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Ben Lomond - My first Munro

Ben Lomond - My first Munro


Postby neilmckenzie » Sun Apr 13, 2014 1:53 pm

Route description: Ben Lomond

Munros included on this walk: Ben Lomond

Date walked: 23/06/2005

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 12 km

Ascent: 990m

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This is taken from a blog I gave up writing years ago.


And so with a new found testicular fortitude, I decided to embark on a more challenging mountain. My brother is off to Australia for the summer, so we decided to have a brotherly bonding session by climbing up Ben Lomond - the furthest south of the Munros.

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Ben Lomond is a mountain beside Loch Lomond. It takes about an hour to drive to from Glasgow. Loch Lomond is a very popular tourist trap, due to its proximity to Glasgow. A 30 minute drive from Glasgow will take you to the bottom of Loch Lomond, which on a good day has beautiful views of Lochs, mountains and nature. It’s a great way to have a quick drive out of Glasgow and feel like you are in the middle of nowhere, although you are soon reminded that you are not with the mixture of Jet Ski’s tourists, etc, but it does feel a little more exotic than the city.


Anyway. I managed to convince my brother to take some time out of packing for his trip to make a trip up Ben Lomond. I woke up about 7am, and although it had been beautiful weather for the whole week, it was pouring with rain. My bro had been a little lackadaisical about going anyway, and I knew he had been out clubbing the night before, but I headed out to collect him from his flat anyway. Since it was raining, I went to a camping shop and bought two waterproofs in bags, in case the weather turned for the worse.


Luckily when we finally got through the winding roads on the right side of Loch Lomond, the weather had picked up, It was a good fresh Scottish morning. So with our walking shoes on and a backpack full of provisions, we set off into the woods to start climbing. As with earlier in the week, I was done in from the first step. This then picked up, as my heart rate got used to it. 20 mins in, and all regrets are gone, as you come out of the woodland path and start to get some views.

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Loch Lomond is full of little islands, so the views are wonderful. You just see the loch meandering into no where with tree filled islands dotted all over them. To the south you can see Glasgow and further south. They say you can see the Isle of Arran, but I would need a compass and a map.

The walk is now a little more serious, we can see a peak(we thought it was the peak), and its miles away up a steep hill. It’s a hard slog, but you keep going at it, and resting every ten minutes or so and take in the views. The only thing driving you to tire yourself out step after step is that you know when you next take a breather and turn around the view is going to be even better.

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To the North of Loch Lomond, the landscape gets far more serious. The higher you get, the more hills you can see poking out from on top of each other to the north. These are serious mountains. As we get further up, the terrain becomes steep and rocky, not quite steep enough to be on hands and knees, and scrambling. It would probably be easier if it was.

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Your lungs start to get sore from taking in so much air, you’re face starts to feel the wind and the sun in your face. A guy passes us coming down.(He must have been up early to be coming down now.), He is the typical Scottish hill walker with rugged red cheeks. My brother says he’s a real man, he doesn’t fear nature, he just absorbs it into his cheeks. Maybe it’s just the exercise and the views, but your heart pumps and you feel alive. This is the reason for climbing mountains. Every time we think we can see the peak, there is a bigger one behind it. Eventually, we reach the peak of Srón Aonaich(577m). From here you can see almost vertically up the real peaks. The weather is starting to get wet, not with rain, but with cloud. The wind lashes off your face. 30 minutes go we were wondering if we should have brought sun cream, but now it feels like you are on an oil rig or something. We eventually struggle along a path and can see the peak through the cloud, we decide that it’s time to sit somewhere sheltered and have some lunch..


The scenery is immense, we can now see over the other side, over the trossachs, which seem so much smaller than they did at the start of the week. We are having lunch next to the cliff formation, when we hear a helicopter, and it suddenly appears. It’s the mountain rescue team who we assume are doing training.

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Our heart rates settle from our rest, as a supermarket sandwich, a banana, and a mars bar suddenly taste like food of the gods. We are sitting on the cliff with our legs dangling over, top of the world. But mountains don’t climb themselves. We’ve decided it may be time to put on the waterproofs, so we continue up to the peak. It’s now very wet, visibility is very low, and you can’t hear each other because of the wind. We quickly stand at the cairn(Summit marker), realize theres nothing to see and get some photo’s of each other at the top.

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Then we look at how tough the trip back down is:

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The easy way, is to come back the way you came, but there is more scenery on the other side, so we opt to follow a path back down the other side. We soon realise that this is tougher.. We have to get on our bums and edge down the rocks carefully, you can’t see many more than 10m in every direction.(iPod selection: Misty Mountain Hop) We can hear the helicopter, and as we come down, its getting louder, as a the cloud blows past once, we realise its parked on the oath ahead. Theres a rescue going on. So we have to sit for 20 mins in the wind, rain, and cold, without being able to talk to each other, being very close to a helicopter, but not able to see it. The sobering thought occurs to you, that you are one wrong step away from danger, it seems so long since the only thing that bothered you was how long you could keep running up hill before needing a rest.


The helicopter eventually goes. The mist clears, and we start to make it down, what is almost a sheer drop of crags and rocks. Between the Helicopter, the weather, and the fact that I’m now a munro-bagger, I start to realise that this isn’t a country walk, but once the ominous cloud parts and we can see green again, I feel much better, elated at having made it to the top, and able to enjoy a beautiful scenic downhill walk.

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Well, mostly downhill. First we detour over Ptarmigan(731m), which affords a beautiful view up to the north of Loch Lomond. From here, you can also see the cloud strewn Ben Lomond and feel proud that you were up there. All the way down the hills , and over our last peak of the day, Tom Fithich(499m), you look out on the views you looked back for on the way up. Downhill requires far more skill. You have to watch your feet, as the natural inclination is to run down. It’s also pretty tiring concentrating on your footwork so much. When we have made it to ground level we have a well deserved cooling dip in Loch lomond, which ends our first Munro, another walk, and a great exhilarating day in my holiday in Scotland.

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neilmckenzie
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 40
Munros:34   Corbetts:5
Grahams:4   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:6   
Joined: Jan 17, 2012
Location: Glasgow

Re: Ben Lomond - My first Munro

Postby cecilsson » Mon Apr 14, 2014 4:25 am

Thanks for sharing this, Neil. Ben Lomond will be my first Munro when I come to Scotland the middle of May.
User avatar
cecilsson
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 55
Joined: Aug 13, 2013
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Re: Ben Lomond - My first Munro

Postby neilmckenzie » Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:17 am

Great - It's a really rewarding walk and the weather in May is usually quite good.
neilmckenzie
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 40
Munros:34   Corbetts:5
Grahams:4   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:6   
Joined: Jan 17, 2012
Location: Glasgow

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