I better say now, there’s some bad language in places in this post. Sometimes a well-placed expletive is what is called for. So. Still with me? Right, let’s get a fucking move on then…
If the A82 is the red carpet, then the Arrochar Alps is the first big event on the billposter. You push your car along the crowded road vying for a decent view, hoping that the curtain clouds have pulled back enough to expose the players.
You round a hairpin bend and catch a glimpse of the star attraction through the trees. Did you see that? Almost. Ach well, we’ll get another look in a minute JESUS FUCK WATCH OUT FOR THAT BUS. That was close. Is that one Vorlich? No, you can’t see Vorlich from the road, and keep your eyes on the road for fuck sake. Look – Ben Lomond is totally clouded over. It might shift. Aye right, an there’s as much chance as that Caravan shifting oot the fucking way.
Of course, things don’t really get started until you reach the main venue. And for us, that was to be Cruach Ardrain and Beinn Tulaichean from the A82.
My new boots were acclimatised to the terrain inside 5 minutes. Inside 10 minutes, I could no longer discern the age, colour, make, or general shape of them. Still, my new North Face Verbera Lightpackers were watertight and as comfy as a pair of slippers.
You can’t beat a really good pair of boots. They instill confidence. And mind were doing just that.
I was enjoying the climb despite the poor weather. I almost didn’t notice we had nearly reached the short airy section that cuts daringly along the side of a very steep saddle. It was here we had been turned back in foul weather last year. In the photo above, it’s just behind the last green hill. I didn’t take a picture on it for obvious reasons, but I can recall the conversation…
Oh my, that’s a long way to tumble. Aye, that’s your express ticket down. Who’s got the car keys? You do. Well, I’d better not fucking fall then. Maybe you should give me the spare car key, just incase? I don’t have a spare car key. Awe, fuck it, just be careful then.
There was no real danger to be honest – I just get a little dizzy when there’s a lot of “air” beneath me, and my hiking pal knows that a bit of banter or misdirection helps to distract me from my own imagination.
Ardrain wasn’t far off, but it doesn’t really give you the big reveal. Ardrain makes you work for it, and it’s a surprisingly long push to the summit cairn.
After a quick pause for a photo, we retraced our steps and made for Tulaichean (the cairn is just in cloud in the photo above). Once on the Bealach we stopped by a boulder for a sandwich and a cup of tea out of the wind. As if to reward our second attempt at this hill, the sun arrived.
An easy push and it’s two for the price of one! Once on the second summit of the day, the wind dropped completely, and you could be forgiven for feeling like King Kong on the Empire State building. In my case, the biplanes attacking me were swarms of midges. And my Fay Ray – a closely guarded Snickers bar.
The walking pole came in handy for fighting off the midges – they grow large and fearsome up here, what with no natural predators to threaten their dominance.
The bridge across the River Falloch that you didn’t fancy stepping onto on the way up, actually looks inviting on the return trip – it signals the end of the boggy bit!
Whether you are looking for a bit of drama, or simply seeking quiet distraction from the daily grind, it’s worth keeping in mind that sometimes the best seat in the house is in the gods. You can even bring your own popcorn!