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Cnoc Coinnich: I climbed it 'cos it's got my name on it

Cnoc Coinnich: I climbed it 'cos it's got my name on it

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Mon Sep 24, 2018 2:27 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Ben Donich, Cnoc Coinnich, The Brack

Date walked: 23/09/2018

Time taken: 8.7 hours

Distance: 16.8 km

Ascent: 1610m

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Sad though it admittedly is, I've had my eye on Cnoc Coinnich for some time, largely because one of two possible translations from the Gaelic is "Kenny's Knoll" :lol: (the other possibility is the altogether less interesting "Mossy Knoll"). Its recent promotion to Corbett status just made it all the more enticing... I had Sunday 23rd September free for a walk, and after being out for dinner the night before, I was keen to get a reasonably big walk done to blow the cobwebs away, but decidedly less keen on an early start or a long drive :roll: ! I therefore went for this route bagging Cnoc Coinnich with its two higher Corbett pals to the north, starting not from Ardgartan (which seems to be the most popular option), but from Lochgoilhead, from whence the three hills make a more natural circuit.

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Strangely enough (since it includes absolutely no Grahams :? ), this route is fairly well described in the SMC "Grahams" book - the explanation, of course, being that this book was published only months before a re-survey found Cnoc Coinnich to be 2 metres higher than everyone had previously thought, meaning that it found itself suddenly promoted from Graham to Corbett.
The forecast was surprisingly good considering all the stormy weather in the previous week, and the sun was shining when I arrived at the big car park in Lochgoilhead at around 9:30 a.m. Starting from sea level is either an advantage or a disadvantage of this route, depending on how one looks at it :lol: ! In any case, Loch Goil was certainly looking very pretty in the morning sunlight.
WR1 - Loch Goil from car park.jpg

The start of the route follows the exact line of the Cowal Way, which is very clearly waymarked from the car park, so there were thankfully no navigational difficulties. After ascending a series of tracks and then excellent forest paths, the Cowal Way eventually ascends a rougher path up a firebreak to exit the forestry at a brand-new gate through a line of fencing.
The forest track just before the start of the firebreak:
WR2 - Forest track almost at firebreak.jpg

...And looking back down the firebreak from the fence at the top, with ... Stob an Eas (??) in the distance:
WR3 - Looking down firebreak towards Beinn an Lochain.jpg

Above the forestry, the path got muddier and a bit more indistinct, but a line of white marker posts made it virtually impossible to stray off-piste. There was a fine view out west to Beinn Bheula and the impressive line of Grahams above Lettermay:
WR4 - Beinn Bheula & Lettermay Grahams from just above forestry.jpg

Although Cnoc Coinnich's summit environs were still out of view behind the convex slopes to the SE, my other two target hills had now come into view. At this point in the day, Ben Donich was still sulking with its head firmly in the clouds :roll: :
WR5 - Ben Donich still with head in clouds.jpg

The Brack, however, was already showing off in the sunshine, and looking impressively craggy.
WR6 - The Brack - clag-free and looking impressively craggy.jpg

Although it would be perfectly feasible to walk all the way up to the bealach and tackle Cnoc Coinnich's NW ridge from there, I took a bit of a short-cut to cut the corner, joining the easy grassy ridge about halfway up. With surprisingly little ado (by my standards anyway), I found myself up at the first summit of the day. The Clag had been coming and going from the summit all the way up, but to my delight it started to clear just as I arrived, and I got some views :D .
Looking SE towards Loch Long and the northern end of the Gare Loch, with the Cobbler inevitably getting in on the act on the far left:
WR7 - Cnoc Coinnich summit looking towards Loch Long & end of Gare Loch - Cobbler on far left.jpg

A hazier view out to the southwestern seaboard:
WR8 - hazy view W from Cnoc Coinnich summit.jpg

Me on my Knoll :lol: !
WR9 - Me on my Knoll.jpg

I made my way back down Coinnich's easy NW ridge, getting a nice view of Beinn Bheula and the impressive Lettermay Grahams on the way down: all of them good-looking hills that I still have to do!
WR10 - nice view of Bheula & Lettermay Corbetts on descent from Coinnich.jpg

Unfortunately, Coinnich's NW ridge would be the last "easy ridge" for quite some time :lol: ! I now had The Brack to tackle, and as I approached the bealach it was looking a right craggy wee brute.
WR11 - The Brack looking craggy from bealach.jpg

...And so indeed it proved. The ascent of The Brack's knobbly and undulating SW ridge was great fun, involving jooking round a whole series of wee crags. There was no real scrambling involved, but it was steep in places and completely pathless, and it took me longer than I expected.
There is a pretty wee Half-Way Lochan on the way up the ridge, from where there was a grand view over to Ben Donich, now Clag-free:
WR12 - nice view of Donich from The Brack's Halfway Lochan.jpg

One last push, and Corbett Number Two was in the bag :) !
WR13 - me at The Brack trig point.jpg

The Brack was definitely my favourite of these three hills, being craggy and characterful, and it also proved to be a particularly fine viewpoint. This was the view out west, with Ailsa Craig visible away in the distance:
WR14 - Brack summit looking W.jpg

Looking east towards Arrochar, with Loch Long, Ben Lomond and the Bonny Banks all visible:
WR15 - Brack summit looking E to Arrochar and the Bonnie Banks.jpg

And another fine vista of the southwestern seaboard:
WR16 - looking out to the southwestern seaboard.jpg

I eventually tore myself away from The Brack's trig point and headed off down the north ridge towards the Bealach Dubh-Lic. This was again pathless (well, I didn't find a path anyway), and fairly steep, but it was mainly grassy, with most of the crags marked on the OS Explorer map thankfully just being the consequence of some cartographer's over-fertile imagination.Soon enough I was down at the boggy and depressingly low bealach - the map gives it a spot height of 384 metres, meaning well over 400 metres of re-ascent to the third Corbett of the day :roll: ! My thighs were starting to feel it a bit by now, so I climbed up a steep grassy ramp to jook round the first band of crags on Donich's east ridge, then stopped for some lunch. Unfortunately it briefly started to rain at this point, but at least there was an interesting view back across the Bealach Dubh-Lic to the Brack, which was looking no less craggy from this angle.
WR17 - looking back to the Brack from start of Donich ascent - and starting to rain.jpg

The rain stopped just as I finished my lunch, and I set off again on the pathless ascent of Donich's rough and slightly confusing east ridge, which is beset with a whole series of wee crags. It proved straightforward enough to jook round them on steep grassy ramps, with very little actual scrambling involved, but it was fairly knackering this late in the day, and I had to make frequent rest stops on convenient boulders :roll: ... Again, however, there were fine views by way of distraction. The Cobbler, of course, was particularly prominent over to the east:
WR18 - interesting view of Cobbler & Narnain on Donich ascent.jpg

Arrochar and Ben Lomond again, with The Brack looking rather brooding over on the right:
WR19 - Ben Lomond & Arrochar & The Brack from Donich ascent.jpg

After what felt like (and was!) rather a long time, I did eventually make it up Corbett Number Three. In fact, just when I thought that I'd never get to the top, I found the very final section of the Six-Lane Autobahn of a hill path that comes up the north ridge from the Rest and be Thankful. After so much pathless trudging up rough ground, this felt like something of an insult to be honest, but at least it gave very easy going up the final hundred metres or so :lol: !
Having not looked at the map terribly closely on the way up, I was mildly surprised to discover that this Corbett too had a Trig Point. (It is unusual to find two hills with Trig Points so close together, but presumably the Ordnance Survey must have been finding Cowal's complex topography to be an unusually tough job in surveying terms.)
Although the wind had really picked up by now, Ben Donich was almost as fine a viewpoint as The Brack. There was a lovely view back south along Loch Goil:
WR20 - looking down Loch Goil from Donich summit.jpg

Looking SE towards The Brack and Cnoc Coinnich, with the Luss Grahams huddling together in the distance:
WR21 - The Brack & Coinnich & distant Luss Grahams.jpg

East towards The Cobbler and Ben Lomond. I was rather puzzled by the big red "M" on the trig point - should it not be "C" for Corbett :? ?
WR22 - Cobbler & Ben Lomond - big red M on trig point.jpg

Anyway, it was time to head for home, so I set off down Donich's pathless, but thankfully easy-angled and crag-free, south ridge. This rollicking ridge gave a very straightforward descent initially, with more fine views: this shot is looking south to Loch Long, with Cnoc Coinnich over left:
WR23 - nice view of Coinnich & Loch Long on Donich S ridge descent.jpg
At the foot of the ridge, however, there were some Forestry Issues with a very tiresome area of recent clear-felling to be traversed in order to get down to a forestry track. To make it even more fun, the FC have started re-planting this area, so as well as having to negotiate all the stumps and branches from the old trees and the steep tussocky grass, there were also numerous baby spruces to be jooked round too! It certainly slowed me down a bit, but eventually I made it down to the track, where another sudden shower of rain gave me a pretty rainbow over my Knoll :) !
WR24 - nice rainbow over Coinnich.jpg

From there on it was fairly plain sailing, taking a side path off on the left (as marked on the OS map) to get down to a lower forestry track that eventually emerged from the trees at Inveronich, just north of Lochgoilhead.
I found this a surprisingly tough round, although a very enjoyable one: my thighs are still feeling it :roll: . That low bealach between The Brack and Ben Donich is certainly not for the faint-hearted... Great wee hills, all the same :D !
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Re: Cnoc Coinnich: I climbed it 'cos it's got my name on it

Postby kevsbald » Mon Sep 24, 2018 7:41 pm

Kenny - you're looking very svelte these days. :clap:
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Re: Cnoc Coinnich: I climbed it 'cos it's got my name on it

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Mon Sep 24, 2018 8:22 pm

kevsbald wrote:Kenny - you're looking very svelte these days. :clap:

Thanks! Well, I'm trying :lol: ...
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