Beinn Narnain (Nr. Arrochar) 926 metres (3038 feet)
Date: 4th December, 2016
I had not been out hill climbing for a few weeks and was desperate to get back among the clouds. I looked at the forecast and it was set fair for the weekend, so plans were laid. I decided to combine the climb with some photography and made my objective to be at the summit for sunrise, in the hope of capturing some good shots.
I arose at 4AM and with everything prepared the night before, was on the road for 4:45 and arrived at the car park at Succoth around 5:30. It was still dark, but the temperature was mild and the air still. I had bought a headtorch the day before and this allowed the early start. It is an excellent piece of kit and I would recommend it (Petzl Reactik).
This was my first climb in the dark and it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I set out. The headtorch lit the way and I decided not to look back, just in case there were demons and monsters following me! They have changed the first stage of this climb over the years and have made a ‘zig-zag’ track, which I hate with a vengeance and always avoid. I did this again and climbed up the steeper old route, which is still accessible and easily followed. I caught what I thought was another light out of the corner of my eye on the new path, but quickly identified that it was the reflection of my light in the eyes of a couple of deer, munching on the foliage amongst the new track. At the ‘bench’ I joined the established track and climbed at a steady pace, up past the Narnain Boulders’ to the baelach. This part of the climb took around 1 hr 15 mins, so I had kept up a good pace.
I then took the pathway to the right towards Beinn Narnain and Ben Ime, before again turning right at the fork towards my objective. It was still dark, although the first hint of dawn was beginning to lighten the sky to the east. I followed the path, which was a little less clear, but still managed to keep to it with the help of the headtorch, as it became a little steeper. The skies were rapidly lightening and I was aware of a funny noise, which sounded similar to a rutting deer, only not as loud. I heard it a couple of times, but didn’t see anything at first, however, suddenly off to my right, a ptarmigan broke cover and flew about 50 yards and settled onto a rock to observe me for a while. This is the first time I have seen a ptarmigan and it was resplendent in its’ white mottled winter plumage. I saw it again, or perhaps it was another one, on my descent. I am pretty sure I would not have been so fortunate later in the day when more people are active on the hills, scaring away these timid birds.
By 8AM I reached the summit. The temperature was rapidly dropping and I felt the chill for the first time on the climb. Luckily I had taken my usual large flask of coffee with me and was able to enjoy a biscuit and steaming hot cup. I set up my camera on the tripod and waited for the sun to rise. After all the effort the sunrise was a bit unspectacular. I got a few pictures which I will post on a portfolio after I have done some editing, but certainly not the colour filled type of sunrise that I had hoped for.
I was on the summit for around an hour, before packing up and starting the descent. I had not seen anyone during the ascent and was almost at the Narnain Boulders again before I met anyone on the path. From there to the car park I met a few ascending, but there always seems to be more cars in the car park than the number of people you seen on the hill. Where do they all go?
I was really pleased to have completed the climb and am already planning to go back either this weekend or next to climb Ben Ime again, although i don’t suppose i can hold out too much hope of the weather being as kind as it was for this climb.