‘Left or right ?’……..
Plans had been laid soon after I ‘conquered’ Beinn Narnain roughly four weeks previous for a return trip to the hills known as the ‘Arrochar Alps‘, I had looked at the Cobbler or perhaps if I was feeling fit, Beinn Ime.
If you read my blog post on the Narnain trip, you will remember the weather was not the kindest so the next jaunt in that area had to be excellent so I could enjoy the views from whatever hill I ‘visited’, a trip two weekends previous to this was arranged and due to the expedition driver having a longish lie, it was put off which in retrospect was not good as conditions were excellent later that day so I had just headed locally to the trig point area at Lurg Moor.
It was agreed that on the next suitable day that I would head out and the Arrochar area would be visited. Family matters came into play in the following days and finally the plan was scheduled and I kept scanning the forecast and it was pencilled in for the Wednesday, a top up of the handie batteries and a last check of the equipment and the rucksack was packed. Scran and water would be decided in the morning, the only blip was the mountain forecast for strong yep, strong sunshine, a hat was shoved into the rukkie as well as a midge net for when as any lack of breeze at this time of year would bring the ‘curse’ out.
Wednesday morning arrived, I checked out the view to the North West and although Ben Lomond had some high cloud showing. It was time to get going. I placed an alert on the SOTA website for (GM/SS 020) the Cobbler.
First stop was to fill up the car with petrol and finally we left Port Glasgow heading for Erskine Bridge then left to Tarbet on Lomondside where we then headed for Arrochar. The road was very quiet and good time made.
I got dropped off at the car park at Succoth and started up the newish zigzag track, I find that the route signage here is pretty lacking as it seems to follow the colour band system with no signs saying this or that way. I later spoke with a couple from Devon on my descent who mentioned the same and the conflicting literature available.
I headed up the rough track and I was actually passing others heading up the path, changed days as I was always the one being overtaken. After just over a mile you emerge on to open countryside and today a cooling breeze was coming down from the coire, I headed for just over two miles when I decided to have a quick break just before the Narnain boulders, I sat down and instantly the breeze dropped and I got ‘attacked’ by both ants and the midge. I headed and ate some scran on the run so to speak. Heading up the coire I could see the tops of the Cobbler to the left and to the right Beinn Narnain and I could see clearly the ‘Spearhead’ on Narnain. I was feeling good leg wise so thoughts of Ime started in my mind.
I was getting near the bealach where the path splits, left is the north path to the Cobbler and right is the path to Narnain and Ime.
I saw Ime’s double top and thought ‘It’s now or never’ and off I set across a boggy (in places) bealach and followed a path which tends to disappear in places but still keeping an eye on the gate where I should pass through. I reached the gate and saw the Cobbler had a few people on its summit today and I walked on slowly picking my way around wet and soggy patches, I could see the path snaking up the hillside and off I headed. I ascended at my usual speed with many breaks, I do not do very steep too well.
At this point I pondered the advice I had received from both Graeme GIL and Neil NCM as both had climbed Ime with different routes, Neil had recommended the short sharp route from Glen Croe whilst Graeme had climbed from Butterbridge, I had looked at these but decided the gradual but much longer ascent from Succoth would be my best bet with the near 1,300 ft height push from the Bealach a’Mhaim the last steep ascent. I do not do ‘steep’ very well.
Keeping a steady pace I was ascending the hill slow but sure and as I got higher the path tended to be drier. I had put my handie on scan when I left the bealach and just about a third of the way up, I heard a station activating Beinn Dubh which I could see to the south-east of me. I called in and had caught Kenny ZUN as he was just about to head back off his hill, two chaser points to start the day….I’ll take that.
I kept heading upwards and stopped to fill my water bottle with some fresh cold water. It was cold and refreshing.
I saw a distant figure emerging from between the two tops and soon he was telling me that I wasn’t having far to go, I was feeling the heat by this time but armed with this info I headed quickly to the top and walked along a level path and there it was the summit shelter. I had made it.
I left the rukkie and antenna stuff and headed to the summit, the trig point is no more and only the iron base pegs still show. I stood and took in the view which was excellent, Ime is the highest hill in the local area and the views in all directions are stunning.
No time to stand about so I looked at my watch and I had declared that I would be ‘active’ at 13.00 UTC so I wasn’t that far out. I called Roddy 2OØIOB using the handie and asked him to place a ‘spot’ for me mentioning my change of summit plus he was the first contact in the log.
Next was getting the 5 element beam ready, there was only a slight breeze which hopefully was to keep all those biting critturs away. I called and Steve UAU called back, I later worked Steve on 4m FM which I intended to try but I ended up just using the 4m handie and the duck antenna with no more success.
Another Paisley club member Stuart OXQ was next in the log, Stuart was in the Ayr area and just to the north in Troon, I next spoke with Tony BAO. Alan VTV from Greenock was next and I would imagine from his QTH it was line of sight and we discussed various radio related stuff before I broke off to find more contacts, regular chaser Andy USU from the Falkirk area was next in the log and after a short QSO, I called on .500 and hooked up with Kenny ZUN who was heading back to the Glasgow area after his activation of Beinn Dubh, it was his first activation so hopefully he will have been bitten with the bug and we have another keen VHF activator in the Central Belt area. Finally on 2m was another PARC member Brian HMZ who had headed just above Paisley to work me. It is good to have so many PARC members interested in SOTA either on the chasing and activating side, at last count 5 activators and slightly more chasers.
Contacts had been slow but steady but dried up after eight 2M FM contacts and one on 4M FM.
In between the radio work, I had stopped and spoke with the steady stream of walkers who made the summit. Mention has to be made of two Dutch lads who had hiked to the summit of Ime via Narnain, they had done the direct route over Narnain via the Spearhead dropped down into the bealach and then to Ime’s summit…with 25 kg plus packs!!! They had marked a spot just below the summit in which they were bivvying out overnight now that would have been fun. I looked across at the last rocky scramble I had done when on Narnain and noted how narrow the area I crossed to the summit was.
I had spent just over two hours on the summit playing radio and lazing when it was time to pack up and head back down the reverse route. It was a quick last look around then it was off down the occasionally slippery slopes to the bealach where I would pick up the path back to the junction at the head of the coire.
The path here is excellent and as I descended I spoke with most people I met. The before mentioned couple from Devon could not believe how beautiful this area was and I told them to wait and see what views awaited them from the top of the Cobbler their intended destination.
At the Narnain boulders I met a French couple who were looking for a camping spot on the Narnain side but everything was boggy, I told them of the other lads who were roughing it on Ime….. a walk too far for them I thought. The coire would be alive with the midge as soon as the breeze dropped.
Slowly but surely I made my way down the open hillside until I met the zigzag path again and made sure I wasn’t intending to stop for obvious reasons.
Two hours and a bit later, I spotted Katie and Lora waiting on me. The expedition backup had brought fresh orange juice but secretly I had lain dreaming of a cold pint of cider on Ime’s summit….someday eh ?
I’m glad I finally got Ime ticked off, the ‘butter mountain’ had always intrigued me. Will I return ? possibly but the Cobbler is next or maybe Luibhean which seems to be the forgotten hill in the area.
To finish what is a longer than usual post, I spoke with two obvious Munro baggers who ‘moaned’ about the boggy parts of Ime and when our conversation turned around to views from the top of the other local hills, I put forward Ben Donich as one of my favourites, ‘Is it a Munro?’ what else can I say…….
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Beinn Ime is 1011m ASL (3.317 ft)
translates as ‘the Butter mountain’
Peakbagger info HERE
Just as a wee extra…
Beinn Ime climbing info HERE
Beinn Narnain climbing info HERE
Geograph images HERE