Ben Donich

Last weekend, my dad and I headed up to Loch Lomond to blow away some of the summer cobwebs, we planned to do a bit of kayaking on the Saturday and take a jolly up Ben Donich on the Sunday morning. However, either being optimists or idiots, neither of us checked the weather forecast…

We had the loch all to ourselves on Saturday and so paddled up to Tarbet and then over to explore some of the hidden beaches underneath Ben Lomond.

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We had perfect conditions for kayaking minus the eerie mist that was hovering. The route back was slightly trickier with the weather being borderline stormy and the mist making it difficult to see, however, we hugged the nearby shore line, avoiding the worst of the weather, back home to some warm hot choccy!

Waking up on Sunday to dry, cloudy weather, we grabbed our backpacks and headed up to the Rest and Be Thankful taking the B828 towards Lochgoilhead.

The munro is pretty well signposted and there’s a decent sized car parking area, free of charge. Follow the signs for ‘Glen Mhor, Ben Donich Hill Access’.

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The path is pretty well maintained the whole way up, although, there are some boggy areas over some grassy slopes nearer the summit. The walk provides fantastic views down to Gleann Mor as well as back over the Rest and Be Thankful to Loch Restil, with Beinn an Lochain towering above it.

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We were only about ten minutes in to our climb when we got caught in some lovely Scottish weather and got completely soaked, the fog started to lift about half way up but we didn’t manage to see much from the summit.

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My dad is a pro at hill-walking and of far higher ability than me when it comes to climbing tougher munros. He’s always up at the crack of dawn every weekend doing hill sprints, climbing, the lot – but it’s always fun to do a nicer, easier one together.

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Although our views were a bit restricted nearer the summit, I thought this was a fab little climb and great for easing back into hill-walking if you’ve not been out in a while, guilty! 

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Honeymoon Bridge

I woke up on Sunday hangover free and full of good intentions, Scotland’s weather forecast, however, did not…

The plan was to climb a Munro, just past Arrochar, but driving up there, realised the Scottish weather was going to get the better of me, it was blowing a hooley with low clouds and drizzly rain so instead opted for a ‘short walk with a view point‘.

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Honeymoon Bridge has become a well known spot for it’s car parking facilities, lunch spot, remote picturesque views but more famously a car crash in the 1950’s.

Starting off at the rear of the car park, heading up through some forestry, along a beaten road you soon emerge to see views over looking the loch, and over to Ben Lomond.

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It was a fairly busy route with lots of families and puppers to ‘aww‘ and play with. After taking in the view, you’re back through some more eerie forestry. There are quite a few path options along the way, I followed the route up and off path which became pretty steep and boggy after a while.

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How creepy does this bit look?!

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Having not been hiking in a while, this one definitely loosened the hips. It reminded me a lot of Dun Na Cuaiche – perfect for beginners. Once you’re up and out, the views are gorgeous! You have the option to continue climbing up but I’d had enough of being mauled by ticks.

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I think this is a great little route for a Sunday stroll, especially that you’re protected in amoung the trees when the weathers rubbish, luckily by the time I reached the top the rain had gone off for a little bit – perfect photo opp.

Plus, there’s plenty of great restaurants near-by for some hot food and a drink when you’re finished!

Keep up with all my adventures – @abonnietravelersinsideguide. 

Ben Vane

This was, hands down, the hardest hill I’ve ever climbed. Ben Vane, is described as only just reaching munro status at 915 metres. So, if like naïve, little me, you think this will be a nice, easy stroll – you are very much mistaken.

Ben Vane is one of the Arrochar Alps, standing slightly separate from the other mountains. Located on the A82, near Inveruglas, approximately an hour outside of Glasgow. It’s described as a ‘steep, rocky, little mountain’. That word ‘steep’ should be in CAPS, bold and underlined!

I read it takes around 4-6 hours up and down (it took me just over 5) so headed off around 9:30 am and reached the Inveruglas Visitor Centre where I was able to park. There’s also a small café, restroom facilities and gorgeous views over-looking the loch if you just fancy a day trip. When I got there, it was super busy with tourists, I got chatting to a family who had traveled over from India and said that they were just over-whelmed at Scotland’s beauty. T’awww!

I struggled to find the starting point for Ben Vane and first, ended up along the path of ‘An Ceann Mòr’ where this beautiful structure was created, part of the Scottish Scenic Routes pilot project – it reveals the panoramic views over the banks of Loch Lomond and the Arrochar Alps.

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I soon came across a group of girls who looked like they were going hiking as well – I asked them if they knew where the starting point was and they also, were confused. We soon realised that there were also about another 10 people trying to find it, all of us using the same website. Walk Highlands sort your directions out, eventually someone was able to steer us in the right direction and we headed off. For the record, you want to cross the road from the car park over to the Scottish Hydro Power station and walk past it.

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Keeping to the right – you will soon come across some blue arrows, after about a kilometre, turn right onto a gated tarmac road leading under the railway.

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You will soon come across a large electric substation on your left, where the slopes of Ben Vorlich should come into view on the right and Ben Vane ahead. (I didn’t know this until later…)

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Already the views behind me were stunning! It was such a gorgeous day in Scotland with 19 degrees of glorious sunshine! Amazing – guess who ended up getting burnt?!

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Had any of us been paying attention, we would have known that we were supposed to turn left at this bridge with the sign saying ‘Glen Loin’ but to be fair it should have also had a sign labelled ‘BEN VANE‘ seeing as that. was. it. right. there! … Instead we walked a good 20 minutes past this and wondered why we had lost the other 10 people following us.

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We then came across this bridge and realised we had made a mistake somewhere, thankfully, a Scottish Power van drove past us and offered us a lift back to Ben Vane, we found out that we were on our way to Ben Vorlich. Massive shout out to Scottish Power haha!

After finally getting to the right hill, it didn’t take long before the steep climb began. Basically, straight away.

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The initial path is a little unclear and boggy but it soon turns into a clear, stone path the rest of the way up. I think the hardest bit about Ben Vane (besides how steep it is) is the amount of false summits. I counted about 5 – it was horrible haha.

After the first few false summits, I started to realise how big this munro actually was.

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The top bit you can see there isn’t even the top. A few of the girls I started off with had decided to stop and call it a day while the rest of them went on, with me. I was actually so glad that they were there as there were some tricky climbing and scrambling parts.

The views were totally worth the steep climb in the end ha-ha and it did make me think about what that family had said earlier, we really do take these views for granted.

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Ben Vane Summit

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You’re best to re-trace your steps back down the path, and as always I would recommend a good pair of walking boots, especially with a good grip for this one.

The Arrochar Trail

Soooo I was super productive last Sunday and managed to fit in a quick hill walk before my mum was up looking for her Mother’s Day presents.

I also realised this would have been a good walk for any active mums before going for a nice Mother’s Day lunch but as usual I was so disorganised haha. Anyway, it’s a really easy, picturesque walk if you ever want a nice hike but nothing too strenuous – perfect for a Sunday!

It’s the Arrochar trail between Arrochar and Inveruglas. I didn’t actually make it the whole way as I was conscious of time and wanted to be back for my mum getting up so only went around half way. The walk usually takes around 4 hours there, and back (If you remember the post I wrote on Cruaich Tarbert, then it’s in the same location). Head up towards Tarbert Railway Station where you can leave the car and head under the bridge adjacent to you.

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After climbing up through some forestry, you’ll see this sign, turn left. You can see the walk that will take you to the right here.

Once you emerge from the forest, you will reach a cross roads – continue straight up past the yellow things into more forestry…

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Although you are climbing up and down a few hills throughout the forest, there isn’t anything particularly difficult about this walk. And Spring was well and truly in bloom, there was so many tadpoles and frogs eggs along the rivers beside the path.

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Frogs Eggs

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Eventually, you will emerge from the forest and begin to see some gorgeous views over Loch Long and Arrochar. Most of the hills were covered by the morning fog though.

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These views continue as you go further along the path where you will then reach the sign below, you can continue further which will take you across to Inveruglas or you can turn left and head down into Arrochar village.

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I carried on about another 40 minutes or so where the sun finally started to come (a tiny bit) with the help of an Instagram filter…

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Gone in search of some sun

I am keen to do the entire trail one day, however, a couple of my friends that have done it, recommended starting at Inveruglas as there’s more places to grab a bite to eat in Arrochar before heading back, another option if you have the luxury of 2 cars was to leave one at either end. It’s also an ideal cycle route for all ages.

Ben Arthur’s Bothy

Ben Arthurs Bothy

It’s not often I get to say this, but the weather was amazing in Scotland over the weekend. It was still FREEEZING (obvs) but the sun was out, and everyone was absolutely buzzin’.

And what better way to enjoy the weather than with a hill walk and a trip to the pub?!

After spending the morning walking from Inveruglas to Arrochar, we stopped in at Ben Arthur’s Bothy.

This little gem of a pub offers the most beautiful views over Loch Long and onto The Cobbler. With a 4 star rating on Trip Advisor and raving reviews from the locals – I was keen to see what they had in store.

Ben Arthurs Bothy

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From the outside, it doesn’t look like much but as soon as you step inside, you are hit with some spectacular views. They also have the option to sit outside and enjoy a pint or bite to eat. I was told they sell the best soup but was disappointed to discover it was pea and ham – my friends got stuck in though and it did smell AMAZING! It’s your typical pub grub menu, they did have a few vegetarian options but not loads, so I opted for the vege burger. Which I have to say, is one of the best vege burgers I have ever had! The portions were massive as well, just what you’re looking for after a long walk.

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Decking area for Ben Arthur’s Bothy
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Views over Loch Long with The Cobbler in the background

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I would highly recommend Ben Arthur’s Bothy to anyone passing through Arrochar. The staff are so welcoming and friendly, the prices were more than reasonable, and the food is insane! They also cater to private functions, have live entertainment on throughout March to September and have a pool table and plenty of TV’s for anyone wanting to watch the football.

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Hi dad!
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Sunday’s hillwalk

The Cobbler

I had initially been put off climbing The Cobbler as it seems like everyone and their granny climbs it but after doing it I can see why…

The Cobbler (also known as Ben Arthur) is found in Arrochar, just passed Tarbet, about an hour’s drive from Glasgow, with CityLink buses available also. It is famous for its unique outline and stunning views over Loch Long with a clear path all the way up which zig zags making the climb a bit more pleasant. The path explores both peaks of the mountain with two alternative ways to climb up and descend.

Me and my friend, Laura set off around 10 O’clock as we were told it takes around 4-6 hours, so with our backpacks loaded and hangovers in full swing we set off. The drive up passed Helensburgh and Luss is so scenic with plenty of cute places to stop for lunch or have a coffee. I’d recommend the Coach House Coffee Shop in Luss – they sell the most AMAZING cakes!

There are 2 car parks at the foot of the mountain (£1 parking) just to the west of Arrochar across from the start of the walk. The walk is vaguely way marked in red with there being 3 stages to climbing The Cobbler with the first being the most boring…

Once you begin, you are straight into a steep climb through a forest which eventually starts to zig- zag, making it a little easier, after around 20 minutes in, I started evaluating my life choices – it was hard and made with worse with a hangover, I never learn. Anyway, there are plenty of people to keep you right as it very popular but when you reach a bench, turn left on to a forestry track where you will then turn right and continue up. The views from this point are incredible, overlooking the loch and on a good day you can see the peaked summit of Ben Lomand. The first part took us around an hour and as you were just walking through a forest, it became very boring; we couldn’t see the foot or anything else for that matter except trees.

Part 1 - The Cobbler
Ben Lomand summit just to the left

Once we emerged from the forest, we followed the path along a stream, passed a small dam and finally the three peaks were in sight!

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Finally! ….Hey, Laura

This path was a lot more scenic but long. The path continues to climb more gently, crossing a number of side streams with large stepping stones where we eventually came to a cluster of boulders known as ‘The Narnain Boulders’, which had been previously and still today used as shelters by groups of climbers who did not have the resources for accommodation but also a good place to stop for food. By this point we had been walking for around 2 and a half hours and with the daunting climb ahead thought we’d stop for lunch.

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The climb
The Climb

After a quick bite to eat, we continued up the path where a fork is reached, keep right and continue up the valley (the lower route to the left is the return route). Be prepared for some actual rock climbing here, this was the fun part for us! We did however lose our balance on a few occasions so be careful. The path is less well made towards the top but still straightforward enough to follow.

Once you reach the top, you are between the North and Central peaks, on the right is the higher, central peak with panoramic views and the chance to climb out onto the rock pinnacle which marks the height of the summit – No thaaanks! …it gave me the fear so we nervously watched others risk their lives for their Instagram worthy photo.

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The view from the south peak

The lower south peak is slightly harder and again a bit of rock climbing is involved (I thought the views were better here). The easiest route to the summit is to keep left when the path forks and go around the northern side but both routes are straightforward. This summit is equally dramatic, with a large overhang, and a view back to the central peak (I was brave enough for this one).

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North peak
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Why is it never sunny when I climb a hill

All in all, it took us just under 6 hours, the descent was much easier than I had anticipated. The photos don’t do the views enough justice but it is well worth doing. As it is a very popular climb there are plenty of people to chat to or for dog lovers like me, plenty of puppers to keep you entertained on the boring bits.

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The descent back down

 

 

The Falls of Falloch

This Sunday was spent longer in the car than actually walking, with disaster upon disaster but we definitely had a good laugh. Me and my friend headed up towards Loch Lomand, backpacks fully loaded and kitted up; we had planned to climb Ben Vane so were psyching ourselves up for this massive climb, we were also hung-over so I feel like we deserve extra points. Anyway after about 2 hours in the car, we discovered we were lost and on our way to Fort William instead.

U-TURN! … Thanks Laura

As we were heading back we realised we weren’t going to have enough time to climb Ben Vane whilst it was still light plus it had started pouring down and our hangovers were kicking in HARD… so we headed for The Falls of Falloch which is a waterfall along the A82, 5 km from the village of Crianlarich. I don’t even think you can call it a walk; there is a small car park and to the left is a small, short path that leads you to the bottom of the falls. It is absolutely gorgeous, it full of pesky tourists as well so be prepared to fight for your instagram worthy picture.

We headed up to the newly built ‘Woven Sound’ platform which allows you to see the falls from a different viewpoint. It was constructed by John Kennedy from steel rods, it features an entry from Dorothy Wordsworth’s diary that recalls the thoughts of those who visited the falls during the days of the Grand Tour.

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The Falls of Falloch

We weren’t quite ready to get back in the car yet so we headed down through a small path at the front of the car park to explore some more. The path follows the river Falloch through a small forest, we only got a few kilometres and the path cut off so we headed back. Although it was short visit, I would definitely recommend it, the drive was relaxing as well (once we were on the right road, obviously).  It is sign posted as well so you really can’t miss it.

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Following the path along the river

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Deciding that we still had time to fit in something else, we headed up towards Inverary (which actually passes Ben Vane so I’ll be in charge of directing us next time haha) to do my favourite Dun Na Cuaiche walk and by this time the sun had come out so we snap chatted our way up and stuffed our faces at the top. It took us around half an hour up and about the same back down so totally do-able for everyone although it is steep so walking boots are recommended. You can also see the castle this time, save this walk for a clear day – the views are breathtaking.

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Dun Na Cuaiche

Dun Na Cuaiche

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Dun Na Cuaiche

For any newbie hill walkers like myself, this is a great, short, steep walk up to an 18th-century watchtower above Loch Fyne, overlooking Inveraray; the views are incredible, at 700 ft. this is an easier hill and suitable for children.

The drive up is just as beautiful; a straight road from Glasgow, over the Erskine Bridge, following onto the A898, past Dumbarton and Helensburgh, following the road through Arrochar where it will lead you straight into Inverary town centre. There is paid parking available in the town or you can park at the castle for £3.00; which is where the walk starts. There is also a regular bus service which will stop a short walk from the start.

This well marked route, following blue arrows, starts in the shadow of Inveraray. After turning away from the castle and crossing an ornamental bridge over the River Aray, into a steep climb. It is hard going all the way up to a clearing, but the effort is worth it for the amazing view at the top of Dun na Cuaiche, over-looking Loch Fyne and across Argyll. To the east you can also see the Arrochar Alps. From the watchtower you also get a bird’s-eye view back down to the castle.

On reaching the edge of the woodland, pass through a kissing gate and across a field, then, through a gate on the other side and follow a track up into more woodland, bearing right at a blue arrow; follow the track into a steep uphill. You then swing round to the left as the track levels off, before going right after a patch of open ground to follow a path that zigzags up to the top of Dun na Cuaiche and its watchtower.

The walk took just under one hour up and just over back down. The weather was pretty rubbish so the watch tower was a great place to take shelter in and enjoy some lunch.

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18th Century Watch Tower

On the way back down, you can either retrace your steps or, for an alternative descent, follow the zigzag section back to the open ground below the top, then go right on a muddy path, through reeds and grass. The path drops steeply through increasingly mixed woodland, past a marker post with the number 15 on it. Go right at a clearing, down a track, and after only about 100 yards, go left along a small grass path that almost doubles back, then goes down through thinning woodland to a track and a way marker with the number 18 on it. You should go right here.

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Views over looking Inverary

As Inverary is tourist central, you can expect to make some friends on the way up as it is a popular walk. There are also plenty of cafes, restaurants and shops a short walk from the castle to relax in.