Date: Wednesday 12th July 2017
Company: Myself and Becky
Distance: 18.3km, Ascent: 580m
Time: 4Hrs 50Mins
On Wednesday morning I drove east from Ardgour with no particular hill in mind. Becky wanted to ascend a Sub2000ft Marilyn having ascended Ben More on Mull the day previous. I therefore drove a good distance east towards the Gargunnock Hills and Campsie Fells to ascend Stronend, Carleatheran or Earl's Seat. En-route to these hills we stopped briefly at Doune Castle to take some pics.
After visiting Doune Castle we parked up near Bailie Bow's Bridge for an ascent of either Stronend, Carleatheran or both.
From our parking place we walked circa 0.5km along the road to reach the start of the track leading to the col between Carleatheran and Stronend.
Nearest parking space:
Of the two hills, Stronend looks the most impressive. Both Carleatheran and Stronend have very prominent escarpments.
As we progressed along the farm track, we were pestered by literally dozens of horsefly. Becky really did not like these large flies so I had to walk behind Becky knocking off any that landed on her, and there were many!
After passing through a couple of gates, and gaining more height, the annoying horsefly were replaced for a time by pesky blackfly.
Looking back towards Stronend:
On approaching the col we had to decide which of the two hills to ascend first. Becky opted for the longer Carleatheran.
After a bit of difficulty finding the start of the landrover track marked on the map, we eventually located the track a short distance further on.
Always disappointing to have to walk a hill that has a prominent nearby windfarm. Alas this is becoming a far more common problem thanks to the Scottish Government's love of wind power.
The walk to Carleatheran was further than anticipated. Given the distance
involved to ascend Carleatheran alone, and the 23C heat, Stronend would be left for another day.
Good views to the north:
At the outset, I was carrying two litres of water. We had already consumed 1 litre and had to start rationing the remaining litre.
Summit of Carleatheran still a long way off:
The final kilometre to the summit involved crossing several wet patches which resulted in wet feet.
It was therefore a bit of a relief to reach the summit where we had planned to spend a good fifteen minutes.
Becky ascending to the summit of Carleatheran:
View towards Stirling:
Becky in the summit shelter:
However, after spending a couple of minutes in the summit shelter, Becky asked what the dozen or so very large insects were that were flying around. I initially thought they were hornets so we made a very fast escape from the summit area.
It turns out they were actually Great Wood Wasps also known as Giant Horntail. Great Wood Wasps are even larger than hornets but unlike hornets and yellowjackets don't pose any threat.
Great Wood Wasp:
We followed exactly the same route back to the car stopping occasionally to have sips of water
and to put on more suncream.
During the walk back out along the farm track we were not bothered by any horsefly which was somewhat of a relief to Becky.
Looking back to Carleatheran in descent:
On reaching the van we both had a good drink before making our way to Stirling for tea.
Well done to Becky on walking >18km in the heat and on the day subsequent to
ascending Ben More.
I am already looking forward to revisiting this area to also ascend Stronend and Earl's Seat.