Our blog - Ben Lui, 20 Sep'18

A blog of our mountain adventures in Scotland, hiking, biking, rock-scrambling and more !

Ben Lui and neighbours

20 September 2018
Guided Munro bagging day in the Southern Highlands of Scotland. Christine Menhennet was leading....

'Long live the weeds and wilderness yet' (Gerard Manley Hopkins, Inversnaid 1918). Always turn a negative into a positive - too much water in the hills can scupper, well, frustrate your plans, but as this brilliant poem celebrates, Scottish rain can add another stunning dimension to the hills. So it was on Thursday for our Ben Lui raid; we intended four Munros for an approximately 8 hour day starting near Tyndrum and finishing in Glen Lochy having taken in Beinn Dubhcraig, Ben Oss, Ben Lui and Beinn Chleibh.

The route ends 600m from a car park in Glen Lochy, with a river crossing - there are no bridges; usually this is an easy paddle or shallow wade before reaching the cars. Concerned by the recent heavy rains, Steven and I did an early morning inspection of the crossing before we met the group - the river was deep and fast flowing with a thousand burns still pouring into it and more rain and hail forecast - there would be no river crossing being made !

So, back at Dalrigh car park Tyndrum we chatted with our group and decided on a Plan B - we would head up and adapt the day as we progressed, subject to weather; the forecast had room for improvement but didn't deter David, Mark and an eager, relative newcomer to the hills, Christian - from Essex. We took the path through ancient Caledonian pine woods following the coure of the Allt Coire Dubhchraig. This pretty burn was in spate cascading over mossed and fern flecked, glossy rocks and higher up bubbling through mini sculpted chasms; photographic enthusiasm meant that Mark forgot his poles at this point! So far we were in the relative shelter of a broad coire, enjoying big patches of blue sky and clear views across to the Crianlarich hills.

After an optimistic start however, things deteriorated once we gained the ridge; whilst we didn't experience the forecast hail and sleet, the cloudy curtains closed on any summit views and it was pretty wet for most of the day; we had to be quick with our cameras at the cols where the swirling clouds seemed to mometarily part, giving us glimpsed views towards Loch Lomond and the Arrochar hills to the south and southeast whilst the west remained dark and ominous looking. More immediately we enjoyed the sight of gushing white burns tumbling down all the surrounding slopes and spotted several boulder hopping ptarmigan, their white winter plumage beginning to show through.

Despite the weather, we were making good progress and whilst stopping at Ben Oss (where we celebrated Mark's 50th Munro), it might have made sense to return from here given our limited descent routes and no car to meet us, but the boys were up for taking in the big shoulder that leads up to the fine summit of Ben Lui, which looked even more imposing as it emerged for seconds from the swirling mists. It was a no view summit sadly and we had decisions to make. We took the hard one which was to leave Bein a' Chleibh for another day and reverse our route - a north easterly descent off Ben Lui was an option but involved a potentially nasty burn crossing so we played safe - celebrated on Ben Oss (again!) and reversed our route, via the quickest option, to Dalrigh. In just under 11 hours, we had completed 4.5 Munros (one of them twice) and 26Km, confirmed Christian's huge enthusiasm for Scottish hills and celebrated; we also found Mark's poles and David declared his feet had remained dry all day -always a plus point!

More photos by Steven Fallon and David Uren are here on Flickr.

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