Emma hadn’t been out on the hill for a while so we chose the relatively easy Glen Striddle horseshoe above Luss for our route – an 11.5km walk up the SE ridge of the Graham, Beinn Dubh, around the head of Glen Striddle with a descent of the SE ridge of Mid Hill before walking out along the tarmac road down Glen Luss. The forecast wasn’t great, with heavy rain and strong winds forecast most of the day, but with a brief window in the morning we hoped we could complete our route before the worst of it came in. We couldn’t.
We set off from the car park in Luss at 0900 under an ominous grey sky and with the tops of the surrounding hills hidden under a blanket of low cloud. After crossing the footbridge over the thundering A82 we followed the fairly decent, if somewhat boggy, path up the ridge in dry and breezy conditions until the clag closed in around us at around 500m. With it suddenly came the predicted gale force winds and driving rain that seemed to painfully sandblast my exposed face. Emma had opted for her Softshell jacket, which is lovely in its pink splendor, though unfortunately not designed for the near horizontal torrent now battering us from the West. Her top half rapidly became saturated and I cursed myself for encouraging her to take it instead of her Goretex, being comparatively warm and dry in my own.
Once on the more exposed plateau above the ridge visibility fell to around 30m and mobility was at times tortuous in the gale force gusts. Our hoods cinched around our heads, leaving only an eye slit, protected us from the worst of the stinging rain. Heads bowed and leaning into the formidable wind we trudged on, gradually turning westward around the top of the horseshoe as we snaked our way through the heavy, boggy ground.
Emma, now pretty much soaked through, was fine while we were moving but the combination of wet clothes and strong winds meant she rapidly cooled during any stops. Despite the poor visibility navigation was fairly simple given that we were following a ridgeline so, thankfully, stops to check the map and compass bearing were brief. Deciding that a lunch stop in the conditions would be unwise we slogged on through the bogs and the clag until we broke out of it halfway down the SE ridge of Mid Hill. Now in the shelter of Glen Luss the wind had eased and the rain was falling in its more natural vertical orientation. Emma even managed her first smile for some time.
An uneventful descent saw us meet the tarmac road out of Glen Luss, crossing a bridge over the Glen Striddle Burn in full, booming spate. We followed the road out for the final 3km, eating our deferred ham and egg sandwiches and largely talking about the marvels of Goretex. Lesson learned.