The Mike Walker Blog - Climbing the Munros by Motorhome
The Crianlarich Munros - Part 1
Day 2: Beinn Tulaichean and Cruach Ardrain
I got up about 8.00am to clear blue skies and had breakfast before getting my gear together. At about 8.50am I headed west to Inverlochlarig Farm where Rob Roy died in 1734. Rob Roy was a kind of Scottish Robin Hood who roamed the hills of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs before being captured and imprisoned 1722. His fame comes largely from a book by Daniel Defoe who wrote an much embellished and colourful account of Rob Roy's life called 'Highland Rogue' published in 1723. Subsequently, he became something of a celebrity and was freed and pardoned by George 1st in 1727. After his death in 1734 he was buried in Balquhidder churchyard. His fame was assured in 1817 when an account of his life was published by Sir Walter Scott in a book called 'Rob Roy'. The poet William Wordsworth also immortalized him in verse with 'Rob Roy's Grave' published in 1807. Nowadays, Inverlochlarig Farm sells venison.
After crossing Inverlochlarig Burn I headed north-northeast on a gently climbing track broadly parallel to the watercourse. A large group of cows where blocking the track and I had to thread my way between them without causing too much disturbance. It was only when I was deep amongst them that I noticed the nearest one seemed to have a much larger head and muscular body. Fortunately, he was very docile and contented, surrounded by his concubines, and paid me little heed.
At the next gate I left the track and started the long hike up the flank of Beinn Tulaichean climbing steadily across boggy ground & following a newish looking fence. When the fence turned north I continued up the mountainside across Creag na h-Innse to reach a 2nd more established fence. With no sign of a stile, I stepped over it using a large rock as a stepping stone and continued up. As I reached the summit ridge a clear path suddenly appeared coming from the south. Making a mental note to come one day and follow it down to see where it goes (yeah right!) I duly turned right and followed it up to the summit where there is a small cairn on an rocky outcrop. Standing at 946m (3105ft) Beinn Tulaichean is the 223rd highest Munro. The name is Gaelic for 'Hill of hillocks'. The view across Inverlochlarig Glen to the mighty summits of Ben More (The Crianlarich Hills) and Stob Binnein is superb from here, as is the view west to Beinn a' Chroin and An Caisteal. By now the weather had turned decidedly cool and the wind had got up so I pulled my brand new Berghaus Men's Antelao 3 Layer GORE-TEX® Pro Jacket out of my rucksack and settled down for a spot of lunch - peanut butter and banana sandwiches, a chunky kit-kat and coffee from my flask. It was 11.00am.
Midway through lunch two guys suddenly appeared from the north - one panting with exhaustion and the other appearing to be much more measured. Neither seemed to be very friendly - which is unusual for the Scottish hills - so I just watched in silence as Mr Panting touched the summit cairn and then studiously transferred sweeties from his rucksack into a little, much easier to access, tote bag. When Mr Panting wasn't looking, Mr Measured dipped his hand in and took a few. After about 5 minutes they left without a word. Serious walking like this doesn't mean you have to be serious when you are walking.
Time was pressing for me too though so I packed up my gear and headed north down the ridge to the bealach above Coire Earb before climbing up to the higher summit of Cruach Ardrain. After 20 minutes, which included a wee chat with a nice chap from Glasgow who was coming the other way, I was stood on the summit beside another small cairn. Cruach Ardrain is 1046m (3433ft high) and the name means 'Stack of the high part' in Gaelic. The view of Crianlarich to the north west from the summit cairn is stupendous. It was now 12.25pm.
Most people retrace their steps back down the ridge to the bealach before heading east down easy slopes into Inverlochlarig Glen, but I wanted to visit Stob Garbh - a Murdo (or Munro Top) - so I circled to the summit of Cruach Ardrain a couple of times looking for an obvious path down the north eastern precipitous slopes. After five minutes contemplation I thought I had identified the beginnings of the path I needed & headed down. Indeed there is a thin path that zig-zags down the north east ridge but boy is it steep. After the cool start to 2015, there was still plenty of snow lying about on the mountains and some of these covered the path I was on. The snow looked treacherous but fortunately I was able to bypass these relatively easily but wondered how difficult this might have been only a month earlier. I hadn't brought my crampons and ice-axe - it was June!
After negotiating the steep slope I headed north up onto the summit of Stob Garbh (Cruach Ardrain) just in time for my 1.36pm choccy treat. Given my recent experience descending Cruach Ardrain itself I didn't fancy tackling Coire nam Boc (which looked from the OS map just as steep and likely to be pathless) so I continued north along the ridge to the bealach below the unclassified top of Stob Coire Bhuidhe. From here I headed east down Coire Buidhe descending boggy grassland to reach a small pool. This was my cue to turn southeast to follow the infant Inverlochlarig Burn past Sgairneach an Airgid and back down the glen to Inverlochlarig Farm and the car park, with its shelter and information boards, arriving about 4.30pm.
There was no mobile phone signal at Inverlochlarig, not with my network anyway, and I have an agreement with my wife that when I am walking alone, if I don't call by 10pm that evening to say I am off the mountains and safe she will call the Mountain Rescue. I had got a faint signal on the top of Beinn Tulaichean but nothing since. So after dinner, a pre-prepared and defrosted chicken curry, I headed back along the access road until I could get a couple of bars on my iphone. I only needed to go about a mile and pulled into a passing place to call home. Whilst I was talking a guy came out of the farm about 200 yards ahead of me with his dog and a lamb - and proceeded to take them both for a walk. I commented on this as he passed me and he said that the lamb was an orphan and they had hand-reared it with the result that it now thinks it is a dog. And the dog thinks it's a dog as well. Ten minutes later all three came back the other way, the dog and the lamb playing together like children. I can't be sure but I think I heard the man call the dog Stew.
The Mike Walker Blog - Climbing the Munros by Motorhome
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