A bracing walk

I spent the day walking round the Ardgarten Peninsula. It’s around 24 miles of forest track, high open moorland trails, with views of quiet lochs and seldom trodden peaks, plantation and indigenous woodland with incredibly rugged hillsides, there’s constant interest. There’s even a half way pit stop at Lochgoilhead.

I had a few reasons for being there, all of them WHW related: trying out some of the new kit with weight over a distance; seeing what my legs were like and trying the SPOT Tracker out (as some will now know, it works fine). But within a few paces from the motor if became a nice day out and I forgot to check and adjust the gear. This is a good thing, it means it fits right in immediately. I used the LIM45 pack and I like it very much, I wore the LIM Ozone for half the day and it’s also very nice. They both felt familiar which I didn’t expect.

But it was the trail which was the star of the day. I wandered blithely through the “Timber Operations No Access” which was interesting, it’s amazing how much mess they make. By the time I got to the Corran Lochan the temperature had dropped regardless of the bright sunshine and I layered up for the Dukes Pass, the high trail over the Southern point of the peninsula. As I headed towards Loch Goil the snow came in, a gentle soft snow, very pleasant. This is the best section of the walk, it’s single track, feet or mountain bikes only. It feels remote, I love it up here and Lochgoilhead is reached all too soon.

The man I met a mile or so outside it with no map and a panicked look stayed in my mind though. He was doing the same circuit as I was, but anticlockwise. “How far is it to Ardgarten?” “You’re about half way around” “Oh…”. I nearly gave him the SPOT, I think he needed it more that I did.

Tea by the wee harbour reset my legs to attack mode again and I was off towards the Rest and Be Thankful. Walking under the huge ice encrusted crags of Ben Donich with diminishing light was fantastic, the Gleann Mor section is a close second to the Dukes Pass. By the time I got to the Rest it was nearly dark, by the time I left it after a quick cuppa it was black. I did wonder about the uneasy hiker going the other way, did he have a headtorch?

It’s forest tracks all the way down to the carpark. On a mountain bike it’s a different prospect, a few minutes of teeth clenching, brake melting, hysterical laughing and you’re down. On foot is so much slower, epecially in the dark. Although with a car head light the new Myo XP on my head there wasn’t much in the way of difficulty.

As I left the car park at 2100 the other car still parked there was very much on my mind. Did he get back okay?

18 thoughts on “A bracing walk”

  1. Sounds like an excellent training walk. Did you start/finish at the cafe/visitor centre car park? I’m looking to ramp up to this distance in about 6-7weeks so would be a good walk for me to try. It’s beautiful round there!

  2. Ah, that one above was to Craig :o)

    soularch aye, the visitor centre was the start and stop point. It is a fantatsic walk.
    There’s scope for extension with the loop that heads east above Lochgoilhead to a waterfall and returns west to take you towards the Rest high on the hillside and you miss out all the road sections.
    From the end of this wee loop you can cut the whole route in half and follow the white posts between Ben Donich and The Brack over the pass to meet up with the forest road on the other side just above Ardgarten.
    Handy if weather/ time/light is against you.

  3. Sounds like an interesting walk. I’m doing Ben Donich sometime in May for the Macmillan corbett challenge this year. I’ve been toying with the idea of taking a few days out of work and maybe use the Ardgarten site as a base and explore a little more around here.

  4. Good idea, there’s plenty to do.
    So much within walking distance of the campsite as well.

    They’re the closest mountains to me and I’ll never get bored around there :o)

  5. The SPOT gizmo seemed to work well btw. I got 5 emails, evenly spaced, with links showing your progress. It’s pretty darn cool actually. I’m seriously considering getting one.

  6. Looks like you had a grand day out,the SPOT looks like a very interesting piece of kit indeed and as for the LIM gear,its already caught my eye,Haglofs just keep on coming up with the goods it seems,now they just need to drop the prices a tad…

  7. I think I’ll maybe buy a SPOT after the test is done. I like it and it’s not too much hassle to use at all.

    The LIM gear is top notch, there’s more new charcoal and yellow stuff coming out this winter as well, insulation and powerstretch pieces.
    Prices? Investment in quality I think is how to describe it :o)

  8. Hehe,’investment in quality’,I’ll try and explain that one to the EPO (enjoyment prevention officer) when she gets home from work!

  9. Spot tracker looks interesting, how heavy is it too lug around ??? Haglofs, expensive ?? Look at Arcteryx now thats £££

  10. You know, I haven’t weighed it yet. It’s a hundred and something grams I’d imagine. I had clipped onto the chest strap of my pack all day Monday and it was fine.

    I’ve reset all the contact details for the SPOT. If anybody want me to stick their email address on it for this weekends test give me a shout.

  11. Not this time out, I tried out a similar thing from US company Mountain Laurel Designs.
    It’s not as good as the OMM one though. I’d need to adapt it to fit as well, and I can’t really be arsed at the moment.
    MLD do lots of good stuff though, they’re worth checking out.

    I’ll probably take the OMM version on the WHW, it fits on the LIM 45 fine and does the job spot on.

  12. Yeah the Spot is a fine little bit of kit.

    I make it 212gms inc batteries.

    It did a pretty good job of tracking me across one side of the Cairngorm plateau in a blinding, snowy hooley on Sunday.

    Though it missed a point or two, probably had it under the rucksack at lunch (hasty snow shelter!) and another rest stop (so where are we then?) though. So I reckon so that’s forgiveable.

    I like it – it’ll be coming with me a lot.

    Might still gaffer tape over the little 911 button though… ;)

  13. Oh yeah – MLD eVent mitts – excellent bits of kit especially when combined with synthetic liners.

    And synthetic lines with Buffalo DPs – beat the pants of very expensive Rab eVent winter gloves I reckon!

    Though a second pair might be best not buried in the pack next time, to stop the axe sucking the heat from my hand…

  14. Aye, I wonder just how easy it would be to press it?

    The Help button takes a wee bit of pushing to get it to kick in right enough.

    But still, I did wonder if I would do it accdentally and when a helcopter flew down the glen late in the day I did check the SPOT to see if it was flashing :o)

  15. I’ve tried pressing it without the batteries in – it’s pretty hard to do I must admit. But if it’s in the side pocket of the bag, doing its tracking thing, you put your bag down on a bit of heather…

    But what really bothers me, and something I’ve got to get around to finding out – is how you contact them and tell them “Sorry but some little scally’s pinched it – you should ignore any 911 button presses from now on!”

    It struck me after I thought I’d left it on the table at the Ptarmigan “restaurant” on Saturday. As it was I’d put it in the wrong pocket in the bag. Had me worried for a moment that did!

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