I’ll start this walk report with another apology, no photos this time. The weather was too bad and to be honest, once we got to the snow line, there were no views to speak of anyway. So, you will have to make do with my boring words, rather than a ream of photographs instead.
We met at the large car park at Luss, near the village shop. Note that this is a pay and display car park, I paid about £3.50 for the day, so its not too bad, but just so you know. We were meeting a couple of friends from my time at university, that due to local restrictions and busy lives, we hadn’t seen for nearly 2 years. So it was a joyful reunion in the car park, and introduction for Max, at which point, he made firm friends with them and was ready to tackle the day.
The plan was a circumnavigation of Glen Striddle, to the west of Loch Lomond. On a good day, the route promised incredible views of Scotland’s largest loch.
After leaving the car park, heading south along the main road, crossing over to the start of the footpath, we entered the fields on the lower slopes of Beinn Dubh, rising above the village of Luss. Winding our way up through the trees, Max was in his element, chasing down the smells of the woodland.
Once we broke onto the open hillside, the views of Loch Lomond were absolutely outstanding. The cold air seemingly clearer, offered extensive views up and down the loch. The dark clouds above broken in places, with the sunlight streaming through. Looking ahead, we knew we were in for some rough weather as the clouds were gathering, making us linger here a little longer before entering the rapidly dropping cloud.
Starting to tackle the hill proper, it is a relatively featureless, continual grade slope. Flattening out slightly at about the 300m mark before steepening agin shortly after. Max got his first up close encounter with some sheep, where he was very well behaved and before we knew it, we had created the first lower summit of Beinn Dubh.
We were now in full view of the northerly wind, brining with it a stinging wind chill and frozen ground. A little care was needed across some more exposed parts as it was a little slippy under the snow. There was no exposure to speak of, so no danger of a long fall, but care needed to be taken nonetheless.
As the ridge line curves to the west, it narrows and we dropped out of the cloud for a time and we’re treated to some under the cloud views north towards Inverbeg. The surprisingly steep slopes down from our ridge sharpened our need for good navigation in the mainly white world we had been walking in. Err too far from our course and the ground got quite unforgiving. Max didn’t care of course and thought it was great to run up and down the steep slopes.
Climbing from the final saddle and several false summits, the final 400m stretched ahead of us. Settling in for a long slog in the snow, we were buoyed when the cloud started to lift. There was now the possibility of a view, so we began chasing it down, setting our fastest 400m time of the day! The weather offered tantalising glimpses of the summit as the clouds blew through, keeping us going as the legs started to burn with the pace. As with hillwalking in Scotland generally, we didn’t quite get the views, but we saw enough to warrant a few slaps on the back and a high five or two on the top.
Beinn Dubh 657m a Graham in classification, was now in the bag. There was however the small matter of continuing our horseshoe round the head of the Glen returning safely to the car park in Luss. What followed was a relatively uneventful trudge back down towards the loch, with views finally showing themselves as we reached the lower slopes. The terrain felt a little more exposed on the decent, I suppose as we were facing away from the slope as opposed to into it, but I think if I come back again, I shall try this route in reverse.
We hit the tarmac road that winds it way up the Glen at Glenmollochan, and followed it back to the main road and on to the car park without too much fanfare. It was a thankful group of hikers and one tired pup that settled in the hotel for some well earned refreshment.
Overall I had a cracking day out, reconnected with some good friends and managed to tire Max out for once. Success!