep grind. But the heights did eventually open out, piece by piece. There was the sun pillar, which rose into the sky before the sun had even pierced the horizon. There were the pink striations across the sky. But it was the Moon that stole centre show - a big orange lamp that descended through a pink band in the western sky, hanging over the snow-dappled Arrochar Alps.

Silently it receded behind the arm of Beinn Ime to be swallowed by the land, as the sun brushed the mountain tops in the first light of a bright day. There was also a rawness to the air which existed in spite of the coming brilliant, sunny day. The mountains were bones this morning.

Stob na Fhàinne arrived in time, and from there the way to Beinn a' Choin was clear. I passed among bogs and little cliffs, watching the day in amazement. From here the Munros looked so massive - cool to think I'd be on them soon. It wouldn't so long until I left for Mull.

Beinn a' Choin is a big rambling mountain, where outcrops incrementally build on one another to finally gain the summit. It's really classic southern Highland roughness. If anything, I consider this region of Scotland as rough as anywhere on the Scottish mainland, I just wonder if sometimes it isn't seem that way to people because of it's accessibility.

Contrary to that, I felt pretty "wild" out on my mountain today. It was a day where I fully absorbed the peace of the area. While only a few miles distant from the A82, I was somehow left feeling much further 'out-there' in mind. Once again, wilderness is a state of mind. Today it came about by pressing my face up against the phenomena this world offers - and I got so much back from it.

Beyond Beinn a' Choin, I stopped by the rambling top of Maol Breac a' Bhealaich, then onto Maol Mor, which has a summit, then a trig point a little further on. At this point in my life (early 2013), I'd just really got into rock climbing, especially Dumbarton Rock. And so I spent the day looking for crags to climb that hadn't perhaps been touched yet. I saw a lot, and sewed the seeds for future trips to the area. By contrast, walking seemed "samey", too much of one thing. But that now seems unfair. It's amazing how the act of walking and crucially, perceiving your environment, gives so much back in memory. In a sense, being in a location at the time is a slightly dulled experience as you are so immersed your environment you do not notice it so much. But in memory, those places take on stronger colour and a distilled sense of what it was like to be there. And that is how I remember this day, as with all other beautiful days I've had on the hills.

I descended Maol Mor, coming upon a cool cleft of rock that I must return to one day. The descent was otherwise uneventful and I arrived back at the car on a peaceful and sunny morning. The drive back was sheer bliss. I couldn't wait to come back to this region of Scotland, but I also knew a Munro Round awaited first.

On the way home, I stopped by the Queen's View for a quick jaunt up the hill and was home soon after.

Photos: Loch Ard

Stob na Fhàinne

Beinn a' Choin

Maol Mor


Heading Home

360° Panoramas

Stob na Fhàinne

Beinn a' Choin

Maol Mor
Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 6.10am Layby, Loch Arklet
(1.35) 7.45am Stob na Fhàinne
(2.25) 8.35am Beinn a' Choin
(3.30) 9.40am Maol Mor
(4.50) 11.00am Layby, Loch Arklet

Written: 2015-11-04!