Almost Done in the Arrochar Alps: Beinn Bhuidhe

After around 7 months of not being allowed to travel, I finally got the chance to increase my Munro tally. I opted for Beinn Bhuidhe, an outlier from the main Arrochar Alps and my last Munro to ‘bag’ in the area. Ticking this mountain off left me with one left, then I’ll finally have summited all of the Munros and Corbetts in the Arrochar Alps.

[Apr ’21]

Choosing the first mountain after lockdown was no easy task. With ambitions to bag every Munro and Corbett in Scotland, there are over 500 to choose from (minus those I’ve done already, of course), so I opted for a relatively short journey to Glen Fyne and pleasant walk to take in what should be one of the less frequented hills in the Arrochar Alps – Beinn Bhuidhe.

I don’t particularly enjoy driving the A82 between Tarbet and Ardlui due to the inevitability of being stuck behind a slow moving convoy of traffic or running the gauntlet between lorries and busses, so it’s always a nice change to keep straight on and take the A83 instead. Including a toilet stop, it was around 1hr 45mins from Ayrshire to the car park off the A83 near the bridge over the River Fyne.

Rather unsurprisingly given the recent easing of restrictions, this otherwise quiet hill appeared to be fairly busy with a few cars already in the car park. This wasn’t going to put us off though, so we kitted up and headed off along the tarmac road up the valley on what was a very pleasant – if slightly chilly – morning.

Glen Fyne

The first stage of our walk involved a long trudge along the valley floor, initially on a tarmac road then eventually on a track, to Inverchorachan. This was an enjoyable way to start the day and the flat beginning was a far nicer warm up than stepping out of the car and heading straight up. The initial few miles took us around an hour and we ended up catching up with a couple of groups of people at the ruined cottage at Inverchorachan. I’m all for people enjoying themselves and making use of our breathtaking landscapes, but it’s not the most enjoyable outing following half a dozen very loud ‘Weegies’, so we dropped our pace a little and let them build up a reasonable lead on us. Peace and tranquility again…!

The climb begins

The initial climb was fairly steep in places, but the good path allowed us to make fairly quick progress and gain height easily. The gradient levelled off around the 500m mark as the path crossed a newly built hydro track and from here there was a slightly flatter and boggier section, before one last steep pull up to the main summit ridge.

Approaching the final pull to the summit ridge

This last pull was pretty steep and slightly loose in places, but we managed it with no difficulties and were faced with the last half-kilometre or so of effort to reach the summit of my first Munro since September 2020.

Almost there

We reached the rather crowded summit just before 1130, around 3hrs 45mins after setting off. For around 7 miles and 950m ascent, this wasn’t terrible progress considering the lack of hills, plus we’d taken it easy up the first section of proper ascent to avoid the larger group. We found a nice spot just off the summit and enjoyed views towards Ben Cruachan and its neighbours as well as the Nevis range beyond and polished off an early lunch. After a few summit photos we headed off from the summit, initially retracing our steps back along the ridge.

Ben Cruachan & neighbours from Beinn Bhuidhe
The main Arrochar Alps

The suggested route on Walkhighlands involved a different descent route and this was a much more gentle gradient to begin with than the very steep pull at the end of the ascent, so this wouldn’t make a bad option both up and down. After reaching the hydro track again, we opted to take this rather than descend to the valley floor and back to the car – given the fact that the ‘Weegies’ had followed us off the summit but were heading down the usual descent route, we thought this would be the more relaxing choice! I’m not miserable, I promise…!

Upper Glen Fyne

The hydro track allowed us to make good progress, but was still very steep in places – I certainly don’t fancy having to drive this to access any of the infrastructure on the hill. It was also now baking hot (well, for a pasty white Scottish person it was) and we were walking directly towards the sun, so it felt rather summery, which was an unusual but pleasant experience.

A good track back to the valley floor

We stopped occasionally to give the knees a rest as we had kept up a good pace on our descent and we were thankful to soon be back in amongst some forestry lower down to get away from the sun for a while too. The track winds its way down to almost sea level, where it joins a larger dirt road that passes through a quarry. This was very dusty and given how dry it had been, any passing lorries kicked up large clouds of the stuff – not nice for the lungs! We reached tarmac again after a kilometre or so though, and we were soon back at the now completely full car park, some 6hrs 15mins after setting off in the morning. Our total effort was just shy of 14 miles, probably not much less than what we’d have done if we’d have taken the recommended descent route all the way to the valley floor.

It had been another great day in the hills and we struck lucky with the weather as many of the neighbouring peaks were in and out of cloud throughout the day, so we’d made the right choice! We got ourselves changed and headed home on what was a lovely afternoon to join the rest of the day-trippers who were heading home from Loch Lomond and the surrounding areas. It was tough to complain though – I was just so happy to finally be out of lockdown and allowed to explore. Long may it continue!

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