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Finding the angle on Ben Donich and The Brack

Finding the angle on Ben Donich and The Brack

Postby old danensian » Thu May 28, 2015 7:35 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Ben Donich, The Brack

Date walked: 12/05/2015

Time taken: 5.45 hours

Distance: 15 km

Ascent: 1050m

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When pondering a trip report I always try to find an angle: an achievement, a memorable moment, the context of the day, or the trauma, if rarely, of the ubiquitous epic.

Anyway, this pair of Corbetts on a dreary Tuesday in mid-May fought hard to hide their angles. Until that is, the angle of The Brack itself reared up in front of me and, later, someone assumed a viewpoint of a different sort. But, more of them anon.

For a snatched few hours, this pair was ideal. My self-imposed determination to tackle some southern Corbetts during the winter proved to be a dismal failure. Perversely, the only two Corbetts visited during what constituted my winter were the two most northerly of the crop.

Come the day in question, I had to meet people off different trains arriving in Glasgow during the evening, and the chance of going out for a meal out with the other half between the two. Ben Donich and The Brack sat in an ideal location. They were sufficiently “south”, and there was the opportunity to start the walk at over 260m rather than flogging up from Ardgartan at virtually sea-level. I wouldn’t be in danger of falling asleep at the table in the evening.

Glen Croe and The Brack from the Rest And Be Thankful

After a leisurely breakfast and a ninety minute drive I was looking down the glen from the Rest And Be Thankful car park. The tops were still cloaked in cloud but the forecast was optimistic. Booted and suited, and up a short stretch of the A828 the track into the woodland soon appeared. Signs for the hill suggested that route-finding on the first part of the walk wouldn’t be a problem.

Ben Donich in the cloud from the B828 - off the road and just up the hill

When the footpath up the north east ridge of Ben Donich left the forest track the woodland was soon left behind. Although the path rose quickly, it never gave the sense of being brutally steep or unrelenting, and within the hour I was peering down the short scramble into the cleft that has been sliced into the upper reaches of the ridge by some unseen force.

Ben Lomond from "the cleft" on Ben Donich

Rocks polished by thousands of bums over the years clearly showed the way down and it proved to be more spectacular than difficult. Views to the distance began to reveal themselves as the weather improved and added to the airy sense the crags imbued, despite being so small.

Beinn Narnain and The Cobbler from Ben Donich

By the time the summit cairn of Ben Donich was reached the sun began to make its appearance. It was time for a rest and a look at the route across to The Brack.

There might have been a path down the eastern shoulder of Ben Donich, and an easy way to weave in and out of the crags and bluffs in the direction of the Bealach Dubh-lic, but I didn’t find it. Not that it mattered. Nowhere was the ground steep or the rocks big enough to warrant more than a minor detour.

However, a detour was prompted on spotting a grand, sturdy looking cairn built on the edge of a cluster of rocks facing The Cobbler, about two thirds of the way to the bealach. No path appeared to lead to it, and there was no plaque or engraving suggesting a memorial of some sort. Other than its prominence on this outcrop, I was left wondering who had spent the time and effort in its construction.

The Cobbler and the mysterious cairn on the slopes of Ben Donich

Then, at the bealach I found my angle: all four hundred metres of it.

I’d felt fit during the first part of the day, but this took it out of me. For an hour I plodded, occasionally finding the vestige of a track, but normally just seeking the easier line and zig-zagging up slopes, ribs and squelchy patches. What had appeared as a benign gradient from the top of Ben Donich turned out to be unusually brutal. Either that, or I was seriously out of condition.

An hour later the lactic burn relented, bursting onto a short summit ridge with the cairn perched at its north eastern edge. It was time to find some shelter from what was still quite a biting wind, enjoy some lunch and savour the views over the Arrochar Alps or down to the boats in the loch below.

Beinn Ime, The Cobbler and Beinn Narnain from The Brack

The descent back to the bealach took barely twenty minutes, before plunging into the woods below for a precarious slither through the undergrowth. Having avoided the protruding spikes waiting to impale a free-falling walker, I reached the forestry track and returned up Glen Croe to the Rest and be Thankful car park.

Looking back up to The Brack from the forest track in Glen Croe

When I left the car park in the morning, the refreshment van was the only other vehicle occupying space. Arriving back just short of six hours later and it was still quiet: perfect for the surreptitious change that was needed before going out for dinner in Glasgow with the other half – Montane pants and a sweaty Helly Hansen base layer don’t go down well. And of course, part way through a change that was not as slick as an F1 tyre change, the tour buses came out in numbers; the only thing missing was the piper.

And then the second angle of the day appeared: from the bus windows down into my car. There’s exposure and then there’s exposure. If only there had been a piper to divert their attention.
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old danensian
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Re: Finding the angle on Ben Donich and The Brack

Postby Fife Flyer » Fri May 29, 2015 7:15 pm

Nice one Nigel, enjoyed that :clap:
Love that neck of the woods and hopefully it won't be too long before I return :wink:
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Fife Flyer
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Re: Finding the angle on Ben Donich and The Brack

Postby roscoT » Mon Jun 01, 2015 9:01 pm

I did these 2 on a cracking day back in March, and feel your pain about the ascent to The Brack - much harder going that it looks from Donich! The lumpy ground is a killer!

Great days walking though, well done!
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Re: Finding the angle on Ben Donich and The Brack

Postby 92and282now221 » Mon Jun 29, 2015 10:39 am

Thank you Sir for a good report.

That's tomorrow sorted then, I know what I will be doing - though I look forward to the The Brack with certain amount of trepidation now...
Posts: 3
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Joined: Feb 24, 2015
Location: Alnmouth, Northumberland

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