We left my house and headed towards the usual route to Loch Lomondside where we took the road to Arrochar at Tarbet, Loch Long was quickly left as we headed up the famous A82 ‘Rest and Be Thankful‘ road until the Lochgoilhead turn off.
Ben Donich, a ‘Corbett‘ located due south of its more famous neighbours across Glen Croe, the Arrochar Alps of Ime, Narnain, Luibnean and ‘The Cobbler’ (Ben Arthur). The hill name literally translates to ‘Brown Hill’ but other theories lead to a possible link with St. Donan, a disciple connected with St. Columba or the opposite ‘Dona‘ which could translate as ‘Evil’. Intriguing !
The route steadily climbs up the North Ridge which starts at the junction of Glen Croe and Allt Glinne Mhor. You park in a Forestry Commission car park about 600m from the junction of the B828 Lochgoilhead and the top of the ‘Rest and Be Thankful’, the trek starts along a forest track when you meet the signpost which points you to head steeply up towards a gate where the hill walk starts ‘properly’, a relentless climb upwards towards the summit in which there is an odd level break from the almost non stop climb. One hour in to the ascent, we stopped for a welcome ‘scran’ break, watered and refreshed we headed onwards, a few false summits later you reach the ‘Scramble’ which is self-explanatory, you now descend down a rock ‘wall’ of 15 to 20 feet in height, the hand holds are excellent although care would need taken when rock is wet.
Once again after you get through what is in geological terms called a ‘ Rock Slope Failure’ plus you must also avoid the ‘fissures’ next to the path, you now steadily climb to the summit plateau topped by a trig point.
The weather had not been what the Met Office had forecasted for the area, there was a strong breeze racing up Allt Glinne Mhor as we set out and as we headed up, the weather steadily deteriorated to a ‘smirry‘ wet cloudy day and we had spoken with a lone walker who had headed on up past us and was now on her descent informed us the wind was strong and it was cold on the top. Mmmm.
We kept on until we eventually reached the plateau and trig point. We took shelter behind rocks to keep the chilling wind at bay, we had arrived earlier than our proposed ‘alert’ so it was time for a quick scran break before getting active on the radios. Visibility was poor.
I set up the 5 element beam first and called out on 70cm FM ( as it was a UHF Fun Day), I quickly had a reply from Steve UAU in Greenock followed by a call from Eric FSZ in the south Ayrshire area. Next was a welcome STS (summit to summit) contact with fellow blogger Graeme on Sgiath a’Chaise, I also made the contact on 2m with Graeme. I called but no more takers so it was time to try my other band of choice, 4m FM, I instantly made the trip into Paisley to Robert IZC and after a quick QSO it was time to take a break.
After a short break it was back on to 4m where I next contacted Alan, XXP in Larkhall, a good contact as Alan was only using his handie with its ‘Rubber Duck’ from his house.
Lastly I made contact on 70cm FM with blog regular, Robin PKT who was on the summit of Meall Ghaordaidh. I spent the rest of the time having a look round the summit area and marvelling at the fantastic views as with the cold air the clarity was excellent. I could see to the SW, Arran, Bute, the Cumbraes, the Paps of Jura, the hills of Islay, Ben More on Mull and coming round clockwise, Ben Cruachan, Ben Starav, Stob an Eas, Beinn Bhuidhe, Beinn Oss, the Arrochar Alps, Ben Vorlich, Ben More ( Crainlarich), Ben Lomond and too many more to mention….a panorama of snow-capped peaks in a 270 degree vista. This makes the journey more worthwhile. It was getting past mid afternoon when we broke down our stations and packed everything away, we headed back down and as we left the activation zone, Jack COX called out on 2m FM so first, Roddy then myself made the contact as we descended, the ‘scramble’ was negotiated and it was a steady walk down the path which surprising was dry although the weather had been reasonably dry the week running up to this activation. We reached the gate and a quick walk down the track where we had parked Roddy’s Land Rover, a last look at Donich and the Brack from our drive down the’ Rest and Be Thankful’, an hour later we were back in Inverclyde.
Once again, an enjoyable dual activation with Roddy, he once again slowed down to my pace whilst ascending and laughed at my rotten jokes. Thanks !
This hill has more to offer than just a slog up a well-worn path, the views from the summit are breathtaking plus ‘the scramble’ adds a bit of spice and avoiding the deep fissures which run along the path on occasions, it is advisable to avoid this hill in the snow for this reason. Sadly as recent as 2005, a walker lost his life by falling into one of the aforementioned crevasses on their descent (input from Neil 2MØNCM).
I will be back.
Photos of ‘Yer man on the Scramble’ and ‘Donich Ascent’ © Roddy 2MØIOB
A massive thanks to Wikipedia once again for all the linking material.
My previous Ben Donich blog Post <HERE>
Picasa set <HERE>
GPX file of ascent <HERE>