A perfect October walk

Breaking through the cloud, Beinn Odhar

Breaking through the cloud, Beinn Odhar

It’s been ten months since we were last out on a hill with our friend Guy but on Monday we made up for it in style. I’d been trying to fix a date for a walk with Guy since returning from Germany and when we had to cancel the other week due to a problem with the car, it looked as if his comment earlier in the summer, that we’d probably need our axes and crampons by the time we got out together again, might come true!

By the weekend though the forecast for the week ahead was looking good ….especially in the west of Scotland and so with my paintings for the ScotlandArt exhibition finished and both Nita and Guy not working, we booked Monday as the day. We planned to go back to Beinn Odhar above Tyndrum, but this time instead of just doing the quick walk to the summit and back, we aimed to do a bigger circular walk. This ascended by the same route but returned via a long broad grassy ridge stretching behind the village of Tyndrum. We’d looked at this ridge a few times in the past and this seemed the perfect day to test it out …it’d be more than a short walk …but not too big a day for our rather unfit legs!

Towards Ben Lui

Towards Ben Lui

After meeting Guy at the station at just after half past six in the morning we got to Loch Lomond as it was getting light and things were looking good. Ben Lomond was clear as were many of the other hills and the cloud was breaking higher up. The drive up to Crianlarich along the shores of the loch at this time of year on a fine day is great. The trees are all turning to their autumn colours and with almost no wind, these were all reflected in the loch. The higher tops of the Glen Falloch hills and Ben More were still holding cloud but it all looked very promising …exactly how promising though we were still to find out.

On the ridge to Meall Buidhe

On the ridge to Meall Buidhe

Ben Odhar was clear and its upper slopes were catching the early morning sun as we set off up the West Highland Way out of Tyndrum heading for the base of the hill. It was definitely autumn and there was a real chill in the air and frost on the parked cars. We left the WHW at its high point between Tyndrum and Bridge of Orchy and headed straight up the hill. There’s no messing with this route, its steep grassy slopes for much of the way, passing some old mines about half way up. It never ceases to amaze me that people came to work here each day at some point in the past.

Towards-Meall-Buidhe

Towards-Meall-Buidhe

Very quickly as we gained height, a thick blanket of low cloud rolled in and we were soon in mist with no views to ease the steepness of the climb. But it really wasn’t very substantial cloud and we had a feeling that we might just bob out of the top with a bit of luck. And that is exactly what happened. Around about 750m the sun broke through and we found ourselves looking out over a layer of white cloud that stretched south of us. Above was clear blue sky and the sun was very warm. But it’s the views of all the other hills sticking up out of the cloud that really catch the eye …it was stunningly beautiful. We could see the chain of hills from Ben More to Ben Lomond, along with Ben Lui and its neighbours. Strangely north of our hill there was little or no cloud and we could see all the way down into the glen below in this direction.

Just below the summit

Just below the summit

Just above this point the steep slopes ease to a small level section in which a small loch sits immediately below the final steep and boulder strewn section of the hill…..a perfect spot sit and just take in the beauty of the location and these amazing conditions. The final clamber up to the cairn at the top of Ben Odha at just over 900m opened up even bigger views and all of our cameras were working overtime!

Our route back led first down steep slopes SE to another wee loch and then followed the broad grassy ridge in a southerly direction across to Meall Buidhe at 653m. By this stage much of the mist had cleared and so the whole time we were walking in warm bright sun. From Meall Buidhe it was a case of following the ridge to its end and then descending to a bridge over the railway and onto the West Highland Way again. We were now at a point a few kilometres south of Tyndrum and so it was just an easy and very pleasant walk back along the WHW to the car.

This was a fantastic day and the circular route and stunning conditions made for a perfect October walk.

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