With the summer fast approaching, I thought it would be a good idea to get a day out on the hill with some of SiMY’s volunteer team who help run the DofE programme. As well as being a good way of getting to know people, I find it valuable to let folks have a look at the way I operate on the hill and make sure they’re comfortable with that before we add young people into the mix.
We were able to take advantage of some fantastic sunny weather to head up to Tyndrum and go for a stroll up Beinn Dubhchraig and Ben Oss. Although it’s a bit boggy at times, the approach to these hills is one of my favourites; winding it’s way up through a mature wood of predominantly Scots pine before breaking out onto the open hillside where the gradual ascent is rewarded with increasingly impressive views across to Ben Lui.
I’d taken along enough maps for everyone, and we spent a bit of time on the way up chatting about navigation and exploring contours and contour interpretation. all the mental arithmetic involved in navigation can get a bit tiring if you’re not used to it, so as we reached the main ridge of Beinn Dubhchraig, we put the maps away and I switched into ‘eco-mode’ chatting about some of the plant life, animals and landforms we could see round about us.
We’d taken a fairly leisurely pace so far, but the girls were keen to try and bag Ben Oss as well, so we set off at a fairly hard tempo, made slightly easier by the soft spring snow that still covers most of the upper reaches of Benn Oss, which allowed me to kick reassuringly deep steps into it for the group.
Despite making good time up and down Ben Oss, it was fairly late in the day when we finally returned up the shoulder of Beinn Dubhchraig. The chat turned towards post-walk food, and I suggested the Real Food Cafe in Tyndrum for a post walk ‘chippie’. Despite tired legs, this was all the motivation the girls needed to make good time back down through the woods and, after negotiating the tricky crossing of the Allt Gleann Auchreoch (currently missing its bridge) with the assistance of my head as a handrail, we made it back to the car in good time.
The girls efforts were well-rewarded with the usual high quality grub from the Real Food Cafe – succulent juicy fish encased in crispy batter, accompanied by crisp chunky chips. The restaurant has had a bit of a make over since I was last in: the new permanent structure which replaces the old marquee looks very fresh and inviting, and will probably be a lot cosier when the weather turns colder again.
All in all a great day out, and I’m looking forward to working with the girls to support SiMY’s young people through their DofE expedition section between now and October.