The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Friday, 21 April 2017

The Fruin and Ben Bowie

The Fruin (NS276872; 361m)
Our ascent of The Fruin this morning was a case study in making sub-optimal route decisions. We had set out from the parking area at the imaginatively named 'Reservoir No 1' (it's next to Reservoirs No 2 and No 3) in the rain to wander along the road a short way to pick up the John Muir Way. That was a very good path, and although we didn't follow it for long, we continued on a good path until the point where the path was going merrily to bypass our objective. From there, we headed upwards, shunning the obvious line along the fence (which I'd read was overly rough and wet) in favour of just yomping directly up to the mast we could see at the top of the adjacent forest.

That was very wet and a bit rough, but in the scheme of things it wasn't bad going. Approaching the mast, a good trod was found, which had apparently ascended the slope a few metres adrift from our line. We joined that path's soggy line to continue on to the first lump on this hill.

That may have seemed like a good thing to do, except that it pretty well petered out at the top, and what we found on the other side was the worst corrugations in the land that I can remember ever having encountered. It must have once been forest, which has long been felled, leaving a landscape with such peaks and troughs that every two paces we were at the bottom of a trough and then two paces later we were at the top of a peak ... and repeat ... at length.

Beyond that section were two barbed wire fences and some large patches of impressively boggy bog. Then suddenly, there was the summit (the other side of a comprehensively padlocked gate, complete with a wire strung above it, bordered either side by more barbed wire).


I think I've made that sound pretty miserable, but it was reasonably good fun actually, even in the frequent prolonged showers. I'm not sure when I became mad enough to consider something like that fun!

Our descent was much better executed, involving less bog, fewer tussocks, no barbed wire, no corrugations and no unnecessary climbing - all achieved by simply keeping to the NE side of the fenceline. Beyond the mast we picked up the trodden line that we had shunned on our way up and found the going good for more than 90% of the way.

Impressively (I thought) I arrived back from this bogfest of an outing with completely dry feet, unlike Mick (who, admittedly, was wearing boots which have been replaced for being known to be leaky).

The stats came in at 7.1 miles with somewhere in the region of 290m of ascent.

Ben Bowie (NS339828; 314m)
I am not a cyclist. I have always considered cycling as something to do only for commuting when there is not a better form of transport available. In that vein, I had to concede that there are times when a bicycle would be a very good form of transport to access Marilyns, whether in order to save needing to drive Bertie up tiny roads, or to speed up passage through lengthy forest track approaches. So, last week I bought a bike and this hill was to be its maiden voyage.

It went surprisingly well! My intention was simply to ride a mile and a half along the road to the start of the forest track, but things were going so well (perhaps because it was downhill to that point!) that I thought I would see how far I could get up the track. Further than expected, was the answer, with me stopping only when I reached active forestry works, where the level of mud was getting too much (really should have fitted those mudguards I bought...).

Then I walked, easily finding the break through the forest I was after, where there turned out to be a trodden line. Aided by directions I'd noted from hill-bagging.co.uk, I was soon out on the open hill, where there was a superb view over Loch Lomond:


The Clyde wasn't looking bad, as seen from the daffodil-clad summit, either:


I met two chaps on my way down who had misplaced the John Muir Way. I told them how I had ascended from said Way, and we had a little chat before they wished me well and I scurried on down at my usual pace. I must have been half way down before it occurred to me that I should have positively asked if they wanted to walk with me. They gave the impression of just wanting to know which way I was going, but maybe they had hoped to follow discretely behind, without wanting to put me out - in which case I would have gone a lot slower. Being a lovely day by then, with excellent visibility, I'm sure they soon sorted themselves out anyway.

Meanwhile, I recovered my new wheels and very timidly made my way back down to the road, then back up to Bertie. I had walked 1.8 miles with around 140m of ascent.

1 comment:

  1. Your ascent of The Fruin sounds a real trial :-) This Marilyn bagging certainly gets you to the areas many folk never tread....probably with good reason!
    Enjoying your ascents as always...and taking notes for the future.
    Alistair

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