One of the things I love about Scotland is that however well you think you know an area ….there is always something new to explore tucked away around the corner…..it’s great. Glen Douglas is just such a place. It runs from the western shores of Loch Lomond over to the eastern shores of Loch Long and a small single track road runs along its length connecting it to the main roads at either end. For year’s we’ve been driving past the end of this little road heading for other glens, or other hills and we’ve never really noticed or thought about it. On our annual visit to walk Beinn Dubh and Mid Hill however, we do, albeit briefly, get a view down into Glen Douglas …but that’s all we’ve ever seen of it ….until last Sunday that is.
The three hills to the north of Glen Douglas have not been completely out of mind though. I did a short winter walk with my friend Guy about ten years ago ….from Tarbet up steep slopes to the summit of Ben Reoch and it did make me realise what a great view point this group of hills made …especially of the Cobbler and its neighbours. So then, last weekend we decided to go and walk all three of these hills to the north of Glen Douglas ….making an interesting and quite strenuous little day.
Turning off the A82 just beyond the Inverbeg Inn, we were immediately impressed by how quiet and beautiful the glen was….a real little hidden gem. Indeed, in the bright spring morning light …well it looked stunning ….and these very modest hills somehow looked much bigger and more dramatic. The circuit we planned to do took in Tullich Hill, Ben Reoch and Beinn Bhreac, starting and finishing at Invergroin.
Access to the open hillside can be gained through a gate just beyond the bridge at Invergroin and from there it’s simply a case of making your way, at first, gently and then more steeply up the very obvious SE ridge of Tullich Hill. We’d only gone a very short distance when Anita spotted a very large bird …with several small birds following it. I barely saw it but Anita watched it for quite a while with a monocular and she was happy that it was a Golden Eagle she was watching ….a great start to the day. About half way up the ridge a small band of crags appears, but a steep band of grass leads through them and onto easier angled ground. Beyond this the ridge is a little more defined with the ground falling away steeply on your left with increasingly impressive views across to Doune Hill, Loch Long and as the ground eases as you near the summit, all the way to Arran and Ailsa Craig beyond. It’s a steep little climb and we were well glad of a sit down, sheltering from the cold wind behind a rock and just taking in the beauty and quietness of our surroundings.
Our next objective was the slightly higher top of Ben Reoch (661m) about 2km to the north east of us. To get there though is no easy stroll ….it involves descending just under 300m to the wild little col of An t’Sreang and then climbing very steep slopes to regain the height …plus a little, in order to reach the next summit. The views across to the Arrochar Alps were superb all the way. The Cobbler and Beinn Narnain had a little snow on them but their bigger neighbour Beinn Ime had a good covering and looked very dramatic against the now darker and mainly cloud covered sky. Near the top of the steep slopes my legs started to cramp and I made an undignified slump to the turf to wait for it to clear. It gave me a good chance to moan ….but then I remembered the views and forgot for a short while, about my complaining legs!
As you reach the small cairn marking the top of Ben Reoch, the views in the other direction really open up. The ground drops away in front of you and you can see for many miles up and down Loch Lomond. Across the water is Ben Lomond and to the north east the easily recognisable snow covered summits of Ben More and Stob Binnian.
By now it was about half past three and we still had quite a way to go across to our final summit of the day …Beinn Bhreac at 681m. Thankfully there isn’t another steep descent and climb between these two hills, just a gentle loss of height and a wander along a broad gently rising ridge. The final few metres are topped with small crags and the trig point sits atop a prominent little knoll high above Loch Lomond. It’s a lofty little spot and a great end to a fine circuit. The descent on steep grassy slopes back to Invergroin was easy albeit a little long winded ….with me going at my normal snails pace …but the views were still fine and as we got lower the late sun came out to give a bit of warmth and finish the day in style. We were tired though …we’d been walking for just on nine hours …..and as I said …there was quite a lot of up …and down ….Nita’s quote of the day as we walked the half kilometre back along the wee road to the car, ‘I’ve got legs like those of a rubber chicken!’ I knew how she felt …only thing for it was to head to the Inverbeg Inn for some much needed food.