walkhighlands

The 20km non-tourist Conic Hill alternative from Drymen

Route: Conic Hill, Balmaha

Sub 2000s: Conic Hill

Date walked: 19/04/2019

Time taken: 5.57 hours

Distance: 20km

Ascent: 663m


Conic-Hill-XL.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

It was time for another group walk with The Stray Cats as we train for the Three Lochs Way in June. Conic Hill had been proposed by Janice so I hijacked that idea and decided to start and finish in Drymen to make it a much longer route with a Marilyn to ascend half way and to also beat the easter Friday tourists who would no doubt soon have Balmaha hoaching!

We had a 9am start and I arrived a few minutes late after being stuck behind slow traffic for a while. There was just the 6 of us: my old friend Wullie; Janice who's sort of in charge of the group, Top Cat so to speak! :lol: ; her husband Craig, the tall one, master of the pun; Rosie rocking her pink jacket as usual and Aidan providing more good chat.

After a quick change we left the car park in the centre of Drymen and were heading north up the Rob Roy Way. Conic Hill looked a fair distance away, not the usual close up when you start from Balmaha:
ImageDSC_0448 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

We all enjoyed a good chuckle at the Assing Place sign... "What happens on the walk stays on the wallk" said Janice. :lol:
ImageDSC_0450 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

After a bit we turned left into Garadhban Forest and onto the West Highland Way:
ImageDSC_0455 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Janice said she didn't know this bit of the walk as despite doing the WHW last year they went a slightly different route by mistake at this section! :D

It was very warm but very hazy and we couldn't even see the loch at this early stage:
ImageDSC_0457 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Conic Hill was edging ever closer as we continued along the excellent path, passing a few WHW couples and small groups, most of whom seemed to be American:
ImageDSC_0465 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

ImageDSC_0485 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

It's nice getting a different angle of Conic Hill on the walk in:
ImageDSC_0489 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Clearing up a little at this southern section of Loch Lomond:
ImageDSC_0492 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

We could already see a fair few ants on the middle top of Conic Hill yet we were enjoying a peaceful stroll with tourists so far and it was easter Friday! I'm sure that will all change soon enough. :lol:
ImageDSC_0499 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Gualann on our right hand side as we continue along the path:
ImageDSC_0504 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Conic Hill now looking more like a standard hill than the usual knobbly caterpillar look from the north or south:
ImageDSC_0505 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

The path gets a bit more varied at last and we cross a nice wee bridge:
ImageDSC_0508 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Time to lose a bit of altitude now at the Burn of Mar before gaining it again straight away for the final ascent up the West Highland Way path:
ImageDSC_0517 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

No complaints, you have steps and a good path with a blue sky on a warm and not windy day, you have it easy! :D
ImageDSC_0518 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Janice said she never recognised this section of the WHW when she did it. I asked if it was definitely the WHW that she did! :lol:

Now on the flank of Conic Hill heading north west:
ImageDSC_0522 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Directly north is Beinn Breach:
ImageDSC_0524 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Surely speckled hills are the most common in Scotland, has anyone counted? :lol:
ImageDSC_0527 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

After a bit more altitude is gained on the path Ben Lomond pops into view to the north:
ImageDSC_0532 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

The path then countours around the hillside and Loch Lomond, Beinn Dubh's bulky east side and the other Loch Lomond Grahams come into view:
ImageDSC_0534 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Wullie and Aidan are keeping up a good pace :clap: as Gualann shows off a nice interesting shape behind us, hiding behind it's top Maol Odhar. Looks like a fun heathery romp if bagging Humps is your thing! :D
ImageDSC_0535 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

As we continue round to the west I spot a grassy path leading directly to the summit, perfect, up to the left Wilbur:
ImageDSC_0539 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

A couple in front of us approached by a jogger, still very hazy but at least we have a view unlike the last time I was here at the tourist summit and the clouds covered half of it:
ImageDSC_0542 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

I wait for the other three to round the corner and catch up as Wullie and Aidan head on uphill:
ImageDSC_0544 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

ImageDSC_0547 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

The path was decent enough and a better alternative sticking to the main path for a while as the other path branching off from the WHW we had seen earlier was very muddy. This was the steepest ascent now:
ImageDSC_0554 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Conic Hill summit:
ImageDSC_0556 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Aidan laughing at the people on the tourist summit after I explain that it's 3 metres lower but as the path goes directly there and it's the better viewpoint, the majority miss out on the actual summit of Conic Hill. :D
ImageDSC_0561 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Wullie checking out the view, it's great and is clearing gradually:
ImageDSC_0563 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Properly appreciated with a bigger lens:
ImageDSC_0569 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Not that busy... yet! Boy will that soon change! :lol:
ImageDSC_0570 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Loch Lomond and it's collection of fine Grahams with envious views of Loch Lomond and Arrochar that you will struggle to find anywhere else, surrounded by lochs and bigger mountains on all sides:
ImageDSC_0571 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

It's picnic time and we have the summit to ourselves! The gang are most pleased and haribo are dished out in celebration: :clap:
ImageDSC_0572 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

An older couple pass and one views the tourist summit next door, getting busier now:
ImageDSC_0573 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

As we sit, eat and blether I soak in my surroundings, starting with Ben Lomond, he's the king at this section of the loch and respect must be given:
ImageDSC_0575 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

The sprawling mass of Beinn Chaorach on the left, Beinn Eich looking nice and pointy on the right (it's a fine viewpoint) and Luss down below:
ImageDSC_0578 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Beinn Dubh's killer ascent the second you leave Luss is shown here: :D
ImageDSC_0579 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

I could barely make out Ben Ledi's outline to the east but long range visibility was awful today. Then it happened, I took a zoom shot of a pretty busy summit. To fully appreciate this next bit click on the photo below to enlarge it then flick between this photo and the next:
ImageDSC_0581 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Where did you lot come from?! :crazy:
ImageDSC_0583 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

I suddenly felt a pang of longing for a remote Graham and heathery hillside with nobody around for miles! :lol:

A couple of girls jogging popped up onto the summit and we had a quick chat before they offered to take a photo of us, cheers!
ImageDSC_0588 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

We now had an option, back down to join the main path or head down over each and every summit lump. Naturally I went for the interesting option, full steam ahead gang:
ImageDSC_0591 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Janice joked "it's like the 3 peaks challenge you've brought us on!" but little did she know that Conic Hill has at least 5 main summit mounds! :lol:
ImageDSC_0595 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Another down and up to go as Wullie observes the throngs of tourists, walkers, dogs and who knows what else:
ImageDSC_0600 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Well it is Conic Hill on Easter Friday, what did we expect! :roll:
ImageDSC_0601 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

The tourist top is a popular lunch spot today!
ImageDSC_0603 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

We head on up:
ImageDSC_0607 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Then over:
ImageDSC_0610 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Not stopping at all as we escape the masses:
ImageDSC_0611 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Still clearing up a little more:
ImageDSC_0617 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

We can finally make out Ben Arthur and Beinn Narnain, just:
ImageDSC_0618 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

These two have the right idea: :clap:
ImageDSC_0620 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

If it looks like it drops off to infinite, it usually does! :crazy:
ImageDSC_0623 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

It may only be small in stature but Conic Hill has bags of personality and many interesting sections to explore::
ImageDSC_0624 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Every mound is a prime viewpoint of Loch Lomond:
ImageDSC_0625 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

The first section down off the tourist top was a little steep and ricky but then gets a lot more vertical at this drop off to infinity section:
ImageDSC_0626 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Everyone took their time and I gave Rosie a walking pole to help her descend safely:
ImageDSC_0628 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Looking up so you get an indication of this section. One to take great care on:
ImageDSC_0629 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

We all made it down in one peace, you can have big falls on small hills! The path continues down to Bealach Ard:
ImageDSC_0634 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Some people on the steep rocky section. Yes it is as steep as it looks. :D
ImageDSC_0635 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Bealach Ard - we'll be heading over to the right to rejoin another path down off the hill to the Loch. I refuse to go down the tourist route now as this way wins every time:
ImageDSC_0640 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Tourist route with tourists: :wink:
ImageDSC_0645 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Tom nan Oisgean, i'm not sure why we never went up him too, always good to leave something new to return for another day:
ImageDSC_0646 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Our way ahead:
ImageDSC_0647 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

The Stray Cats were loving it:
ImageDSC_0650 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Yet another Loch Lomond shot:
ImageDSC_0652 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Tourist tap. We stop for a water break, escaping the crowds is thirsty work. Puns flow thick and fast and more sweeties are dished out:
ImageDSC_0662 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Heading down my favourite section of Conic Hill:
ImageDSC_0667 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Can you spot Aidan and Rosie?
ImageDSC_0671 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Meanwhile Janice gets lost in the Gorse bushes! :lol:
ImageDSC_0673 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

We followed the path down and round into Coille Ghlas woods and I find a dry route through. Wullie however, decides he can blaze his own trail and Janice follows behind him. The result...
ImageDSC_0682 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

"&^%"&%$£^% that's the last time I follow you William!" :lol: :lol: :lol:

I explain that you learn more from your mistakes than you do from your success:
ImageDSC_0695 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

We're now down at loch level again where the pastures are green and the spring lambs play with Ben Lomond looking over them in the background:
ImageDSC_0699 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

We cross the fence onto the road, it's very busy, so I decide we're best off crossing the small field onto the shoreline path:
ImageDSC_0701 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

"Are you sure we're allowed to do this?!" queries Janice as we jest and look around for a Bull, cow, sheep, grasshopper, nothing! It's fine, we're crossing a tiny empty field to lessen the chance of being run over and we have the right to roam, with respect for nature and following the country code of course. :)

Over at Luss, the Grahams provide a brilliant background:
ImageDSC_0705 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

A quick visit to the shore, it would be rude not to:
ImageDSC_0707 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Beinn Eich looks great from here, a proper pyramid:
ImageDSC_0710 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

We accost a passing American tourist and he kindly takes a group shot of us:
ImageDSC_0718 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Loch Lomond is stealing the show now and we're only just past half way on the walk, still a while back to Drymen from here:
ImageDSC_0719 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Mal Grey... or someone like him: :wink:
ImageDSC_0725 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Distant Duncryne as a fisherman competes with everything else for some tranquility:
ImageDSC_0730 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Waiting for a taxi:
ImageDSC_0735 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

We were in Balmaha now after taking the lovely shoreline path and avoiding the busy road of death. The Oak Tree Inn was mobbed but the call of a large ice cream cone outiside was impossible to resist and Aidan was nice enough to buy me one which was the perfect mid-walk snack on a day like today. Even a large Alaskan Malamute was enjoying one of his own! :lol:

We set off again, following the road and staying on the pavement to our left. It was a fairly long and straight section but after a while we were rewarded with a cracking view back to Conic Hill and our route over all the bumps, or were they humps, tumps or lumps?
ImageDSC_0743 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Another recap on hill sizes and classes later and we were on the same page again. "See I told you a Tump was a thing!" Wullie would say to Janice later that evening! :D

Still on the WHW route along the B837 walking towards Drymen:
ImageDSC_0749 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Upper Millrowan and Conic Hill:
ImageDSC_0758 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

We cross the road and turned into Lower Millrowan. At the end of the track is a gate into a field where the track continues... however we had company:
ImageDSC_0761 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

The others were cautious and rightly so, there were a few youngsters:
ImageDSC_0764 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

I was more worried about finding a way to cross without getting our feet wet! The cows were very chilled and I approached carefully after spotting the fording slab stones across the burn:
ImageDSC_0765 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

I kindly asked the cows to let us pass and they obliged:
ImageDSC_0766 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

It would also be nice to reverse this route and walk in this way:
ImageDSC_0769 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Duncryne again on the right as we continue through the field:
ImageDSC_0770 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

We were then treated to a brilliant surprise as a large herd of around 30 deer suddenly scarpered past us just to the left, although it took a few shouts to get the attention of everyone else to see them as they were so quiet, the deer that is, not the others! :lol:
ImageDSC_0775 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

They all took turns reaching the fence at the end of the field and hurdling over it. Spectacular and very close to us as well:
ImageDSC_0776 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

The gang were loving it, all part of the plan I joked. :wink:

This route is also good for providing a few good posing opportunities with the hill you climbed looking good in the background:
ImageDSC_0779 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Another burn to cross but with natural stepping stones. It was around now that Janice had a flashback to playing Frogger in the arcade in the 1980's! :lol:
ImageDSC_0780 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

The next section was a fairly long walk on a good single lane road past Buchanan Castle and Golf Course:
ImageDSC_0785 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

I was of course disappointed that my route meant we never actually saw a castle but I showed them it on the OS map, then shortly afterwards pointed to a posh looking mansionhouse and said the castle had burned down then was rebuilt! :roll: :wink: :lol:

We made good progress to make up for our breaks in the sun earlier on in the day, turning off to pass through Buchanan Home Farm. From there is a good view back to the Loch:
ImageDSC_0788 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Bye Conic Hill, i'll hopefully never do your tourist route and top again, this way from Drymen to the summit and back is much more scenic and enjoyable, especially in good company on a sunny day. 8)
ImageDSC_0790 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

ImageDSC_0794 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Down the path, turn left and through a busy Drymen where the police were turning cars away from driving to Balmaha! :crazy:
ImageDSC_0795 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

We reached the car park, just under 6 hours but it could easily be done in 4 and a half with less breaks but it was hard not to take it easy on a day like this. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the walk and the route we took, even if it amounted to being the 8 peaks challenge in the end according to Janice! :lol:

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Ascent: 1937m
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Views: 269


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Attachment(s) Date walked: 06/04/2019
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Ascent: 519m
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Ascent: 386m
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Attachment(s) Date walked: 23/03/2019
Distance: 17.2km
Ascent: 684m
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This post is not published on the Walkhighlands forum
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This post is not published on the Walkhighlands forum
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Ascent: 171m
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This post is not published on the Walkhighlands forum
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Chris Mac


User avatar
Location: Glasgow & Brodick
Occupation: Web design & UX
Interests: Walking, scrambling, mountains, nature, wildlife, history, Folklore and the locals
Activity: Scrambler
Pub: The Ormidale
Mountain: Cir Mhor
Place: Isle of Arran
Gear: Waterproof footwear
Member: None
Camera: Nikon D5300 & GS7
Ideal day out: A long walk with great views, ridges, scrambling, lochs, forests, wildlife,
meeting people and dogs with some local legends to investigate.
Ambition: More crazy scrambling...

Munros: 28
Corbetts: 16
Grahams: 7
Donalds: 8
Wainwrights: 10
Hewitts: 3
Sub 2000: 41



Filter reports


Statistics

2019

Trips: 7
Distance: 102.71 km
Ascent: 5083m
Munros: 3
Grahams: 1
Sub2000s: 2

2018

Trips: 46
Distance: 484.71 km
Ascent: 29352m
Munros: 12
Corbetts: 7
Grahams: 2
Donalds: 6
Sub2000s: 21

2017

Trips: 33
Distance: 251.39 km
Ascent: 14104m
Munros: 4
Corbetts: 3
Grahams: 2
Donalds: 1
Sub2000s: 10
Hewitts: 1
Wainwrights 6

2016

Trips: 18
Distance: 187.28 km
Ascent: 11052m
Munros: 7
Corbetts: 3
Sub2000s: 4
Hewitts: 1
Wainwrights 2

2015

Trips: 15
Distance: 170.3 km
Ascent: 9696m
Munros: 1
Corbetts: 4
Grahams: 3
Donalds: 1
Sub2000s: 3
Hewitts: 1
Wainwrights 2

2014

Trips: 6
Distance: 47.27 km
Ascent: 1125m
Sub2000s: 2

2011

Trips: 2
Distance: 11.97 km
Ascent: 766m
Sub2000s: 1

2005

Trips: 2
Distance: 24.4 km
Ascent: 687m

2004

Trips: 1
Distance: 5.6 km
Ascent: 215m

1992

Trips: 1
Distance: 3.79 km
Ascent: 149m
Munros: 1


Joined: Sep 11, 2014
Last visited: Apr 25, 2019
Total posts: 550 | Search posts