King of Electric

It was grey, Saturday had been dreich, and after my smashing wee escape from reality during the week I just wasn’t feeling like summits. The idea of ascent doesn’t always appeal, and I’m not a list ticker, sometimes I just like a nice gad about in the scenery.
Bobinson had been trapped by decorating and when I suggested a nice long walk to stretch the legs and get the feet used to non-winter footwear and socks, I could hear him taking his truck keys off of their hook by the door before I’d finished the sentence.

The trail we took starts in Arrochar and heads up Glen Loin, it’s an 18km route on forest roads or rocky tracks that takes you around and into the heart of familiar peaks giving you views of their hidden corners and faces that remain unknown the folks on the usual summit routes. This is the great benefit of being local, time to explore.

From Succoth you take the forest road which zigzags and turns north, away from Beinn Narnain and the Cobbler and climbs onto the side of A’Chrois, which you can glimpse through the heavy forest now and again, high gullies and crags still holding some snow.
It goes uphill for ever, but there’s a big break in the trees opposite the little isolated top of Dubh Chnoc where you can see very odd angles of Ben Lomond, Ben Vorlich and Beinn Chabhair. The forest is fine though, there’s things living in there, there are fast flowing burns and little waterfalls, the forest bed is carpeted with soft moss and looks very inviting. But through the gap in the canopy that the track provides, there are climpses of high cliffs, streaks of snow and even flashes of blue sky in the grey. So onwards you go.

We stopped for tea at the weir on the Allt Coiregrogain, towering above us the Arrochar Alps finest. Ben Vane, Beinn Ime, Ben Vorlich, A’Chrois and Beinn Narnain making a jagged circle of the steepest hillsides, dark with bare rock, huge exposed crags, faces black with snowmelt running down them, the pale dead grass between them accentuating and sharpening every shape. My concentration flitted from feature to feature, soaking it all in, revelling in it, we might have daft wee hills in out daft wee country, but it can still be majestic.

We crossed the river and headed down to Coiregrogain and here there were the signs of the hydro development at Loch Sloy. The whole area is tunnelled, the water flow carefully channeled and controlled to be used by Loch Sloy and Inveruglas to make the at electric that we all enjoy so much. Sixty years had dulled the occasional installations impact, they’ve worn and grown into the landscape and do not offend, just occasionally offer some odd geometric shapes into the random tumbling chaos of an average Arrochar Alp slope.

Looking back up the glen towards the bealach that joins Beinn Narnain and Ben Ime, I can’t help but think that the forestry could be described as looking like the contents a tin of dark green paint that had been thrown into a bath. Not often I get these cynical moments, but you have to wonder at some of the decisions that have been made. A second though, and the annoyance was gone. Magic view.

A hard right takes us back into Glen Loin and onto the Glen Loin Way. It’s a narrower path on this side of the glen, with some huge climbing crags, natural woodland and electric cables over your head. It’s a mountain biking challenge, and on foot still asks for some concentration.
The pylons and cables can be intrusive here, why couldn’t they bury them? Would wind turbines be worse or better? These are the questions.

On the trail we found the wee shelter above, someone had spent a lot of time and effort building it, and it’s far away from any road. Good effort.
The sky was darkening and the occasional patches of blue had healed up and a light drizzle drifted down, so soft it was nothing more than a cooling mist. We wandered along gazing West and picking out the line of our higher outward route as a slight hiccup in the regimented conifers.

By the time we were back at the truck it was dark, and we were in and away in seconds. I had a good workout on my feet and legs, I’ll feel it in the morning probably. But it’s been nice to be back in trail shoes, even if I do get wet feet now and again.
A nice wee day. No prizes won, not very photogenic, just eleven and a bit miles of deserted, banter filled trails through fantastic country.
And indeed, Macfarlane country. We’ll come back to that one day.

15 thoughts on “King of Electric”

  1. Looks like you two had a great day out.

    I had a similar, if somewhat shorter, wander with the family. Lots of trees, views and sunshine and definitely no big hills or lists. It was simply a lovely day outside.

    As to wind turbines – having lived near some for a short time in the North East and been exposed to both sides of the argument through my work – I have to say not for me. They are very noisy, look dreadful and don’t seem to produce very much power.

    Having lit the blue touch paper I’ll now retire to a safe distance (but you did ask)!

  2. Superb, I managed to get out and did a circuit down through the pines of Abernethy Forest in the sunshine. Osprey soaring overhead. It had a very Californian feel to it, not that I’ve been to California, mind. But I was grinning ear to ear and almost broke into song on the trail.

    Out of the forest, over the moor to Ryvoan bothy, but not before dropping by Lochan Uaine – which is stunning and has a distinct alpine feel, I managed to resist swimming in the blue/green water.

    A wild camp [away from the bothy] and a dram later, I awoke to grazing deer and sun rising over the ‘gorms. Magic.

    I don’t get out as often as I’d like, but thanks for giving me the inspiration to get out whenever I can.

  3. superb writing as always ptc*.

    regarding wind towers, believe me you would never want them around you. they are noisy, with the sun shining you have them either blinking thanks to their coating which reflects light like a mirror or the shadow of the rotor is moving on the ground… they are rarely found single mostly you have a “farm” and now imagine lots of them in the middle of some quite peaceful place. it would never be the same. pylons can look nice in winter :)

    and since the wind can stop blowing anytime there is always the need to run some regular power plant in the background so there is no use pretending wind towers would be any good for mother nature. (maybe if you use one single device for one home but even then i would suggest solar power) lots of them here in germany though and its ruining lots of scenic views. -.-

  4. Thanks folks, great to hear we’re all getting out and about.

    My legs and feet are a little tender today. Part of the reason for chosing that route was the hard surface and the sustained effort it asks of you, great training for the West Highland Way, or any backpacking plans.
    We’ve got some missions coming up and I needed the miles in my summer shoes, the pace was good as well so it was an all over workout.

    I don’t fancy wind turbines, the hydro schemes changed the map of Scotland dramatically. Now we have them they work, but lets not screw up any more of our landscape.

  5. Ach, so you’re all getting into summer mode…. :)

    I’m back late last night from a week in Norway. It’s still definitely winter over there! I got 4 excellent, largely sunny, days of hut-to-hut ski touring in Trollheimen, plus a day on the tracks and a day on the pistes at Oppdal. Magic :))

    The ‘Mega’ co-op in Oppdal stocked a few Icebugs, including the Speed Bugrips. The bad news – current exchange rate would have seen them cost over £160!! Ouch!

    Now, work insist that I use up my holidays in March, so which bit of NW Scotland to head for next week….? :))

  6. Hey Matt, glad you had had a great time, and now off to the NW? That’s the life right enough :o)

    David TGO insdeed :o)

  7. Don’t go there Bobinson…

    It was a nice day Martin, there’s something liberating about looking at the peaks and ridges and knowing you’re not going up. Although we did spend the whole day saying “Oh look up there, we could camp on that crag/ shelf/ hidden flat bit”.
    Spring’s bringing some good stuff I hope, off to Glen Affric in a couple of weeks, and more in the works.
    I suppose I’ll probably just see what happens as usual, plans have never been my strong point :o)

  8. I did this wee walk today, had the world and the weather to myself until I hit the tarmac near Coiregrogain.Then it was all mad dogs and smiling people through Glen Loin.Not bad for a Sunday.Good experience also, being kinda new to this I’m finding I’m carrying too much “just in case” gear, snacks etc which I was never going to need in this weather or for that distance, I’ll have to get that right before I tackle one of those wee hills in the background.
    Thanks for pointing out this route ,it’s a wee cracker.

  9. Glad you enjoyed it. It’s a great route for stretching the legs as well as getting some cracking views.
    One way I tackle my packing for walk like that one is think about how much I would eat during a day at work. Even on a physically hard day, it’s never that much and I use that as a benchmark. Still though, on every trip I bring back unopened food.
    Just-in-case gear will always be a sticking point, you do need back up, but how far to go? These days it’s a AMK bivy2.0 for an emergency shelter and Paclite mitts, a few years back it was spare clothing, food for days, six pairs of gloves, three hats and the rest!

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