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Walking above the clouds on the Corbett Beinn a’Choin

Written by Fiona

October 01 2020

Beinn a'Choin fog bow

I got lucky with the weather at the weekend during a run-hike of the Corbett Beinn a’Choin, from Inversnaid, in Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park. But things did not look so hopeful as I set off from Inversnaid – on the West Highland Way – with my friend David V.

After a Saturday of sunshine and a bright blue sky, Sunday began with mist and drizzle in Glasgow.

Driving north to the tourist town of Aberfoyle, I then took a narrow road towards Kinlochard. I followed this along several lochs, Ard, Chon and Arklet, towards the eastern shore of Loch Lomond.

As I travelled , I glimpsed patches of blue and a little sunshine, but the general conditions were claggy.

David and I discovered that the parking at Garrison Farm, RSPB Inversaid, was clossed “due to a landslide” and so we drove on little to take a left turning over a bridge and then up a steep track to a parking area.

No view… but the hope of something better.

The run-hike of Beinn a’Choin

At first, we were able to run the route. We started back along the road, reaching the closed track up to RSPB Inversaid and then on to a wide Landrover track.

There is an ATV track that you can follow for a section of the hillside. We took a bit of time to find this and it came sooner than the WalkHighlands route suggested.

The ATV track winds steeply to and fro through boggy and tussocky terrain.

We discovered that the track is not too easy to follow and several times we veered off through bracken and thick grass.

Still walking through thick mist, it was difficult to tell what was the right direction simply by looking at the landscape and so we followed a compass bearing to ensure we crossed two fence lines marked on the map.

It was a huge delight and a surprise to suddenly break through the clouds and to be treated to a beautiful temperature inversion. We even spotted a “fog bow”.

Beinn a'Choin fog bow
Beinn a’Choin fog bow.

What is a fog bow?

Fog bows are formed when sunlight meets moisture, refracting light from the tiny water droplets suspended in the air.

While rainbows usually appear after rainfall, as sunlight refracts through larger water droplets, fog bows show up when the sun shines on fog.

The top of Ben Lomond in the distance.

A walk above the clouds

The rest of the walk was very enjoyable, especially because at every turn there were stunning views.

The sea of cloud hung just below many surrounding summits, including Ben Lomond, and the sun shone warm and bright.

We returned the same way for a total run-hike of around 11k. Much of the route is on rough terrain and so we walked more than we ran.

While the cloud had lifted a little as we returned to the car park, it was only later in the afternoon that the sun was able to break through the thick mist.

The moral of this story is to take a chance on Scottish weather. While it might look dull and cloudy at lower level, it can sometimes be utterly stunning and sunny higher up.

Beinn a'Choin route
You’ll see we took a bit of a detour as we tried to locate the ATV track.

See: OS Map route

Corbett tally: 39.

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