Rounding Beinn a’ Ghlo

It was far too windy for an original planned outing on the hills and I perused books and maps looking for low routes between hills as an alternative. Good fun in itself and I have plenty of new ideas for trips in future, but I settled this time on rounding Beinn a’ Ghlo by way of Glen Tilt, Glen Loch and the more open ground to the south of the hill.

I have cycled up Glen Tilt on two previous trips including a full traverse as part of cross-country jaunt and part way up on a bike n’ hike taking in Carn a’ Chlamain to the north of the glen, and really enjoy time spent there.

It is such a varied glen with interest along the way in numerous waterfalls and in the changing scenery as the glen rises and narrows. The River Tilt is formed by the coming together of the Tarf Water, Allt Garbh Buidhe and Allt Feith Lair, then just below by the addition of the waters from the An Lochain, the latter of which is fed by Loch Loch, which lies within Glen Loch, my second low pass of the day.

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Having first detoured for lunch at the idyllic spot of the Falls of Tarf, I returned part way down Glen Tilt level with the mouth of An Lochain, to cross the river and continue onward up and through Glen Loch.

I had chosen to go clockwise to get to this crux point before the harder work of the day as route descriptions suggested this crossing could be difficult / impossible when the river high and given the amount of water lower down and the colour of the water, I had been thinking I might not get to ride the full loop. However, this high up, the river was just passable with the bike coming in handy for stability as I made my away across the swiftly flowing water.

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Winds, which had pushed me up Glen Tilt, were now against me and with funneling were causing me to work hard to stay balanced. Not so much of a problem early on as I largely pushed the bike, but once on better tracks, the winds made cycling (and even standing) quite tricky. Long before I set eyes on Loch Loch, its presence was evident by huge spumes of white spray whipped up from the surface by the stronger squally gusts.

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Despite the breeziness, I was keen to enjoy a swim having earlier been pleasantly surprised by the relative warmth of the river on my crossing. The narrows gave me a chance to get a spot out the wind to enjoy a second food stop and here I braved the waters, albeit very briefly. Refreshed and refueled, I continued on and was surprised to hit easier cycling sooner than expected as a new bulldozed track leads up to the southern end of the loch.

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A few of the ruins that the area is known for lie at the point where I turned westwards to cycle below an increasingly gloomy looking Beinn a’ Ghlo. Wetter weather was definitely pursuing me on the way out, but thankfully I made it back to my start point dry at least, though muddier than I’ve been in years. It is a good route, hard earned, but I wonder what changes are ahead (if any) necessitating the newly extended 4×4 track into Loch Loch.

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Interestingly I noted my arms being sore on my previous, shorter cycle up Glen Tilt, but this time on a different bike with front suspension and bigger wheels, I was blasting along rough tracks with little discomfort at all – much more enjoyable.

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