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GM/SS-066 Beinn a’Mhanaich & GM/SS-062 Beinn Chaorach: 16th September 2016

There had been overnight rain. The weather forecast was the best of the week but still with possible scattered showers, but with cloud mostly at or above Munro level. We headed up Glen Fruin and parked in the narrow layby at start of the reservoir track at NS275904. We had to make a choice between light walking trousers or waterproof trousers and decided that with likely wet vegetation and possible showers we would run risk of overheating and wear the waterproof trousers.

We walked up the track towards the dam which looked very neat with nicely trimmed grass. It was dry and we had good views under a mixture of blue skies and clouds. We thought we probably only had time to do one summit, and decided to go for further Beinn a’Mhanaich SS-066, so crossed the dam, went over the concrete outlet bridge, through the gate on the other side and started angling up the hill towards the ridge of The Strone. We were soon overheating are were glad when we finally reached the ridge just north of the summit of the Strone. We were treated to the sight a row of notices warning of the military danger area, and the beyond them fine views to hills to the west over Loch Long and Loch Goil and Gare Loch. Less good was the sight of rain bearing clouds over the hills and making their way down Loch Long. Hopefully they would stay to the west. We then had a fine ridge walk north skirting Maol an Fheidh towards Beinn a’Mhanaich, with views opening up down Glen Luss towards Loch Lomond in the east, with the rain clouds thankfully staying further west and occasionally shifting to give views west too.

The Fruin on ascent of Beinn a’Mhanaich

Gare Loch on ascent of Beinn a’Mhanaich

Over Loch Long from ascent of Beinn a’Mhanaich

The wind increased as we headed over Maol an Fheidh and along the ridge to the steep final ascent of Beinn a’Mhanaich with cairn on top. The 360 degree views were stunning and the sun was shining! The true summit was too windy to set up so Caroline propped up the VHF dipole a little down on the SE side, while Martyn set up HF on a flatter area to the NE. Caroline qualified the hill with 7 contacts on 2m FM. Martyn had a good run of 16 contacts on 5MHz before Caroline took over on 7MHz getting 17 contacts including an S2S with G4YTJ on Walton Hill, which Martyn also claimed. As we finished lunch and Caroline grabbed another 2m FM contact, rain clouds headed towards us. It was time to move on so we rushed to get radios packed up and waterproofs applied before everything got too wet.

Beinn a’Mhanaich

Beinn a’Mhanaich

Beinn a’Mhanaich towards Glen Luss and Loch Lomond

Throughout the activation Caroline had been looking longingly towards Beinn Chaorach, but it wasn’t clear we would have time to do it, or if the weather was going to turn against us. The rain eased as we descended along the south side of the fence line running between the hills. There was a boggy section as we crossed the col. At the gate in the fence which marked the line of the right of way through the valley (little sign of a path on the ground) we contemplated the second hill – we probably had time to do a VHF only activation, and giving the improving weather we headed up. It was hard going and we were soon overheating in waterproofs, so under blue skies off they came. Unfortunately, we had only ascended another 100m before another band of rain swept rapidly over Beinn a’Mhanaich, so we had another stop to re-apply waterproofs. Eventually the gradient eased and the rain stopped and we headed along the recently constructed fence towards the trig point.

Beinn Chaorach

We climbed the fence to the trig point, which had a hole in the top, but although it was now sunny and the waves of rain bearing clouds appeared to have passed, it was too windy to use the trig point for our activation. Having taken in the views and wandered around the summit, we concluded there was no significant shelter, so we headed a little further south along the fence where the shape of the hill gave some respite from the wind. We only had about 55 minutes for the activation, and decided to try just using VHF rather than fighting the wind to get the HF antenna up. Caroline lashed the VHF dipole to a convenient fence post and within 5 minutes we both had the hill qualified. After 5 contacts taken by both of us the callers dried up. Caroline called for a while longer while Martyn ate an apple and took photos. Martyn took the microphone while Caroline ate her apple, and got 4 more contacts, but it was then time to pack up. We followed the fence south towards the col with Beinn Tharsuinn and then headed down the spur to the track by the dam, retracing our steps to the car.

We needed a 7 point turn to get out of the narrow parking area and back to the main road. We headed into Balloch finding some on street parking near the Station to allow us to get some tasty fish and chips from the adjacent shop, returning to the cottage to eat them.

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