Sunday 29 November 2009

Cruach Tairbeirt.

Bob hadn`t been feeling 100% over the last few weeks but when I arrived early at his house I was surprised to see him ready and raring to go...


A quick thrash up Loch Lomondside saw us pulling into the station car park at Tarbet.There were quite a few notices around saying that parking was not allowed,not Scotrail notices,just ones put up by the local residents.As the sun was out and we were in buoyant mood we obliged by moving my car down to the restaurant car park as requested even though there are four inobtrusive parking bays outside the station itself.Must be getting soft in my old age.We walked back up the hill,through the tunnel and took the path leading rightwards through the trees.


A good path led us on a rising eastwards traverse......


The path seemed to go further east than we expected but once we hit a bench at a viewpoint we knew we were heading in the right direction.Occasional views opened up in the gaps in the tree cover with Ben Lomond`s north west ridge covered in a light dusting of early winter snow....


We turned left at the junction about 500 metres past the bench,initially at least,on a still excellent path.It soon deteriorated to a quagmire however and we took to the forest itself as an easier option.not as dificult as it sounds as the sitka is quite mature with no ducking and weaving required.A few hundred feet higher Loch Lomond and it`s islands appeared.....



From the forest exit this wee hill steepens quite dramatically following a reasonably well trod path with plenty of "bucket steps" on the steeper grassy sections.It was a cracking day but Bob was already looking forward to Spring he informed me.He had a point I must admit because it was a bitter wind that accompanied us the rest of the way to the summit.What a summit it was though..! Ten out of ten for views...


The Cobbler peeks over the ridge of Cruach nam Miseag....


Over to A`Chrois with Ben Vane in the right hand corner...



We climbed the three gullies here one winters day in years gone by and never seen another soul.The same goes for Creag Tharsuinn nearby where there are a few good rock climbs including Terminal Wall and the Tingler.I seem to remember that one of them was a bit of a sandbag at the time but can`t remember which one.I`d probably struggle on both nowadays so I guess it doesn`t really matter which one it was :)

An old scanned slide of an early morning walk in to Creag Tharsuinn...



Ben Lomond......


...and Loch Lomond...


I think I`ll mark this out for a summer solstice camp in the coming years.Quite a few good pitches near the summit and the sunrise over Ben Lomond must be worth the effort alone.Back down through the woods where we passed some time feeding this friendly robin....



It was still early afternoon and we hee`d and haw`d about fitting something else in but with no real enthusiasm.I had a half hearted attempt to locate the buried OS bernsten marker at Tarbet but gave up after a few minutes.It will be easier when the roadside verge has been cut and I have a trowel with me :) Had a leisurely drive back down the loch stopping here and there for a short walk and the odd photo.



I made up for the failure with the bernsten by bagging a new trig on the way home in Duntocher of all places :)

A cracking short hill day if you ever feel the need for one...

Friday 20 November 2009

Meikle Bin,Campsie Fells.

The recent floods in the Lake District had us keeping an even keener eye than usual on the forecast.The weekend prediction was dire,even for Scotland in November and thats saying something indeed,so, we opted for a Friday jaunt.There was a brightish spell hanging over the area to the north of Glasgow set to last until around 1pm which restricted our choice of hill somewhat.

Craig of Monievreckie near Aberfoyle suited the bill,for me at least, being a new Marilyn and being the beneficiary of a trig point on the summit as well.Only 1,100 feet of ascent and protected from the wind in the initial forest stages.However with everyone`s preoccupation with the events in the Lakes we never bothered checking the state of play on the roads to Aberfoyle.As luck would have it we were diverted by flooding on the A81 to Aberfoyle near Balfron Station and forced eastwards on the A811 through Buchlyvie.Bob,luxuriating in the co-pilots seat,had a birds eye view across the Pendicles of Collymoon ( been dying to blog that placename for months..! ) towards the Trossachs and announced that the hills were covered in clag.The Campsies however had a little bit of sunshine upon them so we took a right turn at another road block and diverted over the Kippen Muir road at Arnprior heading for Fintry and the car park opposite Todholes farm.Meikle Bin was now the days objective.


A local woman from Milton of Campsie turned up to walk her three rescue dogs and we accompanied her along the initial stages by the shores of Loch Carron.Turned out she had been a rock climber and had climbed with a mutual friend in years gone by....it`s small world sometimes.As usual we had a well used map and as luck would have it the area detailing the forest rides was practically illegible but our new friend pointed us up the appropriate forest ride.For the benefit of anybody else using the Todholes approach here they are.....

Along the lochside from the carpark and take the third on the right about 100 metres past a concrete bridge over the river Carron,up this and take the second ride on the right and folow it uphill until you reach this point....


From here put on your wellies and snorkel,say a prayer if you are that way inclined and launch yourself through the swamp to gain the open hillside.If you make it this far success is assured :)

Exiting the far end of the Swamp from Hell...



Not a lot of pics as the for the main part this route is through Sitka City.
A wee bit of blue sky for us looking back to Stroned and Fintry as we exit the forest.Stronend is a fine hill and well worth saving for a good day.



An old scanned pic of Ben Lomond from Stronend......



Over the Carron Reservoir to the wind farm on the Gargunnock hills....


It was blowing a gale and pretty nippy to boot.Gloves and hat made their first appearance since Kaim Hill in March.

The soggy trig point...



We didn`t hang around for long and made off quickly via the remains of the crashed Fairey Firefly just below the summit....



Above is the wing section with the two cannons showing on the right hand side.Apparently these were the aircraft that put paid to the Tirpitz according to the following site which has more information...

Fairey Firefly

Another return bout with the Swamp from Hell saw us back on the forest ride leading back to Loch Carron.As forecast it started to rain about 5 minutes from the car....

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Mugdock.

Bit of a panic when I realised I had still had some way to go before the end of the year to get my annual tally of 100 trig points.It`s hard when your bagging year is taken up by hillwalking as one a day is the usual rule and even that`s if you are lucky.So,every so often the need for a low level campaign arises ...such as today.

There are quite a few in the Mugdock area north of Milngavie that hadn`t seen attention from me and it suited the bill for a midweek foray.In order to avoid the rush hour traffic I picked up Bob at around 10am and followed his directions,this being his backyard, to a car park in Mugdock estate.The forecast was for reasonable weather up to noon and then a short spell of heavy rain so we didn`t waste any time.

First stop was Mugdock Hill...


....from where we scaled the barbed wire fence to get out on to the road near Millionaire`s Row with it`s Footballers Wives style houses.Outside the entrance to one the Milngavie Fundamental Benchmark sat proudly awaiting a good bagging :)


The GPS was acting up and there was little chance of finding the buried bernsten which lurked nearby.Heavy dark clouds were scudding quickly towards us from the Renfrewshire area so we departed hurriedly to the car to sit it out.We were glad we did because it really was torrential.As it tailed off we drove round to the main visitor centre car park for round two.Bob knows this area like the back of his hand so I was content to follow his guided tour as we negotiated our way down via the Khyber Pass in search of the next trig on a hill in Hilton Park golf course.We joined up with the West Highland Way at the bottom of the hill and turned north.


The West Highland Way...



We could see the hill on the other side of the Allander Water but the recent heavy rainfall had made it impossible to cross...another failure..!

Not to worry though,the sun was out now so we decided to carry on up the WHW around Craigallian Loch and Carbeth Loch to the Blanefield road.It was around this area that the climbers from the Depression in the 1930`s gathered at weekends.There are quite a few good books around including this biography of Jock Nimlin by the excellent Ernest Press entitled "May the fire always be lit".These guys were hard men of the hills.! A nice stocking filler for someone at Xmas...

Jock Nimlin

Dumgoyne from Craigallian Loch...pity about the cables spoiling the view....



Along towards Blanefield past Pillar Crag where we had been climbing many years ago.Looks someone had been giving it a clean up as a few of the better lines appeared to have been stripped of moss.Bob disappeared into the undergrowth soon after and and a few minutes of steepish mudbashing later took us out onto a balcony trail which I would never have expected to exist.


Although it was muddy going and we were denied the views across to Dumgoyne the colours were quite wonderful and the moss and other vegetation gave it a sort of "magic forest" feel.The polar opposite of last week in Spain :)



A quick thrash through the woods towards the building marked Boards on the OS map ensued....


.....from where we followed the track along the top of Cuilt Brae.The sun was dancing and playing tricks with the light over the crags on the Campsies...




Years ago,when inspired by a geology nightschool class I was attending,I wandered up to the crag seen on the right hand side of the pic above.A fresh landslide had cleaved the hillside,like a smaller version of the Whangie, and I was lucky enough to find a few half decent examples of amethyst and jasper.Jasper is quite common up on this section of the Campsies if you keep your eyes peeled.


Blanefield enjoys some late winter sunshine....


From here a fifteen minute walk over the moor past Dumbrock Loch saw us back at the car park having only met two people all day.I was still bemoaning the two failed trigs on the drive back down the road when Bob must have taken pity on me."There`s one over in Faifley you haven`t done if you want to nip over" he said.There`s not many folk who would park and go for a walk through a housing scheme to bag a trig with me :)
Number 91 for the year was duly bagged.My spirits soared even further to find on return that the car still had all four wheels intact :)

More information on Mugdock can be found here....

Mugdock

Thursday 12 November 2009

Mount Calamorro.

Blue Sky Spain this week :-)

A quick trip out to the Costa del Sol for a tenner return inc tax from Ryanair was too tempting to resist in these dreich months.Flew out from Prestwick on Tuesday lunchtime and Pepé and Brenda picked us up at the airport and then straight into Malaga for an "all the meat you can eat" for 7€ job.I had starved for three days in anticipation of this :) Very good it was too I must add.


Popped along to Benalmadena and had a few beers before retiring for the night but not before I was informed that I was on dogsitting duty the following day.

Breakfast the next day....the usual. Coffee,fag and the Guardian complete with added sunshine :)



Lucky was a street dog before an expat Irishwoman fell for his charms and took him in.Unfortunately he is in the habit of wrecking her house if he is left in alone and she has to resort to a network of volunteer dogsitters when she is working,which is where I came in.




The girls were all set to go to the local market so Lucky and I tagged along for the walk.More of a car boot sale than a local market with the majority of sellers being British,trying to earn a few bob to compensate for their plummeting pensions and the like due to the exchange rate.I`m not a great sun worshipper and the heat was rather stifling during the afternoon hours.We walked back from Arroya taking a break every so often for coffee or beer.I should mention that we had another dog in tow....sort of miniature schnauzer kind of thing which was completely blind.You can imagine what it was like in a busy market with these two in tow..!


Anyway,at least I had the next day to myself I mused...

I was up well before sunrise and sat on the porch having coffee and watched this huge container ship ghosting past the rising sun....


The forecast was for much the same as the previous day....too hot for me to go hillwalking alas.
Mrs.Blue Sky came to the rescue however by announcing that she too wanted to go up the hills.After picking myself up from the floor and a half hour to recover from the shock a plan was hatched.We would get the cablecar up to the top of the hill behind Arroya and walk along the ridge in the hopefully cool mountain breeze.As punishment for denying me my long hill day ( at least that`s what I told her ) Mrs.Blue Sky would have to pay the 13€ each for the return trip :) We were away by 10.30am which is good going for Mrs.BS and I successfully negotiated her through the backstreets to avoid the temptation of the 1€ shops :)

Some pics from the tops....

Hawk over Benalmadena...


The summit of Mount Calamorro.The cablecar stops a few hundred feet down off to the right here....

This gives you a rough idea of the terrain hereabouts...


Mrs.BS heads along to the Mirador Sur viewpoint....



There is a great network of well made paths along the tops here and if I was going again I`d repeat the cablecar ascent and wander along the ridges for the day.Maybe walk along the entire ridge perhaps and down to Fuengirola and return by train.The Mirador Sur would be an ideal bivvy spot as well :)

Friday was Pepés day off so we went for a hurl along the Costa towards Marbella.Not my cup of tea but at least the temperature had dropped to around the mid seventies.Had a walk along the coast for a bit while they were having lunch.....deserted...never met a single soul.

I was up early each morning to walk along the beach before sunrise..





Nothing much to report in the way of birdlife...just a few waders at the seashore,vultures and hawks on the hill and these noisy parakeets who were creating mayhem in the palm trees....



The following link is a great facility for nabbing a cheapo flight.Just enter how much you want to pay and either click "anywhere" or type in a destination.Just remember to try and travel with only hand luggage.Ryanair charge £35 each way if you are over 10kg or over size.

Flightchecker

Considering it costs me £3 to get into Glasgow this trip represented good value for a tenner..! Many thanks to Pepé and Brenda for putting us up :)


Sunday 8 November 2009

The Steeple,Cnoc Coinnich,Beinn Reithe and Argyll´s Bowling Green.


At long last a shift to the other seaboard! Yee ha! Best sunshine to the west.
So,parked at the large car park by the waters edge in the small village of Lochgoilhead.O.S. map 56.The first car of the morning as it was just after 9.30am.
Stepping out the car we cast four shadows this time.Myself,Alex ,our pal Gavin and wee dog Millie.
We set off up the hill past the public toilets on a cracking morning. Clear, still, warm in the sun,chilly in the shade.Driving up yet again a full blown inversion effect lay over Loch Lomond and its many islands and yet again we drove straight past with me howling, trying to climb out the window of Alex´s car.
Yet again you will just have to imagine dear readers what a photographer of my ability would have captured if allowed five minutes of finger work on a small nearby hill as we zoomed non stop past this tree covered golden archipelago rising out of a sea of drifting cloud.
As it turned out we needed all the time available but I was still gutted as perfect inversions like this are rare indeed for the Sunday snapper. To drive past two in the space of a month is beyond words!
So, up the hill we go following a well made path towards the Steeple.A steep little peak looming above the village.

On the way up we passed a bunch of kids abseiling down a hanging slab of rock,this being a popular spot for outdoor groups to train.


Managed to get a picture above them of two different types of outdoor pursuits as kayaking was going on down in the bay below.

The path ended at this crag leaving us to find our own route to the summit slabs.This peninsula is also known as Argyll´s Bowling Green,a sarcastic tribute as there is hardly a flat surface anywhere.They may not be the highest peaks but they are hard going and very up and down.
This may explain why I arrived on the summit of the Steeple 20 minutes later while Gavin and Alex, who had been deep in conversation topped out on a different lesser peak nearby.It was a fair drop between them so they never made the effort to come over for what was after all just a satellite peak.

Next up roller coaster contours led to Cnoc Coinnich which had a near vertical ring of small crags round the summit.It was the steepest way up a hill I´ve had for some time.On top we admired the views.Snow coated hills to the north,sparkling waters of the Firth of Clyde and islands to the south.

We were treated to the sight of Gavin throwing a yellow ball over the edge of the slab for Millie to fetch.No hesitation on her part running down steep ground,half Jack Russel, half grey squirrel.





I for one didn't fancy coming down this same way and opted (with Gavin and Millie) to exit off via a deceptively gentle gully to the west while Alex took the direct route off the edge hands in pockets.When will I ever learn about gullies?.
After a few steep awkward detours on grass ledges we found Alex off in the distance ahead.He waved and we lost sight of him until the summit trig.He looked smug as its not often he gets ahead by this much and was well rested.Took this pic of him and trig.

Even better views south from this hill.Coulport and Faslane prominent as was the chimney at Hunterston power station.

It was getting quite late by now and the sun was sinking low so we lost no time zooming straight off this summit towards the loch weaving a zigzag line through the dank conifer forest to find a path, the purpose made balcony trail (mountain bike or walking route) which led back to the village.A much nicer path exists low down along the lochside but its now getting overgrown as this one takes over and less people use the original route via Beach (a house). Pity as its a better walk up the hill I think.
We got back as it was getting dark to a lovely reflection of twinkling lights around the loch.

A smashing day out with good company.Nuff said.
PS: Alex is in Spain this week. Lucky bugger! He,lll be back Sunday.No doubt with tales of epic proportions.