After what was a bad day when I activated Beinn Eich last October, I had said ‘No mas’ but with a chance to go activate, the choice was either Choarach or Eich. I thought weather was ideal for a jaunt up Eich, Chaorach I’ll save for a sunny day.
The usual charging (or topping up) of the handies the day before with the backpack all ready to go once scran, water and wine gums were organised.
I woke up to the Clyde valley full of cloud, the hills opposite me were hiding, mmmm. I got in touch with Neil and Cat who I knew were whizzing their way northwards, Neil called me back and passed on a weather(or cloud) report. Time to head.
The route ? the usual turn left from the Erskine Bridge and up the A82 until the cut off to Glen Luss at NS357930, this is a single track, a very single track…I think this is the narrowest road I have travelled on but it gets you there, I did ask Katie to take me to the second bridge (NS 426941) but watch the first bridge does not have much room to get your vehicle through and as we got to the second bridge, a car was parked in what is really a tight single parking spot so a quick aid to get her turned and back on her way.
It was now Beinn Eich versus me. A bit dramatic but I struggled on this hill last time out. A quick walk along the track takes you to the signpost stile, the first 300m can be very wet and boggy, today was no exception then you find the dry constantly rising steep hillside with very little respite, I followed the faint path in places and after the customary hour walk, a scran break to top up food and fluid levels. 10 mins later, I headed upwards and soon the walk got slightly easier and at the two-hour mark, I switched off my GPS app as I had arrived at the summit and now proceeded to set up.
The first thing I did was to look westwards to see if Ben More (Isle of Mull) was visible. I had spoken to a couple of walkers last time on this hill and we had wondered what the hill in the distance was, I had checked the map when I had got home and saw it was Ben More.
I did harbour thoughts of heading to Doune Hill as I had done in 2009 but waited to see how my old legs felt. I set up the JPole and on to 2m FM, I called and first back was Roddy, 2MØIOB as expected a strong signal. I left Roddy and moved back to S20, Alex WNR who was portable near Hamilton answered my call, I decided by this time, I would head on to Doune Hill. Next in the log were two Irvine stations, Julian KGB and Ian ISM. I next called and Graeme 2MØGIL called from home. I also asked another mobile station to move down frequency but I totally lost him, .450 was a graveyard as I asked two stations to move there and promptly lost them. Two more contacts, a STS (summit to summit) with Robin PKT who was on Ben Hiant in the Ardnamurchan peninsula, a cracking hill for scenic views from all accounts, I told Robin I was soon moving on and arranged to try catch up later and the final call was from Dave RAM from the Falkirk area, I was filling in my electronic log and noticed the last time I spoke to Dave was last Oct from the same hill.
I quickly spoke to Roddy and asked him to place an alert on the SOTA website for me, I had taken 80 mins the last time to reach Doune Hill so I packed up and set off.
Eich is not the prettiest of summits but has a fine ridge walk towards the bealach between it and Beinn Lochain. I followed a faint path which heads straight up towards the summit of Beinn Lochain but as the last time, I struck off towards Doune before the summit where I finally rejoined the path and not long after, a trig point appeared, I had got there in roughly the same time as before.
I must say that the views from Doune Hill are excellent, the Firth Of Clyde through the valley towards Arran and beyond, the summits from the SW in a 270 degree panorama are Marilyn heaven, the Arrochar Alps, Ben More and the Paps of Jura both prominent unfortunately the panorama videos below do not give the effect of being there but visit this hill in good weather and visibility and enjoy. If you look down into Glen Douglas you can see the banked up ammo depot.
I set up the JPole again as I had thought I would try the beam but the wind picked up by this time and after the shenanigans with the beam on Lawers, I taped on the JPole.
First out the traps again was Roddy and this time I caught him mobile near Langbank. I had a quick word with him then it was off to get three more contacts to activate the hill. The weather forecast had been good up until 4pm then a band of rain was to sweep in from the south then funnily I spoke to a station south of Ayr, Alex NFC who told me the latest weather charts had shown rain coming into the Galloway area. I left Alex and worked Stuart VBE who was nearby at Loch Sloy on Lomondside. A quick chat then Steve UAU from Greenock called in and in between a gap, I heard a ‘break’, it was Neil 2MØNCM who was on Beinn Bhalgairean, south-east of Dalmally a virgin SOTA hill no less. We were soon joined by Robin PKT and another two STS were in the log. It is good to make these STS’s but also to meet the regular chasers from the summits. A few regulars were noticeable by their absence but the weather and the fact it was excellent gardening weather may have added to this.
Time to pack away once more and set off towards my pick up point….first a call to home and I arranged a rough time to be picked up two hours. You have four choices to exit from Doune Hill, you could retrace your steps and find the climb back up to the summit of Eich, secondly to head back and drop into Glen Luss and head out through Edentaggart, thirdly head northwards to the nearby top and head into Glen Douglas or the choice I made was to descend into Glen Mollachan. I walked down to Bealach an Duin then headed straight down to Glen Mollachan’s floor, it was pretty steep most of the way so it was a case of picking a marker, heading there and choosing the next marker and so on.
I reached the glen floor, to the left was Sith Mor, thoughts of Star Wars entered my mind. I know Neil had looked at ascending Doune Hill from Glen Douglas but if I were him I would take a light sabre, just in case.
I headed across what was a very wet glen floor, the steeply rising sides of Eich and Mid Hill flanking you, I headed along slightly higher ground than the stream hoping for respite from the constant boggy ground but not until you reach an old rocky track which rises slightly and takes you out of the glen. I headed back to the road and walked to my pick up point where I was asked about the poles on my rucksack from a couple who had done the Glen Striddle horseshoe. Folk seem amused by the carrying of extra weight to work radio from the summits.
Into the car with another adventure over and Katie drove back to civilisation.
Eight points bagged.
Beinn Eich is 703 m ASL (2305 ft) ‘the horse hill’
Doune Hill is 734 m ASL (2407 ft) ‘ the fort hill’
Beinn Lochain is 698m ASL (2289 ft) ‘ the hill of the little loch’
Round Trip of approx. 11.5 kms
Total Ascent (approx) 790 m (2,592 ft)