Sunday, 9 February 2014

Cruach an t Sidhein. Luss Hills. Loch Lomond

One of the nice things about other folk picking the walk is it can be a bit of a magical mystery tour as to where you end up. A full car load of Graeme, David, Sandra, Alan and I left the sleepy metropolis after a dawn start and headed for Luss. I had to look up Cruach an t Sidhein as I didn't have a Scooby Doo where it was  but was pleased to find out it was one of the Luss hills on the left bank of Loch Lomond. It was also one I hadn't climbed before so that was a bonus. It was also a cracking day of course. Having sold my soul to the Devil in childhood I expect nothing less in return. I call him daddy and he lets me tickle his horns and tail :o)
David, Alan, and Sandra walking up a wet track in Glen Luss. Graeme parked his car at the end of the single track winding up Glen Luss, halfway up Loch Lomond at the last small parking bay. From here the last farm up the Glen is reached. Do not go through this farm as it has a heavy posse of free running dogs who might not be pleased to see you there. Don't ask how I know this :o)
Instead, take a signposted stile on the right just below the farm, over the fence, then follow a boggy path until you reach this track above the farm, thus avoiding the dogs.

From here a long walk up the now deserted glen on a fairly decent path leads you to the summit of  Cruach an t Sidhein. The Luss hills are deceptive and you tend to dismiss them as easy as they have no Munros in their number but we all found this a tough walk. About 14 kilometres round trip. It can be done from the other side but it doesn't look as scenic or adventurous as that side is forestry plantation. Considering it's only a half hour's drive from Glasgow it's a very wild and empty glen in its upper section. The summit had six inches of fresh snow plastered on it from the night before which gave the area an extra appeal.

Looking across Loch Lomond towards Balmaha district.
 As we climbed higher the islands in Loch Lomond started to make an appearance.
 And then the seaplane flew over right above us. As I've said before I honestly don't envy rich folk their lifestyles at all when you can get all this for free. For a lot of city dwellers the Luss hills, The Campsies, The Kilparticks, The Gleniffer Braes and The Cathkin Braes are all easily reached by foot, train, or bus for a few meagre coins and this was our playground growing up. Every city in Scotland has access to great scenery on its doorstep but we seem to be increasingly living in a world now where a young modern generation somehow view the outdoors as boring, dirty, dangerous, cold, lifeless or irrelevant to daily life. Or take part in organized and expensive group days out en mass as if nature needs to be approached under strict guidance and rules to make it safe.  It's the exact opposite. It's the greatest free gift you will ever receive. Common-sense makes it safe. Start on the easy low landscapes first in good weather then build up. Don't sit down on snakes.

I still remember, (and still get today) that same thrill of exploration crossing these modest local hills.... and you could drop me in the middle of The Rockies by small plane- The Alps-The Cuillin Ridge on Skye next week and it would not come close to matching the first time I wandered on my own across the wild empty Kilpatricks from Carbeth to Faifley or sat in the middle of the Brownside/Gleniffer Braes above Barrhead/Paisley in spring sunshine at 12 years old with my pals, listening to skylarks and yellowhammers giving it big licks overhead having walked there from my house as it was the further point on the horizon we could see from my window.( not so ecstatic on the return trip though as it seemed to take forever and we had no money for a bus, but that's life)
                                                              The Cobbler and Beinn Ime.
So much of modern life now seems to have evolved around consumers seeking small chunks of instant gratification for hard cash but these things rarely promote lasting happiness in any way. It's just a quick fix to hook in the customers but its getting to a dangerous level now when people become completely addicted to it. Fear not. A solution could be on the way. Ever heard of space weather? Can you imagine a world without mobile phones and computers? I could live without them without too much trouble as I remember my life without them but could a younger generation? Well... someday we might find out. Last week I posted a picture of the sun for a reason. I also mentioned 'bubbles', 'elemental forces', 'invisible signs affecting natural conditions on earth' ' large ocean going ships built to spend months at sea' I was only half joking. Who knows what will happen if modern technology goes down over a large area- even for a few weeks, if it takes time to get it back on again?
It could happen at some future date so it might be better not to put all our eggs in one basket, technology wise. Or will we be lucky?
Looking West over Cowal,  Gareloch and Loch Long.
The new full moon appearing over the side of the hill.
Looking across towards Argyll and the magnificently rocky range of little peaks that are ironically misnamed Argyll's Bowing Green. A great day out with fine company.

Years ago I used to get album CD's out the library. Not so much now as you only get a week to listen to them which is too short in my case. For me finding a great album, song, book, film, sculpture or discovering a great new ( beautiful, audacious or just plain crazy) building or idea makes life worth living. This is worth a look.
 So much of our existence is taken up with mundane but necessary routine tasks we all perform that it's easy to feel like an unimportant cog in a vast uncaring machine at times and anything that lifts you out of that ennui ( you can tell I used to listen to Lou Reed songs- a great lyric writer) to a higher plane, if only temporarily, is a gift.
Not expecting much, but always hoping, I stuck on the Guillemot's CD 'Through the Windowpane' as I was driving through to Edinburgh in the early dark of a winters morning. I didn't know anything about the band which is sometimes the best way as it comes as a bigger surprise. I'm very picky about music but after five minutes travelling along the motorway I thought "hey this is actually good! I really like this!" Just the lyrics alone fired my imagination. Clever, vividly descriptive and dripping with imagery. After ten minutes I knew I was listening to an exceptional CD- full of well crafted but unusual ballads and love after another. and I'm not usually a love song person. I detest 'Rom Coms' and 'Chick Lit' fluff unless its good enough to actually transcend the genre.
This song came on just as the morning sun climbed over the Pentland Hills in a wash of flaming crimson and I had a full on epiphany. For a joyful five minutes it lifted me out of the ordinary routine and straight above the rainbow. Music, books, films, art, ideas, landscapes and certain entertainment in general can do that. When I came back down to earth my first thought was  "Damn- I wish I'd written that."
Everyone has there own ideas on what's special however and many will not get this at all so I keep posting these videos for the odd one who might just think "Wow" at the end of it instead of thinking "He's still got shite taste in music" Hello Alex :o) which is why I always try to pick interesting  videos as well. " He's still got shite taste in videos too." Alex again :o)))


Alistair said...

Fantastic Bob! I have a picture of a beardy 17 year old me in a string vest sitting next to a boiling Trangia on top of Cruach an t-Sithean! Those were the days. Fantastic hill, fantastic area. I went up from Inverbeg YH in Glen Douglas and back down Glen Luss. Walked back beside the A82 on the foundations of the new road when it was still gravel. Dynamite bangs from the demolition works on Rubha Mor (where the 3 lanes are now).
That whole area between Arrochar and Luss is just stunning. Surprisingly remote and very very quiet.

blueskyscotland said...

Evening Alistair,
Did you go up over Doune Hill to reach there? 20-22kms over rough ground. That's a long day-just as well you were fit then.

Neil said...

Well done for getting a day on the hills Bob. There are not many of those just now. These are tougher hills than you would imagine. Even in summer you don't see many other folk, especially once you get away from the one that overlooks Luss village. But there are lots of different combinations of routes. Great little hills!

The Glebe Blog said...

Nicely done Bob, I've only seen these hills from the road below.
Some fabulous views, you're pictures are really good. Looks like you've a good eye.
I've a loose connection with the Guillemots. Mr Chris Cundy of is my youngest daughter's partner. On 'Trains to Brazil' he plays Soprano Sax and Bass Clarinet. On 'Sao Paula' he's on Soprano Sax. He's a nice lad

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Neil,
Yes, we all agreed it was a tougher day than normal. Apart from the large posse of farm dogs on the other side of the fence at the start and the seaplane we never saw a soul the entire day and ended in the dark with head torches down the glen.

blueskyscotland said...

Glad to see you're ok Jim as I thought that bug had laid you low
for a while. It's a small world indeed when you are connected to a video I post. That was a great CD though full of good songs. I like good sax and brass on records which is why I liked Destination Calabria so much(the video posted a few months ago) as it was a classic track and vocal. The dominatrix band leader and her six busty companions were just an annoying distraction from the music :o)
PS did you notice I put a smile on the moon as the rest of the features were perfect already.

Carol said...

Had my eye on those hills for a bit now - but they do look steep!

Love your 2 comments:
"It's the greatest free gift you will ever receive" about the Great Outdoors

"Common-sense makes it safe. Start on the easy low landscapes first in good weather then build up"
Great advice

"Don't sit down on snakes"
That made me laugh very-out loud at work just now - I know people who have done just that! LOL

Carol said...

oh - that's 3 comments isn't it! ;-)

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
They are great hills.Easy walking with great views on faint paths high above Loch Lomond, Cowal and the Southern Highlands. And you seldom meet anyone else on them- how often can you say that about the Munros these days?
A great empty walking adventure awaits you after the 3000 footers are bagged as you get to feel like an explorer again, discovering seldom trod mountains. And the weather is usually better lower down. :o)

Carol said...

I don't mind meeting people on the hills - in fact, in all the claggy weather I walk in, I actually prefer to meet people - makes for a bit of route confirmation! You've got a good point that the weather is better lower down though.

To be honest, I've felt like an explorer on my Munroing expeditions a lot of the time as I don't always take the 'usual' routes but generally look for alternatives and try to make a round out of them if I can.

It's the Munro Tops next though before I really get started on anything lower...

Robert Craig said...

That's some zoom lens you've got! Those were my formative hills, I used to cycle to them as a teenager from Helensburgh (without letting anybody know I was hillwalking - wasn't allowed up the hills on my own). Never been up them in bad weather as a result of living so close to them and always choosing good days.

You get an odd view from there of the weapons store at Glen Douglas.

Anonymous said...


Great stuff and brought back great memories of the Luss\Glen Fruin Hills which I tramped over (mostly in good weather) in my younger years when growing up on Garelochside at Shandon. A great area for walking and some amazing views!! Enjoyed the read and the pics,


blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Hunter,
Hope you are still enjoying life on the drier east coast. It's been pretty soggy on the west the last few months.