A blazing June Saturday greeted Claire and I as we headed out of Glasgow to head to Rowardennan to park the car before the walk. I was nervous as this was to be my first attempt at a Munro and not being the fittest fifty-something on Earth. I was also excited as the weather promised to deliver us fantastic views across the whole of the West of Scotland.
Arriving at the car park at Rowardennan we were almost scuppered in our plans by the lack of the car parking fee, which has been a creeping feature of the hillwalking day out, thankfully the machines here take card payments but a warning to climbers everywhere.
I have had some walking poles for a wee while nowbut had never used them before but today I decided was the day. So happily set out along the forest path with a spring in the step. We climbed steadily, through the oak woods to start with and then through an area of cleared forestry and I wasn't noticing the nipping of our wee insect terrors, hoping for anticipated breezes to ward them off further up the slopes. After a while we crossed a track and continue on the uphill path. After a late breakfast an hour in, we headed along the path. there was a steady climb and the sun was pretty remorseless but we had incredible views back over the loch.
However when the summit peak came into sight after what seemed a long stretch my heart sank at what looked like a hard slog up a zigzag path. By now my progress was slow as the heat began take its toll. However encouraged by Claire, slow and steady progress was made until we reached the summit ridge that runs round the mountain. Relieved to have some respite I managed to pick up pace now and soon the summit cairn came into sight.
However even here the final ascent required a bit of a scramble over the rocky terrain. The feeling of relief brought smiles to our faces but soon it became clear that the lack of a breeze was leaving us vulnerable to the midges. There was a cloud of them at the summit. Claire said that this was the first time she'd ever had encountered them at such a height. We had planned to lunch at the summit and descend by the Ptarmigan Ridge but both plans had to be abandoned due to the insect invasion.
In the end we dropped a little below the summit and managed to pick up a breeze that meant we could take lunch and the magnificent views across to the Arrochar Alps and the lochs on eastern side of the mountain. We were indeed blessed and managed to relax before beginning the descent back down the path.
Incredibly the path down was probably as taxing on the way down as on the way up. The poles were getting a right workout in an effort to save my knees and hips! Eventually, after several stops, we got down to the bottom.
A well deserved celebratory G'n'T for Claire and a cold lager shandy for myself rounded off a wonderful day, from the beer garden I looked up to the Ben and couldn't really believe I'd completed the 974m ascent. My first one, but I hope to complete more in the coming years. I also have to thank Claire for her patience, encouragement and company. I might not have completed it without her.
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.