LOCH BRANDY, GLEN CLOVA
ADVENTURER: JED EDWARDS
10km hike around the Loch with a 870m summit
5°C, varying between sunshine, rain, snow
Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket
TAD Scout Boonie (Multicam Black!)
Camelbak 3L Antidote Bladder
Black Diamond Crag full-finger gloves
North Beach sunglasses
Lowa Combat Gtx boots
Olivon 7x30 WP binoculars
Beechfield beanie hat
Latitude43 Neck gaiter
Nivea SPF50 sunscreen
Survival kit with:
Swiss Army Knife
Batuca battery case
Law Industries personal marker panel
Ravpower battery charger
Light My Fire titanium spork
Surefire Px6 flashlight
Petzl Tikka headlamp
Ortlieb a5 map case
Howies Endicott shirt
This walk was arranged between myself and a friend, intending to take a gentle pace and savour the peace and quiet of being in the Scottish hills. The carpark is attached to the Clova hotel in the valley floor, and the path up to the loch is easy to find and well established. Driving in, we passed through both showers of rain and bright sunshine, confirming the variable weather that was forecast for the day. We knew nightime temperatures were still dropping below freezing in this area, and expected some patchy snow to be leftover from winter.
The lower path was firm and well-inclined, and we were able to gain ground quickly and without too much effort. The landscape was fresh with spring heather and black grouse, with pockets of snow nestled in sheltered areas off-trail. Only in one spot did we have to walk across a frozen section of the path, which was right below the Loch itself.
The Loch (or lake, if you’d prefer) sits in a dramatic corrie, about 600m up. Arriving at the basin’s edge we stopped for a while, marvelling at the water’s stillness, and the quietness of the area. Mercifully, the wind for the day was incredibly gentle, and we were able to sit and eat our lunches in comfort, taking time to watch birds or listen to water flowing nearby. The next incline was steeper but the path was clear and we able to climb the remaining distance and continue around the corrie rim. Each different spot on the walk offered a different view of the water, but it was beautiful from every angle.
Setting off from our lunch-spot, we felt the first few drops of a new raincloud passing overhead. Pulling jackets from our bags we carried onwards, following the path, looking down at the Loch from above. Despite the gentle wind, cloud drifted across the higher ground, obscuring much of the visibility, which was a shame. In place of a view we were given rain mixed with hail, which gradually softened into light snow.
By keeping moving we didn’t feel cold at all, and the clear ground made allowed us to follow the path without any challenge. Descending, the cloud passed, and the sun began to beam down. The ground, having been soaked, began to steam in the light, resulting in a thin mist which rolled uphill, shimmering above the water’s surface. The weather shifted back and forth as we completed the loop and stepped down to the carpark, and we were peppered with some heavy rain for the last leg of the walk.
The route we chose was gentle and accessible, and allowed us to take a leisurely pace – it took us roughly four hours to walk from the car and back, which is downright slow by some standards, but highly enjoyable. I was very glad to have packed my binoculars, since we stopped several times to look at wildlife, birds or hares bounding across the hillside.
Packing for the trip as a whole was difficult, as the weather changed so rapidly. It being late April, we had not expected fresh snow to be falling and did not carry winter kit; both rain and sun were forecast, but their intensities were hard to gauge. In the end I packed enough to handle the range of conditions, but needed neither the sunhat nor the gloves I had bought. These being lightweight options I was glad to have had them, even if they sat in my pack.
The MPL30 is a new pack to me, this being its first trip out of town, and it performed very well for the modest load and activity. I had concerns about the breathability of the back panel but, wrapped in my raincoat, I had no problems with sweat building up. I will need to put the bag to further tests but, so far, it has been stable, comfortable and given good access to my gear when I’ve needed it. I’ve recently renewed the DWR on my Torrentshell (using Nikwax TX-Direct) and was pleased to see water beading up perfectly on the jacket’s outside. I tend to avoid wearing a waterproof if I can help it, prioritising ventilation as my body tends to run hot when moving, but this weather made the Torrentshell entirely necessary, and it worked very well at keeping me dry and happy.