Hill: Beinn nan Lus
Date: Friday 21st / Saturday 22nd April 2017
Company: Just myself
Distance: 32.6km, Ascent: 1530m
Time walking: 10Hrs 10Mins
On Friday morning, after checking out the weekend weather forecast, I decided to ascend one of my outstanding remote Grahams. I quickly packed my large rucksack in readiness for a wild camp. Now all I had to do was decide on ascending: i) Slat Bheinn, ii) An Stac / Meith Bheinn or iii) Beinn nan Lus. I opted for Beinn nan Lus. Having pondered over the maps countless times for all of these remote hills, I knew that I wanted to approach Beinn nan Lus via the scenic route i.e. via a walk along the shore of Loch Etive. This would allow me to camp at Ardmaddy Bay, a place I had only seen once previously in a single inspiring photograph. Once packed, it took a little over four hours to drive from home to Inverawe where I parked in the Inverawe Country Park car park.
As ever, when camping, it felt like I had packed everything but the kitchen sink. The initial few hundred metres of walking was hard work laden with heavy pack, however one soon becomes accustomed to the weight. In order to reduce weight a little, I decided to carry no water. Instead, I would collect all the water I needed from burns sterilising it with my Steripen.
Looking back along Loch Etive from Glennoe:
The weather forecast turned out to be correct
. Although it was overcast and windy at the outset, the weather improved as the day progressed. I was a little surprised to find several dwellings alongside Loch Etive, at Glennoe, Inverliver and Ardmaddy. If it hadn't been for the "No unauthorised vehicles" sign at the start, I could easily have driven my Landrover all the way into Ardmaddy Bay. It is an excellent track.
The walk from the Inverawe Country Park car park to Ardmaddy Bay is approximately 10km in length. It is not however flat. There are several ascents and descents which account for approximately 350m ascent inbound and 400m outbound.
Loch Etive from Port an Dobhrain:
Having not visited this side of Loch Etive previously, it was nice to see Beinn Trilleachan from a completely different angle. Beinn Trilleachen is one of my favourite hills. I ascended Beinn Trilleachan on a perfect winters day back in 2009.
View across Loch Etive towards Beinn Trilleachan:
View across Loch Etive to Beinn Duirinnis:
During the walk in towards Inverliver Bay, I passed a man and a woman on quad bikes. We had a brief friendly chat and I was wished, "take care". On reaching Inverliver Bay, I knew that Ardmaddy Bay was now not too far away. I had already been walking for one and three-quarter hours and my shoulders were starting to ache with the weight of my pack.
I was a bit wary of walking past two horses which were not in an enclosure. They simply stood watching me pass by.
Inverliver Bay ahead:
On catching my first sight of Ardmaddy Bay, I was suitably impressed. I could see a large area of grass which would be ideal for camping.
Ardmaddy Bay ahead:
On the track leading to Ardmaddy Bay:
I crossed the long bridge over the River Kinglass to reach Ardmaddy Bay.
Bridge over the River Kinglass:
On arriving at the bay, I again spoke with the man who I had met earlier on the quad bike. I asked if it was ok to camp on the large area of grass and he advised yes, no problem at all. He also advised me where to find fresh water.
It was great to take off the heavy rucksack and get my tent pitched. Once pitched, I emptied the majority of my rucksack contents into the tent and set off for Beinn nan Lus with a now really light pack.
Tent pitched at Ardmaddy Bay:
I started my ascent up through an enclosed area of young trees. In hindsight this was not a good idea as there was lots of bracken and a six-foot high deer fence to climb over at the top. Had I walked a couple of hundred metres further along Loch Etive, I could have avoided both the bracken and the deer fence climb. I would remember this during the descent!
Steep initial ascent:
Looking back during initial ascent towards River Kinglass and Loch Etive:
During the initial ascent, I came across a small burn. My mouth was already really dry, my throat was parched and skin was starting to peel from my lips so I knew I was dehydrated. I therefore stopped to collect and sterilise some water for the walk ahead. A Steripen is a fantastic portable ultra-violet device which can sterilise a litre of water in a little over a minute. Highly recommend buying one if you like camping.
View across Loch Etive to Beinn Trilleachan:
As I progressed uphill, I got increasingly good views across to the Cruachan range of hills including pointy Taynuilt Peak, a Munro Top of Ben Cruachan.
Ben Cruachan and Taynuilt Peak:
The initial 300m of ascent was fairly steep and somewhat gruelling. Beyond this initial ascent lay several kilometres of almost flat ground.
Ascending Beinn nan Lus:
Beinn Chochuill and Beinn Eunaich:
Crossing the expanse of flat ground was harder and took considerably longer than anticipated. The ground is trackless and wet and it is difficult to walk in any kind of straight line. On catching my first glimpse of Beinn nan Lus around 16:30, it still looked a long way off!
First sighting of Beinn nan Lus:
As I progressed nearer and nearer to Beinn nan Lus, the time was ticking away ... 16:30, 17:00, 17:30, 18:00 ...
Beinn nan Lus:
Beinn nan Lus:
I eventually reached the summit of Beinn nan Lus around 18:15.
Approaching the summit of Beinn nan Lus:
View from summit of Beinn nan Lus towards Beinn Aighenan:
Before heading back, I had a good drink of water and put on my jacket as it was getting chilly. I didn't waste any time heading back other than again having to stop to collect and sterilise some more water.
Heading back towards Loch Etive:
Loch Etive and Beinn Trilleachan:
The return to Ardmaddy Bay took less time than anticipated. It is easier going down than up!
On completing the long trudge through the flat expanse, I could see down to Ardmaddy Bay. I was no longer alone at the bay as eight further tents had been pitched (a Duke of Edinburgh awards group).
Steep descent down to Ardmaddy Bay (zoom):
As the final descent was very steep, I got out my iPhone and used the Viewranger app to ensure I followed my ascent route in descent.
River Kinglass meeting Loch Etive:
It was nice to watch the sun set as I descended to Ardmaddy Bay.
Sunset during descent to Ardmaddy Bay:
On reaching Ardmaddy Bay, I walked over to the DoE group to say hello and then went to collect enough water to last the night and for the walk out the following day.
After a change of clothes and dinner, I settled down in my tent to watch Lord of the Rings. Smartphones, with additional battery pack, are fantastic. Can use them to call, text, browse internet, navigate (GPS app), listen to music/watch films, etc.
Around 0:30, I had a look outside to see an almost infinite number of stars. It was a clear, crisp, cold night. I could see no aurora but apparently there was during the night. C'est la vie, I missed it!
I woke up around 06:15, had a quick bite to eat and had everything packed up ready to go by 06:45. The walk out was very pleasant with the exception of the pack weight.
Crossing the River Kinglass:
As I progressed back out to Inverawe, I saw a number of Swallows and could hear several Cuckoo.
Looking back to Ardmaddy Bay:
Looking back to Ardmaddy Bay:
View back towards Inverliver Bay:
Lots of tree felling at near Inverawe car park:
The walk out seemed to take a bit longer than the walk in but it was enjoyable nonetheless. On reaching the car, I checked Viewranger which confirmed a total distance of 32.6km and a staggering 1530m ascent to ascend a single Graham.
I definitely need to use my tent more frequently. Walks involving wild camps are usually very memorable. Already looking forward to my next wild camp. Eight Grahams remaining