14th to 16th December 2007 - Ochils Hut
After a pleasant stroll in the Ochils en route, by the rather poetically
named Burn of Sorrow, I opened up the hut at Crianlarich in the gathering gloom.
By the time other folk started showing up the fire was blazing, to the extent
that even Alison C was unable to sit right next to it.
The forecast spoke optimistically of inversions and 80% cloud free hills and many
plots were hatched. Nearly everyone decided to have a crack at either Ben Lui or
Ben Oss. Tim went to Ben More and Stob Binnein on the doorstep and apparently had
a good day complete with views from the summits. Anne C went to tackle a more
user-friendly Corbett which entailed a gentle stroll through Caledonian pinewoods.
Fraser and I set off early for Ben Lui and Ben Cleibh and right enough you could
see at least two thirds of Ben Lui on the approach. However, the cloud sat on top
of the hill all day and if there was an inversion you had to be in a 747 to experience it.
When we got to the corrie the cloud lifted briefly, which was just as well as we had
missed our path up the side of it by then. After a couple of other navigation challenges
and a slippery scramble up the 'bad step' we arrived at the summit cairn which was encased
in ice and fog. Not a place to linger. Ben Cleibh was straightforward enough, but then of
course we had to go back up Ben Lui again. Ugh! 400 meters of slog back to the summit,
still fog bound. This time however we were greeted by an enthusiastic raven and by Bill
and Eileen who were kindly sharing their lunch with it. They had also missed their route
slightly on the way up. Seemed to be endemic, as on the way down we ended up too far round
to the North and I think it is fair to say that we actually more or less circumnavigated the
entire hill during the course of the day.
Getting back to the hut, the Ben Dubhchraig and Ben Oss group (Penny, Harry, Ewan and Kate)
arrived shortly after us and reported a very similar sort of day involving walking under one
of the summits by mistake and then going back to look for it. Kenny and Alison had managed
not to get lost by following a path all the way to the top of Ben Vane. Alan and Anne were
unfortunately both overcome by sickness on the way down Ben Lui and went straight home.
The evening featured Bill and Eileen leaving the restaurant next door (fab curry!) to look
for Bill and Kathy who had still not returned by 7.30. However, we finally got a
reply to a text and they materialised after a walk out in the dark. Perhaps they
should have started walking before 10.30...
Amazingly only Fraser made it to the Rod and Reel, which was almost empty
(as we were all still in the restaurant stuffing ourselves). Everyone collapsed
in front of the roaring fire, full of curry and beer. No dancing on the mantelpiece
The next day, the hills were still hiding. Fraser set off to Ben Challum, undaunted.
Anne Craig and I had a surreal walk up Meal nan Subh - the hill of the raspberry -
at the end of Glen Lochay. It all started when I saw something out of the corner
of my eye and said to Anne 'am I hallucinating or is that a bright yellow sheep?'
Indeed it was and we saw 4 or 5 of them intermingled with normal coloured sheep on
our way up. When I say yellow, I mean day-glo, incredibly bright yellow all over.
And yes - we know about tups and all that - but surely it doesn't involve an all
over colour scheme?
The hill turned out to be rather attractive with several summits on a longish ridge
on ground that was frozen absolutely solid. Not only that we even had a view!
On the way back down the road we noticed that someone had written messages on the
road in big block letters. One said 'Look at Gregor's purple face' and something
about his behind which luckily was illegible. Another one said - more alarmingly
'Don't Look Back!' Had aliens landed, disguised as yellow sheep and started communicating
with the mother ship? You read it here first.