Looking out of the window at 0530 on Saturday morning to see everywhere covered in snow, “Hmm, this good be interesting, might just be going for a drive to the Green Welly” But I decided to see how I got on before giving up.
Once over the Erskine Bridge, the roads were much better and there were even some green patches down the side of Loch Lomond, temperatures varied between -2 and at Crainlarich -6. Passing the snow gates at Tyndrum I entered GM7PKT territory.
I thought I might have had to opt for an alternative or vary the plan as the parking spot for Beinn Achaladair, GM/CS-018 and Beinn a’Chreachain, GM/CS-006 is at Achellader Farm a few miles north of Bridge of Orchy, down a wee farm track, but the track was fine if snow covered and I wasn’t the first there.
The route was up Coire Achaladair to the saddle between Beinn Achaladair and Beinn an Dothaidh, GM/CS-025, a white wintery landscape with a couple of inches of powder covering the frozen grass, plenty of frozen boggy bits – it must be a right mess after a wet spell up here. Hanging a left at the saddle to head up Beinn Achaladair, kahtoolas were deployed at the first summit as the powder had given way to a nice hard, wind scoured surface of snow.
The summit of Beinn Achaladair I would like to sum up as “views 10, shelter 0”. Views were brilliant (when they weren’t obscured by the brief passing clouds), north over the vast expanse of Rannoch Moor (and man is Rannoch Moor big, you don’t see half of it from the A82) and south over the southern highlands. Shelter was well, pretty non existent, fortunately the wind wasn’t to bad so I rigged the beam up against the rucksack (forgetting to dry the pole after the last excursion meant that only 3 sections were deployed as one was frozen in place). 5 QSOs on 2m FM, and everyone was really good and kept it brief, many thanks, it was a a bit chilly to be hanging around and I was a bit later than planned.
Post activation I poured a hot chocolate from the flask (well worth taking) I’d said to folks it was 60/40 against me activating CS-006 as I was doubting I’d have the time. The hot chocolate gave my opprtunity to consider the options and I decided to continue along the ridge to Beinn a’Chreachain with the condition that I’d leave the summit by 1400 qualified or not. It’s a crackin’ walk along this ridge and I enjoyed the views I was taking lots of pictures(the best of which are on the Flickr page) but they really don’t do the view over Rannoch Moor justice, it was fabulous.
The final climb onto Beinn a’Creachain was a bit of a slog and plenty of zig zagging – the hill although mainly blasted clear of powder retained patches of loose powder which I tried to avoid. There was at least a snow covered summit cairn on Beinn a’Chreachain, GM/CS-006 and I was able to rig up a support for the pole (now down to two sections, another one had frozen – note to self, always dry pole after use) in the shelter of the cairn. 5 more contacts on 2m FM, again thanks for keeping it brief guys and for listening for me. By which time it was time to get off the hill.
North off the summit, then north east down a narrow wee ridge which gradually widens and curve around to the north east and descend. There’s some nice views looking back as you head down, eventually you get to the railway line and I ended up inbetween two small underpasses which allow safe crossing of the line. I boulder hopped over the Water of Tulla to reach the landrover track, the sun had set and even I can’t go wrong following a landrover track back to the car. There was still enough light to see by without a torch so a plodded on along the track, all the hard work done. Across a lopsided bridge (fine to walk over but I wouldn’t fancy it in a landrover). Then with the carpark within spitting distance and darkness almost complete someone put a river across the track, cue a bit more boulder hopping before finally making it back to the car.
Trundling back down the A82, I was pretty tired so a pit stop at the Real Food Café at Tyndrum was called for, for a burger and a pint of tea, it was surprisingly quiet there and had been all day apparently.