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 Making a start on the Grahams: Cowal

Nick Bulbeck
Making a start on the Grahams: Cowal 28 Feb 2014
If there happens to be anyone else out there who's been so focused on the Munros that they've not visited the Munro-free hill country of Scotland, I can announce my first visit to Cowal yesterday (unless you count Ben an Lochain years ago - on the fringes of Cowal, I suppose).

There are two, and only two, kinds of terrain in Cowal:
1) well-engineered forest roads
2) trackless swamp

And nothing in between. (I am excluding the two kinds of impassable terrain: dense forest, and Loch Eck.)

However: the glens are charming, the burns sparkling (in between showers) and the summit views terrific. Next visit in April, I hope!

David McSporran
Re: Making a start on the Grahams: Cowal 02 Mar 2014
Well done on making a start on the Grahams!

Totally agree that Cowal is a fantastic area, although Ardgour is another area that those only interested in Munros are seriously missing out on.

I see you did Creag Tharsuinn and you're right that access is made easy by good forest roads, but if you manage to get through all the Cowal Grahams without having at least one fight with dense forest, you'll be doing well as their lower slopes are without a doubt the most heavily forested Grahams out there. 

Nick Bulbeck
Re: Making a start on the Grahams: Cowal 02 Mar 2014
Too true - Cowal, Ardgour, Moidart and the Borders are areas I've never visited. On the plus side, I have them to look forward to!

You'd be forgiven for thinking, mind, that the Forestry Commission had some kind of mission to create Scotlands Toughest Hills in the Cowal area. Though there does seem to be a new forest road leading from Glenbranter up to the bealach between Beinn's Bheag and Mhor, which would improve access to them a bit. It's not on any maps I've come across but is visible from Creag Tharsuinn.

David McSporran
Re: Making a start on the Grahams: Cowal 02 Mar 2014
Yes, I think you're right. I did these 2 by cycling up the forest road from the south end of Lock Eck to Bernice and then up the Bernice Glen track, but I do remember seeing a forest road coming up to the bealach from the west.

Worst 2 contenders for forestry are Cruach nam Mult from Hell's Glen and Cruach nan Capull from Glen Lean, although Cruach nan Capull has tracks not shown on the map which will see you safely out of the forest if your prepared to follow them despite seemingly taking you in the wrong direction. Google Earth is your friend in these matters as is hindsight!

Nick Bulbeck
Re: Making a start on the Grahams: Cowal 13 Mar 2014
Well, that's the Southern Uplands started now. Windy Standard, Cairnsmore and Blackcraig Hill made a nice round. It was also the first 20-miler of the year - creaking a bit today! (Er - me, not the hills, obviously.)

James Corrigan
Re: Making a start on the Grahams: Cowal 21 Mar 2014
Have done 27 Grahams in my travels so far. Some of them several times, including Ben Cleuch which is a hill above your house Nick. It`s all about The Law though as you know.

Luss hills are Graham country with some long and strenuous walks available.

Cnoc Coinnich i beleive is the joint highest of the Grahams was memorable as was Pap Of Glencoe and the very pointy. Sgor a Choise.

The best views of the Munros are from the Corbetts and Grahams.

Nick Bulbeck
Re: Making a start on the Grahams: Cowal 01 May 2014
I can confirm that the east ridge of Ben Donich has infinity false summits. (In fact, there's probably a quantum-locked reality somewhere in which I'm still climbing it.)

However, the summit views more than make up for it. In summary: Cnoc Coinnich, The Brack and Ben Donich make a find round, but probably not on a wet day!

The tally (as opposed to Talaidh, which I've not done yet) is now 24 Corbetts and 12 Grahams. It is next door to impossible that I will at any point in the future have done exactly twice as many C's as G's. I hope this is helpful.

James Corrigan
Re: Making a start on the Grahams: Cowal 15 Aug 2014
Talking of this area. Corbett. "Beinn Bheula" To the west of Lochgoilhead. It looks heavily forested on the approach. Anyone done it recently and are there any issues with cut off paths in the Forest?  It is my last Corbett in section 1 so need to see to it.

David McSporran
Re: Making a start on the Grahams: Cowal 16 Aug 2014
If you're doing Beinn Bheula from Lettermay, ignore the turn off at the left hand bend in the forest track at NN176000 as this way is overgrown and boggy.

Instead continue on the main track to a junction at NS174996 where another forest track not shown on the map turns right. Follow this down to a bridge over the Lettermay Burn and once over the burn, turn left to follow a rough waymarked path through the trees (this is part of the Cowal Way). Once out of the forest, follow the path past waterfalls on the outflow of the Curra Lochain before chosing a suitable spot to climb the NE ridge of Beinn Bheula,

I did a curricular walk, continuing over Creag Sgoilte and then descending the SE ridge to pick up the track through the forest back to Lettermay.