Sue and I joined Alastair for a regular (annual) 'bagging' trip, during which Al chooses the hills (by definition, ones that he hasn't been up before) and we follow him.
For this trip we were joined by Lyn, who was on loan from her three year old twins. For obvious reasons (not least the fact that she lives south of Bristol) this was a rare treat for her.
A shame, then that the Mountain Weather Information Service provided a dire forecast, with a 30% chance of clear summits on Saturday and only 20% on Sunday.
An early escape from work for Al saw us chauffeuring him up to Glasgow whilst he chattered away on Important Business, in the back of the car.
Easy-jet had delivered Lyn early, so her pick up was perfectly timed, and the fish 'n chip shop at Callander provided sustenance, followed by the Killin Hotel's Ossian Ale.
Meanwhile we had disembarked at Fairview B&B, a fine establishment where Julie and Dave, also on this trip but with their own 'bagging' agendas, were also ensconced.
This B&B has a spacious lounge for guests, with wine glasses thoughtfully provided. Luckily we had the means to fill them...
Saturday 25 April - Creag Mhor and Beinn Heasgarnich ("I can't pronounce that, either" said our landlady, "and I've lived here all my life!")
A short drive up Glen Lochay saw us parking at Kenknock in a wide area inhabited by cows and calves, and our stroll started gently along the private road up the glen to Batavaime.
A huge pipe approached us from the north, and disappeared over a mountain to the south.
Beyond Batavaime we enjoyed the last bit of tarmac for a while before heading steeply up the soft ground that leads to the pleasant, broad ridge of Sron nan Eun.
Dog violets and dung beetles adorned the hillside, and these wood anemones were soaking up the unexpected sunshine.
11.00 am - time for a brew...
After a flat section along Sron nan Eun the ridge steepens again, up to the 1047 metre summit of Creag Mhor.
Just beyond the summit, lunch was taken in a sheltered spot, Al taking the opportunity to delve greedily into his Scotch Egg Mountain.
A jink to the north west past worried wheatears avoided some cliffs and brought us round to Sron Tairbh, for our final 400 metre ascent of the day up to the summit of Beinn Heasgarnich. The views were hazy but we were enjoying a fine day with high cloud, so we were very happy.
Here's the view north to Beinn a Chreachain.
The hillside was blanketed with the small creeping flowers of purple saxifrage.
Lyn was especially happy as she tramped easily from Stob an Fhir-Bhogha to the summit.
Photographs were taken with a fine mountain backdrop. The sky was quite lively - it was raining nearby, but we stayed dry.
From here we enjoyed a rough 4 km descent to pick up a surfaced road near Lochan Learg nan Lunn for the final gentle road walk to Kenknock. This section brought our only encounters of the day - a lone woman slogging up the boggy slopes of Coire Ban Mor (good camping here), and Al and I briefly overhauled a couple who had been a short way ahead all day.
Here's our route for the day - 22 km with 1400 metres ascent, taking just over 8 hours. There's a web page here, giving links to a route card and to details of a walk over nearby Meall Glas and Sgiath Chuil.
Sunday 26 April - Ben Challum
The Killin Hotel served us well last night - a good meal in pleasant surroundings with attentive service. But the Ossian Ale was not able to 'settle' in time for us, so a selection of bottled brews were tested.
Lyn was missing her twins, Ben and Polly. Someone suggested "you'll have to take Polly up Stac Polly (sic)". "Yes, that's a good idea" agreed Lyn. Some wag then suggested "you'll be busy with Ben, then!"
Sunday dawned rainy. Plans to conquer Meall Glas and Sgiath Chuil were abandoned in favour of the straightforward plod up and down Ben Challum. Julie and Dave inexplicably bottled out of any perambulatory activity. So the four of us found ourselves in a layby beside the A85, 200 metres below the cloud base.
The cameras didn't come out much today. It was raining. But 11.00 am doesn't come and go without a tea break and a bit of posing from my three cheery companions...
After that a couple of folk with a dog flew past as we laboured up the boggy hillside to reach the cloudy summit of Ben Challum (1025 metres) after three hours. We passed them in a yellow shelter but our own blue shelter wasn't quite needed, as we found a spot to enjoy our lunch out of the wind in a gully between the two summits.
Lyn was going well today, despite warning us that she may seize up after yesterday's exertions, and everyone skipped happily down the hillside to enjoy views below around 600 metres. Here, Kirkton Farm lurks below us.
Next to the farm is the site of St Fillan's Priory. The ruins of this Augustinian priory, currently nestling under a blanket of lesser celandine, date from the 13th century. Robert the Bruce endowed the priory in 1317 - it was a magnificent building over 50 metres long in those days.
Next to the priory is a graveyard that dates back to the beginnings of the early Celtic church in the 8th century.
This is the land of Fillan, an Irish missionary who travelled on foot between Tyndrum and Killin, covering the same ground as modern day West Highland Way walkers. He came to spread the teaching of a Christian way of life to the Scots and the Picts.
Did he succeed? Well, the priory was built in recognition of his teachings, which following his death led him to be made a saint.
Five hours on the hill was quite sufficient for this inclement day. We were happy to finish our stroll at around 3 pm, giving us plenty of time to adjourn to the tea shop in Tarbert before depositing Lyn at Glasgow airport and tootling back home in time for tea.
Here's today's route - 12 km with about 1000 metres ascent, taking 5 hours.
Some 50 images from this trip have been uploaded to Picasa and are available as a slide show by clicking here.