Beinn a’Choin: a Cinderella hillDecember 13, 2018
I haven’t been out with my hillwalking group for ages. I’ve been too busy aiming for my 100th Munro. Having achieved it, I thought it was high time I organised a slightly easier and more sociable group walk.
I say slightly easier. Beinn a’Choin is a Corbett that I’ve been keen to climb for months. Most Corbetts are less popular that Munros, because so many people want to bag the highest mountains. As a result, Corbetts tend to be wilder, with fewer paths and rougher ground. That’s one reason why I love them!
I wasn’t expecting too much from Beinn a’Choin. It’s notoriously boggy, and although the weather forecast was looking great for last Saturday when I first posted the walk, as time went on the forecast got worse and worse. It looked like it was going to be a windy, rainy, grey day. Typical!
Most people who had signed up earlier, started to take their names off the list. In the end it was me and five others who went – the diehards. Apart from my good friend Karen, who never gets deterred by the weather unless a hurricane is forecast, the other four people on the walk are good friends whom I haven’t seen for months, so it was great to meet up with them again.
Best of all, the weather forecast was beginning to improve a bit.
We all had warm clothes and waterproofs, but crampons and ice axes were not necessary, as the freezing levels were well above 900m, and Beinn a’Choin is just 770m.
Beinn a’Choin overlooks the north-eastern side of Loch Lomond, but the road along the east of Loch Lomond stops about 10km south of the start of the walk, so in order to access the mountain, you have to make quite a big detour through Aberfoyle and the Trossachs, partly on single-track roads.
It’s a beautiful drive, and we saw a red squirrel (sadly quite rare these days) and a herd of shaggy mountain goats jumping over a fence to get out of our way.
When we reached the car park, a cheeky robin perched on my wing mirror, hoping to get some breakfast. He remained there, posing and looking cute with his beak open, long enough for me to take a photo. And he was rewarded with a good breakfast.
When we set off, there was steady light rain. The forecast led us to expect rain on and off throughout the day – but after about an hour, it stopped, and never came back.
We walked along a good path for about a kilometre, and then just had to head up the hillside. It wasn’t just boggy – there were big round clefts in the ground filled with water, and we had to be careful not to step in them. I’ve seen this kind of ground on other walks recently, and I think it’s the result of months of rainy weather.
No paths – just rough, waterlogged terrain.
We just took our time and took lots of breaks. There was no hurry – we’d set off early and had more than enough time to complete the walk before sunset at 3.45pm.
Taking a break.
The views over Loch Lomond were much better than I’d expected.
Cruach Tairbeirt (the small pointy hill to the right of centre) and some of the hills around Loch Lomond.
After a short, steep climb, the rambling summit crown of Beinn a’Choin came into view.
As we reached the flattish bealach, a chilly wind started to blow over the plateau and we had to put on more layers of clothing. I put on my down jacket.
Selfie in down jacket, with Loch Lomond behind.
As we scrambled up over increasingly steep, rocky terrain, the weather remained clear, so we were able to see some dramatic views. We could see Loch Arklet, to the east, as well as Loch Lomond in the west.
Loch Arklet is at the left and Loch Lomond to the right, with Stob an Fhainne, a minor top, in between and Ben Lomond behind, its summit in cloud.
There were a lot of small false summits, but at last the true summit came into view.
The views from the summit were extraordinary.
It was windy at the summit!
Me in front of Loch Lomond.
Views over Loch Katrine, to the east opened up.
We found a sheltered spot in a hollow just below the summit to sit and have lunch. It wasn’t unusually cold for the time of year, but the wind at the summit was enough to chill the bones. Fortified with soup and sandwiches, we started to make our way back down the hill.
Unfortunately there was no way to avoid the waterlogged clefts in the ground when we got lower down, and a couple of us fell in and got wet feet. But we were soon back at the car park.
Every one of us thoroughly enjoyed this walk. It’s less than 40 miles away from Glasgow, and it was a Saturday, yet we didn’t see another soul the entire time.
Beinn a’Choin is quite an under-rated hill – that’s why I describe it as a “Cinderella” hill. It’s quite rough, but not as strenuous as some walks, and it’s one I would definitely do again.
There’s nothing like fresh air and good company to brighten up a winter day.
All good walks end with coffee and cake!