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3 Sassenachs and an ex-pat visit Scotland.

3 Sassenachs and an ex-pat visit Scotland.

Postby trailmasher » Tue Aug 17, 2021 10:37 am

Munros included on this walk: Ben Lomond

Date walked: 06/07/2021

Time taken: 4.53 hours

Distance: 14.11 km

Ascent: 960m

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Elizabeth, the ex-pat, had never been to Kircudbright and for the last few months had been voicing her wish to go there, but of course it was an impossible wish whilst Covid was still hanging around and until the rules had been eased somewhat by Boris and co with Nicola following suit with her own set of do’s and don’ts. So the date, Sunday 4th July was chosen to start our mini break in Scotland as there was a good chance of the weather holding its fair temperament for our skirmish across the border, a skirmish that would last 4 days with the Dumbarton/Loch Lomond Premier Inn being our host.

Apart from myself the other three had never been on a Munro, not that I’m all that familiar with the mountains of Scotland myself and the only times that I have visited with the intentions of climbing a Munro was when keeping Mini Rambo company on quite a few occasions. I have logged the ones that I can remember on WH but as I was just traipsing along behind MR and was only there for the walk I really didn’t take too much notice of what we climbed. I did ask MR for a list of my achievements in the highlands but it wasn’t produced so didn’t push the issue as he was very busy at the time with work etc.

So a plan was made to go a Munro a hunting, something not too far away from the Premier Inn and as Ben Lomond was the most southerly and ‘just up the road’ that was picked out along with Beinn Ime just up t’other road on the west side of the loch and maybe throw in The Cobbler aka ‘Ben Arthur although on this occasion I thought that it may be too much as their exuberance began to dictate their normally good sense. We were to be there for three nights with the Sunday being a nothing doing day apart from driving and clocking in at the Inn and the Wednesday being travel home day and if my E is anything to gauge others on then we would be lucky to leave the PI car park anytime before 10am so a walking day on the Wednesday I was fairly confident wouldn’t happen.

I sat back and let them get on with their excitement and bloated itinerary and wondered just how far into it we would get. The 4th duly arrived and we set off on a warm but dull day with the weather forecasts now announcing the arrival of rain showers that proved to be correct as after we had signed in at the PI we had a drive to the busy complex of Loch Lomond Shores/Balloch with its coffee shops and a few stalls selling a variety of goods the favourite one for E and A being the one that sold a good selection of fudge and candy bars. We had a bit of a loiter and then had a coffee before completing a full circle and walked back to the car, this is when the rain began its rather overstayed welcome until late on the following Monday. Once back at the PI a good meal and a few drinks soon had the inclement weather put to the back of our minds, well for today at least.

It’s now Monday and please forgive my ramblings of this day’s events as Tuesday won’t take long, it being a straight forward walk up to the summit of Ben Lomond. We have woken up to yesterday’s rain and low cloud so a good walk was out of the question, a run around the local area being the next best thing and much more preferable to sitting around the PI all day so not much of a plan was laid as we set off on the highways and byways of Scotland. We took to the A82 following it steadily north passing through Luss and Tarbet from where we then turned off to the west following the A83 to Succoth from where our future planned walk to Beinn Ime and The Cobbler will start, Also it was still raining. From there it was but a short drive to the Rest and be Thankful parking area in Glen Croe, a short drive during which the rain ceased for a short while allowing us to get out and have a look around and read the inscription on the replica commemorative stone that has replaced the original one of 1753.

We now moved on to Inveraray where we would have enjoyed a walk through the castle that’s named after the town only the rain had now started with a vengeance. Nevertheless we paid our £4 to park the car for 2hrs and set off on a sightseeing tour of the town through the wet and hazy conditions and in badly need of a caffeine fix only to find that Inveraray was virtually closed with only one or two gift shops trying to entice the few rain sodden visitors through their doors. Walking very briskly we got a quick glance of Loch Shira, or would it be Loch Fyne we were attempting to see through the rain? Needless to say that we were rather ‘damp’ when we arrived back at the car. Being a Yorkshire man I was a bit miffed about paying £4 for a whirlwind tour and wet stampede along the main street that lasted no more than 15 minutes.

It was time to move on to the west coast and Oban, a seaside town that E and I have visited on quite a few occasions having, and keeping, many good memories of the place but today was a different matter starting with a traffic jam on the downhill into the town and edging our way along the main street as fast as the many other vehicles would allow. As it was still tanking it down we decided to give up on the car parking and most importantly our portion of fish, chips, and/or white pudding from the ‘chippy’ close to the ferry terminus so we exited Oban hungry and despondent. But, as we were driving out we espied a Tesco store where we decided that we would at least get a hot drink and a sandwich to lessen our hunger. Managing to cross over the road we entered Tesco territory, parked up and waded across ‘Loch Tesco’. Yes, there was so much water laying on the tarmac of the car park it felt as though we were walking on water so I think that someone at that particular Tesco store should have a serious think about their drainage problems. Inside service was no better at the cafe as we waited around a half hour for 4 x drinks and 4 x cheese toasties, and no, it wasn’t packed as there was barely four or five other customers already seated and served. After that it was goodbye to Oban and past fond memories of the place.

We left Oban by the A85 to Tyndrum en route to Crianlarich but before we reached that point and as it was still mid afternoon we decided to call in at the Glencoe Visitor Centre where the cafe was now closed it being around 4:15pm although we had plenty of time to have a look around and where I took the only photos of the day due to the weather that had eased off somewhat by now. The cloud cloaked hills looked suitably ethereal.

ImageCloud covered mountains at the Glencoe Visitor Centre

There is a partly built replica of a dwelling that was in vogue many hundreds of years ago.

ImageA look back in time at the Glencoe Visitor Centre

Inside the Visitor Centre there is the most magnificent scale model of the surrounding mountains built entirely of coloured Perspex or some other similar material. It is a 2.75m x 1.25m model consisting of 15 layers of ‘Perspex’ and was produced for the National Trust at North Lincolnshire Museum. It is simply stunning and is an incredibly piece of functional sculpture that helps visitors plan and navigate their way around the multitude of peaks in the area.

ImageContours map at Glencoe Visitor Centre

The A82 that we continued east along to Tarbet and the west side of Loch Lomond passing through mystic and mythical landscape on the way their beauty somehow enhanced by the weather as the high tops were wrapped in cloud with their misty fingers swirling down like wraiths from a Harry Potter book. Many small places were passed through Ardlui, Inveruglas, Tarbet, and Luss and finally back at the PI for a decent drink and meal.

Seathwaite in the Lake District is the wettest inhabited place in the UK with a rainfall of some 3.5 metres or 140 inches a year. Today I felt as though I was at Seathwaite with the full yearly quota falling on us in one day.

Tuesday morning dawned dry and cloudy so we thought that we would make our way over to Rowardennan see how the weather was holding but do a short recce of the route in any event. We entered the woodland followed the long track to the car park where we paid the meagre price of £3 for a day’s parking finding one of the few remaining spots between the trees. There were lots of people milling about, some we thought just for a picnic on the loch shores whilst others looked like seasoned walkers suitably kitted out for the hills.

All the Walk Highlander’s north of the border will be familiar with this walk as it is easily accessible and a straight forward there and back or by going the whole way around by passing over/down Ptarmigan. Elizabeth, Ann, and Martin were excited to say the least and with the sky now turning a lovely colour of blue it looked as though the ‘recce’ would turn into the full climb. The car park lies at the 24 metre point so no dodging the climb here by starting at a higher contour.

As I’m not familiar with the mountains of Scotland I hope that I will be forgiven for any errors that I unintentionally make.

We set off through the trees with dappled sunlight moving and shimmering as we made our way along the obvious well made path from the car park...

ImageLeaving Rowardennan car park

to slowly begin to climb the easily graded path as it progressed through the trees until at the 112 metre point Tom Fithich appeared through the trees.

ImageTom Fithich centre with Ben Narnain to the left

ImageThe views open up to the northwest

At 158 metres we were climbing a well laid stone pitched staircase...

ImageA good stretch of pitching

and soon after that the landscape opened up before us as we left the trees behind, the recce was now indeed, a walk up a mountain.

ImageTom Fithich with Ben Lomond behind right

unknown to us it was just a case of take in the beautiful scenery and walk with occasional stops for a drink and a bite to eat.

Looking west we had a good view of Beinn Bhreac…

ImageBeinn Bhreac

and north looking across Ardress Burn towards Tom Fithich everything looked green and lush.

ImageTree lined Ardess Burn

At roughly the 250 metre contour the path begins to pass along the eastern edge of Coire Corrach.

ImageThe path runs over the east side of Coire Corrach

With just another few minutes of climbing Loch Lomond came into view with its many islands under a hazy sky.

ImageLoch Lomond from the 340 metre point

It was a warm and lovely day as we made our way steadily upwards greeting people either on their way up or making their way back down and after maybe a half hour of walking we came across the fixers of the fells at Halfway Well making a sterling task of repairing the worn out sections at 500 metres. There were five men working on this section of path and a short chat with them established that they started work at 8:30am and finished at 5pm. A hell of a walk to get to your days work place.

ImageDoing a sterling job on the path

ImageA beautiful place of work

Continuing upwards we now got a great view of Beinn Uird.

ImageBeinn Uird from Sron Aonaich

We passed over Sron Aonaich to be greeted by the sight of the top, or near enough, of Ben Lomond with more cloud now than blue sky.

ImageBen Lomond top from the 590 metre point

Climbing steadily onwards we soon arrived at the 800 metre contour where the ground gets a bit steeper and the path a little more rugged than it has been to this point.

At 860 metres we met another man working on the path and he told us that the diversion that we was walking along just above his repair work was the remains of an old pony route and is to be seen on the right just above where he is working. There were no signs of a quad bike or other similar mode of transport to get him up here, so how do they? You just have to admire the time and effort that they put into keeping the fells/mountain paths in good order for the pleasure and comfort of others.

ImagePath repairs at 860 metres

ImageThe path at 870 metres

The view of Loch Lomond is opening up below us and it’s a shame that it has turned quite hazy although the views are quite something from this height.

ImageA southern view with Sithean and Sron Aonaich just left of the path

The path eases off just before the summit and forms a well graded terrace up to the secondary summit.

ImageBen Lomond's secondary summit

ImageBen Lomond's Coire a Bhathaich

A few minutes later the summit was reached where big grins showed the pleasure that the three had in attaining their first Munro.

ImageBen Lomond summit pose

Just prior to reaching the summit we met a party returning from the top who informed us that it was crawling with midges at the trig point so we took heed and donned hoodies with long sleeves to help minimise the skin area to these hungry little beasts. When we had reached the summit there was quite a breeze and no signs of said midges so maybe they’d had their fill of the previous summit occupants.

The views from the summit are quite remarkable with rows and rows of mountains stacked up one behind the other, a view spoilt only by the distant haze.

ImageA view across Ptarmigan to Ben Reoch and Beinn Bhreac

ImageA view west towards Tarbet and mountain skyline

ImageA northern skyline from Ben Lomond

ImageSoutheast with Loch Dubh - Loch Chon - Loch Ard

There is a fantastic view of the curved crags of Coire a Bhathaich.

ImageThe craggy face of Coire a Bhathaich on Ben Lomond

There were a couple of flags draped around the bottom of the trig column and a white heart shaped memorial set upon a rock.

ImageMemorial on Ben Lomond

I myself would have preferred to leave the summit by way of the Ptarmigan route but the others were unsure so we set off to return by our outward journey. So a few photos of our walk back now appears.

ImageA lovely arc of crags

ImageLoch Lomond islands

ImageA last look back towards the summit

It was about half way between the summit and Sithean that we decided to stop for a break taking in the Greggs sausage rolls that we grabbed from the shop this morning. A pleasant break was had sat in the hazy sunshine with great views before us.

ImageGreggs sausage rolls helped to keep the strength up on Ben Lomond

An uneventful walk back stopping only to chat with other walkers soon had us well down the mountain...

ImageA last look back at the summit and the hump of Sithean

and just before entering the trees again one last photo towards The Cobbler.

ImageA distant view of The Cobbler with - I think - Ben Vane behind centre

As we arrived back at the car there was a piper stood on the bank of the loch giving his all with the sounds of the music fitting appropriately with the ambience of the place. This has been a good walk, straight forward and easy, a good Munro to start off with and we are looking forward to the next one.

It’s now Wednesday and time to go home calling in at a couple of places en route back to England the first being Loch Doon, a very appropriate name for these troublesome times. Quite a long drive in from the main road had us at this peaceful place with its welcome Roundhouse Cafe and good views and where there were quite a few campers spread out along the shore line. Plenty of Scots Pines line the shore opposite side to the cafe and road with a view of the distant mountains as we looked along the length of the loch. We saw the ospreys flying about above the far trees.

ImageLoch Doon camping

Information link below.


After spending a decent time here we then moved on to Kirkcudbright a lovely little town by the sea, well, at the mouth of the River Dee, where many small boats are moored up.

ImageKirkcudbright harbour

ImageBoats in a line at Kirkcudbright

We found a lovely, friendly and small cafe where we sat out in a sheltered courtyard having coffee and cake making an excellent end to four good days in Scotland. We shall be returning for a second round at the back end of August and if weather permits will once again find our way into the mountains and hills of the Scottish Highlands.
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Re: 3 Sassenachs and an ex-pat visit Scotland.

Postby Gordie12 » Tue Aug 17, 2021 11:40 am

Hi trailmasher

If it wasn't for the heading I would have guessed that you had posted this report in the wrong place :lol:

I'm glad the weather improved for you when you took on Ben Lomond ( I was going to be smart and ask if you needed oxygen on the higher slopes but I won't do that :wink: ).

Enjoy your trip back up this way at the end of this month - hopefully the weather won't be like Oban!!!
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Re: 3 Sassenachs and an ex-pat visit Scotland.

Postby trailmasher » Sat Aug 21, 2021 3:51 pm

Gordie12 wrote:Hi trailmasher

If it wasn't for the heading I would have guessed that you had posted this report in the wrong place :lol:

I'm glad the weather improved for you when you took on Ben Lomond ( I was going to be smart and ask if you needed oxygen on the higher slopes but I won't do that :wink: ).

Enjoy your trip back up this way at the end of this month - hopefully the weather won't be like Oban!!!

Thanks Gordie and could understand the confusion with the posting of this report :lol: I have had much practice on the LD's highest but may consider a tank of the stuff as my Munro conquests increase in height :lol: :lol: :lol: The weather forecast is promising for our next visit so everything is crossed :wink: 8)
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