A team of
eight runners, three cyclists and two bicycles assembled outside
on Saturday morning. In view of the extreme altitude (2654½ ft)
it was decided that a long acclimatisation run was necessary before
we made our final push for the summit. The expedition set off on the Sustrans cycle track which heads
north parallel with the main road towards Lochearnhead and Glen
Ogle. The runners ran and the cyclists cycled, with a certain amount
of shouting and bell-ringing in between. Keith and Nick were taking
the multi-disciplinary approach to the extreme. One would cycle
for a while then cast the steed to the ground and run on. When the
second runner tripped over the bike, that was the signal to climb
on and ride it for a while.
We progressed by the new cycle track and bits of
the old lower-level railway towards Lochearnhead. It was a very
pleasant run on the undulating path through woodland. Just before
Lochearnhead the path climbed on a series of steep zig-zags to join
the upper-level railway. We were now high enough to get splendid
views down the full length of Loch Earn.
The track continued up Glen Ogle. We could see
the main road on the other side of the valley. At first it was far
below us but as we progressed it gradually climbed towards our level.
We could also see the scars on the opposite hillside where two major
landslides had trapped a number of motorists a few years ago. Further
on we came to the impressive railway viaduct. Shane had often seen
it from the road and wanted to have a closer look. Now his ambition
was realised. One could almost imagine the hiss and roar of the
steam trains crossing the viaduct in times gone by.
At the top of
Glen Ogle the cycle way crosses the main road and goes down towards
Killin.We continued on the old
railway track that swings westwards into Glen Dochart and that used
to go to Crianlarich. It was a lot quieter through the dense forest
but the track was still in good condition for cycling. The cyclists
went off on a side forest track to avoid a later rough patch. The
runners continued past the old Killin Junction station.
see the remains of the platform at the side of the track and we
could just see the chimney of the old station peeping above the
trees. We soon left the railway for a track through
the forest that would take us into Gleann Dubh. The weather looked
like being cold and windy on the tops so we paused at the edge of
the forest for a lunch break. We were trying to emulate the British
Olympic team - doing best at sports that involved sitting down. Suitably refreshed, we continued up the glen. Although
it is not shown on the map, the path soon develops into a good landrover
track that goes right over the head of the valley, to the west of
Creag Mac Ranaich, and down into Glen Kendrum.
At a rather vague point, signalled only by
my GPS receiver, we left the track and started our ascent of the
hill. The climb became ever
steeper up the grassy slopes. Soon, hands, knees and even teeth,
became useful climbing aids. "Would we ever see our loved ones again?" I
wondered. Ian did remark that perhaps the ten mile run in had made
the slopes seem steeper. Eventually we breasted the last slope to
emerge victorious at the summit. Meanwhile, the cyclists had gone
right to the head of the valley to climb the hill from the southern
end. I would like to think they
did it so we had a multi-pronged attack on the summit to ensure success.
"No," they said, "We want to
make sure our bikes are in the right place when we come off the
hill." Unfortunately Creag Mac Ranaich has two summits of almost
equal height. The runners were on one top and the cyclists were
on the other. We were too far apart to tell whether the other party
were waving a friendly greeting or shaking fists to claim the summit.
After a while the two parties came together on one top. Eric produced
a Carnethy flag which he waved impressively from the summit to claim
victory for our expedition.
We came off the southwest side of the hill and back
down to the track. Although it was a steep descent, it avoided the
many crags on the hillside. The initial descent on the track into
Glen Kendrum was much rougher than the earlier track. Although Eric
claims to have buttocks of steel, I noticed that he was standing on
the pedals as he went by. Our group spread out as we made our way
down Glen Kendrum - some slowing down with weariness and some speeding
up with the Kings House in mind. At the bottom of the glen we got
onto another part of the railway track and soon made our way back
to the journey's end. The day was rounded off with refreshments in
front of the log fire in the cosy Rob Roy bar.
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