Now that's what I call Education Recovery Planning! - Vol 2

Corbetts: Cnoc Coinnich, The Brack

Date walked: 05/05/2021

Time taken: 5.1 hours

Distance: 14km

Ascent: 1260m

Week 3 back in school after Lockdown #2 and the Easter fortnight and after having broken my duck for the year a fortnight ago on Beinn Donacahin, it was time for another lunchtime high speed departure from school and a late afternoon/evening raid somewhere in the hills beyond Perth and Kinross.

The weather didn't look quite as favourable as a fortnight ago but it looked OK and certainly an improvement on some of the hideous weather I have experienced in the Arrochar hills over the years. My chosen targets were the Corbetts of The Brack and Cnoc Coinnich so it was a case of repeat the drive for my last outing as far as Crianlarich and then take a left rather than a right. If everything went according to plan and I managed these two as well as the two I have pencilled in for later in the month, I would hit the half way point of the Corbett round before May was out.

Of the four sets of roadworks from a fortnight ago, one was gone but another two had sprung up in their place. Oh well, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away! Despite keeping my head down and leaving the building by an alternative entrance/exit in an attempt to avoid any unnecessary chit-chat, I was still no earlier onto the hill than I had been on Donachain 13 days ago. I had had to stop at Tesco to fill the tank up before I was even out of Perth, then another stop at what seems to be becoming our "usual" place to stop and give Luna the first half of her dinner on jaunts such as these. A final stop at Londis in Crianlarich for some last minute supplies I had overlooked and then it was a case of hang a left and take to the road along Glen Falloch that after a tortuous last section along the Bonnie Banks, spits the car out at Tarbet.By the time I was swinging around the head of the very appropriately named Loch Long at Arrochar the hail stones were bouncing off the road which resembled the aftermath of a load shedding incident involving a bean bag filler lorry! Pulling into the parking area at Ardgartan, I felt in total contrast to a couple of weeks ago in Glen Orchy when I had parked up, bounced out the car and set off in the space of little more than 60 seconds. Now I sat in the car, still in my work clothes, staring out at the wintery scene around me and wondering what the hell I was playing at! Eventually the weather relented and while still not looking especially like the beginning of May, I was sufficiently encouraged to venture out of the car and gingerly change into the walking gear. Luna ran around like a toddler in a sweet shop - she clearly knows the routine and the signs already and knows when a big hill walk is about to happen.

Eventually I was away just before 4 o'clock heading up the gravelled forestry road on the Cat Craig Loop to the junction and a short distance beyond that, the signposted path for The Brack. A bloke on one of those rickshaw type bikes that tows a little cart behind it came into the car park as I was setting off and a few minutes later, as I sheltered amongst the trees and changed some of my outer layers to combat the chunky rain, he passed me on the track. I quickly caught him up at the next steep section.

Man pushing kids in rickshaw bike up a track, dog running the wrong way

He was really struggling, not surprising as he had two kids sitting in the rear under the rain cover. In a faintly foreign sounding voice, he asked me if there was much more ascent to come. I admitted that I was as new to the route as he seemed to be but if he was doing the Cat Craig Loop, then from my studying of the map I reckoned it couldn't be too much further until he started looping back round which would probably see the gradient become a bit more accommodating to his current situation. He muttered something about it still only being just after 4 o'clock so why not carry on, but when I looked back down the hill from the next bend, there was no sign of him. I chucked a couple of dog treats in Luna's direction to fortify her for the steep initial scramble up the path through the trees from the signpost but in reality it was me who needed fortification, not her.

At the fence at the top of the forestry, I again took shelter in the trees but after a few minutes decided that there really was little point - either I was going to do this walk and suffer the hail showers or I was going to hide out under dense tree cover, but I couldn't do both. In any case, I wasn't really getting wet (I still hadn't put the waterproof over-trousers on) - the hail was really just bouncing off me and hitting the ground. Apart from the occasional little pellet that managed to find somehow find its way down the inside of my tightly zipped up collar or into one of my ears, it was having little effect.

The Brack from the top of the forestry

The views behind me were of various degrees of clag cover over The Cobbler, Beinn Ime, Beinn Luibhean and up Glen Croe across the Rest and Be Thankful towards Loch Restil and Butterbridge. Ahead of me it was various views of and angles on the craggy northern and eastern faces of The Brack.

Clag in Glen Croe - it must be the Arrochar hills!

There was the occasional random sheep dotted here and there and I had to be constantly alert and ready to bark the recall command at Luna. She may not have mastered everything we have tried to teach her in her first 18 months but at least that has been a success!

If there's water around, she'll find it

The rough approach slopes of The Brack

The Cobbler with Beinn Narnain popping up behind

Beinn Luibhean with Beinn Ime only just appearing from the cloud cover in the background

Luibhean, Ime, Cobbler and Narnain

The precipitation (somewhere between sleet and hail) was still coming down on and off (mostly on) but it still wasn't landing any blows. I ploughed on up the sketchy path, faint in places, obvious from the wide black boggy expanse in others. After a wee shelter and some scooby snacks amidst some crags just below what it felt like might be an imminent easing of the gradient, I popped out at the little lochan. The map had thus far remained in my pack and I was a litte surprised to have hit it so quickly. Still, I wasn't complaining and set about taking a few shots of what, even in the greyness of these conditions, was a stunning location.

Luna at the lochan with Cnoc Coinnich in the background

Up through the snowy crags towards the summit

The Cobbler and Narnain across the lochan

Looking dark over Cnoc Coinnich

From the lochan I picked a route up through the crags towards the summit of The Brack. The snow was lying fairly deep in places now, the temperature had taken a nose dive and I was still coming under regular fire from a barrage of sleaty hail. The views were still pretty decent, especially across Loch Long to the Luss hills and over to my potential next target, Cnoc Coinnich. However, I was pretty sure that I was going to call it a day after The Brack and leave Coinnich for another time.

Looking down to and across Loch Long to the Luss hills and a wee patch of blue

Across Cruach Fhiarach to Ben Lomond and a mini-Cobbler in the foreground

This was at least in part because I was finding it a challenge to stay on my feet at times. My Aku boots, which I have had for a good 5 or 6 years now and have therefore outlived most boots I have owned, have gone past the point of having seen better days. The outer is holed and split in a few places and yet amazingly, they still take on very little water, even in conditions like these. The issue is underneath, where the sole has taken a severe battering over these 5 or 6 years, to the point that there is little grip left. I'd felt it a couple of times on Beinn Donachain the other week but now, in the snow and on greasy ascents, it was causing me even more trouble.

Before long, I emerged onto the rocky summit of The Brack and as I rummaged in my pack for a handful of Sports Mixture and got ready to take a few summit photos, my whole thinking about heading home changed. It was like a huge hand had been raised and had swiped away the clouds. Suddenly the sky filled with blue, the sun, which had quite evidently been hiding just beyond the veil of grey, burst out and the temperature noticeably went up a notch or two.

Houston we have lift off!

The summit selfie that didn't feature Luna mooning at the camera!

Cnoc Coinnich from the summit of The Brack

Ben Donich and Beinn an Lochain (partially obscured by the trig pillar)

My mind was now made up - I was carrying down the south western nose of The Brack to descend into Glen Coilessan and hopefully from there, up onto Cnoc Coinnich. If it all went pear shaped again with the weather, I could still just nip straightdown the glen on the Cowal Way and beat a retreat to the car. The ascent of Cnoc Coinnich from the Cowal Way didn't look like it would take too long so if I committed and the weather changed, I would soon be back on the road home and I'd still be on track for my 111 later in the month.

Making tracks for Coinnich

Beinn Bheula and co.

Beinn an Lochain, Binnein an Fhidhleir, Beinn Luibhean and Beinn Ime

The Luss hills

Cnoc Coinnich

It was now like a different walk. It was now like walking on a different day, in a different season, but it was unmistakably still the same country. This was Scotland in her hill walking prime! A couple of weeks ago on Donachain had been an exhilarating experience, undoubtedly heightened by the relief at actually being able to do that sort of thing again, but this was arguably even better. That heady mix of snow dusted hills, warm sun on the back and fluffy white clouds in largely blue skies!

Education Recovery Planning most definitely done for the day!

Can we do those Luss hills together one day dad?

Cnoc Coinnich looming closer

The soles on my boots (or rather the lack of them!) were still causing me problems in these slick conditions and on one occasion as I turned back sharply to bypass a small crag, I lost my footing again and somehow managed to end up flat on my back and sliding downhill head first. After a couple of metres I came to a stop and picked myself and dusted myself down. I know dogs can't speak aloud but Luna was looking at me with the sort of look on her face that allowed me to read her mind - she was clearly thinking "Get up off your backside you ridiculous bi-ped!"

Back to The Brack

Eventually I reached the cairn and the markers on the Cowal Way where the route description takes a right for a short distance before taking to the north ridge of Cnoc Coinnich. I opted just to take a more or less straight line up through the crags, heading for a wide grassy rake slightly to the right.

The Lochgoilhead hills from the wee lochan on the Cowal Way

The Brack from the same spot

I remembered Kev telling me about his near miss scrambling up a craggy face on Cnoc Coinnich a few years ago in winter conditions. It had been not long after his daughter was born and the incident was enough to convince him that being out on a hill in those conditions that day was possibly an unwise decision and so turned around and headed home to his family. Despite footwear that was more death-trap than sturdy, reliable walking boot, I still felt that I wouldn't have any such issues this evening.

Away off to my left across Lochs Long and Lomond, the Beacon Hill was living up to its name, the snow capped summit cone shining bright in the dying evening sun. I was soon up onto the broad ridge and huffing and puffing my way up towards the summit of the second Corbett of the day. By that time though the light had gone out on Lomond and the clouds were gathering and the skies darkening around me once more.

Looking back over The Brack towards Luibhean and Ime

Approaching the summit

I didn't hang about long at the summit - enough time to take in the views and snap a couple of photos, before heading back down on a slightly more direct bearing towards the top of the forestry.

Ben Lomond from the summit

Closing in over Luibhean, Ime, The Cobbler and Narnain

The beacon shining again on the descent

Low cloud barrelling through

The Brack looking magnificent from the descent of Coinnich

Ben Donich

Back on the Cowal Way and the road for home

Once back on the Cowal Way, it was a fairly straightforward yomp down through the forestry on a path and then onto a gravelled forestry road through a large felled area that eventually led me down onto another path alongside Loch Long. A brief but intense hail storm battered me for a short while but otherwise it was an uneventful walk back to the car. I was disappointed but not entirely surprised to see considerable evidence of "wild" camping activity by people who either couldn't read the signs or believed that they were somehow exempt. Either way, they clearly believed that the Leave No Trace message doesn't apply to them judging by the abandoned rings of blackened stones, discarded bottles and, in one instance, toilet paper. It was unclear whether it was used or unused and I decided not to inspect it too closely to find out.

On the shores of Loch Long

I was back at the car just after 9 with the prospect of a couple of hours drive home and another fairly late night for a school night but it's all worth it - I'd been back in the hills again for a second time since our freedom was regained, Luna had done her first Corbetts and I had set up the prospect of reaching the half way mark later in the month.

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Comments: 2

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Views: 303

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Graeme D

User avatar
Location: Perth
Occupation: Teacher
Pub: Moulin Inn
Mountain: Too tough to answer
Gear: Paramo gilet/Scarpa boots
Member: MCofS
Ideal day out: No such thing as a bad day out on or amongst the hills - only degrees of goodness.
Ambition: 2b sent home on full pay!

Munros: 225
Corbetts: 109
Grahams: 66
Donalds: 22
Wainwrights: 27
Hewitts: 36
Sub 2000: 57
Islands: 6
Long Distance routes: West Highland Way   

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Trips: 2
Distance: 31 km
Ascent: 2230m
Corbetts: 2
Grahams: 1


Trips: 10
Distance: 141.3 km
Ascent: 8280m
Munros: 5
Corbetts: 3
Grahams: 1
Sub2000s: 2


Trips: 19
Distance: 276.6 km
Ascent: 18150m
Munros: 11
Corbetts: 7
Grahams: 4
Sub2000s: 1


Trips: 18
Distance: 350 km
Ascent: 18085m
Munros: 6
Corbetts: 4
Grahams: 3
Donalds: 1
Sub2000s: 4
Hewitts: 14
Wainwrights 21


Trips: 19
Distance: 209.4 km
Ascent: 17090m
Munros: 9
Corbetts: 11
Grahams: 2
Sub2000s: 3


Trips: 26
Distance: 352.85 km
Ascent: 25760m
Munros: 18
Corbetts: 4
Grahams: 7
Donalds: 4
Sub2000s: 2
Hewitts: 15
Wainwrights 6


Trips: 23
Distance: 451.7 km
Ascent: 24468m
Munros: 18
Corbetts: 6
Grahams: 10
Donalds: 9
Sub2000s: 3


Trips: 28
Distance: 450.3 km
Ascent: 24390m
Munros: 16
Corbetts: 10
Grahams: 5
Donalds: 1
Sub2000s: 8


Trips: 30
Distance: 355.5 km
Ascent: 24877m
Munros: 12
Corbetts: 14
Grahams: 8
Sub2000s: 6


Trips: 29
Distance: 393.5 km
Ascent: 23469m
Munros: 20
Corbetts: 8
Grahams: 4
Donalds: 5
Sub2000s: 5


Trips: 37
Distance: 478.9 km
Ascent: 28081m
Munros: 25
Corbetts: 9
Grahams: 7
Donalds: 1
Sub2000s: 16


Trips: 48
Distance: 569.5 km
Ascent: 24365m
Munros: 30
Corbetts: 21
Grahams: 11
Sub2000s: 7
Hewitts: 6


Trips: 19
Distance: 271.4 km
Ascent: 15243m
Munros: 27
Corbetts: 7
Grahams: 2


Trips: 3
Distance: 60.1 km
Ascent: 3488m
Munros: 4

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Last visited: May 12, 2021
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