After 4 weeks without a walk due to holidays, kids and chores around the house it was time to get some fresh air. Having only recently returned to hill walking after a very long lay-off I had only activated 8 one pointers and a 2 pointer so I felt it was time to challenge myself and really test my growing fitness levels. Therefore the 4 pointer Ben Cleuch was chosen for 3 reasons:- a; its height and length of walk (it starts from close to sea-level), b; the fact that most of the height is gained over a very short distance and so posed a major test for me, and c; it was close and so a short drive home if the legs were really suffering!
The walk starts in the village of Tillicoultry at the small car park to Mill Glen (NGR 914975) at the top of Upper Mill Street sign posted from the main road.
Following the well maintained path through the glen switching back and forth acros a series of bridges until the gorge opened up into gorse and grass covered hillside. At the head of the glen is the convergence of the Daiglen and Gannel Burns with The Law in between. Crossing a wooded bridge over the Gannel Burn and short scramble up some rocks led to a well defined path heading up The Law. The path up The Law is very steep gaining almost 600m in about a kilometre. By the time the summit of The Law was reached the legs were screaming to go home but the lungs were working fine. A short break was taken at the summit cairn for water and photo opportunities before the final push along the ridge to the summit of Ben Cleuch. The summit Trig Point was reached in 2hrs 20mins, 15 mins earlier than calculated. This, for me was a great achievement for reasons a and b stated previously.
Operations started with a call on 2m FM whilst taking coffee and bagged 3 locals including new SOTA chaser MM0RAM. After a chat with a passing walker HF was set up starting on 5Mhz SSB followed by 5Mhz CW for Cris and Mike. Conditions on the bands seemed generally fair today with 13 QSOs being made. QSYing to 7.032 CW bagged a further 8 QSOs before the rain started to fall. As a result operations were terminated early - my apologies for the SSB boys because my next set was to be 7Mhz SSB. Once the rucksack was packed the rain eased slightly so 3 more contacts were made on 2m FM before heading off the hill.
I had 3 possible routes on my map - return the way I had come, go via Ben Ever then drop back down into the Mill Glen or go via Ben Ever then drop off the other side of the ridge towards the village of Alva and then take the woodland walk back to the start point. An assessment of my legs suggested I could do the longer walk via Ben Ever and the woodland walk. The descent off of Ben Cleuch was very straight forward following well defined paths to the coll between Cleuch and Ever where lunch was taken between the showers. The path continued up the indistinct summit of Ben Ever and without stopping continued down the western side of the ridge to the Silver Glen between The Nibbit and Wood Hill to a farm track by some sheep pens. The track was followed downhill until a public footpath sign was seen leading into the Wood Hill Wood - a woodland Trust area with a good footpath back to the start point and the car.
As I said at the outset this trip today was more of challenge for me with the radio being secondary to some degree. I managed the rapid steep climb within the calculated time (Naismiths Rule) and felt fit enough to extend the walk to 12Kms rather than the planned 9Km. From a hill walking point of view and a radio trip today was an outstanding success and I now feel ready to get back into the Minros at last.
Distance walked 12Km, total height climbed 2700 feet.