The forecast was for a dry day but with cloud on the higher hills, but with high winds increasing during the day combining with a belt of heavy rain due late evening.
We decided to go for two lower hills, the Fruin and Ben Bowie, choosing to do the more difficult looking Fruin first. We parked by the overgrown reservoir at NS307839. Surprisingly the ducks on the overgrown reservoir flew off when they saw us: we had expected them to be scroungers! We took the path between the reservoirs, but at the end of it found there was no obvious path through to the path round the next reservoir. With difficulty we crossed a couple of fences to get back onto a proper path going around the next reservoir. We walked to the north end of that one and up onto the embankment of the third reservoir which turned out to be drained. At the north end of that we realised we couldn’t get through to the track we wanted to be on. We fought our way through pathless boggy high grassy vegetation, crossing a couple of fences with difficulty: this was starting to look like the wrong route. We made our way to the track, but didn’t have long to follow it before it ended and we faced about 1km of difficult boggy tussocky ground to reach the 3 Lochs Way. We had hoped it would provide better going as we had seen cyclists riding along it. They had stopped by a gate, and we chatted briefly with them before concluding that the nice path wasn’t going in the right direction for us.
We instead headed up a faint path by the side of woods which then cut across a towards an unmapped mast we could see on the skyline. As we got closer the interference on Caroline’s handheld increased, and it became clear that the mast had a number of anemometers at different heights, and presumably antennas sending back telemetry. We followed the path until it ended in cairn on the 354m sub summit. We were then faced with even more difficult even deeper heathery area crossing many ridges/ditches. We crossed another barbed wire fence running along the ridge at a point where then barbs had been removed. We then trekked along the fence. Bog, bog, and more bog. The wind was getting up, and we were despairing of ever getting to the summit, but after several false summits finally got to The Fruin. There were fine but hazy views of Arrochar Alps and Glen Fruin Hills. There were 2 cairns, and we based ourselves at the further one which looked higher but also slightly more sheltered. Caroline qualified with 5 contacts on 2m FM, while Martyn got 11 on 5MHz. Caroline tried 7MHz getting 14 contacts, followed by 1 more 2m FM. We spent some time trying to work John GS0OOO on WS-043 on 40m, but he couldn’t hear us well enough to make contact. The wind was getting up more so we packed up. We found a slightly better route along the ridge to the pick up the path between the sub-summit and anemometer mast. When we got back to the 3 Lochs Way, we took a longer return route, by heading SW along it getting good views towards Gare Loch. We then headed SE along a pleasant woodland path to the road from where we turned left to return to the car park.
By the summit cairn
Bigger hills from the little Fruin.
Glen Fruin hills (including GM/SS-066 Beinn a’Mhanaich & GM/SS-062 Beinn Chaorach) from The Fruin.
VHF station on the Fruin.
Back at the car park it was clear that we didn’t have time to do Ben Bowie. Instead we sat on the benches near the reservoir to relax and eat our apples. After only a couple of bites it started raining – rain wasn’t due yet! We made a quick return to the car for shelter, and although disappointed at only doing one summit we were glad we weren’t half way up a hill as the rain turned heavy. As we drove back towards the cottage the rain stopped as we were passing through Balloch, so we stopped off at Balloch Country Park to see what was there. It was nice to have a walk in ordinary shoes and without a pack. The rain obliged by holding off as we did a circuit of the park getting faint views of Ben Lomond, and of the Loch and boats on it. The main band of rain only returned after we were back at the cottage.