The 5th of July 2018 marked the tenth anniversary of my introduction into hill waking with a climb up Ben Nevis as a ‘one off’ to say we climbed the highest mountain in the British Isles. From thereon I went on a fantastic journey and one that I’m eternally grateful for as it gave me purpose, direction and grounded me when my life was at crossroads. Escaping to the hills over the last ten years has heightened my awareness of nature and the environment. I now make conscious decisions based on my outdoor experience. It’s not something I take for granted either, life has a tendency of throwing up gauntlets from time to time, from family issues to injuries you cant help but worry about.
I wasn’t going to let this date drift by without marking the occasion, so when Kevin contacted me about a potential wild camping trip, it was a no brainer. We both concurred on a summit camp on The Brack.
Kevin met me at work and we set off just after 1pm, the traffic through Edinburgh and Glasgow was fine. A quick stop in Balloch to get some chilled beer and by 4:30pm we were suited and booted and heading off from the forestry car park at Ardgarten.
It was a fine, warm evening, midges and clegs so far not in attendance. We followed the forestry track so far before picking up the hill path for The Brack. We paused for a moment and considered collecting water. It was too soon as the stream runs by the hill almost to the bealach. Why carry the additional weight for no reason?
Once above the trees you’re greeted with a fine view north towards the Rest and Be Thankful, the steep sides of the Corbetts Beinn an Lochain and Beinn Luibhean guarding the pass. The stream that we had been following was now beginning to sound more like a trickle, it was here we decided to collect our water for the night’s summit camp.
Now back in the warmth of the sun we reached the bealach where we were greeted by a small lochan that didn’t look too fresh, so I was content we got water from the stream below. Another 20 minutes or so and we reached the summit trig point.
I pitched a little to the north of the trig point, Kevin a little to the east. It wasn’t as warm as we anticipated and began to wonder if summer sleeping bags were the right decision. With the tents up we loitered around the summit drinking our now not so chilled beer and fired up the meth stoves for dinner. We took in the sunset and the fiery sky before retiring to our tents for the night.
It was a bit of a restless night, a bit cold and neither of us has quite sussed out how to get the perfect pitch with our new Trekkertent Stealth tents. Kevin made sure I was up for the sunrise, standing outside my tent announcing loudly that I was going to miss it if I didn’t get up.
As sunrises go, it was a good one, rising above Stob Binnein. I got up and wandered around before retiring back to my tent again, nodding off with the door open and the sun on my back intensified through the silnylon of the tent. Only to be awoken again, this time by midges. That chilly breeze had disappeared completely.
After breakfast we broke camp and headed off to tackle the newest Corbett in our midst, Cnoc Coinnich. The Brack is steep in all directions, but all the crags are easily avoided as we made our down to Cowal Way. We hunted for water, but the stream was oily with peat so we gave it miss. We picked up Coinnich’s north spur which offers a nice bimble up to the small summit cairn. The lochan which features on the 1:25k map had dried up completely and with loads of sheep in attendance, the summit was littered with sheep faeces. Glad we never camped here!
According to the 1:50K map a stream runs just below the summit, we tracked the stream down as our descent route aiming for the western tip of the treeline to pick up the Cowal Way. The stream had almost dried up, but there were a couple of small pools for collecting water. Any hope of a nice walk in the woods is dashed as the forest path is short-lived and you finish the walk on a wide forestry track instead.
We met the first people of the day further down before getting back to the car for around midday. The Brack is a fine, rocky Corbett and fitted the bill nicely to mark the tenth anniversary of that day on Ben Nevis. Incidentally Cnoc Coinnich was my 111th Corbett, which is of course the half way mark.
Feature film: Summit camp on The Brack