Ben Lui - 1130m
Ben Oss - 1029m
Beinn Dubhchraig - 978m
Friday 10th November 2017
Weather/Conditions: The beginning of winter! Dusting of snow on the tops and some wind (to our backs) - snow tornadoes being blown across the flank. Cold all along the tops, then a nice descent by Allt Coire Dubhchraig into ever-dimming light.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 17.5km / 1700m / 8h 45m
I met James at Dalrigh at first light. The trip over Rannoch Moor had been a bit Mordor, with magnificent dark curtains of hail across the hills. But as is so often the case, I seemed to pop out to benign weather over the pass into Tyndrum. Beinn Dubhchraig was clear ahead, with a sprinkling of new snow over it's upper reaches.
We took one car to Glen Lochay, crossed the river and began the big forest bash to Beinn a' Chleibh. For the most part the route was fine, but it degenerated to a crawl at one or two points. Munro bagging, eh. Once the west flank is gained, the rise to the summit is brilliant. The sun was making an appearance now. The Cruachan hills in the west looked shapely in a fresh coating of winter snow, and to the north the Etive hills looked somewhat darker.
Beinn a' Chleibh flattens off and a cairn arrived soon after. Ben Lui was ahead, a snow-spattered mass. It really loses all definition on this side.
We took a quick break, crossed onto Lui and headed up it's south-west flank. It was a great moment to pop out at the top of Coire Gaothach and have that massive view open out to the north-east. James is talking about a winter route here soon. I'd like to do that too, it's a mountain I cannot believe I haven't been on more.
Ben Oss followed afterward. It was lovely to get this perspective on Lomond and Arrochar again. You realise just how much high land there is in this part of the world. The Glen Falloch road is tucked into a fold in the hills and out of sight. There are entire tracts of land here that just are not visible or known, unless you get out onto the hills and walk.
All day the wind blew cold and picked up spindrift. It felt cold all day. But I was glad to be here; it's been too long. Beinn Dubhchraig gave another Munro eroded path, another head to the ground and grind the miles out. The descent of Beinn Dubhchraig was an unexpected highlight of the day. Previously I'd dropped down the north ridge of Dubhchraig which takes you to Cononish. Instead we dropped direct north off the summit into the coire, then picked up the line of the watercourse, Allt Coire Dubhchraig. The bubbling river alongside passes through a number of rock types, all at once looking like schist, sandstone; various levels of metamorphism whatever the underlying rock type. The path strikes the upper edge of a little gorge, then beyond drops into the Caledonian Forest. And this area of native woodland is one of the most southerly remaining patches left. Forget the plantations in adjacent Gleann Auchreoch, I would wish to see more of this woodland.
In gathering darkness we slipped and slid between bogs, to emerge out at the river. Another river crossing; it feels like I've done a lot of those this year. Without much care I dove in until the water was part-way up my legs, and with boots sloshing we walked the final miles back to the Dalrigh and James' car. We arrived back in very last light, and without headtorches! A Real Food burger filled a hole, then we headed home our respective ways.
(0.00) 8.35am Car, Glen Lochy
(2.07) 10.42am Beinn a' Chleibh
(3.30) 12.05pm Ben Lui
(5.25) 2.00pm Ben Oss
(6.30) 3.05pm Beinn Dubhchraig
(8.45) 5.20pm Car, Dalrigh