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Beinn Ghlas & Ben Lawers

Beinn Ghlas & Ben Lawers


Postby goldfishrock » Mon May 17, 2010 4:07 pm

Route description: Ben Lawers and Beinn Ghlas

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Ghlas, Ben Lawers

Date walked: 09/05/2010

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 10 km

Ascent: 860m

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Living on Dartmoor for most of my life I have always been a keen 'Moor Walker' but hadn't actually tackled anything higher than Dartmoor's highest point, High Willhays (at a dizzying 2037ft). I have been visiting my in-laws and the Loch Tay area for around the last 6 years and have always been taken with the idea of climbing Ben Lawers, this year I decided I was going to do it!

I had been looking at the weather forecasts for a week leading up to my time up there and decided late on the Saturday that the following day looked perfect. I was keen to try and time it so that there was as little cloud cover as possible to maximise the 'view possibilities'....

I planned on getting up and making an early start but found myself wide awake at 5am.... obviously the excitement / apprehension of the task ahead was on my mind. I got up, got fed and watered and was in the car park by 0700.... needless to say, I was on my own... not another soul to be seen.

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After a checking all my kit and getting myself together I started off trotting up the duck-board, through the gate and up the path through the nature reserve. I could now clearly see the slopes of Beinn Ghlas as I wove my way further through the reserve until I eventually came to the gate signalling the start of the ascent proper.

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Soon I came to the split in the track and although unsure which one to take, I opted for the one that seemed to lead towards the summit of Beinn Ghlas and soon found myself on a series of upward zigzag paths and starting to breath very heavily indeed. Eventually I found myself on a shoulder at around 3100ft where promptly the cloud descended and it started to snow. Up to this point I was only wearing my military lightweight trousers, base layer and micro-fleece and I soon began to feel the cold seeping in. I quick swap to a heavier fleece and my lightweight rain jacket, hat and gloves and I was good to go again (after a quick cuppa… well you’ve got to take the opportunity when you can hey?). I did waver briefly at this point as to whether I should (as an inexperienced hill walker) turn back and come back in better conditions but I figured from where I was, I should push for the summit of Beinn Ghlas and make a call once I got there.

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A last haul up the upper slopes of Beinn Ghlas and crossing a small but steep snow field I hit the summit of Beinn Ghlas in around two and a half hours, my first Munro climbed! The cloud had lifted a little and gave a glimpse of the summit of Ben Lawers and the path to the summit. From up there it looked no problem….. A quick bite to eat, another cuppa and a few photos and I was ready to get going.

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I walked down the path and along the ridge joining the two mountains and the further I walked, the further I descended. Now looking at the summit of Ben Lawers it certainly didn’t look quite as easy as maybe it had done twenty minutes earlier. I could clearly see the zigzag paths leading to the summit dwarfed by the shear size of the mountain. I took my time up the last section to the summit, stopping to catch my breath, take in the view and just enjoy the whole experience of what I was actually doing. Up to this point I had been completely driven to get to the top and hadn’t really been taking the whole experience in.

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Finally, feeling tired and breathless, I touched the trig point on the summit of Ben Lawers and the hard part was complete. The cloud had lifted and the views from the top were just stunning. Views over toward Loch Tummel, Schiehallion & in the distance the Cairngorms were clearly visible. Soon I was joined by a fellow walker who’d taken a wrong turn way back on the path and ended up on the path that skirts to the north of Beinn Ghlas and now faced a climb back along the ridge and up the sloped of Bienn Ghlas on his way home.

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I was feeling quite tired by this point and so decided to take the easier route back to the car park and use the alternative path around the back of Beinn Ghlas. Although it was rocky and a little tricky under foot at times it offered a slightly easier track back. Just before rounding the horseshoe bend I took one last look back at Ben Lawers and decided to just sit and take it all in, oh, and another cuppa of course!

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I thoroughly enjoyed the whole day and although really hard work at times, it was worth every step to reach the summit and get those views. I can’t wait to get back up there to bag the next one…. Somehow my walks on Dartmoor are going to seem very tame from now on!
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goldfishrock
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Re: Beinn Ghlas & Ben Lawers

Postby Paul Webster » Mon May 17, 2010 4:27 pm

Excellent first report.... hope we can continue to tempt you up from Devon :D
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Paul Webster
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Location: Nr Grantown-on-Spey

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