Stob Garbh (Cruach Ardrain)

5 10 2014

Wed 3 Sep 2014
This was a quickie as it was my last day in Crianlarich and I was driving back to Cumbria in the afternoon so needed a short one.

Click on photos for full size/resolution – was a hazy day so they’re not great
For the first time on this trip, the weather was actually that forecast – nice and sunny with a good, high cloudbase. I’d breakfasted, packed and left the hotel by 0920 and was parked up in a corner of the carpark shared by Crianlarich Youth Hostel and a play area by around 0935. The route through the forest sets off directly from the carpark (there is an alternative start from a forest carpark on the roadside as you enter Crianlarich from the east).

Stob Garbh Ascent Ridge End
My route followed the distant right-hand forest edge onto the ridge-end

I’d already recce’d the route through the forest on a previous visit as I know how fickle forest roads can be. Quite often, they’re nothing like the routes marked on the map as some are left to grow over and new ones are made to suit harvesting operations.

Basically, you head through the gate into the natural woodland and this takes you uphill to a viewpoint and a junction of paths. The onward route is a clearly marked right turn (for Coire or Glen Ardrain I think). The small path soon passes through a gate in a deer fence and joins the forest road coming up from the other carpark – you turn right on this to head uphill into the commercial forestry.

Ignore the road running back left at the next junction and continue uphill. In about another quarter of a mile or so, another road rakes back to the left – you turn onto this and follow that uphill for nearly a mile when it curves left over a river bridge. Just after the bridge, you reach the new edge of the forest as a large section has been clearfelled ahead.

Stob Garbh from River Bridge
Stob Garbh (middle of photo) from near river bridge

This was as far as my recce had taken me before and I took a short path on the right which headed below the forest edge over rough ground on long grass. I had to make careful progress from hereon until I reached the never-forested section of hillside higher up as, turning uphill, I had to cross about quarter of a mile of brash – very bad to walk on!

After rounding a high ‘wall’ of brash I finally reached the smoother ground and commenced the stiff climb of Creag na h’ Iolaire, keeping right of the crags. The climb was pathless and reasonably arduous but I eventually reached the top of the ridge and a small craggy peak.

During the ascent, I was worried by a fence… I’d seen it above me earlier and it looked like a deer fence which, due to its height, would be awkward to surmount without a stile so I needed to be the right side of it. I could see it went over the ridge but didn’t know whether it was enclosing the northern end of my ridge (which I was on) or was enclosing a section to the south. As I reached a steepening under a rocky area of the ascent, I reached the lower edge of the fence. It was actually only normal height and most of the wire was missing. I strode over the remaining single wire and continued uphill.

The next time the fence appeared, a little further up the hill, it had become full deer-fence size (around 9 or 10 feet high) and was fully wired! Luckily, as I continued uphill, I reached an area where it has been wrecked and trodden down so was easily crossed. Just after that, on the ridgeline, there was a gate but it had been wired into an intact area of fence so you definitely have to cross where it is trodden down. A track set off from the former gate to take me to the small craggy summit just along the ridge.

The path bypassed just below the summit and I didn’t divert the few yards to it but paused and looked in dismay to the intermediate peak of Stob Coire Bhuidhe – it looked an enormous slog on grass. I’m still not feeling very fit and it tired me further just looking at it but I supposed it wouldn’t go away so continued determinedly towards it. I was feeling quite warm in the sun and that was making me feel more tired – I’d certainly gone better the last couple of days in the cold clag.

Stob Garbh Ascent Ridge
Looking back down ridge from ascent of middle peak

Luckily the path continued to about half-way up the long, grassy hill and, although it steepened quite a bit towards the top, I was soon diverting to a pile of stones on its summit. From the summit I got a view ahead to my peak – I was pleased to see it was much nearer but it looked very steep and strenuous. There were two steep rises to its summit but I could see a path all the way – I do find things much easier with a path…

Stob Garbh from Middle Peak

The view was by now great though – Beinn Tulaichean was peeping through the gap between my hill and Cruach Ardrain. There was also a nice view across Meall Dhamh to An Caisteal but this was very hazy for photos. Cruach Ardrain was flirting heavily with some cloud most of the time. Looking across to it, I was really glad I didn’t have to try to ascend its precipitously steep eastern slope to the Munro summit – there was no route I could see.

Cruach Ardrain from Stob Garbh

Stob Garbh

I was soon down on the col before Stob Garbh and starting on the steep ascent of the first section of peak. I have to say that bit went very quickly and was nothing like as arduous as it looked. From there, although the final section was even steeper, it was shorter and I knew I’d soon be up there.

Stob Garbh from col

Stob Garbh final climb

Stob Garbh & Cruach Ardrain

On reaching the main summit cairn, I continued straight on as I wanted to see what the route up from the far col would have been like. On our previous visit to pick up the Munros, I’d planned to do Cruach Ardrain, go out and back to Beinn Tulaichean and then traverse a grassy shelf under the south-east side of Cruach Ardrain to reach Stob Garbh for our descent. However, it had been so claggy, and Richard was so tired and fed-up, we’d just retraced our outward steps.

The route from the far col looked full of interest as there was another little peak below with a nice lochan on it – I later found out from a friend that this is a deleted Munro Top (he’s collecting them as well). I contented myself with a photo as I was too lazy to drop down and visit it – also, I needed to be quick on my walk as I wanted to reach Cumbria by early evening.

Stob Garbh Deleted Top

Stob Garbh Summit Cairn

I returned to the cairn but didn’t stay and continued back past it to start the descent. Now sometimes, descents are as hard as ascents… I’m happy to say though that this wasn’t the case with Stob Garbh. I really enjoyed my romp back down and along the ridge.

Stob Garbh to Descent Ridge

The middle peak looked more interesting in the return direction…

Stob Garbh - Middle Peak

The unnamed end peak had a few crags about too…

Stob Garbh - Unnamed End Peak

The descent from the ridge-end was steep and a bit rough but still went very quickly and I was soon descending Creag na h’ Iolaire to the felled part of the forest.

Coming from above, it was much easier to avoid the brash and I found that, keeping closer to the edge of the forest, I could avoid it almost entirely. The ground had very long grass and was still steep, uneven and holey so great care had to be taken but I was back on the forest road in not many minutes and smiling. I romped back over the bridge and strolled back through the forest on the great roads and reached my car just before 2 o’ clock.

I briefly toyed with the idea of calling for an ice-cream at the station tea-room but in the end, the idea of a full meal in the Little Chef at my petrol stop of Balhaldie on the A9 won out. I whipped my boots and pack off and jumped in the car for the drive home – I’d had a much better day and was pleased to have ‘bagged’ three more Munro Tops during my trip ๐Ÿ™‚

Stats: 9 miles, 3561 feet of ascent, 4 hours 20

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10 responses

21 10 2014
McEff

Nice walk. I’ve not done those hills, having been put off the area by a relentless slog up the side of Ben More from the A85. Aren’t Little Chef’s a bit on the expensive side?
Cheers, Alen

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21 10 2014
mountaincoward

Little Chef’s are slightly more expensive than pub grub but at least I know in advance there will be something to suit me on the menu when I’m travelling. Not all pubs do good vegetarian grub…

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10 10 2014
bob

I’m afraid to say I’ve never eaten in a Little Chef as we usually just make for a chip shop on the way to places but I have been aware of them closing in Scotland. I admire your dedication to the brand. The Motor inn at Ballinluig on the A9 has good meals, a wide and varied menu plus cheap prices and has been a favourite of mine for many years. One of the few indoor eating establishments I enjoy. ( I mention this just in case your last remaining L. C. outlets suddenly disappear :o)

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10 10 2014
mountaincoward

Thanks for the tips Bob. I have to say that, if going north, I now eat at the Blair Atholl Hotel – they do a superb macaroni cheese which is so filling I don’t have room for an expensive pud afterwards. It’s not expensive either and they’re really quick ๐Ÿ™‚

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6 10 2014
chrissiedixie

I didn’t know Little Chefs still existed! I used to like their pancakes ๐Ÿ™‚

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6 10 2014
mountaincoward

They still do their superb Jubilee Pancakes – plus they have a Banoffee one now with toffee sauce and sliced banana – yum! ๐Ÿ™‚

I really like Little Chefs although they are almost all down South now. There are only 2 in Scotland I think – they closed our northbound one which we used to use for our evening meal while driving up to Scotland ๐Ÿ˜ฆ They serve all kinds of food from junk through to proper meals. They also do lovely snacks like egg on toast. They aren’t cheap but I think it’s worth it to know there’ll be something on the menu for you when you get there, no matter what your preference.

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5 10 2014
smackedpentax

You always inspire me to get back in the mountains. I have been incredibly lazy the past couple of years and have become a bit of a ‘moor bunny’ rarely venturing far from home. One reason is that I can be on the moors in about 10 mins and I am also exploring the Neolithic things which I have suddenly taken a passion to. But every time I read one of your superb posts and view your photos I am ashamed that I haven’t devoted enough time to be in the mountains – which I do love. So, although Scotland is out of the question for now – although I am spending a week in the highlands (somewhere) with a friend in Spring, I may have a few more trips to the Lakes soon. Not too far and brilliant in autumn.

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5 10 2014
mountaincoward

I was very glad to get back to the Lakes for the first time since about March or April last week! ๐Ÿ™‚

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5 10 2014
fedup

Looks good ๐Ÿ™‚ – 4 hours is not my idea of a quickie mind ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Cheers

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5 10 2014
mountaincoward

Three and three-quarters! ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s a quickie for Scotland!

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