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Ben Donich with a Soupcon of Snow

Ben Donich with a Soupcon of Snow

Postby WeeHills » Thu May 06, 2021 12:31 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Ben Donich

Date walked: 05/05/2021

Time taken: 3.5 hours

Distance: 7.5 km

Ascent: 575m

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It is May Day Week, one I always take off work, and which generally brings balmy, spring conditions. It's my first week off since we've been allowed out to play so naturally the weather has taken a turn for the 'completely pants'. Still, Wednesday's forecast looks pretty decent and I have taken a notion, for no particular reason, for Ben Donich.

I spend Tuesday evening questioning the wisdom of my notion. Ben Lomond has emerged from the gloom with a fresh coating of snow. I am not a snow lover. I stare at it out the window and my sober, sensible side worries. I don't want to miss one of Donich's (in)famous fissures in the snow. Perhaps a different hill would be wiser? 'No' screams the intemperate half of me 'I was promised Ben Donich and only Ben Donich will do'. The petulant child wins, it doesn't look like much snow from here, and Ben Donich's a chunk lower, it'll be fine. Probably.

As I drive up the A82 the following morning and the hills come into sharper view I am mightily relieved to find my assessment was correct. It really is just a dusting on the tops. It really will be fine. I pull into the Glen Mhor car park at 9.50 and quickly get organised. It may be warm in the sunshine on the lower slopes at present but rain, hail, possible thunderstorms are forecast for later in the day. I intend to be heading down by noon.

It is pleasantly warm and spring like on the lower half of the route but as I approach the wee pull up to the fractured region sporadic patches of snow appear. I meet a gentleman coming down who is wrapped in about 100 layers and doing a passable impression of the Michelin Man. I suddenly feel decidedly under-dressed. We exchange pleasantries and I head upwards. OK, it is getting a wee bit chilly now, the hat and gloves go on and I make full use of others footprints where the snow has gathered. It's really not too bad though and as I approach the wee down climb I am pleased to see the normal route through the rocks and fissures is clearly evident and any snow patchy. The only slight issue is a tiny patch half way down the climb, pretty much exactly where I want to put my feet, slightly irritating but negotiated without mishap.

Snow gathered in the fissures

Ben Lomond looking fine under broody skies

Beyond the fissure field I find I am in the shelter from the wind and it feels warm and spring-like again. There is just one, vaguely substantial, tract of snow and the surface is firm, I waltz across without sinking in and am soon approaching the trig. Then, as I arrive at the summit, the icy wind hits. On go all the coats, it is bitter. But wonderfully clear in all directions with the cloud level well above the tops. A wonderful viewpoint and I linger for a few minutes to soak it all in and take a few snaps before heading a few metres back down to find a sheltered spot for dinner. It is 11.30 and I am gazing over the Brack and towards Ben Lomond. Not a bad spot for a picnic.

Icy trig in the bitter wind

Summit view down Loch Goil

Food and two cups of coffee later I have warmed up and pop back up to admire the view once more. I have had the summit entirely to myself and am somewhat reluctant to make a move but as midday is fast approaching I stick to my plans and head off. I'm not far down when I meet two lads headed up. I assure one of them that he really is near the top now. He positively beams. Back at the crags and crevices I meet two more blokes, with two wee dugs who are refusing point blank to clamber down. They ask if there is an easier way as I scramble up. Not to my knowledge, sorry. I wonder if their pets were ever persuaded? Another couple appear and head down. Aside from one lady relaxing in the sun with her own dug on the lower slopes as I descend these are the only people other than Michelin Man I meet on the hill today.

I descend with care through the spots of snow and breathe a sigh of relief as the last of it peters out. I relax, and promptly go for a slide on just about the lowest white stuff on the mountain. Typical. Fortunately I suffer nothing more than a soggy bum and as the last time I fell over it was walking through a perfectly flat picnic area I can't even claim to be overly embarrassed at a small sit-down on a steep, snowy slope. Plus I'm not covered in mud from head to toe this time. Still, it's a reminder that down is always dodgier than up. I give myself a talking to. Pay attention woman! I pause to strip off some layers, I am warm despite being accompanied by occasional light flurries of hail, with teeny little stones, unlike the muckle, marrowfat pea sized monsters than pelt down later at home (thank goodness I wasn't out and about in that) for the remainder of the descent.

The rest of the walk is uneventful and I'm back at the car not long after one feeling that I've definitely had the best of the weather and somewhat smug about my choice for the day. Ben Donich really is a cracking wee hill, I'd almost forgotten what a joy it is..
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Re: Ben Donich with a Soupcon of Snow

Postby Graeme D » Thu May 06, 2021 11:19 pm

That looks cracking. I was on The Brack and Cnoc Coinnich yesterday but I didn't set off from Ardgartan until almost 4 o'clock so you'd have been long gone from Donich by then. The weather clearly took a turn for the worse after your photos. The hail was bouncing off the ground as I drove into the car park and for the initial walk along the Cat Craig track but by the time I got to the summit of The Brack, it all lifted and I had a glorious couple of hours.

Donich from the summit of The Brack around 6pm on 05/05/21
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Graeme D
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Re: Ben Donich with a Soupcon of Snow

Postby WeeHills » Fri May 07, 2021 9:35 am

Glad the weather cleared for you Graeme, though if it was the same hailstorm that hit us 5ish I'm surprised you're not suffering from concussion! Summit shot looks fine.
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