Sunday, 18 March 2012

Ben Venue and Bealach nam Bo

I did return to Ben Venue on Saturday. However I didn't fancy doing it by the same route that I took during the week. I wanted to see Bealach Nam Bo (Pass of the Cattle) which is on the northern flanks of Ben Venue, then to see if I could get to the summit from the top of the pass. Its all new ground to me so it was like walking a new hill.

I arrived at the car park at Loch Achray earlier too and I was the first there. I didn't expect to see many people on my route but I didn't expect to see many people last Tuesday either. This time I had peace to get my photograph of the wooden bridge across the Achray waters.

It was a beautiful morning with blue sky and no wind. I followed a small path past the sluce gates at the eastern end of Loch Katrine. A lovely but unusual view of Ben An opened up across the other side of the loch

I was walking in a huge corrie and the colours of the hills looked stunning in the early morning sun. As I walked beside a small burn, I could see the high pass of Bealach nam Bo straight ahead.

A couple of massive boulders littered the floor of the corrie. The ground must have trembled when they broke free from the heights above.

A few small clouds passed in front of the sun, giving some dynamic lighting to the lovely scenery. High above the pass, I could see and eagle circle in the gentle updrafts. Its huge wings spread in glider fashion, it was almost stationary as it floated on air looking for its breakfast far below.

I wondered what it thought of my thrashing and panting as I clambered up the slopes to the pass. Soon I also had great views all around me but there was no breakfast to be seen anywhere. I was still on my diet, so I feasted my eyes on the scenery instead.

The lone tree at the top of the pass survived the winter gales but it had lost a couple of large branches which lay on the ground below it.

Moments later I was over the pass and on the open hillside looking over Loch Katrine. A few walkers have been in difficulty here when they descend from Ben Venue this way.

They miss the pass of Bealach nam Bo as it is not very obvious from the top. They then descend to loch level thinking they can get round at waters edge but find they cant because of the steep cliffs of Coire no Uruisgean. This was why I wanted to ascend to Ben Venue and not descent it for the first time.

In truth, not many people ascend or descend Ben Venue this way as there was no sign of a path once I left the bealach. The ground was wet and hard going with the heather. Holly was using a lot of energy junping through it. Deep revines are cut in the ground by the many burns and there are a few peat bogs to navigate round.

I tried to find deer paths through the heather or grassy patches to help make Holly's progress easier. It felt like it was a long way to go to get up the mountain.

Nearer the top we then had to navigate through the rocks and crags that surround the summit. I did see a lot of false summits which was a little disheartening as we were now quite weary of walking. A strong cold wind meant I couldn't rest for long as Holly was wet and would feel the cold if we stopped for a while.

Then we were on the summit. The views were worth the effort and I would certainly go to Bealach Nam Bo anytime, but I doubt if I would climb Ben Venue again by this route.

I shared my egg sandwich with Holly as neither of us had eaten any breakfast. Then we started off again. It was too cold and windy to hang around.

I had both summits to myself on Saturday. We had arrived on top before the other walkers arrived. We had not see a soul on our route either.

We then passed a few folks as we descended via the tourist route. Once we were in the forest section, it got quite warm .. both Holly and myself had a skip in our step as we walked to the car in the sun.

1 comment:

blueskyscotland said...

Its a cracking hill from that side.
Some nice photographs of wild country.