A version of this article is in the August 2019 edition of The Scots Magazine.
BEINN DUBHCHRAIG, NEAR TYNDRUM
Length: 9 miles
Height gained: 2,640ft
Time: 5 to 6 hours
OS Landranger 50
Parking: Turn off the A82 at Dalrigh, a mile south of Tyndrum. There is a car park a few yards down the single track road, on the left.
The route: Taking off your boots at the end of a walk is usually accompanied by a sigh of relief that the strains of the day are done and the hiker can be satisfied they have had a good day on the hill. But coming off Beinn Dubhchraig I had a sense of sadness; this would be the last time I would unlace my faithful footwear.
At the start of the walk, by bubbling burns in a magnificent wood of pine and birch I had snagged the toecap on the end of a protruding tree root, leaving a gaping hole.
Now I do get through quite a lot of boots, being a regular walker, but this pair were special – they were the best I have owned. (At this point I could bore the reader with tales of Brasher’s, Meindl’s and Mammut’s but suffice to say these Salomon boots were the most comfy and hardwearing I have ever had.) They were maybe not the most technically made but were definitely an overall good fit and sturdy sole which had done me proud on everything from the Cuillin ridge to canoeing on Highland lochs with the children.
I continued with the walk, out of the woods and by the beautiful waterfalls and pools of the Allt Coire Dubhchraig – a geologist could have a field day, literally, along this stretch of burn with its layers of different-coloured rock covered in crystal clear water.
The hole in my boot had got slightly bigger but the boggy ground, gradually being overcome by brilliant path work being carried out by the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland, meant I was only getting a wee soaking on my toes.
Then the Munro’s corrie was crested and a magnificent view of Ben Oss and Ben Lui greeted me. Once at the summit, Loch Lomond and the Arrochar Alps were laid out like a topographical map while closer to hand were the Crianlarich hills dominated by Ben More. To the north the myriad peaks of the Central Highlands were strewn out in a fantastic panorama – what a place to linger.
Thoughts of including Ben Oss on the route, as many do, were abandoned over fears my boot’s hole may widen to the point of complete ruin.
So, an amble back down made me think of the other great places this footwear had taken me – I am not one for too much romanticism but it was almost like taking a pet for a last walk before the vet puts it to sleep, or saying goodbye to an old friend. Eventually, inevitably they were taken off and placed in the car for one last time.
However, they will make a nice couple of plant pots for the garden.