Friday 27th March 2015
Weather/Conditions: A low-key morning, grey skies and little drama in the air. But snow showers falling to glen level, albeit brief. A dusting of newer snow and old snow patches surviving a previous thaw.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 15.8km / 850m / 4h
Benvane was snatched from a few free hours in the morning - my intention was to make a quick hit then be back for lunchtime to get some work done. Ideally I would have stayed out and seen more of this area but I had commitments to be back for. So it was an early start, away early and shooting out straight A-roads in morning light, fields sailing by, bound for the lumpy hills on the horizon.
I headed over the Duke's Pass, a road I don't think I've actually driven before. Loch Achray was velvet, Ben Venue painted in colour and shining in the glory of remnant snowfields, mist curling around the edges of woodland and the freshness of morning light spilling into the land. And yet I was focused enough on my morning's task not to stop even for a photo. Nevermind.
I parked up at Brig o' Turk. A small road leads out of the village and cuts a kilometre or so out of the approach to Glen Finglas Reservoir. Landrover tracks extend deep into the glens in this area, one extends further to complete a circumnavigation of Meall Cala. It would probably be good on a mountain bike. I'd thrown my bike in the back of the car, yet it had a couple issues with the mudguards which could only be resolved by use of an Allen key, all of which were sitting in a drawer at home. Walking it was, then!
Glen Finglas is a place that looks utterly devastated on the map, an oversized reservoir put there (I believe) to fulfill the needs of the Loch Katrine hydro, tracks incising way into the wilderness. And yet when I arrived there, it was beautiful. Humanity of course extends it's hand all the way into these places, and nothing has gone untouched, yet we can surely at least do it with a sensitivity toward the aesthetic and, more importantly, to the nature itself. If anything the reservoir compliments the glen, something I can't say about many of them.
I followed the tracks by the lochside, noting the areas of reforesting, ringed by deer fence. A lot of work has gone in here. Snow showers moved in, blotting out the hills, but all in all it was an inconsequential amount. The morning had seemed dull but fresh - I even wondered if Benvane would give me a summit view. But now I began to doubt.
I finally turned off the tracks at the outflow of Coire a' Gamhainn, and struck my way up into this south-facing bowl that sits underneath the summit. Progress was slick, but a number of false summits served to keep me working and I finally arrived at the top by a wind-blasted cairn and traces of a view down to Loch Lubnaig. Winter was still in flow here, and I headed down the south ridge of Benvane for a little variation, and maybe a little navigation work, too.
The Trossachs is an area that really confounds me sometimes - the view southwest from these hills toward Ben Lomond is inspiringly wild, especially today with the hills snow-spattered, scraped by grey storm clouds, and the white flanks of Lomond soaring into cloud. It's amazing that such gaunt mountains lie so close to the central belt, with hardly a hint of the softness that usually characterises the hills just beyond the Highland Boundary Fault.
My gradual descent brought me to the farms by the lochside, and onto tracks by the car. I was back to the car well before midday and home via Callander for lunchtime.
(0.00) 7.30am Parking, Brig o' Turk
(2.15) 9.45am Benvane
(4.00) 11.30am Parking