Tag Archives: Munro Bagging

Cruach Ardrain & Beinn Tulaichean – WALK REPORT – July 2021

I had a week off earlier in July and the wife and I decided to try and take one of the days off to do a bit of Munro bagging. We spent a while going over a few different routes and tried to find the most suitable day trip for us. We settled on a pair of hills to the south of Crianlarich, Cruach Ardrain and Beinn Tulaichean. I’ve climbed hills either side of this pair before, so I was looking forward to seeing those hills from a different perspective. Our initial idea was to attempt these hills from the south from Inverlochlarig, however when we began to pack our kit the previous evening, we found out that the map that we had of that area actually doesn’t cover much of this approach. Back to the drawing board, we decided to keep the same targets, but approach from the north, on the A82 south of Crianlarich. It was a longer walk, but we both felt more comfortable walking a route that we have a map for.

Forest track in Scottish woodland
Rough path through the woodland

The morning of the ascent was spent wrangling the children to various grandparents and aunties and we were on the road north by about 8am. After a little faffing about, we were parked up in a layby off the A82 and booted up by 9.30. We struck out into the long grass towards a footbridge over the railway and veered right following a rough track through the woodland. After a time, this lead us to an access road that headed uphill towards our target.

Max and I posing for a photo on the access road
Max and I posing for a photo on the access road

We followed the access road, with Max the dog bounding along, taking a left and right turn at the following junctions. We even stopped for a short while for a photo! Eventually, after about 20 minutes or so we came across the walkers cairn, signalling our deviation from the road and the end of the easy terrain. To be honest, the cairn is quite small, we nearly missed it. Following the bent grass path through knee high grass, we toiled our way up the grassy hill and reached the tree line.

The next section will live long in the memory, and unfortunately not for a particularly good reason. I had assumed that with these hills being fairly far south, the amount of foot traffic would have eroded a fairly well worn path through the trees, coming out the other side to start the ascent of Grey Height, which is the first major obstacle on this route at 666m. However, this turned out not to be the case. What followed was about 20 minutes of boggy scrambling through low hanging branches of immature pine trees. The sort of branches that leave scratches on your arms, whilst trying to avoid losing a boot in the bog. It was a nightmare. Even looking back on it now, it wasn’t particularly fun although it was certainly adventurous.

After what felt like an age, we managed to escape the boggy tree line, and were out onto the hill proper. We began the ascent cursing the previous section, but still in decent spirits. These spirits were to be sorely tested from here on. With the temperatures heading north of 20 degrees and the time of year, we were almost immediately assaulted by clouds of midges and flies, which was certainly unpleasant. We had to stop multiple times on this initial climb to apply insect repellent, which we were sweating out due to the heat.

Making decent time on the initial climb (taking into account our midge repellent application breaks) we achieved the first part of the climb, reaching Grey Height and its lochan. Of course, Max thought this was great and jumped straight in for a swim.

We were now able to see ahead to the second challenge of this trip, Meall Dhamh. Sitting at 814m, this is not an insignificant bump in the road to cross. The path became somewhat clearer after this, easing the pressure on our navigation. We duly headed on and upwards starting to scale the hill ahead. As we were nearing the top of Meall Dhamh, we started to get glimpses of the first summit on the trip, Cruach Ardrain.

The path then veered westwards, taking us across the hillside, contouring along at a reasonable height. Note here, that if you are a little bit wobbly with exposure, you could find this a little difficult. Following the path and turning into the slope, it was about a 10 minute slog up to the top of the summit ridge. We met there the path running along the ridge, we turned left here towards the summit.

Summit of Cruach Ardrain

We quickly reached the false summit and then on to the true summit maybe 100m further along the ridge. This is a great spot, high, airy and with some great views in all directions. I was particularly taken by the view along the ridge to the next summit, Beinn Tulaichean. It really looked like a bump in the main ridge rather than a Munro in its own right, which is nice. I had figured that we would be doing a lot of descending and reclimbing for the second summit, but that didn’t look to be the case.

Max heading for Beinn Tulaichean

We didn’t stay long at the summit, the midge cloud descended on us and we made a hasty retreat back to the saddle where we joined the summit path. This is not the lowest point between the two hills, rather a depression in the descent to the true saddle. We pushed on down to the saddle and looked up to the next target – it didn’t seem far or too much higher than where we standing.

Summit of Beinn Tulaichean

Gathering ourselves, we set off once more to climb Beinn Tulaichean, and actually made it to the top in about 20 minutes. We were getting a little tired by this time, so I think we would usually do this climb a bit quicker, but as I say, we were getting a little tired by this point in the walk. Again, the midges descended whilst we were on the summit, meaning this too was a quick pitstop for the obligatory photo and then we retraced our steps, downhill back to the saddle. We had only left the saddle 30 minutes before, and were already back, having bagged another Munro!

We climbed back up to where our path met the ridge path and took the left turn off the ridge. The terrain here is steep and now we were facing the drop straight in front of us. If you’re a bit funny about that sort of thing, beware! Tracking back towards Meall Dhamh, we covered the ground pretty quickly, finishing the contouring part of the route.

Heading North to Crianlarich

Broadly following our route of ascent in reverse, we headed north back towards Crianlarich over Meall Dhamh and then Grey Height all the way to the tree line. We even bog-trotted down the hill back to the access road before using the easier going to relax and reflect on a great day out in the hills, with another two Munros in the bag!

Max the dog really dirty in the back of the car.
Max was exhausted and very dirty after our walk

HEAD TORCH REVIEW: Pathfinder 21 LED Headlamp

You’re out in the hills, the walk has taken longer than anticipated and the light is fading fast. The sun is setting over the skyline to the west and its getting harder to see clearly. You are struggling to ready your map in the gloom and your footing is becoming un-sure. Its time to reach into the bag and pull out the headtorch. Which model do you pull out?

Let’s face it we have all been there, and your choice of head torch is really important to ensure you can continue to be safe as it gets darker. With the lack of ambient light in most wild places, this can happen quite quickly and if you are unprepared you will get caught out. Not only is it important to carry a head torch on every walk (see my post on a rough packing list for a hill day here) but also spare batteries for that torch. You just never know when things are going to take longer than you think and you will be caught in the falling dusk.

I have used a Petzl headtorch for quite some time, and I’ve been quite happy with it overall. However, I was gifted a new headtorch recently and now I have had a chance to use it, I thought I would review it for you all to give you my opinion.

Pathfinder Head Torch 21 LED Packshot
The Pathfinder 21 LED headtorch

Overall Rating 4.2 out of 5. Buy your Pathfinder Head torch here.

Pathfinder Head Torch Review – Packaging

At first look, the Pathfinder Head Torch comes well packed in informative and kind of cool looking packaging. The front of the packet refers to the 21 LEDs, 100,000 hour lifetime (I have not tested this claim…), adjustments that can be made, light modes and water resistance.

The rear of the packet has more the more technical information, battery operation and changing procedure. The torch itself comes in the really hard to open blister packaging that I find incredibly frustrating. Not to say that this impacts on the torch itself at all, but hey, you wanted my opinion. Overall, the packaging is solid, preventing damage and informative.

Pathfinder Head Torch Review – First Look

On opening the packet (the less said about that the better), the first impression I had is of its weight. Its a bit lighter than I anticipated. There was no battery in it at this point, so I will have to factor that in, but it was still lighter than I was expecting. The torch face is nice and big and the straps look comfy.

I have read a few online reviews for this product that say that the straps are useless and come apart really easily. I cant see any evidence of this and now also having used it, I can say that I have had no real issues with the straps at all. Once, did one strap escape its clip, but it was easily sorted in a matter of moments. They are wide, comfy and easy to get a good fit. I had a bit of a play with the straps and the adjustable angle on the torch itself, everything looks as you would expect. One thing I have found in the past with previous head torches is that the battery compartment is really difficult to open – this one is very easy, a quick twist of the shaped bevel and it pops right open.

Pathfinder Head Torch Review – Usability

Whilst the opening of the battery compartment is quote easy, putting it back together is quite fiddly. I can imagine that with cold fingers, this could be quite challenging. Just something to bear in mind if you plan to use the torch a lot in winter (and lets be honest, with the length of the days in summer, we rarely need head torches here in Scotland).

Wearing the head torch is as comfortable as the first look suggested. I did find that the horizontal strap twisted itself when pulled tight, but it is easy to sort out to avoid any discomfort when wearing the torch for long periods. Tightening and loosening the straps is easy both on and off your head so you can adjust as you go and make changes on the fly.

Pathfinder Head Torch Review – In Use

Lastly, the road test. The torch functions well, the low light setting is perfect for around a camp site or in a tent if you are camping out and want to avoid glare. I’m not sure why the medium and high light settings are set differently, I think I would have been enough to have a low abs a high light setting, but both perform well for those high powered tasks such as looking for a navigation point or a feature in the dark. It would also help being spotted or finding your way in foggy conditions.

The flashing light setting would be great for attracting attention if the need arose too. It’s high powered enough to be seen from quite a distance. The on/off/toggle button is easy to reach whilst on your head, so if you needed to switch functions on the go this would be easy to do. It is placed on the right hand side, so perfect for a right handed person like me. Potential to cause some issues if you are left handed, but I cannot test that being a righty.

When I have been using the head torch, I have not needed to switch settings quickly, but the low light setting and the high powered setting have definitely worked for me. It’s comfy, I’ve worn it for about 2 hours straight with no issues. It provides light where I need it, the adjustable angle feature makes it easy to point the beam where I want it to complete whatever task I’m doing at the time.

One point to note that on one walk, I took the head torch out of my pocket and one of the straps had come loose from its clip. It’s was easy to fix, not a bother at all, but worth noting that it is possible for this to happen when it’s kept in a bag or pocket for a period of time.

Pathfinder Head Torch Review – Scoring

So to score this product, I am going to take a little bit off for the packaging as they could do better with that, let’s take off -0.1.

I’m also going to deduct points for the battery changing procedure as it is a bit fiddly and I think that could cause issues when it’s really cold out. -0.7 for that as, I think, with practice it will get easier but the design does not lend itself to easy operation.

Apart from those points, I cannot really fault this head torch, so the overall score for the Pathfinder Head Torch is 4.2 from a possible 5.

To bag yourself a Pathfinder Head Torch, click the link below.

Buy your Pathfinder Head Torch.

That’s some face…

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