For the past many many years, Sue, Cozi, John and I have had a winter “meet” in Scotland. Occasionally others have joined us, though not in recent years. Last year we stayed near Crianlarich (though Sue was not able to make it then) and I wrote about our two days out here.
This year we thought we would try an area we had not previously visited. We went to Lochgoilhead. It is only a little over an hour’s drive from Glasgow but has a real feel of remoteness. We found a nice self-catering house down by the loch. Unfortunately, as has largely been the case this winter, the weather was rubbish. So we only managed one day out on the hill.
Beinn Bheula was just across the way and seemed a suitable objective. It is a Corbett at 779m (or 2,555ft). The forecast was not promising with strong winds and the summits covered. But there was only a low risk of precipitation. The night before we started our preparation…
We had an unsuitably leisurely start and drove around to Lettermay where we left a car. The ordnance Survey maps (at least the ones we had) have not caught up with the tree felling and forestry road construction around here and we duly took the wrong route because a forest road had been re-routed! We we never lost. We knew where we were but were just taken the wrong way.
Anyway, once we had crossed a bridge, we battled a short way across some rough ground to another forest track that took us in the right direction. The river was in spate as the air temperature was well above freezing.
We had a view back to the loch and Lochgoilhead. Things were looking promising weather-wise as similarly high hills were intermittently free from cloud.
Our road ended and we scrambled up wet ground to the foot of a waterfall and crossed the river, this time without a bridge. I managed it keeping boots on and remaining dry of foot. Cozi took hers off and paddled across. John followed my example. Unfortunately Sue here decided to turn around and walk back to the house.
There was a path of sorts, very wet under foot, marked by small stakes which is in fact the Cowal Way. We followed this for perhaps 500m before breaking off to the south west and a faint ridge. The way remained wet, but having crossed a fence and with the ridge becoming more defined a bit of a path again appeared.
The hill brooded ahead but the summit seemed to be clear. I hoped it would remain so.
The map, and what we could see, showed some crags to be navigated. As it turned out this was a lot easier than I thought might be the case. There were some nice breaks and we found a ramp trending up to the left. At one point there was a short exposed section made more “exciting” by the slushiness of the snow. But it was soon passed and consistent snow led across a final shallow bowl to the summit ridge.
A final 50m of ascent to the south led to the summit trig.
and a happy John.
The western slopes had been largely stripped of snow by the moist westerlies. But we had our summit clear and the wind, whilst brisk, was not as strong as forecast. Result! It was not a place to stay though.
This was the way ahead with a subsidiary top (Creag Sgoilte) to go over.
And this was the view back down to Lochgoilhead.
Here is the view back to the summit from Creag Sgoilte.
It was time to descend and find somewhere for a late lunch. The southern slopes of Creag Sgoilte have aircraft wreckage strewn over them, a relic of World War 2. There are a few websites that give the background story to this aircraft such as this one.
We did locate somewhere to sit and eat which was largely out of the wind before continuing down to a path by Lochan nan Cnaimh. For a lochan, this was quite large.
In fact it has been tamed by man in that it is damned. Here are John and Cozi walking across the dam.
It was not obvious why the dam had been created though there was a sluice at an outfall. The path then veered to the edge of the forest and went steeply down following the stream on its left bank. At times we were forced into the trees. Part way down the slope the path crossed the stream and contoured north only losing a little height before breaking out on to open hillside still shown as forested on the map.
A path of sorts continues and passing through an obstacle course of felled trunks eventually hits a forest road. This took us back to the car with a view back over the valley to the waterfall we had passed by earlier in the day and, behind us, Beinn Bheula.
Unfortunately, that was that so far as venturing into the hills was concerned. The weather the next day was worse. We managed to sneak out down the coast to Carrick Castle where we parked up. Carrick Castle is more like a tower house. It is a ruin in private ownership but was once owned by the Earls of Argyll. It had scaffolding around part of it so some repairs were being undertaken.
And walked a couple of kilometres down the coastal path to the junction with Loch Long. The view back up the loch was grim.
And the dot to the right of that last photo is a seal. A group of 4 or 5 watched us as we wandered along the beach.
But as was only using the camera on my phone I was not able to get any decent zoomed shots.
So it is a location definitely worth the visit but it would have been so much better if the weather had been better, Never mind the company was great!
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