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.

Ben Lomond

Ben Lomond has been on my list of munros to climb for so long but I wanted to wait until I knew it was going to be a clear day (which isn’t very often in Scotland) there was no way I was putting myself through that climb to then not be able to see anything at the top. No thaaaanks!

Ben Lomond is one of the most popular munros with an average of 30,000 climbers every year with the views overlooking Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. Situated in Rowardennan, just past Balloch and Balmaha, along the B837, it sits at 974 metres and is also known as the ‘beacon mountain’ – I’ve never heard anyone say that it’s a particularly difficult climb but compared to some of the other ones I’ve climbed, I thought it was pretty tough especially nearer the top, with varying steepness the full way up.

The plan was to be on the road for half 9 but of course, that was never going to happen. It took around an hour and 15 minutes from just outside Glasgow, there is a car park at the foot of the hill, (parking is £3 all day) it is usually really busy, so I would advise getting there early. We got there around 12, with our wee M&S packed lunches – we’re classy like that, and hangover free for a change. The start is clearly marked, just behind the car park but there will be plenty of people to keep you right, you can’t see the summit from the car park but the start is pretty easy with a clear path all the way up through oak woods and lots of forestry.

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Shortly into your forest climb, you will cross a small bridge and then through 2 gates. The nice thing about this walk is that if you look back behind you at any point, you have stunning views over the loch, looking over to Inverbeg and all the islands. The path then continues to climb at a steady gradient and you will pass through heards of sheep and cows who are very photogenic. This part took us around an hour – it is long and as you can’t yet see the peak, can be frustrating. However, the views are incredible all around and there’s usually plenty of puppers to pet!

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Of course, we stopped for a selfie

Keep walking and you will now be able to see the final peak and the zig zagging path that leads you to the summit. Don’t freak out, it’s not as hard as it looks! We decided to stop for lunch here as we could feel it was getting colder and were beginning to come across some snow and ice. Que the posh sandwiches and Magic Stars!

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Almost there…

Following the path as it sticks to the ridge of the mountain, there are some more stunning views over the loch where the path then climbs steeply on the final ascent to the summit ridge before curving round to the left. We finally made it to the top where it was FREEZING!!! We lasted all of 5 minutes but OMG the view! Breath taking doesn’t cut it. Totally worth my complaining the full way (sorry Laura) …. Got our Instagram worthy picture and started our retreat to the car. If you want to challenge yourself, there is a tough alternative route going back down but I’m going to assume you’re all sane and would just re-trace your steps back down.

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Made it!

This was by far my favourite munro, it wasn’t the hardest to climb and the views were incrediable the whole way up – WIN! WIN! I would recommend plenty of layers and walking boots 100%. The temperature, ground level was 6 degrees and -3 degrees at the top. When I did the cobbler a few weeks ago – I seen people passing us in FLIP FLOPS! … Insanity. Anyway, there is usually snow and ice the further up you go so wrap up kids!

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Get me hameee

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