Thursday, 17 May 2012

Blackrock Cottage Part 1.

When we left my house in Worcestershire the rain was hammering down; it was still raining in the Lakes, but it finally stopped as we passed over Beattock summit.

I used to love this piece of road in the 60’s and 70’s, driving north after leaving work we’d arrive here well after dark. If we were lucky and the night was clear, the stars would look amazing as we headed in to the transport cafe for a bacon and egg sandwich and a mug of tea. Now the old cafe has long gone, bulldozed when they built the new motorway, and the skyline is obscured by overpriced, inefficient wind turbines which seem to be creeping ever closer to junction 13 and Tinto.

As we approached Glasgow, the early afternoon traffic on the M8 was moving well; and before we knew it we were peak spotting, as we drove through the Arrochar Alps.
When we arrived in Inveraray the weather was unbelievable, clear blue skies, bright sunshine and no wind. We booked into the SYHA for the night, then headed off for a fish supper at Mr Pia’s fish and chip shop in West Main Street (£6.50 and highly recommended).

The next morning we drove up Glen Orchy in fine weather and parked by the Bailey bridge at (NN242320), which is the starting point for Beinn Mhic-Mhonaidh.

We crossed over the bridge and walked up the track for about 2km where it reaches a pleasant meadow surrounded by trees. Here there's a sign pointing to a footbridge over the Allt Broighleachan.


The normal way up the mountain crosses this bridge and follows the track for about 200 metres until it reaches a footpath which branches off left, this excellent path is followed for another 2km where it terminates at a stile by some ruined shielings.

By the time we reached this stile I was knackered! Our recent trip to Mallorca (trip report under construction) had left me with a chesty cough, that and a lack of exercise in last few weeks, meant I was really struggling! This general malaise wasn’t helped by the fact that we had managed to turn off the upward track in the wrong place, and had spent ages ploughing over boggy, rough ground, before regaining the delightfully smooth upward track 500m short of the stile.

As we sat eating our lunch the mountainside in front (foreshortened in the photograph) looked very steep, I'd had enough, but my brother was keen to continue, so we set off up the hillside. It was absolute purgatory, I had no energy, my legs were burning and I couldn’t seem to take enough air into my clogged up lungs.

I probably stopped about every 10 metres on the way up this slope, I kept thinking how wonderful it would be to turn around and go back to the car, but for some reason I carried on. The only time I’ve ever been more exhausted, was on the final approach to the Bertol Hut a few years ago, but then I was above 3000 metres, climbing on steep wet snow, in mist and sleet.

Eventually after what seemed an age we reached the crest of the ridge at about 720m, from there to the summit turned out to be easier angled plod.

The views from the summit were superb, but unfortunately I seem to have been too knackered to take any photographs!

The descent is quite straight forward: first, go north east towards a small lochan, then south down the grassy slopes to the stile by the shielings. Then follow the path back to the road, avoiding any unnecessary diversions into the forest.

Back at the car we drank a well-earned can of beer, and both agreed it had been a very tough but interesting walk. 


  1. I was trying to think why this hill seemed slightly familiar, given that I was pretty sure I hadn't climbed it. It's because we climbed the neighbouring Beinn Ulaidh a couple of years ago. I was recovering from a long spell of aneamia and found the climbing a bit of a trial! Hope you feeling better soon, and looking forward to your Majorca report.

  2. Thanks for asking, the chest infection has now cleared up after a course of Amoxicillin. My fitness level isn’t too good at the moment so I’m clocking up a few miles on the bike each day in this glorious sunshine we’re having.

  3. Sometimes, the best bit about a walking holiday in Scotland is the drive up there. I used to love driving up the A74 over Beattock, and your first few sentences stirred some misty memories. Ah, the old days. Thanks for that Geoff.
    Alen McF