The ascent of Beinn Bhàn

However long and hard you may search lists of Munros and Corbetts, you’re not going to find this hill, but it is one of the prominent hills that make the skyline around the village. Beinn Bhàn is only 316 metres high (that’s 1034 feet in old money) but has the distinction of bearing a trig point at its summit. It being a nice warm, if cloudy, afternoon, I set off with only my hat and walking pole for company, plus, of course, the other equipment that would prevent my becoming a talking point in the community, trousers, boots, t-shirt etc..
To reach the start of the climb I walked down the road, past the two small lochs, both of which are now covered in water lilies, and watched as the osprey took off from it’s high vantage point and soared above the water. The path up from the road took me past an old farmstead that has recently been the site of an archaeological investigation and up a cascading burn that forms an impressive waterfall in times of heavy rain. From here I set off south up and across the hills towards the summit. This was one of those walks with plenty of false tops to delude and frustrate one, but eventually the top came into sight further across than anticipated. By now the cloud had mostly lifted and the views were getting out to Scarba and Jura, but not as far as Mull or Islay. I stood on top of the trig point for a good five minutes, enjoying the panorama of mountains, moors, lochs and the sea. The Isle of Arran was clear of cloud and Goatfell was easily-visible. Below me was an expanse of moor, green with grass, sedge and bracken, and beyond that more hills rose in succession of rock and heather towards the east and the Arrochar Alps. The sea was calm and the waters of the Gulf of Corryvreckan (home to one of the world’s largest whirlpools) appeared like a sheet of pewter in the distance. To the north I could see up to the Ben Cruachan range, but here the cloudline was at about 600 metres and the summits themselves were cloaked in grey mist.
I went back a different route, descending to the east of the hill and crossing the moor to pick up a farm access track to take me back towards the village.
I must add a word here to describe the flora on these hills because it is stunning in its variety and colour. Tormentil nestles in the grass and the flowers of the sedges show ruddy in the dark green of their spiky leaves. Where the ground has been disturbed foxgloves spring up in profusion and try to outdo in colour the red campion of the hedgerows. Up on the moors the campion gives way to ragged robin and purple orchids; speedwell and buttercup vie for their places in the sun. Some of the lower meadows with sheep in are almost entirely lost in the yellow haze of buttercups and, with the rocky, fir-clad slopes of the hills behind them, present an almost Alpine aspect.


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