Saturday, 16 July 2016

Scotch Mist On Carn a' Chlamain

A few days off work so a wee road trip was required.
 I love being up in high places with the bike looking down on all below & I'm quite enjoying bagging bikeable munros. Inspired by a guy who I follow on facebook who likes to wildcamp on top of munros I decided to climb a munro called 'Carn a' Chlamain' located in Perthshire which he featured on his facebook page & then drive over to Lochearn to set up camp then the following morning climb 'Ben Vorlich' also located in Perthshire.
Loading up the van the night before so I could make an early start to miss the traffic I was up & out the house on my way by 04:45.




Arriving at Blair Atholl & then onto a little place called Old Bridge of Tilt I parked up the van in the car park & got ready to rock'n'roll.
The information display had a few good walks marked up on it but none really long enough for biking.



Setting off through a stone pillared entrance I followed an estate track, while reading the notice about red squirrels I spotted one behind me but by the time I got the camera focused the little bushy tailed ginger rodent scuppered off up the tree !


It had rained on & off most of the way up here & was still drizzling while I rode along, I'd checked the weather the previous night & the forecast was right up until now & the rain was meant to clear mid morning which I was hoping for so I could take in the views from the summit of Carn a' Chlamain.




Crossing over an old stone bridge with the brown peaty water of the River Tilt flowing under it.




The River Tilt had some great features on it such as rocky rapids, waterfalls & deep swirling pools which being a fly fisherman looked very fishy !



Emerging from through the trees at Gilbert's Bridge the low lying clouds up on the hills didn't look too promising that they'd clear but optimistic & hopeful I rode onwards along Glen Tilt.





The river was mesmerizing to look at, so peaty & full of features along with the dampness which seemed to fill the nostrils with allsorts of different smells from the riverside plant life.


I love finding wee run down buildings like this on my travels, this would of made a cracking weekend retreat to fish the river.





Riding along the glen keenly watching the low clouds thinning then thickening up again on the hills I arrived at a wee but 'n' ben with an outdoor toilet, it looked to only be used as a holiday cottage.



It was a nice easy cycle along the glen to warm up the blood before the big climb.
The main River Tilt in the foreground & just behind the trees more water from merging hill burns & you can see just how much water runs off the hills, it looks like a river in it's own right.


A little garden shed on the riverbank where the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) monitor the water levels.










Crossing over an old stone bridge again to the other side of the river & I now knew I was getting close to the start of the climb up Carn a' Chlamain.




The cloud seemed to be floating in horizontal bands at different levels & would then disappear only to form again, it looked really bizzare.
Another old but'n'ben this one being derelict, such a shame to see these wee buildings empty, I'd be in my element living somewhere like this with nobody to annoy me.



Nearing Clachghlas where the wee white cottage is this is where I head off road & start the long climb to the summit, the above picture you can see the steep Land Rover track cutting up through the hill.



Passing the cottage it was time for that easy ride along to here to end & the hard work to begin :-)



Huffing & puffing in the Granny gear climbing slowly & steadily upwards, there was more sweat running off my brow than there was drizzly rain, it was quite hard going.



Even the sheep had more sense than me sheltering out of the rain.





It was a great hill to climb & didn't feel like I was cycling up a mountain with the Land Rover track as the route up.



The cloud started to clear thankfully as I kept the head down & pedalled on opening up some awesome views down & along Glen Tilt.




Some parts of the climb the track would be steep & rocky so traction was difficult with no alternative other than get off & push.





For the first time since I left my van the rain had stopped but I was really toiling now at this point as I hadn't had much sleep, going to bed late & wide awake at 01:20 I tossed & turned in my bed & ended up getting up at 03:45, I didn't have anything to eat before leaving the house & now I was feeling quite nauseous, dizzy, tired & running on empty, being wet & sweating with the humidity didn't help much either, but I'm not one for quitting & I'm a determined sort of guy who likes to push on through the pain, so keeping the mindset strong I battled onwards & upwards. 


Stopping to take on some fluids I rested up for 10 minutes enjoying the views below & around me before the last climb to the summit.






A short steep climb & then the Land Rover track gave way & levelled off onto a single track & typically just my luck the cloud came down once more & then it was time for the bike to be slung over the shoulders to scramble up a steep rocky boulder field to reach the summit.
Carn a' Chlamain...bagged :-)

Carn a' Chlamain which translates to the rocky hill of the dove & is Scotland's 192nd highest munro out of 282 munros, reaching the lofty height of 963 metres (3159 feet)




After sitting at the summit for around half an hour hoping for the cloud to clear I had a bite to eat, took a couple of pictures & eventually gave up hope that the cloud would lift !
I took off back down the mountain re-energized after the euphoria of bagging another munro by bike & looking forward to the high speed descent.


The lower I got the more the sun seemed to be breaking through in pockets far in the distance.
When I stopped again at the same rocky crag where I took pictures of my bike on the way up, I spotted an owl pellet lying on the ground, not to easy to make out but it was rammed full of bones & feather which the owl cannot digest.


Great fun bombing down the track & even more so that the sun was trying to break through.
Just by chance I stopped again to have another look up back towards the summit & low & behold the cloud had lifted ! If only I had waited another ten minutes I could of had good photos 360 degrees around me...
...unbelievable !


And while I was having a drink the cloud dropped & lifted again this time with sunshine right at the summit.




Nearing the bottom again at Clachghlas the views along Glen Tilt looked quite different with the cloud gone, either way it looked equally stunning.

Starting the easy cycle back along the glen looking back up that hill, it's a fair old steep climb.
A couple of young oyster catchers sitting on a rock, I would never of saw them but they were making some noise.




Just opposite the derelict but'n'ben there was a hill burn which fed into the River Tilt, I never noticed the impressive waterfall the first time I passed.

I'm not entirely sure but at the same time I'm confident that the horizontal lines on the hill side are ancient glacial scars.





Back along the track following the downstream flow of the River Tilt I soon arrived back at my van, loading the bike into it & getting changed into some dry clothes I set off towards the popular Perthshire town of Pitlochry to get something to eat & a couple of supplies for my wild camp, most importantly a big juicy rib eye steak to cook on the bonfire I planned to have.

Arriving & parking up in Pitlochry I picked up some supplies & bought the aforementioned rib eye steak from the local butchers then proceeded to the chippy for a fish supper. Where I live the chippy's have chippy sauce which is a very vinegary brown sauce, chippy sauce seems to be a very localised thing around the area where I live as most chippy's only offer salt & vinegar but all was not lost as I brought with me a bottle of reggae reggae sauce which was a third best choice after chippy sauce & HP sauce.













After enjoying my fish supper I hit the road again towards Loch Earn, once I got to Loch Earn I drove along the banks of the loch looking for a wild camp spot close to Ben Vorlich but I could hardly find anywhere available as at every suitable area someone was already camped up there with either tents or motorhomes & they all seemed to be fishermen who I guess would be fishing for pike in the loch.
I kept going looking for a good spot but it wasn't easy & I knew I'd find somewhere eventually, I had all afternoon to find somewhere & I'd planned to drive along the full length of the loch anyway as Ben Vorlich was at Ardvorlich near Lochearnhead & where I wanted to pitch up at but I wanted to go & see the 'Mirror Man' of Loch Earn which is situated at the opposite end of the loch at St. Fillans.
The Mirror Man is often featured on another facebook group I'm a member off called 'Scotland from the roadside' where any member can add photos to the group providing they are taken by the roadside & I wanted to see this sculpture up close & for real.

The statue stands nearly 3 metres tall & was created by artist Rob Mullholland it's made up from hundreds of mirrored tiles welded together & it stands just into the water of the loch.
I'm sure you'll agree it was worth the drive to see it's an impressive sight looking at it with the loch & hills behind it.


Driving back along the loch side I eventually found a suitable camp site for the night albeit a bit closer to St. Fillans than where I wanted to be at Ardvorlich near Lochearnhead & Ben Vorlich, but probably a better location as there was no other campers anywhere near me so my kind of place.
Pitching the tent in the afternoon sun & making camp for the night I was exhausted with all the driving & mountain climbing so was keen just to settle into camp for the night & chill out.

One thing I did like was that all the suitable camp spots along Loch Earn the local council had installed wheelie bins for people to put their rubbish in rather than leaving it lying behind them, but one of my pet hates was in this location being an old fire that has not been removed in the 'leave no trace' attitude, even the tree has been scorched by a former fire !



Camp all made up I went off to explore the loch shores which had beautiful views to look out at...


...but sadly the shore was tarnished by lazy peoples rubbish that they couldn't be bothered to put in the bin provided !




After a look about & a wash in the loch it was time to get the rib eye steak cooking, I wanted to build a small camp fire but there was no dry or dead wood around camp, people had damaged trees to burn in a fire but that's not what I'm about so I opted to cook the steak on my stove instead along with some sausages washed down with a nice can of cider, what a reward for a hard day it was delicious.
Where's the wife when the washing up needs done !


After enjoying my dinner I chilled out listening to music drinking another can of cider & by 20:30 I could hardly keep my eyes open so decided to go back down to the loch shores for a wash & then get some shut eye & recharge the body batteries ready for the assault climbing Ben Vorlich in the morning which is bigger & steeper than Carn a' Chlamain.

Thanks for reading & I hope you enjoyed the ride, come back in a day or two to read about the climb up Ben Vorlich.