Loch Lyon and Beinn Heasgarnich

My first time in the canoe for ages – more than a year and a half – as time just has been passing too quickly and other commitments taking up weekends.

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Two of us headed to Loch Lyon to take advantage of its sheltered setting, which would allow us to paddle without too much trouble despite some forecast winds. We set off from the dam at the loch’s east end, loaded with comforts and both dry – after sitting out a shower in the car for a few minutes. Winds above were clearly evident as clear patches and ominous clouds swept across the sky, warming us one minute and cooling us a few minutes later.

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Within a couple of hours we had paddled all the way to the west end, including a lunch stop at the north arm of the loch, and having discounted a potential site suggested by the map at the west end, we retreated back to another one we had passed en-route. It offered a good starting point for a hill walk and looked to have some flat ground too.

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Flat ground does not necessarily mean dry as with so much runoff from the wet hills above, we struggled to find a suitable pitch and we ended up on the well drained gravel of the shore instead. All good so far, but a snapped pole and consequent hassles meant it was a cold hour before we were able to get changed and into warm clothes … and the fire on too. Chairs up and food on the go, we could properly relax and enjoy the noise of curlew flying about as darkness set in. The fire did its job keeping us warm on what was a cold night. Cold enough for snow to fall and lie as low down as the lochside. We woke early to a much wintrier scene with the hills white against a blue sky.

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Over breakfast we made use of the firebox again, using some of the wood and coal leftover from the previous night and were in danger of not getting up the hill behind us, Beinn Heasgarnich (Sheasgarnich), but motivation returned as the sun rose and soon enough legs were straining up the steep ascent, gaining height and views as we went. Views were coming and going with the wind driven cloud up high clearing every now and then. Up top we had a quick bite, but views to the south stubbornly refused to reveal themselves and it was just too cold to hang about any longer, only clearing after we had descended to the flat shoulder sitting to the north, still impressive even from there.

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Most people approach this hill from Glen Lochay in the south, so our ascent might well be a route less traveled, but no reason for that as there is a good 4×4 track in from the Loch Lyon dam and our route seemed to avoid the bogginess referred to in route descriptions from the south.

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