More Than Just a Little Bit Bitey

The forecast suggested a long walk over summits on Sunday would be a good idea and so I set off late on the Saturday with the intention of camping, or as it turned out bivvying, some way in to shorten the main walk I would do. I opted for a high spot on Beinn Suidhe hoping it would give me views, and a good sunset and sunrise as well as more chance of a breeze to keep the dreaded midges at bay.

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On my way up to my starting point, a chat with friends in Tyndrum had had to be cut very short as the midges there were pretty bad and there was no way of ignoring their frenetic biting, I drove on to Victoria Bridge suspecting my walk in would be unpleasant. However, whether it was due to a very slight breeze or something else, it was actually quite pleasant all the way in. Perhaps it was the pace I was walking at, for when stopping to chat with another walker I did get a few bites and a group of campers further in were all wearing midge nets.

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Good views of part of my planned route lay ahead but it was the bulk of Beinn Suidhe itself that dominated and it, and the bright tones in the sunset lit sky, were often reflected in the river as I followed the path along its bank.

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My easy walk along the gentle gradient of the river was replaced with steeper and rougher ground as I ascended Beinn Suidhe, taking as direct a route as was sensible. Toiling hard, I paused occasionally to look down over Glen Kinglas with its river meandering its way down to Loch Tulla, a pretty spectacular scene even in the diminishing light.

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Reaching a flat section on the hill, I scouted out my line up the next section which was much steeper but tiredness and the lessening light made me stop and look for a suitable spot to spend the night at this lower height. I soon found a flat and dry bit of ground and not long after had my tarp up for shelter and my sleeping kit setup.

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Rest at last! I sat a while on the rocky slab beside me and admired the view over Loch Dochard below and beyond to silhouetted peaks behind it. Turning round to get something (a wee nip), I spotted the moon rising over the hills behind. Views, birds calling and the noise of running water below made for a pleasant few minutes but with an early start planned I decided to get bedded down.

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I must have gone out pretty quick as I don’t remember sleep taking any effort at first, but I was soon woken by the midges in full attack; in my sleeping bag and under (or through) my midge net, I just had no respite and tossed and turned endlessly and even half suffocated myself by covering my face in my sleeping bag. At one point with enough light, I could see the wee bandits crawling all over my net and swarming thickly beyond it, but I was confused at why the grass beside me was blowing about suggesting a breeze. On focusing my tired eyes on the grass I realised every blade was coated in a mass of midges and it was their take-off and landing that was causing the movement, the air was actually still.

I woke again later to find them less of a problem, this time it was drizzle and damp bedding that roused me. Thankfully I just shuffled under the tarp and fell back asleep but with so many disturbances I rose much later than hoped at half past nine. My plan for a big walk was now in ruins but in any case the tops which had been clear the previous night, were now shrouded in low cloud and had little chance of being good vantage points.

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Despite the low cloud, it was dry when I got up and having decided to abandon the main event, I at least wanted to summit Beinn Suidhe and see further in to Glen Kinglas than I have previously.

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Up top there were plenty of good camp spots, but I was glad to have left the final ascent out on the previous night as it took longer than it looked and was hard work. The cloud was just high enough to allow good views down over the surroundings on either side of the hill but still obscured much of the peaks beyond and my decision to retreat was sealed.

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Passing what I think were some noisy greenshanks, I descended to Glen Kinglas where I picked up the path back out to Victoria Bridge, stopping for lunch by Loch Dochard on the way.

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