Hillwalking was my first love in the outdoors world, I was indoctrinated at an early age by my parents (I believe Loughrigg Fell in the Lake District was my first ascent aged three). I've always particularly enjoyed multiday trips, there's something immensely satisfying to me about carrying all the gear I need to survive on my back while being in remote places. In the past I was a keen Munro bagger here in Scotland and also did some alpine mountaineering. Unfortunately carrying heavy loads on steep terrain took it's toll on my joints and a seriously painful left knee pretty much stopped me hillwalking in the early nineties. Since then I've sporadically returned to the hills, usually just for day walks and have been able to cope with that but I've always hankered for a return to my passion for combining wild camping with exploring remote hills. Years of cycling and walking at work combined with taking glucosamine supplements seem to have improved my knee injury so this winter inspired by internet accounts of backpacking with modern lightweight gear I began accumulating equipment with a view to making a return to the hills. I've always preferred winter hillwalking, the snow covered mountains just seem more majestic and challenging than they do in summer but being realistic winter walking requires more gear and weight so may be a challenge too far for my knee (whose durability remains to be seen).
Last weekend (following a weather curtailed plan for a canoe sailing trip) I decided to get out and test my new kit (as well as my fitness and body!) The forecast was poor, low cloud, rain and drizzle meant that going high would give no chance of seeing anything so after a bit of map browsing I decided to try walking a relatively low level circuit around Ben Donich and the Brack, incorporating an overnight camp somewhere on the route.
I left the car at Ardgarten car park at lunchtime on Saturday and set off along the tarmac minor road which leads to Coilessan house and Loch Long. The rain was heavy and persistent as I set off necessitating waterproofs and as the road climbed up towards the forest track I began to seriously over heat. Soon after leaving the tarmac I turned right up Coilessan Glen.