Friday, September 06, 2013

Beinn Chabhair

Beinn Chabhair is a Munro which lies on the East side of Glen Falloch, better known to motorists as the A82, north of Loch Lomond. As it is the most westerly of the Crianlarich Hills it has fine views across vast distances, North, West and South. Beinglas Farm seems to be less of a farm than a campsite, bar, restaurant and very busy stop on The West Highland Way. The farm is also a handy place to park in order to gain access to the steep path which ascends South-Eastwards alongside the Bein Glas Burn, and past the delightful Bein Glas Falls. The car park at the campsite might be emblazoned with "patrons only" notices, but hillwalkers are welcome to use it upon payment of £1 at the bar. Having paid and displayed, we found our way around the back of the campsite's wooden 'wigwam' huts, and over a dangerously dilapidated stile and onto the steely rising path. There is no time for the leg-muscles and joints to warm up before climbing, as the stiff ascent begins immediately, and well over 300m are gained in the first km.  In places it's a good track, sometimes it disappears, in places it's rocky, all of it is wet, and much of it very boggy!  

The adjacent burn is the outflow of a delightful Lochan Beinn Chabhair, which sits below its' namesake mountain at around 500m. However, the sopping wet track splits before the lochan, and we took the more Northerly branch which climbed up onto the subsidiary top of Meall nan Tarmachan. From here a very well-worn (dry!) path leads around the ridge to the Munro itself. The summit of the Munro is marked by a very underwhelming little cairn, and as we reached it in thick cloud we double-checked our position and altitude on the GPS to confirm that this was indeed the top. We are right in the middle of Scotland's deer-stalking season at the moment, and so we took the precaution of checking the "hillphones" website before heading out. Many estates who have significant mountain ranges, and who host stalking parties put their information on this site so that walkers can avoid disrupting the estate's trade or indeed risk having a stray bullet interrupt their walking... The Glen Falloch and Glen Fyne hillphone page is found here

Somewhat bizarrely, the person this estate has chosen to read out the stalking information is from the North of England, and seemed to struggle with the pronunciation of the Gaelic-derived hill names. This is not a racist point, I am after all an Englishman in the Scottish hills, whose mis-pronunciations have caused amusement to many a Scot over the years. However, if you compare the pronunciations of Beinn Chabhair found on the hillphone answerphone by dialling 01499 600137 with that you can hear courtesy of the walkhighlands website (switch your sound on and click here), you will see why it took me four plays of the hill phone line to work out which hill the lady was talking about! Nevertheless, once the information had been extracted, we stuck to the recommended route and encountered no problems, and no stalking parties. We were also grateful that what the Mountain Weather Information Service had predicted was accurate, the cloud and showers which had dampened our spirits as we made our way along the ridge soon passed.

The gloom did disperse, the showers passed, the sun shone and the visibility was exceptionally clear. Making our way back down the same route (in compliance with the stalking guidelines) we squelched our way back to the car, and a brief visit to the bar at the Beinglas Farm.

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