Sunday, 31 July 2011

Ben Lui and the muddy forest path

Although the weekend weather since my Kyle of Bute adventure has been reasonable, the fresh northerly winds put me off trailoring the boat to the sea. I was also aware that I wasn’t getting as much exercise as I like, by sitting on a boat letting the engine did the work. I felt it was now time for a good hill walk to get my legs and lungs pumping. Fresh northerlys were good for my cooling system which tends to overheat on summer hill walks.

I decided to climb Ben Lui simply because I did it around 25 years ago in the mist and never saw a single view. I always remembered that climb as I ascended it with a friend by its “Central Gully” route in full winter conditions. We didn’t use a rope because we didn’t have one but I will never forget seeing the cornice at the very top. I took the cowardly stance and let my climbing partner cut the route through. I often wondered what it looked like in decent weather.

This photo is of Ben Lui in winter condition. Central Gully goes straight up the front of the mountain and reaches the summit between the twin peaks of its top. Its a very long and exposed route but not too difficult for anyone with a head for heights.

My head for heights has long gone and I now get a nose bleed looking out my first story bedroom window, so this time round, I was going to climb it by the tourist route. Here is another photo taken in summer on my way to the start of the hill walk.

I parked in the carpark off the A82 main road from Tyndrum to Oban. It was a beautiful morning and I had the place to myself. Form this angle the mountain doesn’t look so spectacular and its hard to believe the summit is 3700feet high.

The first obstacle to overcome on the tourist route is the river Lochy. It was running low so I crossed by the stepping stones. I was over the moon crossing without getting my feet wet.

I followed the Eas Daimn burn and then cut off at its tributary through the forest to gain access to the open hillside. My lungs felt raw gasping in the cool morning air as I tried to find my stride. Its over a year since I attempted a decent hillwalk and I felt it.

The cascading water of the burn distracted me from the pain of lack of exercise. However it must be the muddiest path I have ever walked on. Although I didn’t photograph it, at times I was half way up to my knees in muddy slime. It was at the worst parts the path would narrow to cut through the trees so there was no way round the quagmire except trying to balance on broken branches laid by previous walkers

Finally I reached an open part and saw the end of the forest secrion. I couldn’t wait to get onthe the dry open hillside, in fact, if I had the energy, I would have ran. I didn’t have the energy and already, I felt like crawling.

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