Day 20 May Crianlarich Ochills Hut An Caisteal 995 metres, Beinn A’ Chroin 942 metres, Beinn Chabhair 993 metres and Beinn A’ Choin 770 metres
It was a great night in the Ochils hut at Crainlarich there were some great photos in there of the late Ian Clough who was killed in Annapurna at the end of a very successful Annapurna expedition in the early 1970’s. Ian was a past member of the RAF Kinloss MRT and was an outstanding mountaineer and person. It was sad to read about him and how he died clearing up the mountain at the end of the trip when he was hit by a serac . The hut had several photos of him climbing in Scotland and abroad, many I had not seen before.
The start of the day was an enjoyable walk down the road to the start of our first hills An Caisteal (996) meters the railway is crossed and then up the aptly named twisting hill and the ridge with its rocky summit. These are fairly rough hills no problem in good weather like today but in mist bad weather or winter they are tricky. The maps were fairly basic in 1976 and the crags had to be avoided at all costs we had enjoyed a few days on these great hills so the memory was still fresh as I had done the 7 Munros in the area in the past in one big day. It was steady along to Beinn A’ Chroin and then a big descent Beinn Chabhair another tricky peak with lots of unmarked crags in the way.
In later years I was to be involved in some wild call –outs in this area with my great friends in the Killin Mountain Rescue Team. Few of these call outs reached the press and we had a great understanding and friendship with the local Killin Team. It was a tragedy in later years when the Wessex helicopter crashed on Ben More killing their Team Leader Harry Lawrie in a tragic night. These were tragic bonds made in years to come that would stand us in great stead and I learned so much from these tough hills and its people. We were heading for Inversnaid the North side of Ben Lomond and Jim wanted to climb this illusive Corbett Beinn a’ Choin only 770 metres but defended by glen, hills and crags. The map did not tell the full story at all. We dropped down into Glen Gyle and then an assortment of small hills with wild navigation and pure hard work that went on and on for over 3 hours. I would not advise to climb this hill from this side and I still remember this day as one of never-ending false summits. It was not over even at the summit as we had to drop down into the banks of Loch Lomond by some steep crags, trees and tricky ground to the West Highland Way. It was the worst ground I had been on since the start of the walk. I was truly exhausted and my battered body learned so much that day. As we staggered along the road we still had no bothy at Inversnaid as we had again been let down. The Hotel was shut so I asked about at one of the few houses( I always get that task and we were allowed to stay in the primary school class room for the night, as long as we were away early in was Saturday but our guardian angel had done enough for us. If we had the strength we would have continued on to Ben Lomond but our lift home was not due till the morning. Anyway I was so glad we had stopped. It was a strange night in the primary school and a weird last night of the walk. It was only a short day to finish a huge walk across Scotland. We were nearly there, again we saw no one at all on the hill it would be very different tomorrow.
Distance 22 miles and 6750 feet of ascent the hardest day of the walk!