Callander is on the southern fringes of the 'big hills' and perhaps why a smaller than normal group gathered on the Friday evening. The Friday had been busy though with all six members on the hill. Anna and Tony bagged a Graham, Creag Mhor (Balquhidder), Tim climbed Stob Fear-tomhais south of Loch Voil, Graham Rebecca was in the Alps on Beinn an Lochain, Ali and companion (see below) claimed Beinn Each while I was in Glen Lyon on Meall nan Subh. We were all surprised at how dry the hillsides were given the torrential rain the previous day.
Early morning rain on the Saturday cleared as we were leaving the hostel. Tim, Anna and Tony teamed up and headed along to the end of Loch Voil to climb the very steep slopes of Stob a'Choin completing a nice circuit of the hill. Ali had a delayed start due to car battery problems and after a detour to a Stirling garage drove round to Crieff where she climbed Auchnafree Hill from Glen Turret. Nesting golden plovers were abundant on the hill however and meant that Dylan (the spaniel) had to be kept on the leash limiting Ali's explorations. Graham and I made for what is perhaps new territory for the DHC, Glen Artney south west of Comrie. The target was the Graham/Donald Uamh Bheag and its three related Donald tops, these being the most northern of the Donalds. We had the hill to ourselves and Graham pointed out several red kites and a nest of meadow pippit chicks. While these hills were not high the ground was rough with numerous peat hags slowing progress. Can you identify whom is Graham in the picture below?
After helping Tim out with his beer we headed off for a good meal in a local hotel and made plans for the final day. Graham was heading back to Glen Cluny for birding, Tim was going after his third Corbett of the weekend in Creag MacRanaich by Lochearnhead, Anna and Tony climbed Meall Buidhe, a Graham in Glen Ogle, Ali attempted Creag Uchdag (Glen Lednock) while I was in the Ochils.
Tim had a tough day negotiating thick bracken, fern fields and fencing but avoided any serious rain. Ali had to abort before reaching the summit as Dylan was not happy being on the lead on steepish ground. I tackled the western hills of the Ochils from Blairdenon Hill to Andrew Gannel Hill. Good paths allowed me to gain height quickly despite the hillside rising very quickly from the roadside and enjoyed views over the firth of forth and across central Scotland, not the usual vista of mountains, sea and lochans. Heavy rain somewhat spoiled the return down to the roadside but again well made and used paths made this easier.
So we were few in numbers but between us were successful in topping out on Corbetts, Grahams and Donalds and more importantly enjoyed a social weekend in more gentler surroundings than our usual wanderings take us.