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Approximately Our First Munro

Approximately Our First Munro

Postby Paul_Antonia » Fri Jul 15, 2011 11:43 pm

Route description: Ben Lomond

Munros included on this walk: Ben Lomond

Date walked: 14/07/2011

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 11 km

Ascent: 990m

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The old cliche says "Even a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
I suppose for me this journey began 16years ago on a family holiday to Loch Ness and a failed attempt at climbing Ben Nevis with my two young daughters.
For Antonia this journey began two years ago on a family holiday to Fort William. We set out to climb Ben Nevis with her elder sister Bryony and her mum Chenoa. At the lochan about half way up Chenoa and Bryony gave up and went back to Fort William but Antonia was determined she wanted to go to the top, so we pressed on to the summit and saw nothing but the inside of the clouds. So technically Ben Lomond is our second Munro but for the purposes of this excersise we would like to disregard the climbing of Ben Nevis and claim Ben Lomond as the first of our bagging adventure.
I had always been aware of The Munros but they seemed too far away to mount any serious expeditions. The climbing of Ben Nevis had created a spark, but then a move to the Borders coupled with watching the Nicholas Crane documentary about Sir Hugh Munro and the fire was ignited. I suggested to Antonia that we should climb them all and she thought it was a great idea. She excitedly announced to her mum that "Me and Paul are going to climb The Murrays!"
From now on and with every respect to Sir Hugh Munro, these mountains will be forever known to us as "The Murrays".
After cycling and walking in The Borders to get our fitness levels up we were just waiting for the right opportunity to arise. A couple of days off work for me and a good forcast from the Met Office and it was game on.
But which would be our first? I fancied one of the Arrochar Alps but Antonia was insistant that it should be Ben Lomond.
" No!" I said, " If it's good weather then the whole world will be up Ben Lomond" and, as the master of this household I immediately capitulated, Ben Lomond it would be.
Paul: We set off from the car park at Rowardennan at 11.40 in blazing sunshine and tropical temperatures. The chosen route was to be up Ptarmigan Ridge and down the tourist trail. At Ardess Lodge we found what we thought to be the path up the ridge. Thankfully someone had kindly put up a notice on the gate informing us that the correct path was a bout 50 yards futher on over the bridge. The first disaster had been avoided.
1 A Single Step.JPG
The single step

9 House at Ardess with Ptarmigan Peeping Out..JPG
Ptarmigan thumbing it's nose at us from behind a tree

Antonia: When I got out of the car I felt very exited because It was our first Munro. As we started walking along the loch we saw three baby ducks and their mum having a wee swim. We also saw a house that was close to the path that we were walking along. It belonged to the park warden.
Paul: Once on the right path we started to climb fairly quickly. The bracken was creating a wonderful sun-trap and it was hot work with no cooling breeze. Frequent stops and lots of hydration would be the order of the day.
Everyone says that the views from this route are unsurpassed and we were certainly not disappointed with extensive views opening up and changing quickly as we gained height.
Antonia: As we got higher and higher we were able to hear a strange sound, Paul said that it was grasshoppers.
A few minutes later Paul tried to catch one and was sucsesful and showed it to me, it was brown and smaller than I thought it was going to be.
As we got higher we saw a seaplane that was blue and white and flying below us so that we could see the top of it for a change. :o
Paul: The wild flowers of summer were out in force, enjoying the sunshine with us. I was able to identify Bog Asphodel and Butterwort but there were many others that I don't have names for..... Note to self " Take wild flower guide next time ".
Climbing seemed slow going and I was beginning to get concerns over the time. We were, however trying to take those frequent stops and hydration breaks. As the views opened up we were treated to our first view of The Cobbler
14 First View of The Cobbler.JPG

And our first close up view of our goal.....
23 First View of Ben Lomond From Ptarmigan Ridge.JPG

19 Antonia with Ptarmigan Behind.JPG
Antonia couldn't resist practising her scrambling...

Soon enough we were at the zig-zags up the Ptarmigan itself and we stopped again to take in the views. The groups coming up the path soon overtook us but they were the only groups we saw on this ascent. Unlike the large numbers we could see ascending the tourist route.
13 Loch From Higher Up Ptarmigan.JPG

Antonia: Just over the top of the Ptarmigan we found a wee loch, Paul let me throw a stone in there.
Paul I have to admit that by the time we had walked over the Ptarmigan and could clearly see the final climb ahead I was begining to doubt that we would make it to the top. Antonia was getting tired and progress seemed slow.
I checked my watch at the lochan and it was 3.00pm. Looking up I was expecting it to take more than two hours to climb the rest of the way to the summit, if we made it at all that is...
25 Antonia Surveys  the Final Ascent.JPG

Oh how wrong I was... It was as though the sight of that climb spurred Antonia into action and she just pushed for the top. All the way up I could hear her behind me saying quietly to herself " Keep going, you can do it."
Antonia: At the bottom of the steep walk up to the top of Ben Lomond I was shocked because it looked so steep and I thought that I wasn't going to get up it . :shock: When we started to climb up it I had to encourage myself to not stop and to ignore my aching legs. Finally we got to the top and saw some other people.
Paul:We made good time and hit the summit at 4.10pm. As expected we were not alone but there weren't the crowds of people I had prepared for. Many thanks to the gentleman with a shock of white hair and beard who photographed us at the summit. He was up there sketching for some paintings he is planning.
We toasted our "first" summit with some bubbly.....well some Shloer anyway.
46 Paul and Antonia at Summit.JPG

47 Cruinn A Bheinn and View North From Summit.JPG

50 Loch Lomond From Summit.JPG

52 Bens Vane and Vorlich From Summit.JPG
You're Next.....

Antonia: It was very windy at the top and we met a man with a wee sketch pad and he was drawing The Cobbler, Ben Narnain,Ben Vane and there were a lot more hills then he showed us his drawings and they were so cool and I was suprised because they were so good. :o
Paul: After half an hour at the summit and being buzzed by a helicopter, which I think was giving pleasure flights over the loch, we started down the tourist path. After the initial steepish descent the path is very straightforward and not nearly as hard going as the Ptarmigan ridge.
62 Antonia and the Crags of Coire A Bhathaich.JPG

The forecast was for cloud to be increasing during the afternoon and as you can see from the photographs it had been bubbling up all day.
Antonia: We started to walk down the tourist route, we didn't meet anyone on the way down. Paul stopped to take a picture or two so I took my chance to race ahead. After Paul had caught me up I stopped because I saw a dark object, as we got closer I realised that It was a cow so I started to get a wee bit scared because I really don't like cows. Nearly at the car park we saw the man from the summit when he raced past us. We finally got to the car park so we took our boots off and had a paddle in the cold loch. We were so happy to be back down. :D
Paul: Looking back the clouds had finally closed in around the summit. It seems that our timing was impeccable.
69 Ptarmigan With Summit in Clouds.JPG

70 Arrochar Alps in Cloud.JPG

Finally back at the car park by 7.15pm I agreed that we could paddle our feet in the loch since Antonia had been asking to do so all day. Time for a minor disaster, I managed to drop my mobile into the loch setting up the camera for our victory photo. DOH!!! It seems to have survived though, now it's dried out.
74 Doh Dropped My Phone in Loch Lomond.JPG

So there you have it, a great day all round, two first Munros, two first reports and a comedy phone ducking. Tremendous value. :D
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Re: Approximately Our First Munro

Postby tomyboy73 » Sat Jul 16, 2011 12:16 am

well done to you both, entertaining report. I did the opposite route . Ben Lomond is much maligned beacuse it is so busy but on a great day you get excellent views. and if you don`t count ben nevis as your first munro because it was cloudy then you`ll never complete them all !!!! :lol: It was cloudy when i did it too but im claiming it ! :)
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Re: Approximately Our First Munro

Postby Stretch » Sat Jul 16, 2011 12:49 am

Congrats to you both. Enjoyed this report and I hope you have many more fine days on the 'Murrays'!
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Re: Approximately Our First Munro

Postby Paul_Antonia » Sat Jul 16, 2011 11:18 am

tomyboy73 wrote:Ben Lomond is much maligned beacuse it is so busy but on a great day you get excellent views. and if you don`t count ben nevis as your first munro because it was cloudy then you`ll never complete them all !!!! :lol: It was cloudy when i did it too but im claiming it ! :)

Thanks tomboy73. We had a great time. I agree about the views they are pretty spectacular. I was trying to figure out just exactly what we could see in the distance but gave up in the end. Not disregarding Ben Nevis because of the cloud we just want to do it again and I think it's a case of "unfinished buiness" for Chenoa.
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Re: Approximately Our First Munro

Postby Jabber » Sat Jul 16, 2011 9:36 pm

Well done both you. Ben Lomond is a great first hill and the route you did it is indeed the best route up. Good luck with Vorlich and Vane both are fine hills too although if attempting from Inverglas can be brutal. :)
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Re: Approximately Our First Munro

Postby erin_niamh » Thu Jul 28, 2011 2:52 am

great report & great photos, i always ask erin if she enjoys it but never thought about giving her some input to the report so might copy you on that if you dont mind :D It will keep her interested ! :D good to see kids out on the hills and also enjoying them, much better than being stuck in front of a computer!

look forward to reading more of your reports :D
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Re: Approximately Our First Munro

Postby Paul_Antonia » Thu Jul 28, 2011 10:57 am

Thanks Erin&Niamh. Only thought about Antonia putting in her contribution once I started to write the report but it seems to work out ok. It was hard work though getting her to think about it in sections so next time I'll get her to write her own complete report and use parts from that, or the other option I'd considered was to get her to tell someone about the whole day and make notes. That way it should be easier for her.
Agree about getting the kids out into the hills, read one of your posts the other day and thought how good it was to see you both getting out there. We'll watch your progress with interest.
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Re: Approximately Our First Munro

Postby magicdin » Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:44 am

good stuff paul&antonia - ben lomond is always a grand walk

and just remember "Ye cannae hurry a Murray" :)
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