To be honest the old legs were still a bit weary from Tuesday's 2 Munros but the weather was still decent and I wanted to squeeze in another couple of hills before the it took a turn for the worse on Friday. I had been in touch with an old mate and ex colleague who I'd seen from Facebook also did a bit of hillwalking, we agreed to meet up and tackle 2 of the Crianlarich Munros, An Caisteal and Beinn a'Chroin. We arrived in the very large lay-by just a few miles down the A84 from Crianlarich at around 07.45. Surprisingly we were the only car there. The walk begins by crossing a style over a small fence and then heading down the 'road' to the railway underpass. There were a few midges around as we set off but the liberally applied 'Smidge' seemed to be keeping them at bay. The road continued over a bridge over the river Falloch, again like Tuesday the water levels appeared very low, and headed uphill alongside the river.
After about half a kilometre we turned off the track to head over the lumpy grassy, slopes and begin our ascent up Sron Gharbh. The ground was reasonably dry underfoot but I'd imagine this was a result of the recent long period of dry weather and is not the norm. We continued up the slopes in as straight a line as possible, before crossing over a small wire fence. It was not really pleasant walking at this stage, however, at around 4/500 metres a decent enough rocky path does appear which makes the remainder of the ascent up Sron Gharbh a breeze in comparison. That was the only breeze we encountered the whole day, there was literally not a breath of wind the entire way round. In fact the conditions for walking in were excellent, it was cool under the cloud and the ascent today was so much more comfortable than in the searing heat of Tuesday.
As we reached the summit of Sron Gharbh we were treated to a beautiful inversion, especially over to the East where the adjacent Munros of Cruach Ardrain and Beinn Tulaichean appeared dwarfed by the bulk of Ben More and Stob Binnein beyond. The cloud was visibly rising quickly upwards and meant that the time I spent admiring the view resulted in me missing the best picture opportunities to catch the best of the inversion....school boy error ! Hopefully by the time we reached the summits the cloud would all be 'burned off' and we'd be treated to the fantastic views that this area of the country has to offer.
From here the clear path continues along the meandering ridge of Twistin Hill. There was a couple of rocky sections to negotiate but all easily crossed. In what seemed like next to no time we had travelled the couple of kilometres left and reached our first summit of the day, An Caisteal, one of the smaller Munros at 995m. Unfortunately we were unlucky with the timing, the rising cloud had matched our ascent and we now found ourselves enveloped in a grey clag. The cloud was thinning and we managed to sneak the odd glimpse of the hills around us before they blocked us out again. The clouds were moving faster than I could manage and I kept missing any photo opportunities that arose resulting in a number of captured images that resembled a page of the grey hues in a Dulux colours booklet. We didn't hang about long, hoping for better luck on the next summit. Posing for a summit selfie with my latest 'adopted' 4 legged companion, Lomond, before continuing on towards target number 2, Beinn a'Chroin.
From the summit you continue South on a small path that follows the ridge beyond the summit. The descent down to Bealach Buidhe is rocky and quite steep in places. However, you are quickly down as the drop is only a couple of hundred metres. Again there were signs that the sun was about to break through, the odd blue patch tantalisingly drifting overhead. We decided to have lunch in the bealach before beginning our ascent up the very steep and intimidating looking buttress of Beinn a'Chroin. While we enjoyed a bite to eat, Lomond took the opportunity to have a wee dip in the small lochan while he waited on us getting a move on again. The next 100 metres of ascent were as steep as they looked. There is a path which zig-zags it's way up through the rocks and a couple of sections required the poles to be ditched for a tiny bit of hands on scrambling. One section actually saw Lomond fail at his first attempt to clamber up, the look he gave us as he landed in a heap on his rear end was comical to say the least. It didn't take long to reach the plateau and from here the path is straightforward as it winds between rocky lumps and tiny lochans, some of which had all but dried up entirely.
Despite our best delaying tactics, we reached the summit still surrounded by cloud. I had the feeling that if we hung around for a while the clouds would clear but to be fair I've had that feeling a number of times and 'wasted' a few hours wandering around a cairn without ever seeing more than the hand in front of my face ! We took the decision to just head down. The views from these hills would be amazing but today it was just not to be. We left the summit by heading down a path that continued straight ahead down a grassy ridge, following a very faint path for most of the descent, it does become more defined as you descend. The clarity of the views back over to An Caisteal and the Munros to the East continued to improve as we dropped, mocking our decision not to wait it out on the summit !
As per the Walkhighlands route description we aimed for the point where the two streams meet and crossed them just before they join to become one. I assume that this is the best place to cross but to be honest with the water levels so low you could cross wherever you wanted. The rest of the walk out follows the river straight down the glen to a small dam where the outward track terminates. It was simply a case of rejoining this track and following it back to the car.
The sun was now shining through strongly and the heat of previous days had returned as we made our final few steps. Envious looks back up the glen revealed the summits were now clear and bathing in sunshine. Despite the lack of summit views it had been a very enjoyable walk. It had been great to catch up with John and have a laugh at some of our antics at work many years ago. Hopefully it won't be as many years before we repeat the experience. After around a leisurely 6 hours that's another 2 hills in the bag, I have another week off next week but the current forecast would suggest I'm unlikely to be venturing out again...but hey, never say never !!
My Walk Reports
Ben Lomond (no walk report)
Stob na Broige
Bidean Nam Bian
Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain
Cairn of Claise
Carn An Tuirc
Carn Liath (Beinn a'Ghlo)
Carn nan Gabhar
Stob Coire Raineach
Stob Coire Sgreamhach
Meall nan Tarmachan (no walk report)
Meall Chuaich (no walk report)
Geal Charn (no walk report)
(no walk report)
(no walk report)
Beinn Udlamain (no walk report)
Meall Garbh (Carn Marig)
Geal Charn (Monadhliath)
(no walk report)
Meall Corranaich (no walk report)
Meall a'Choire Leith (no walk report)
Beinn an Dothaidh
Ben Vorlich (Loch Lomond)
Carn Mor Dearg
A'Bhuidheanach Bheag (no report)
Stuchd an Lochain
Glas Bheinn Mhor
Stob Coire Sgriodain
Stob Coire Easain
Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin
Stob a'Choire Odhair
Ben Cruachan (updated report)
Carn Liath (Creag Meagaidh)
Stob Poite Coire Ardair (no walk report)
Creag Meagaidh (no walk report)