Ben Donich (847m)

Sunday 4th February 2018

Distance: 9kms - Duration: 4hrs 15mins - Group Size: 4

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Yet again, another wonderful winters walk on a fine mountain; today we were on Ben Donich, and were presented with blue skies, great snow conditions, and even some hang-gliders enjoying the skies above Glen Croe.

A steady climb up the grassy slopes above the forest boundary and we were soon approaching the snow line just above the 450m height; initially a light covering, but by the time we were crossing the 660m top of Coire Culach we were making good progress through a full covering of some 20 cms or so. Underfoot, the trampled snow was firm, and occasionally iced over, and so we had ice axes to hand, just as a precaution, although we never encountered anything which warranted the use of crampons.

Approaching the 750m height we wondered if the "bad step" would present us with any problems, and, as we stood above it, we could see that it would require a degree of caution as the rock was coated in a layer of ice on the ledges that would provide our hand and footholds during the descent; a descent we all made safely, before continuing on across the narrow boulder path at the base of "the step" to begin the steep ascent towards the 817m minor top.

Until this point, we had the luxury of clear blue skies giving us fine views, clear enough to easily distinguish the hump back bridge and castle at Inveraray, some 15kms across the hillsides and beyond Loch Fyne; however, as we rose above the 800m height we entered a bank of mist, just hanging over the tops, we could still see patches of clear sky above, but ahead of us, visibility was reduced to less than 100 metres; therefore, denying us any views from the actual summit, apart from its Trig Point, around which we gathered while we posed for our summit photo, an all in one group courtesy of another like minded walker enjoying a fine day in the hills.

We left the summit to find a spot for a quick lunch break before continuing our descent down through the mist, back into sunshine before scrambling up the icy rocks of the "bad step" and onwards down the hillside with yet one more surprise to come on this fine day. As we walked over the top of Coire Culach, there, on the hillside ahead of us were three brightly coloured shapes of hang-gliders, their pilots getting set to launch themselves into the air above Glen Croe. We paused alongside of them, hoping to see them actually launch, but it soon became obvious that they were waiting for a breeze, which at this point was nonexistent, so we continued on our way, heading down the hillside. However, the anticipated breeze had obviously arrived after we departed, as suddenly in front of us, there were three of the hang-gliders flitting around the slopes of Beinn Luibhean, high above the traffic passing below on the Rest and Be Thankful; an unexpected sight, at the end of a glorious day.

Thanks All - Wonderful day.

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