Monday, July 28, 2008

The Crianlarich Hills: Ben More (16) and Stob Binnein (18)

Walk date: 21/06/08
My Munro #'s: 160 and 161

Pronunciations - translations - heights:
Byn Moar - big hill - 1174m
Stop binyan - hill of the anvil - 1165m

Duration - 11:10 - 16:40
Distance - 12.7 km
Total ascent - 1570m
Weather - Extremely muggy. Very warm indeed but cloud never burned off. Midge heaven!
Team - solo.
Other hikers: many.

An alternative descent gave me some variety:

In possession of a shiny new car and with Sonia committed to work on the Saturday, I just couldn't help driving the near 3 hours to Crianlarich and finally taking in the mighty Ben More and its almost-as-high neighbour Stob Binnein. I had to be quick about it however as we had dinner plans back in Aberdeen, and so this was set up as an enjoyable stomp of a day out.

The worst part of this walk is that there is no car park at the start of the route, which means you have to spend 10 minutes or so walking at the edge of a fast main road. Once this is over, a sign leads to around the yard of Benmore Farm onto a farm track that zig-zags gently up the lower slopes. Don't get used to this as after a gate the track remains flat and heads south while Ben More stands imposingly above. Continue south on the track for a short distance and you start to see several little trails heading on up. I took one of these early on and carried on as I climbed to see the odd sign of someone else having done the same thing. Eventually however I came upon a path more to the north-western flank and this offered slighty faster progress.

This climb up is a serious feat, rising as it does from 160m to the summit at 1174m with little variety in the gradient. Although I was determined to do it as fast as I could I still needed a couple of water breaks and the sweat was dripping off me. Nothing lasts forever though and with persistence, two hours after leaving the car, I found myself enjoying the rounded summit. Unfortunately, despite the summit being cloud-free by about 10m, the rest of the visible world comprised swirling white mist and photo opportunities were few.

After the climb up it was a strange feeling to be descending, but fortunately it wasn't for long as Bealach eadar-dha Bheinn is still very high at 860m. The climb to Stob Binnein, although requiring work, was by comparison to the start of the day, hardly noticeable. Still deep in cloud and with the cairn covered in midges I didn't hang about but returned to the bealach for lunch.

With no views likely on a return up Ben More I decided to check out a path leading off the bealach west toward Benmore Burn as a descent route instead. This thin but good path allowed fast progress but in places was indistinguishable from bog and I wondered how hard it would be to stick to on an ascent; indeed I would recommend accepting the honest slog up Ben More's front instead. However as a descent this path worked fine and it took me down to the farm track again, albeit at its highest point, but I stuck with it to return to the road and enjoyed seeing the 'bridge' that's there on the map, an illustration of how maps cannot always be trusted (see last photo)! With a book time of 6-8 hours, I didn't feel too bad at 4.5, and I still think I could have managed 4 if it wasn't so hot!

I'm sure it looks good when there's no cloud!
On the good path on Ben More into the cloud!

Getting rocky near to the top:

How dare people be up there before me?

I set up this pic from the trig point, t'was a little cloudy!

Briefly, a view to the route on south:

The summit of Stob Binnein at 1165m, still covered in midges!

Some teasing cloud breaks back toward the bealach:

Almost seeing the summit of Ben More from the bealach:

South up Benmore Glen from my descent:

Benmore Glen forest and the farm track:

The bridge at the top of the farm track has seen better days!

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Blogger Scott said...

The ONLY thing I hated in Scotland were the midges. They can't get enough of me when I'm there. Probably means I need to drink more whisky.

29 July 2008 at 20:48  
Blogger George said...

A good conclusion I think! Some people are just more tasty than others. I get snacked on but my friend Paul is very popular are usually comes back with a nice polka dot theme going on!

30 July 2008 at 13:31  

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