Saturday 4 September 2010


Last weekend was set to be not bad weatherwise, so I decided on a plan. I was going to head to Arrochar and walk up a hill and try and bag a Munro. There was a slight problem in my thinking though, everybody else who would want to go was doing something else. So, that left me with the prospect of mixing public transport with a walk.

After checking the timetables and the forecasts, the plan was to head to Glasgow on Saturday morning and get the train from Queen Street to Arrochar and Tarbert station on the West Highland Line. As with all great plans there was a vital flaw. On Friday night there were a few drinks straight after work so I was a bit more tired than expected on Saturday morning at 0600. However, on looking out the window the weather was a bit crap and a quick check of the web confirmed that the rest of the day would not be ideal so back to bed it was.

Fast forward to Saturday night. The forecast and the MWIS report for Sunday was tremendous. It was set to be an ideal summer's day so instead of packing up the bag I already had ready, I decided to plan for a Sunday hike to Beinn Narnain.

Crap Sunday public transport meant I was able to get an extra couple of hours in my bed. One McGills to Glasgow later and I was ready to board the Oban train. That train journey was an eye opener. Once you get passed the build up areas of Dalmuir, Dumbarton and Helensburgh it becomes a train journey like no other. The scenery was breathtaking. You wouldn't think that a train journey 30 minutes from Glasgow would have those views. After Garelochead, Loch Long and the Arrocher Alps came into view.

From Arrochar and Tarbet station there is a forestry track that takes you to the head of Loch Long. Looking at this path on an OS map doesn't give the whole picture. It is not as flat as it looks. This eventually takes you to the road which you follow around and end up at the car park where you'd start if you were to drive through.

My intended route was to head up the zig-zags, passed the dam and follow the path to the point it splits about 600m before you fork off to either The Cobbler or Narnain. So a quick check of the bag and I set off up the hill. Having being very inactive over the last couple of months, I can confirm that the zig-zags were one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. Definitely the worst they have been of the few times I've tried them.

It was a long slog along the path and there were a lot more breather stops than I had planned. On top of being knackered very early on, I felt my left knee go so that started to give a good bit of pain. I toyed with the idea of turning back, but I had plenty of time, so even being a bit sore I would make it back to the station in time for the train home.

The beauty of walking along this path is the sight when The Cobbler comes into view. Especially with weather like that is is a good sight to see.

After stopping at Narnain Boulders for a bite to eat, I followed the path to the split in the road and turned right to ascend the last 300m to the summit. Soon after this, I was confronted with a good obstacle. I could see the continuation of the path up ahead but between me and it was a boulder field.

After navigating the boulders, the plateau wasn't far away. When I reached the top, there was a group of people already there so I was able to get one of them to take a picture.

After hanging about for a bit I started my descent. This was not pleasant, the pain from my leg was noticeable but I marched on and got to the bottom in not bad time. The time stamps between the summit picture and the start of the walk is 2 hours exactly so that gave me enough time to grab a bite to eat and follow the road round to the station. I really think I need to take some kind of navigational course. I didn't think the station was that far but the road seemed to go on forever until the sign came into view. I was nearly there and still made it in time to be eaten alive by midges for 20 minutes while eating my single sausage.

All in all it was a not bad day out. The experience of bagging Munro no. 5 solo was a weird one. While it was good to not worry about the pace for anyone else, it is nice to have a bit of chat when you're in the wilderness. I definitely want to try this one again when I shift a few pounds.

2010-08-29 - Beinn Narnain
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