Stob Breac - 688m
Thursday 27th November 2014

Weather/Conditions: Rather desolate! Low cloud and drizzle/rain all day.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 5.4km / 600m / 1h 55m
Accompanying: Alone

Today has been a good one. This is also the first time in probably years that I've actually written about my hill day on the same day as I did it! Oh the shame. I really need to get the website caught up now I've got a good design.

Novembers been a good month for hill days. I've been on Curved Ridge (Buachaille) three times, I've camped at 2000 feet on Beinn Dorain and watched the moon setting in a completely clear sky. All good days, but being Munros, no new hills. I always like to do a new summit if I can, so last night I got real enthusiatic about heading to Inverlochlarig to do some Corbett/Graham-bashing. All going well, scope out some new routing and visit St. Brides Wall (bouldering) on the way home. That was the plan!

I was up 4.30am having slept on the couch, quick stop by Maryhill Tescos for grub, then on my way for a bleary-eyed drive to Inverlochlarig.

I've been to Inverlochlarig once - when I was ten years old, when I did my second ever Munro, Beinn Tulaichean. Pretty cool to think that the next time I would make it down that winding road by Loch Voil, I'd have done all the Munros, and well on the way to a second round (if I ever get my ass in gear). Full circle.

But reality is sometimes a "kick in the baws". I pulled into the Inverlochlarig parking in darkness (somewhere around 7.15am), but could sense the cloud closed in on the surrounding hills. Hmm. Drizzle fell on the windscreen - not the dry day that had been forecast! In any case I was shattered so I set the alarm on my phone and dozed off in the front seat for ten minutes. The alarm went - I reset it, and repeated this until I'd had nearly an hours' shut eye.

Slowly I pulled myself into action, but didn't actually get going until after 9am. Drizzle fell incessantly - not enough to notice it but enough to completely soak *everything*. I left my ropes and climbing gear in the car, there would be no scoping out future climbs today. In fact the mist was pressed almost down to glen level and really oppressive. Instead of going for Stob a' Choin (the big yin), I decided to keep it simple and climb Stob Breac as an up-and-down, a Graham sitting directly above the car park.

It was hard to get going - I alternated between feeling really cold inside, to sweating any time I made any real effort. Gladly, the mountain did yield in time and I got to a good altitude. Sometimes I feel so knackered that it amazes me I did all the Munros in a single summer.

The mist on the upper mountain was light, and as much for practice as for necessity I paced out between hummocks up the summit ridge to a little cairn made of only a couple stones. My pacing was all pretty spot on!

There was nothing to see, just the light drizzle and hardly a breath of wind. I turned on myself and followed the compass needle north into the glen, down slightly left of the way I'd come up (steep!), then back to the glen.

The final walk to the car was highly, highly pleasurable, for no apparent reason. It always amazes me how utterly enjoyable I find walking. On tired mornings like on my ascent, walking can feel a little blunt. By the time I was walking back to the car I was cruising pleasantly.

Having not really seen the Braes of Balquhidder, I took my time on the drive back out. After all I wasn't looking out for them when I was 10 years old. The scene was very 'Scottish', all mist, drizzle and stunning greyness that gave these hills a wild, untamed quality.

I stopped by Rob Roy's grave at Balquhidder before heading south. Some dryness would have been nice for I was really keen to stop by the bouldering wall. It wasn't to be. I did pull into the layby by the ruined church, but the area was totally soaking. Home for me then. Hell, it was an enjoyable day after the initial lethargy, and all out of proportion to the actual experience on the hill.

Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 9.10am Balquhidder parking
(1.55) 11.05am Stob Breac
(3.00) 12.10pm Balquhidder parking

Written: 2014-11-27