Sunday 31st August 2008
Weather/Conditions: Low cloud, some drizzle, a little wind higher up. Asides some cloud opening up near the bottom, there were almost no views. Loved the day though even with the so-so weather. Once I was done, sat at the Rest and Be Thankful watching the valley for 45 minutes watching clouds form over the valley and got pissed on with rain. Enjoyable even with the weather - I had a definite sense that todays' weather held its own qualities.
No hills in August?
An interesting day - one that I hadn't really expected to happen. As can be seen, we're in the middle of summer and my hillwalking activity post-Arran has dropped. For a couple of reasons - back at school for one more year and so I didn't have holidays anymore and second that August has just been pish for weather. When Ken was passing through Arrochar to Inveraray which gave me a chance to climb something, I couldn't resist. I hadn't been in the mountains enough this month and I was feeling increasingly eager to get out. So with a lift opportunity and the thought of doing something new again, I jumped.
During the journey, I estimated that the cloud base was at 300m on Cruach Tairbeirt, but the base was shifting by several hundred metres. Who knows how it'd be? I thought I'd wait to see how things went. On the other hand, I knew I was in for walking through some cloud, whether or not they were at 300m or otherwise.
We'd left the house just past 10 and after several stops and starts for various reasons, I began beside the Rest and be Thankful at 12.05. This may turn into a bog walk but I'd see. From the parking just down Gleann Mor from the Rest, I followed the path through the forestry. There were two walkers ahead and I figured they were heading the same way as myself although by climbing Ben Donich from here, I was already 260 metres above sea level.
I was planning on doing a small round trip - ascending by the north ridge, descending by the east and returning by forestry paths. We'd see if I stuck to that plan, and only my progress up the ridge would tell me if I had time. After a couple of minutes on the track, I saw the two walkers turning left up a large track, and when I reached it myself, it was signposted as the route to Ben Donich. I was surprised to find it - OS doesn't give any mention of any path up, so maybe I might be in for an easier time than I'd thought? I continued up the wide path, zigzagging a bit on the way but making good progress upwards. However I reached the stile after not too long (at the fence posts on the 1:25000 OS map) and from here the path was only worn by walkers. With recent rainfall it looked pretty boggy, even though it wasn't raining at the present.
Views were opening and closing towards the cloud capped Cobbler and Beinn Luibhean and Beinn an Lochain made itself pretty unknown. However on I went, up some steeper bits and some shallower. There wasn't much in particular to say about this route but it was enjoyable. And even if the weather was far from great I was enjoying myself, and that's what counts. That's why I'm here. Just out having a great time in the mountains - the rest of Glasgow were out having their fun at the Inveraray music festival but this is where I wanted to be at the present. Good times.
I headed up the path through a broad gully and up shallower bits, steeper bits and so on. Cloud would come in and out again, yet after a while I was finally feeling as if I was getting near the top. It's that point where you realise you aren't at the bottom anymore, and so I headed onwards with the top firmly in my mind. After all, there wasn't much to look at and I had a goal to head towards. It was at this point I decided to head up and back down the same way - mum was going to pick me up now and I'd rather be at the Rest and be Thankful (what a fricken strange name) sooner rather than later.
Getting near the top, I came across an interesting rock step which I hadn't ever heard about. It was a 2 metre crag that had to be climbed down and following it I was soon enough back on the path and walking again. It was almost vertical but not sustained and was easy enough. It added a bit of fun if anything. From there, the path became indistinct and I walked out onto a flatter grassy area. That was when mum phoned me and we arranged a time for me to be down by. Well ... we would have if the phone didn't cut out mid-conversation. Heading towards the general direction of the summit, I picked the path back up, and passed a very strange small lochan. Sitting in isolation, perched up here in the middle of cloud. Everything was grey around about and water bounced off the surface... Very odd...
It was a couple more minutes to the top and the GPS told me I was there before I'd found the actual trig point. By this time the wind had picked up, it was spitting rain and although I was at the top, I was getting wet. The stuff soaks everything and the camera was getting water on it so it went away after a couple of snaps. Well that was me done what I had set out to do - I wouldn't be doing the Brack but I'd reached the top of Donich and now I was standing by a trig point in the middle of a cloud. Time to go down...
From the top it was an easy walk down where I met the two walkers, exchanged brief words about how long to the top and continued on my way. I was still in the cloud and wouldn't be coming out soon so I made quick progress past the weird lochan, over "the step" and then back onto the straight ahead path. It was sure boggy, and a fast descent covered my legs in projectile mud - I was caked in mud by the time I was at the bottom. It was good fun though.
It had been raining all the way down and now and I was at the stile. I walked down the the better built trail and then down onto the track below. From there it was a simple walk to the R.a.b.T car park. Mum was nowhere to be seen so I sat on a bench over looking Glen Croe, watching the clouds rolling over Luibhean, feeling the rain falling. I was damp, but fair enough. I was enjoying myself here - I felt so calm and so fulfilled. Cloud formed in a stream as it pushed up over Luibhean and the Cobbler even came out a couple of times. I went up to the burger bar to get something, bought a burger, Lilt and chocolate to eat. Sitting on the bench getting cold but feeling great. I couldn't work out why I felt so good about myself but that's how it is.
Forty-five minutes had passed when my phone rang, bang on 3pm. It was mum and she'd just pulled up in the car park behind me. From there we headed home. An excellent day that made me glad I was back in the mountains once more.
(0.00) 12.05pm Rest. car park
(1.15) 1.20pm Ben Donich
(2.15) 2.20pm Rest. car park
(3.00) 3.05pm Picked up