This posting is brought to you care of Honda ABS, more of that later!
After a fortnight’s enforced break due to the weather being far too nasty I had the chance to get out on Sunday. I’ve had a Zen like moment when it comes to selecting which summit to do as many of the summits are now available for me to activate a second time. I’m no longer terribly motivated by the points on offer. This came from looking at the hills which have been omitted as they are adjacent to hills worth many more points. So whilst I’d like to become a goat, that will happen in it’s own time, as I intend to select summits which are interesting to me and/or unique as their main criteria and for the points value second.
A case in point is SS-019, Creagan na Beinne. This is an 888m hill on the South of Loch Tay. It’s an 85mile drive for me, a 7.5km walk and 730m ascent to the summit. Ben Lawers is the other side of the Loch, the same driving distance, 5km walk and a 780m ascent. One is worth 10 points and the other 4 points. Guess which one has never been activated? So Creagan na Beinne SS-019 it was. There are many more like this up here.
The wx for England was for a sunny day. Up here it was cloudy and/or foggy. But it was mild at 8C and little wind but a 600m cloudbase. A quick Google revealed a documented route that starts in Ardtalnaig and climbs the flanks of Beinn Bhreac, actually moving away from Creagan na Beinne before swinging round and ascending the easy ridge to Creagan’s summit. I decided to try my own route though, because I know better. Not! I parked in Ardtalnaig, there’s space for 2 cars by the tennis courts at NN702391. There’s a few other spaces but I can imagine parking being difficult during the Summer. From there I followed the road into the Gleann a’Chilleine. It’s a fair old pull up to the end of the public road at Claggan Farm. But it runs close to the Allt a’Chilleine which was thundering across the rapids in quite heavy spate. The path runs through the farmyard but it’s a public right of way and is signposted. I met the farmer’s wife later on and she was always pleased that walkers were coming to climb up on those hills. Her only gripe was with people who just abandon cars and block up the gates or those who don’t leave gates as they find them.
After the farm the path is reasonably flat to the abandoned farm at Tullichglass. There are a lot of beasts in the fields and with all the rain, the flat ground around the buildings is a quagmire. Passable with care if you keep your wits about you. From there I went up the side of the woods at NN725386 to NN729387 The ground was soft and very squishy with lots of surface water even on the slope. Now the Allt a’Chilleine was most impressive and all that water has to come from somewhere. It looked like most was coming off Creagan na Beinne. The ascent was wet and it stayed wet right to the ridge. I’d recommend coming when it’s frozen or after a significant dry spell if you take this route. At the top of the woods is a gate and electric fence. There’s a spring and insulated grip so you can get through the fence without having to limbo under the wire.
The 1:25000 map is wrong, it shows a fence running along the ridge. Most of that is missing but the iron posts remain. I traversed up to the ridge an met a fence at NN734384 and followed that up. And up and up into the mist. It’s easy to find the summit in the mist, just go up. The hard bit is finding you way coming down! You know when you near the summit ridge because the ground turns from rough boggy nasty stuff into short cropped heather. Walking on this is so easy it’s like someone is giving you a helping hand after the boggy bits. From there it was a simple stroll. Really, not hard work at all. The visibility was down to less than 25m at times and it wasn’t always possible to see the fence posts. Essentially heading South and uphill at the same time takes you to the summit. There was a huge bog which needed a detour but this part is easy. But most of the way there was a path worn in the heather. I’m not sure if this was just a sheep track or if enough walk this way to make it a proper path.
I was miles away when some dude walked out of the mist and scared the hell out of me. Swine! His mate appeared a minute later and we walked for 5 mins until the cairn loomed of out the mist. They were part of a group out walking with the rest about 60mins behind. They headed off to Dunan and then up to Shee of Ardtalnaig (another on my must do list). Meanwhile I setup in the very gentle breeze. Rob G4RQJ was on FE so after a quick S2S it was down to FK and a fairly ferocious pile up. 20 people worked on 5MHz and most were good signals. I had a listen to the RSGB news whilst eating lunch and checked in with the net. Then I was just finishing packing up when another dude and his dog appeared out of the mist and scared the hell out me again! Followed by another 6 or 7 people.
I thought about going down the South side and following the track through the glen but decided to retrace my steps. Easy, down along the ridge following the track I came up. So I was really pleased to be out even if I was in the mist and everyone else I spoke to was sunbathing! I was watching all the mountain hares in their white coats as the endorphins rushed and I was miles away when I found myself in a snowfield. That wasn’t there on the way up! Now, these GPS things are a blessing and a menace. I knew it would tell me where I was so I wasn’t concentrating on knowing where I was at all times and hence I’d veered off down the wrong side of the ridge. I had to go and gain about 50m to get to my route. Shame on me!
Now having done this once you’ll be surprised to hear I did it again 20 minutes later. Double shame on me! But it shows how easy it is in thick mist when you stop concentrating. Follow a bearing, or a fence you know or use the GPS. But treat sheep tracks with caution! This time I hit a fence which went the wrong way. Get location from the GPS, look at map, curse, take bearing off map, use compass. I could have used the GPS and followed the little pointer. But the compass is easy to hold and I can easily read compass needle and I really need glasses to read the GPS. Or I have to stop and let my eyes focus on it. Anyone over 40 knows what I mean. Now I followed the bearing to where I wanted to be. Sadly this was across a miserable bog but when I dropped out of the mist and could see again I was where I expected to be. That’s more like it. The rest was easy, back down past the woods and out past Tullichglass onto the road. Normally I have Brian G4ZRP to find the deep holes full of water. He wasn’t there so I used my own foot to find the knee deep stink hole! OK only 25 minutes to the car so I wasn’t bothered about the wet sock.
All in all it was an excellent day. Valuable lessons learnt about paying attention and huge endorphin fix! The radio was fun too. Result!
Now Honda ABS you might ask…
The South Loch Tay road is not a good road. Single track with passing places but they all appeared to be very deep with mud. It’s narrow and there’s a steep drop at times. So take it with caution. But then there’s the A84 Glen Ogle road down into Lochearnhead. Once you get to the top and start the descent you can see the whole section for a couple of miles including all the traffic coming up. So a tractor going down and a Mondeo coming up. A quick bit of calculus and you know how fast you can go and you can take the wiggly bits on the wrong side and you wont hit anything! Engage warp drive.
6500rpm of i-VTEC magic in 3rd gear and snick into 5th and relax. That’s when the 3 sheep jumped the fence onto the road. Boy did I press that brake pedal hard. It all was quite tranquil as I shed mph, the tranquility was punctuated with the buzzing of the ABS as the tyres locked up on the damp tarmac. I thought that if I was lucky I’d not slide off into the valley at the side. And without any fuss I stopped in a ridiculously short distance in a perfectly straight line, stopping 20ft short of the sheep who had stopped to study my approach. They moved on, and so did I. Once you realise you’re not going to hit them and nobody is going to hit you then you can relax and enjoy the technolody doing its job. However, with my heart doing a good 180bpm a penitent FMF drove the rest of the A roads at a sedate 55mph.
Total walked: 15.1kms, total ascent:730m, distance driven:170miles
Scared witless walking:2 Scared witless driving:1 Lessons learnt:3