Aye right !!
ISW or International SOTA Weekend was looming and the hunt was on for a summit, a few possibles were looked at and finally, Cruach Ardrain was the choice with a backup of a lower hill just in case of weather problems. The usual palaver of pouring over maps, checking for routes in the Scottish walking forums but as a couple of fellow bloggers had already ‘climbed’ this hill so email was duly fired out for advice, Graeme had made his way from the South from the Braes of Balquidder whilst ‘bagging‘ Beinn Tulaichean on the way in. Neil (of whom the title of the post refers to) had accessed the hill from the A82, this was the route chosen as it seemed the easier of the two.
Once again the activating team of 2MØIOB (or 2RØIOB this time) and myself headed swiftly northwards to find the parking spot at NN368238 which was busy even at the early time of 8am. A quick look and the summit was viewable from our setting out point. A check of equipment and it was off over the stile heading to the railway bridge underpass which leads onto a rough track which had been driven into the glen possibly for grouse shooting.
Our track now veered off to the left and said goodbye to a couple of walkers we had met and who were heading on to An Caisteal. We now reached the rickety bridge which was gingerly crossed and then it was now into the serious stuff, a relentless upward slog over grass following a faint path along a forestry fence, the first scran break was taken just before the end of this section.
It was then upwards until we met the start of the ridge walk which would take us to the last uphill push to the summit. A quick rise to the top of Grey Height then a gradually rising ridge walk where the all-round views were improving the more height we gained, Crainlarich with its green valley and looking N you could see the recognisable shape of Beinn Dorain and to the west the summits of Bens Lui, Oss and Dubhchraig. The twin peaks of Ben More and Stobinnean were constantly in view to the E until we met the summit of the ridge walk which has Meall Dhamh to your left. We could see the summit cairn and thought ‘eh ? have we got to go there? we had to.
It was now descent time into the bealach 150 ft below then it was a quick up and over another lump of rock until it was time to strike up the last steep section, this was proving a bit of a hill too far for myself. Just as we struck out for the top, we worked Robin PKT who was on Gaor Bheinn (Gulvain) then relentlessly we drove on and the summit was slowly getting nearer but every time I checked the gps phone app, I swear the summit was moving further east or I was going in reverse. Roddy then pressed on but just at the point I was cussing under my breath at my stupidity, I met the path between summits and off I headed (slowly) to the left and after another up and over, the summit was metres away.
I first, headed to the summit cairn and touched it. Sadly there was no trig point (white or otherwise). Roddy by this time had ‘activated’ the hill. I had a quick scran break and although windy I put up the 4m JPole and proceeded to call out, 15 mins later and with no contacts it was down with the 4m antenna and the 70cm JPole erected in its place, nothing again until I made contact STS (summit to summit) with both Bob AWV and Eunice UVL who were on Duncolm in the Old Kilpatrick Hills, I tried again but no takers. A bit disappointing as I had thought 4m would have been good from over 3,000ft but it was a cracking sunny day and I guess most sensible folk would be out doing more relaxing things than playing radio.
I headed back on 2m and worked Dave TAP who was in the Selkirk area then STS with Neil who was on Kirkland Hill near Kirkconnel, next STS in the log was Barry XFM who was just to the E of us on the summit of Ben Lawers. Next was by fellow blogger Graeme 2MØGIL who was on Conic Hill near Balamha. Jack COX was out hunting STS, Jack was on Dungavel Hill in Lanarkshire, next in the log was Christine YMM from Edinburgh and finally, a cracking STS to finish the day was with Colwyn CYJ who was in the Wester Ross region NW of us on Beinn Eighe – Rhuad Stac Mor near Kinlochewe approx 150 km away.
It was then time to break down the station and head back of the hill, slowly but surely the steepish section was manoeuvred and it was time to climb up the 150ft to the ridge, this was painful but soon done and it a pleasant walk back down to descend off the Grey Height and now the relentless plod down the steep grassy slope until we took a break at the ricketty bridge before the last walk down the track to the parking area on the A82. The walk was finally done ( and so was I !)
A last look at Cruach Ardrain summit then it was off back to civilisation.
Would I do it again ? No…
Would I recommend it.. Yes !
A contrast in answers but the views from the summit cairn were fantastic, too many summits to name but the twin peaks of Ben More and Stobinnean were as if you could reach out and touch them, Ben Lawers showing through their bealach, the Tarmachan ridge, Ben Nevis with its patches of snow, the trio of Lui, Oss and Dubhchraig, Ben Lomond, the Trossach hills Venue and Ledi and an old favourite far on the south horizon, the Hill of Stake.
Rather interestingly, ‘Naismith’s Rule‘ was created during a walk on Cruach Ardrain on the way to Ben More, obviously my pace wasn’t taken into consideration.
My thanks once again go to Roddy as he suffered my slow pace etc. Funnily I’ve just received a text from him about a much lighter pack will be carried next time, I must be staying at home….
I’ll explain the title of the post..
I asked Neil his views on how ‘hard’ the ascent would be and that was his reply….I fell for it again.
Cruach Ardrain means ‘Stack of the high part’ or some say ‘Heap of stones’…
it is 1,046m ( 3,462 ft ) ASL
is 87 in the Munro list
Geohack info <HERE>
Round trip of over 12km.
All photos of activation <HERE>