Ben Cruachan – 1126m
Stob Diamh – 998m
Date: 20th June 2012
Distance: 6 ¾ miles
Two Feet Four Paws: Anne, Andy, Molly and Ali
They say it’s not what you know but who you know. How true!
Ben Cruachan is Andy’s local hill and taking advantage of his contacts we were able to drive up to the dam, saving us 300m of ascent and more importantly 300m of knee jarring descent at the end of the day. I am still mentally scarred by the trauma of a previous descent back to the station, through trees and head high midge infested bracken.
After a leisurely start from Oban we were at the dam putting our boots on busily trying to avoid the evil glances from a group of walkers who had sweated up the path from the station. As we walked across the dam and along the western shore of the reservoir Andy pointed out all the security cameras positioned around the reservoir and the dam. A word of warning………………..don’t stop for a pee until you are well up into the corrie or you will find yourself immortalised on CCTV.
It was warming up nicely and we could see the early morning cloud slowly disappearing from the summit as we approached the end of the reservoir. A thoughtful walker had built a large arrow to indicate the start of the path into Coire Dearg for the navigationally challenged.
Even in the few years since I started climbing Munros I have noticed the changes on the paths on the majority of the hills, with many of them having large eroded scars up on the most popular routes. The Cruachan hills are no exception and it would be virtually impossible to stray of the route even in bad visibility.
Ali was racing ahead, keen to bag a couple of new Munros, whereas Molly was more interested in helping the members of the other group with their packed lunches. We took our first break at the lochan below Meall Cuanail and ended up soaked to the skin as Molly and Ali spent the time retrieving a massive fence post from the lochan only for someone to kindly throw it back in again.
Fortified by some rather warm and melted chocolate we took the sporting route up towards the summit, a rocky rib to the left of the eroded path gave swift progress to the boulderfield and the lightning shattered summit trig point.
Andy and l have been walking together for over 10 years (18 now) and despite us both climbing Ben Cruachan and Stob Diamh many times before this was the joint ascent, so we marked the occasion with a lengthy chocolate break at the summit.
We plodded on down the ridge to the foot of the ‘granny stopper’, the well known and exaggerated bad-step on the ridge.
Molly and Ali decided the easiest way to tackle this obstacle was to launch themselves at it and hope that their paws had suddenly gained adhesive properties. Thankfully the passing of thousands of pairs of walking boots have worn a straightforward bypass path around the obstacle and the dogs were persuaded away from their acrobatics to continue along the ridge.
The ridge walk took quite a while as we kept stopping as new hills came into view with each rise or change in direction. We reminisced about previous outings on these hills, usually involving epic days of incessant rain, sodden river crossings and seemingly bottomless bogs. We strolled over the Munro Tops of Drochaid Ghlas and on towards Stob Diamh.
As we arrived at Stob Diamh we met a large group doing the circuit the other way round and they were gobsmacked that the dogs had managed to get this far round the route without difficulty. We kept quiet about some of the situations Molly has found herself in over the last few years!
After another chocolate stop we managed to drag ourselves away as we had a pressing deadline…….the cake shop shut at 5.30.
An earlier route plan had been to include Beinn a’ Bhuiridh on the way down but on reaching the bealach below the Corbett, we were overcome by an attack of inertia and continued back down to the eroded, but thankfully dry path on the east side of the reservoir.
The relief at not having to plod through the bracken and trees back to the station was indescribable. Fresh socks, a cold can of Diet Coke and we were back on the road within 10 minutes.
And just in case you were worried we made it to the cake shop before closing time.