Ulog 18: Conic Hill and Duncryne, first hillwalks since sprained ankle

September 14, 2018 0 By admin
Ulog 18: Conic Hill and Duncryne, first hillwalks since sprained ankle

I usually spend my weekends – and sometimes weekdays – climbing mountains. But two weeks ago, I fell, and sprained my ankle. That’s put paid to the serious Munro bagging I was doing, for now, anyway.

For the first week after I sprained my ankle, I took complete rest. But a few days ago, I decided it was time to try climbing a very small hill again, just to see how my ankle would cope.

The first hill I chose was Duncryne, near the tiny village of Gartocharn, just south of Loch Lomond. This hill is locally known as The Dumpling, due to its rounded shape. It was an active volcano 350 million years ago.

Duncryne, or “The Dumpling”

Duncryne is only 142m high, and the walk starts at a height of about 60m, so it doesn’t take long to get to the summit. It took me about 20 minutes, and I was walking very slowly!

Despite the hill’s unassuming size, the views out over Loch Lomond, Ben Lomond and the Arrochar Alps are spectacular. No wonder the mountaineer, writer and broadcaster Tom Weir, who lived in Gartocharn, used used to climb Duncryne every day!

Loch Lomond, with Ben Lomond at the right.

After taking in the views I stuffed myself with blackberries, which were growing in abundance on the hill.

Conic Hill, twice as high

My ankle was fine after the walk, so I decided to do another fairly easy hillwalk with my Meetup group, up Conic Hill, also near Loch Lomond. Just one other person joined me for the evening walk.

Conic Hill is 358m high, more than twice as high as Duncryne, but still relatively small. However it’s quite steep in places. Usually I’m happy to climb steep hills, but unfortunately I felt a bit of pain from my sprained ankle on the steep steps. Maybe it wasn’t healing as quickly as I’d hoped.

I took my time and enjoyed the wonderful views at every turn. The weather was a little cloudy with intermittent light rain, but it had an interesting effect on the landscape.

The hill was very busy, with a big group of European tourists walking down, and people camping halfway up.

Usually I gallop up hills like this, but because of my ankle, and with two weeks of not doing much exercise I had to take care and walk quite slowly.

There was a chilly wind at the summit, but the views were rewarding.

Views to the south from the summit of Conic Hill. Duncryne is the dark green mound to the right of the photo.

On the way down the hill, the darkening evening sky with scattered light rain showers gave a striking effect on views across Loch Lomond to the western hills.

About halfway down the hill, we were greeted by a herd of Highland cattle, or “hairy coos”.

We walked back down through the forest. It was such a nice way to end the day.

My “Serious Bagging” goal is slipping away…

I think I’ll have to rest my ankle for at least another week before I try to climb any major hills. The weather forecast for the next week looks terrible anyway. It’s frustrating, as my goal of completing 100 Munros with Ben Nevis as my 100th is slipping away.

I want to climb Ben Nevis via a ridge route, and I don’t feel confident enough to climb that particular route in winter conditions, and snow is forecast for the summit of Ben Nevis this week. So I might have to put that idea on the backburner for now.

Maybe I’ll save Ben Nevis for my final Munro instead. There are 282 Munros, so this could take quite a bit of time, as I have climbed only 87 of them so far! But there are people who have done all the Munros in three months or less! So who knows? Watch this space!