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Arrochar-Ben Vane- Beinn Ime

Arrochar-Ben Vane- Beinn Ime

Postby capncrunch » Mon Sep 06, 2021 4:20 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Ìme, Ben Vane

Date walked: 04/09/2021

Time taken: 9.5 hours

Distance: 23 km

Ascent: 1969m

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I am the son of a passionate lover of the mountains who has served in various positions of his local mountain rescue team over the last 30 years. Throughout my childhood he would drag me up all the local Galloway hills and every so often something bigger up north. I have to confess at the time I did not enjoy them too much as I have always been on the slower side,, and hated spending my day staring up at the keener members of my family who had stormed up ahead. One such day was to the Cobbler, and although I was slow I did not forget my first trip to the Arrochar alps as the view from the top was more stunning than I could ever have expected.

After university I moved to Essex for work, where I stayed for 8 years before moving to the north east of England during the pandemic. The proximity to Scotland (and the Lake District) awakened the memories and I have started hill walking and discovered the passion my dad has for myself. After a few days in the lakes (and one up Ben Nevis), my dad and I planned to revisit Arrochar and walk Ben Vane, Beinn Ime and Beinn Narnain in one large loop.

We set off from Arrochar village at 09:30 and immediately headed up the valley with Beinn Narnain on our left and followed signs for the Glen Loin loop. However this was our first mistake as we actually meant to travel up the glen on the right hand side so we would pass Dubh Chnoc on the right hand side. Fortunately we realised quickly and it was only a short walk across some fields and we were back on track. The rest of the journey to Ben Vane, our first Monroe, was uneventful, traversing the bracken fields on an undulating path and thoroughly impressed by the various fell runners who went past us. By the time we had joined the main route from Inveruglas we had walked for an hour and a half through a steaming valley and rising humidity. We knew then that the rest of the day would be tough and hoped that the clouds we could see on Ben Vorlich and Ben Vane would lift.

We began the climb to Ben Vane formally 1 hour and 49 minutes after we had left Arrochar. It took us 1 hour and 26 minutes to reach the submit, and as a prodigal son of the hills found my greatest challenge so far. The climb follows the prominent ridge you can see as you approach the mountain and for large parts of it feels like walking up a grand staircase with epic views of Glen Loin and Loch Lomond for company. Yet, looking towards the summit we could see to our despair that while the steepness rose the clouds did not. As we traversed the high mist we found the climb switched from staircase to climbing wall and was grateful for the time I have been able to spend in the gym during lockdown. Although challenging it was also enjoyable with my only regret being the lack of view due to the clouds. Every climb I have done in 2021 has been plagued by low clouds to my frustration, but the joy of the challenge has always overcome and I know one day I will be rewarded by some panorama of God's creation from some high summit.

The route preview on this site advises the Ben Vane is a solo climb, and in hindsight maybe we should have followed that advice. But a stubborn determination was with us that day, so instead of following our fellow climbers back down the path we instead headed west towards Beinn Ime. Without a path we had to rely on my dad's map reading skills as we navigated crags, bogs and boulders and dropped nearly 500m to the valley below. As we made our descent the clouds began to lift and our next challenge emerged from the clouds. We were like battle wearied warriors seeing enemy reinforcements on the horizon but we were not cowed. We plotted a path up the grassy slopes of Beinn Ime and although it took the best part of 2 hours we succeeded. I won't lie, it was the hardest climb I have ever done, much harder the 'hardest climb of my life so far' I had done mere hours before on Ben Vane. Every step required all my will, grit and determination as we slogged through moss and grassy banks but succeed we did. Half way up Ben Vane came out to cheer us, with the clouds on her summit lifting briefly but sadly Beinn Ime did us no such favour. We summitted Beinn Ime several hours after we had anticipated, our mistake being that we had not accounted for the difficulty of the terrain during our planning. The darkening skies (and 7.30 dinner reservation at our hotel) persuaded us then that we had to head straight back to Arrochar and leave Beinn Narnain for another day.

We followed the pass beneath Bein Narnain and felt the nostalgia of youth as I saw the Cobbler to my right. I promised myself I would come back to visit one day, perhaps when I go to see Beinn Narnain. While I enjoyed revisiting the memories and views of that distinctive rock formation, I did not enjoy the descent back to Arrochar. Unlike many descents this one is shallow and while this is kinder on your knees, it does nothing for your sanity. Hundreds of steps walked felt like not many meters dropped, especially as the path meanders through the lower slope forest. It took us over 2 hours to reach the car park after leaving Beinn Ime, and truthfully was the only part of the day I did not enjoy.

On reflection, we were too ambitious and should either have done Ben Vane only from Arrochar (and return via the Glen Loin route) or visit Beinn Ime and Beinn Narnain directly. Even though our journey did not go to plan, I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to the Arrochar Alps and leave with the promise of visiting again to climb Beinn Narnain and perhaps reuniting with the Cobbler.
The Cobbler
Beinn Ime
Beinn Narnain (left) and Ben Arthur (right)
Ben Vane from Beinn Ime
Ben Vane

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Joined: Sep 6, 2021

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