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]

Saturday 9 May 2015

Beinn Bhan and Stob a Ghrianain


Spot the navigational failure!

Perusing the maps last night, looking at all the other hills in the immediate vicinity, it struck me that given another fine day (due to the crags I wouldn't want to do them on a poor day), there were a couple more nearby Marilyns which could be done as a single walk.

That thought then completely left my head until I was half way to Fort William this morning, looking at the snowy top of Ben Nevis under a cloud-free sky. Doh!

The only real benefit of that plan would have been a second night in the lovely quiet car park there*. So, it was no hardship to continue, per the original plan, to Glen Loy, where I arrived early enough to grab the single parking space by Inverskilavulin (an official, signed parking spot, but really only big enough for one Colin-sized vehicle or maybe two cars if they were parked neatly). With a hill on each side of the road I had a decision to make as to which to go for first and opted for the bigger: Beinn Bhan.

Being a Corbett, I didn't need to come up with a route of my own for this one. Rather, I consulted the Cicerone guide to the Corbetts and made the suggested circuit, up relatively smooth grassy slopes (such a contrast to the cragginess of the last couple of days) to the west end of the ridge.

Pausing there for cake (not so negligent in my packing today!) it was then a very easy walk along the broad, grassy ridge, along a line of ornate fence posts from some long-abandonned boundary marking, to the east end, where lies the highest point.

It was a few paces from the summit when I heard the sound of engines and realised I was about to have company. Perfectly pleasant company too, even if I may not wholly approve of their mode of transport to such a spot.

I spent quite a while up there, eventually in solitude, enjoying the views. Then it was down, down and down some more, to lose all of the height I had gained only to need to regain all bar 50 metres on the other side of the glen.

With this being my longest and hardest (on paper) planned day of this trip, I had wondered whether to leave the second hill until tomorrow. That thought was quashed when I downloaded the MWIS forecast whilst waiting for a supermarket to open in Ft William this morning. Tomorrow is forecast wet; today was fine (the cloud which built during the morning has now cleared; as I type it is absolutely clear again).

So, after lunch off I set up a track which was very clearly and repeatedly marked as closed for forest operations (with a stated anticipated re-opening date of end April 2015). I figured that being Saturday I would be fine to walk though and so I was.

As it turned out, I shouldn't have walked the gently rising track right through the main area of timber stacks. I was out the other side when it occurred to me that I was heading away from my hill, and realised I had missed a turn. Given that the route through the forest is marked by sign posts about a foot wide by four and a half feet tall, I'm not quite sure how I didn't see the sign at the turn - particularly as I had actually noticed the grassy track I should have taken.

Back in the right place, the (soggy) track took me up out of the forest, from where I expected a yomp. As it went there were tyre tracks, albeit feint at times, which eased my passage all the way up to 500m, and it wasn't much beyond there that the going became smooth and firm on short crunchy vegetation.

Unusually, none of my sources listed a 10-digit grid reference for this one, nor a summit feature, so I spent some time visiting all possible high points - a worthwhile exercise just for the vantage points.

If I'd wanted a longer walk, I could have made a circuit of it, but it would have been longer than my legs would have appreciated, so I simply retraced - except for the outward navigational failure; I omitted that detour.

And now I'm parked up in a truly stunning location after another exceptionally enjoyable day, looking forward to doing nothing tomorrow (okay, I will go for a little strollette somewhere, but there are no hills on my agenda tomorrow).

(*I did have a neighbour last night - a Challenger named Paul camped in the adjacent trees.)

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1 comment:

  1. That looks a tempting little glen on the map. I cycled up to the ruin in Glen Mallie (the next one to the north) a few years ago.

    I too was plagued by undefined summits on my recent trip. On my final one I went to a radio mast, the trig point and the unmarked OS map reference from the Harold Street website - I reckon there was the best part of a kilometre between them. Those heather covered plateaux (or plateaus which my dictionary permits) can be very deceptive.

    I am enjoying your posts which are now giving the taste of proper hills.