Munro bagging on Ben Oss and Beinn Dubhchraig
The Munro Ben Oss – and its neighbour Beinn Dubhchraig – had long been on my list of bags-to-do. This is a Munro that you see from the main road north, the A82, just before reaching Tyndrum and I have passed it many, many times.
Who knows why I have left it years before attempting it but maybe it just seemed too accessible.
Last weekend, with snow still in the Scottish mountains yet sunshine forecast, Ben Oss and Beinn Dubhchraig seemed to me to be the perfect Munros to walk. I knew the route would not be too hard to find in clear conditions and that the snowy tops would not be too tricky or avalanche prone.
A call-out on Munroaming revealed that Tri Club John would be up for these Munros – and free to walk on the Saturday.
The walk starts at Dalrigh and as we pulled on our boots and sorted our kit into rucksacks we saw a couple of guys head off on mountain bikes. I wondered out loud if we should have done the same and mountain biked in and out of the start of the route but the G-Force (my Munro bagging guru) had not suggested this so Tri Club John and I reckoned the mountain bikers must be off to do another mountain. We still don’t know – but I don’t think I would have managed very much of the Ben Oss track on a bike, which meant the only option was hiking.
The walk into Ben Oss and Beinn Dubhchraig is long, gently ascending and, in places, really boggy. It is important that you look out for a small cairn (a wee pile of stones, really) on the right of the Landrover track just after a small bridge that crosses the railway. We missed this and took a rather odd route up and towards Ben Oss.
It didn’t matter in the end but if you are keen to follow a well-trodden path (which we found on the return), do look out for the small cairn.
Be prepared, too, for a river crossing. A bridge has long since disappeared so walkers need to find a way across the wide-ish river. In full spate this would be really tricky and perhaps impossible. Luckily, despite recent snowmelt, we found a crossing where there were large rocks to step on, although I did manage to end up with wet feet.
The weather could not have been better for mid-March in Scotland. There was very little wind and the sky remained almost completely blue all day. The sun shone and although it became a little chilly higher up, TCJ and I walked in long-sleeved baselayers.
I didn’t need a waterproof jacket all day and it was only when sat at the tops that I required a lightweight insulated jacket. (For your information it was the Jottnar Alfar jacket!)
The walk heads through woodland, including some ancient Caledonian pines, and then proceeds higher, up to a bealach between the two Munros. The most obvious route is Beinn Dubhchraig first and the Ben Oss but it makes no difference really because most people return to the same route to descend.
On higher slopes we met hard-packed and icy snow. Beinn Dubhchraig did not require crampons but the steeper north side approach to the summit of Ben Oss did. Wearing crampons adds security underfoot and although we did not need to use ice axes it felt better to have the grip of the crampons spikes on these slopes.
The day passed very pleasantly. I had not spoken much to TCJ before and we had plenty of similar interests, including families with teenagers, triathlon and Munro bagging.
We stopped fairly often to admire the stunning views and exclaimed out loud how lucky we are to live so close to such an amazing location. The view of Ben Lui (which I had walked only a few days before) from the top of ben Oss was fantastic.
We met a few other walkers. One hiker had started before us and already summited Ben Oss before we met on Beinn Dubhchraig. The other walkers were all behind us, including a solo man, a solo woman and a pair of men.
I later read that the MRT discovered the body of a missing man near, or on, Ben Oss on Saturday. I didn’t recognise the press photo and don’t think we passed him or saw him but it does feel sad to imagine that someone died on such a glorious day and in such an amazing place.
My Munro bagging tally is now 175. That is almost two-thirds towards a first round.