Today it was back to Scotland for a two-day trip continuing around the Clyde Sea Lochs. Todays walk would be different in that I intended to include some of the higher mountains between Arrochar and Lochgoilhead. The reason behind this was that in 2012 I completed the Corbetts (hills between 2500 to 3000 ft), but unfortunately the “meddlars” re-surveyed the Graham – Cnoc Coinnich (hills between 2000 to 2500 ft) and the result of the survey was that Cnoc Coinnich was indeed now classified as a Corbett and I hadn’t climbed it. I had therefore decided that I would climb Cnoc Coinnich and Ben Reithe when I walked from Arrochar to Lochgoilhead. I had not climbed any mountain above 300m for some 2 years so I was looking forward to this. I finally got a small weather window so off I went.
As I parked up in Lochgoilhead I could see that no hills had any snow on them at all, including the ones I intended to climb. So I discarded my ice axe and crampons and caught the 09:00 #302 bus to Arrochar. At Arrochar I set off immediately walking back down the busy and noisy A83. There is a footpath along the main road all the way to Ardgartan where I took a woodland path that ran alongside the main road for 400m until I came to a small wooden footbridge that took me over the small burn. I emerged onto the minor public road that rose to a Forestry Commission car park at about 130m at the foot of Glen Coilessan. Since Ardgartan I had also been walking along The Cowal Way which climbs over the bealach between Cnoc Coinnich and The Brack, before dropping down into Lochgoilhead. Besides forming the Cowal Way, the access road continues around this peninsula, albeit as a cycle-track. I notice on the signage that it is referred to as The Dukes Path and I will join up with it again later on in the afternoon.
At the bealach I make my way up steepening slopes to gain the ridge line of Cnoc Coinnich. Although the sun has been out since I started walking this morning it was only now that I was walking directly into it, and it was blinding! At the summit of Cnoc Coinnich it restricted my view to the south as well as trying to take any decent photos. However, there were terrific views still to the north and west, with the Arrochar Alps and hills of the Cowal peninsula standing out in particular. I could also make out to the south the Roseneath peninsula, The Gare Loch, Loch Long and Loch Goil stretching into the distance and into the Firth of Clyde. Unfortunately my ‘cheapo’ camera and the aspect of the sun could not do the view from this hill full justice, so if you want to see much clearer views in their splendour then follow the link below to Trekpete’s TR of his visit to the area in 2013:
It had taken me almost 3 hours of walking since Arrochar to reach the summit of Cnoc Coinnich and I must have stopped about 10 times to catch my breath, yes walking uphill takes more out of you. After negotiating the steep descent off Cnoc Coinnich I now had almost 2 miles along hummocky, boggy terrain towards my next objective Ben Reithe. Although lower than Cnoc Coinnich, Ben Reithe still had magnificent views, particularly to the south, although I had to squint with the blinding sun. Like Cnoc Coinnich, Ben Reithe had a steep descent on its southern limb, which required care to navigate around the small crags here and there.
My next objective was The Saddle, which was lower still, but this time I was heading towards its eastern flank to pick up an ATV track which would descend down to the Dukes Path. I managed to locate the ATV track and 15 minutes later I arrived back on the Dukes Path. Most of the forestry roads I had been walking on during the day had been recently upgraded, a prelude to a probable commencement of forest operations. After a mile the Dukes Path arrived at the upland loch of Corran Lochan, a delightfully secluded loch below Clach Bheinn. Here the path turned north, as the sun began to disappear below the neighbouring hills.
I continued along the path until I crossed the Stuckbeg Burn, where I met a local gentleman who was out from Lochgoilhead on a late afternoon stroll. He suggested that I descend down the Stuckbeg Burn path to join the main forest road back to Lochgoilhead. By the time I reached Lochgoilhead the sun had long since disappeared below the hills of Cowal. I now had the long drive around to Dunoon where I was staying for the next two nights. The walk had taken 6.75hrs.
NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:
Distance today = 18 miles
Total distance = 2520 miles