After recent paddling and pedalling escapades, it was somewhat comforting to strap on the old dependable walking boots and stride into the gorgeous Arrochar Alps. Despite being less than an hour from the cradle of civilization (Crieff, where I’m from) I had never been down this neck of the woods. It is NICE.
A 2 day jaunt from the banks of Loch Lomond and summit camping on the second of 3 munros was the order of the weekend.
This weekend’s crew consisted of 3 ginger haircuts, 2 ginger beards, 1 grey beard, 1 bald head, 2 pairs of glasses, 1 multi-tasker, ½ a functioning liver and 0 tattoos (that Claire’s mum knows about), distributed amongst 6 people.
Cars left at the lochside in Inveruglas we headed west past the Hydroelectric power station towards Loch Sloy. The ascent up the steep slopes of Ben Vane brought views of a rather empty Loch Sloy reservoir (21 people died during construction of the dam back in 1945 including German POWs) before the steeper descent southwest through the Lag Uaine (a famous fairie dye factory for you gaelic mythology buffs).
As the title of this piece suggests, the terrain in these parts is perfect for ski touring if only enough snow would fall more often this far south in the highlands. Awesome cliff drops and sustained steep would reward anyone lucky enough to find themselves atop Ben Vane, Beinn Ime or Beinn Narnain in winter with fresh pow to play in and I look forward to writing about it one day.
Daydream over and seeing as it was late June we plodded on.
The rocky top of Beinn Ime wasn’t tent friendly but a hundred yards south of the summit a small grassy plateau between the twin peaks sufficed. Tents went up surrounded by spectacular views of thick, dense, fog.
What awaited us in the morning however was something very special.
The mists in the east turned fiery red as the sun rose. It's warmth burnt the fog embracing our camp, island peaks appeared in the east, past Loch Katrine to Strathearn. To the north, the Crianlarich and Orchy hills with Ben Nevis farther still, stood proud above the oceans of cloud. Eamonn gently sobbed “that’s pure dead beautiful by the way”. You can take the poet out of Airdrie...
Many minutes were spent perving on the best Brocken Spectres any of us had ever seen. The self-congratulatory back patting could be heard all the way back in Inveruglas.
Then Kenny got up, we packed our gear and continued down for the final climb up Beinn Narnain. The views of The Cobbler fuelled this last exertion and summiting in the sunshine at 0800 life felt good.
Again a steep and long descent to Loch Long and Arrochar punished the knees and the near 1000m of vertical felt more like a kilometer, but we made it all the same.
We were now faced with the short stroll through Glen Loin to complete the circuit back at Loch Lomond. We called a taxi.
There was unfortunately something to take the shine off the weekend. Before we set off I sold some underpants and a pair of trousers to a guy named Carlos in Miami, Florida.
It now appears that this was a fraudulent order.
I am now wiser in both the beauty of the Arrochar Alps and the dangers of selling underpants to Florida.
Thanks to Gus, Kenny, Eamonn, Ian and Claire for a great weekend, all true Gearpests and we’ll get out on the hill again soon.