Archive for Glen Lyon

Loch Lyon and Beinn Heasgarnich

Posted in Hiking, Hills, Open Canoe, Paddling with tags , , on April 16, 2016 by Jinja Coo

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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Back to Gleann Cailliche

Posted in Hiking, Hills with tags , , , on February 19, 2014 by Jinja Coo

A few months had past since our first trip in to Gleann Cailliche to visit the pagan shrine of Tigh nam Bodach, and having seen it in summer with the little stone figures out sunning themselves, we were keen to return in winter to see the shelter closed up and the figures hidden away inside.

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Being winter, the relatively remote road had the potential to be a major obstacle in our path and as it turned out it was quite icy for a lot of Glen Lyon’s length on the way in. Thoughts of getting stuck miles from a phone signal occurred more than once as we descended steep bits of road along the way and I was quietly keen to get back before sundown to avoid any more freezing on the road for the homeward journey.

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This time we left the canoe behind and instead opted to walk all the way from the same starting point by the dam on Loch Lyon’s eastern end. We followed a good vehicle track pretty much all the way along the north shore of Loch Lyon. Though the track was largely buried in snow, the walking was easy at first until we came to a softer covering in Gleann Cailliche.

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We had great views of the hills around us, well coated in snow and with changing light highlighting various features on them over the course of the day. High above us countless deer watched our progress in and out between grazing on the few bare bits of hillside still remaining. The wintry coat had softened the edge of the loch too making it look more natural than it had in summer on our last visit.

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On that last visit, we had both been impressed by the quality of construction of the shrine and on reaching it this time, we were again, this time by how well the entrance had been sealed up to form an entirely closed structure.

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Not long after turning back the sky darkened and soon snow started to fall on us, at this point thoughts of the road came back to me, but we would just have to see what would come later and enjoy things for the next couple of hours first. As it happens, the shower was short lived and soon we were enjoying some warmth and bright sunshine on our walk out. A thaw was evident underfoot with less snow on the track on the way out but better still on the road too, all evidence of ice was long gone thankfully.

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It is not every walk I come back from that I pour over the map looking for more options to enjoy the same place, but I did after this one and am looking forward to going with a few new ideas in mind.

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Loch an Daimh and Meall Buidhe

Posted in Hiking, Hills, Open Canoe, Paddling with tags , , on September 15, 2013 by Jinja Coo

In a month this was a second paddle on one of Glen Lyon’s reservoirs, this time Loch an Daimh with the intention of gaining a less-well-travelled route up the hill, Meall Buidhe, at its western end.

A short, uphill, trolleyed portage got us on the water quickly after clambering over a locked gate beneath the reservoir’s dam and immediately the scenery ahead and blue skies promised good things for the day ahead.

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After about an hour of paddling, we had covered the five, meandering kilometers or so of loch to the point where we would start our walk at the bottom of Gleann Daimh.

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Despite the lack of a path, we had a relatively easy passage upwards from this point, crossing the odd gully with interesting waterfalls along the way and soon enough, views north to north west opened up before us. A wall of hills from Ben Alder in the East extending west to the Mamores and on to Glen Coe extended like a dam trying to hold back a mass of darkening clouds and rain. My favourite, Beuachaille Etive Mor, stood distinct and immediately recognisable beyond the waters on Rannoch Mor, but in short time we lost detail on its craggy frontage as the gloomy conditions spilled over in our direction.

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After a change in effort, due to steeper terrain, we reached the summit and had a quick rest and nibble out of the breeze by the lower of two cairns. From here we turned our attention to the views east and south, newly opened up to us, which allowed us to look back over Loch an Daimh and the hills surrounding it. This proved to be a stunning vantage point; to the south and east a relatively low number of hills were close and detailed, conversely in the opposite direction with Rannoch Moor acting as an extensive barrier, a wider extent of more distant and numerous hills, less detailed, were visible to the north and west.

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Conscious of the approaching bad weather, we began our more direct descent back to Loch an Daimh and sure enough some light drizzle soon caught up with us but it was only a brief damp spell in an otherwise summery day. As we set off on the paddle back, the wind had even dropped and our expected tail wind came to very little so not much time was shaved off that which we had taken to get in, never mind, we were in no hurry and enjoyed the views in the opposite direction and the shifting light on the hills made by the combination of cloud cover and sun light.

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All in, this was a another fantastic paddle and hill combo and proof that these reservoirs are worth checking out – not so uninteresting as they appear at first glance on the map.