The Arrochar Alps (Beinn Narnain): Part 1

Distance: 9 miles

Munros: 1

Who with: JP, Susie

 

After a day in the crowds on Ben Lomond, we retreated to the calm of Luss campsite, where we set up our tent, met up with JP and had a couple of beers and some tea…a quieter way to end the day (except the traffic noise from the A82)!

After a decent sleep, we got ourselves ready and headed North up the A82 to the Arrochar Alps. We were going to park at Succoth car park until we saw the price (about £8-9 for the day!), but after a chat with the lady in the shop, she told us about the Loch Long hotel, which offers free parking, as long as you have a drink and something to eat afterwards. This sat better with us, as we like a post-walk pint anyway!

We walked round the head of the bay at Loch Long, and over Loin Water, and both JP and I commented on the amount of litter and plastic that was on the shore. It really was sad to see, and whilst it is a sea loch, so you expect some rubbish, the levels were quite shocking. There are information boards up which help to explain the reason why the level of rubbish is quite so high, which is to do with the currents in the Firth of Clyde, and the tides up into the head of Loch Long. It just hits home the seriousness of the issue of waste and plastic, and the impact we are all having on the environment across the world. It was a sad start to the walk, and remained the topic of conversation as we headed up the zig-zagging forest track above the Monadh Liath.

On the topic of waste, we were disgusted at the level of litter and used toilet paper, which was sadly a feature of the entire path through the wooded section at the start of this walk. Presumably, as it is a popular path into the fells of Arrochar, some people either require potty training for before they leave the house, or cannot wait until they reach the village below, after a day in the hills! 

We tried not to let this affect the start of our day, and as the weather was drizzly rain with cloudy, a building hill-mist was sitting on the summit of the Beinn. As we left the forest and headed for the dam, the views over the surrounding hills and towards Loch Long were really opening out, and the mist really created a dramatic feel, which I have always associated with the Scottish mountains. 

Just before the dam, we headed North on a sodden path through moor-like grass, which skirts along a contour below the alpine-like landscape of this area, which has presumably led to the region being known as the Arrochar Alps  craggy and full of feature. After around a kilometre, we arrived at the path that marks the start of the real ascent of Beinn Narnain.

The path is clear and firm, and continues over numerous ‘false’ summits, where if you didn’t have a grasp of altitude, you would think….this must be it. We met our first ‘hill-friend’ a nice, local chap, who had decided to turn back at Creag an Fhithich because of the thick mist that looked set in for the day. After a couple of minutes of small talk, to catch our breath, we continued slogging up the fell-side towards Cruach nam Miseag, which becomes slightly scrambly in nature, which is always fun with a dog in tow! With the mist sitting on these craggy out-crops, it really intensified the dramatic nature of the landscape, and the views must be magnificent on a clear day.

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As we navigated the tough terrain, continue the plod, we could see the cloud-hugged summit, and after spending a few minutes on the top chatting, we started our descent down towards the foot of the ascent to Beinn Ime – the col around 637m. It is from here you can head up either of the two aforementioned fells, or tackle The Cobbler, which is such a popular walk in the area.

As we reached this point, we still hadn’t decided whether to head up the boggy slopes of Beinn Ime today, as planner, or whether to leave it until tomorrow, given the conditions. We wanted a view, of this area which was our motive, so we decided to sadly descend from the mist-soaked fells and follow the valley path back down the dam, and then onto the car. It didn’t look like clearing and it was getting on for 2.30pm, so we made the disappointing decision.

In typical Nick-fashion, as we were half-way back down to the dam, in what is a lovely valley, the mist decided to completely lift and a stunning afternoon lay ahead, contrary to the forecasts, which stupidly should know not to trust having spent A LOT of time in Scotland over the years. However, in the interests of keeping the glass half-full so to speak, we decided to soak in the glorious views on the way back, and hope tomorrow’s forecast holds true, and stays nice! 

Having always valued tradition, JP, Susie and I decided to retreat to the safety of the Loch Long Hotel where the car was parked, and happened to have a bar, which served beer, and not only beer but Tenants….! 

Enjoying the stunning views, and losing about 3 layers of base clothes on the descent, the day had changed from a typical Scottish wet weather day, to a glorious day of sunshine. All adds to the fun, and what a stunning area – following the sun coming out, you can imagine the views from the Cobbler, and why it is so popular. We however, had to resort to a Google search of the views over a pint….a far easier way to see the views of Scotland! J

 

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