Ben Lomond on Referendum Day
There are already so many walk reports for Ben Lomond, so why add another one, you might ask?
Well, there is nothing special about this report, but I'd like to add it anyway for two reasons - to have a complete Munro diary, and because of the date.
My wife and I walked the West Highland Way, and had decided to stay two nights at Rowardennan to include Ben Lomond and give our backs a break from the heavy backpacks.
By the way, has anyone else noted how things have changed in the past ten years? When I first walked the WHW in 2003, I'd say 80% carried their complete equipment with them. In 2014, almost nobody did, and at all the places we stayed the hosts told us "Oh, your backpacks look so heavy, why don't you use the baggage carrying service?" (we did for the section from Tyndrum to Kings House Hotel). It's true that you enjoy walking more without the heavy bags, but I think it takes a little bit away from the overall sense of achievement (my wife begs to differ, though)...
Anyway, by some coincidence, the very day when we went up Ben Lomond was Referendum Day, September 18th, 2014. It seemed a fitting day to climb our first Munro - back home on the continent, the referendum was all over the news, and during the first days in Scotland, which we spent in Edinburgh and Glasgow, we saw campaigners everywhere, and "yes" and "no" flags in many windows.
The day before as well as the weather forecast were quite good, so we were a little disappointed when the sky was covered in clouds in the morning. Obviously, we went ahead with our plan anyway, as we only had this one day to do it due to the bookings of the other accommodation sites along the WHW.
There is not much to say about the ascent, as the path is almost a highway from a hiking point of view. The only people we met were to guys overtaking us soon after we left Rowardennan. They were trying to escape from all the commotion caused by the referendum, as they said. They didn't say if they had already voted or did not intend to. Not even an hour later, they came back down, having abandoned their plans to go up Ben Lomond because of the poor visibility higher up. Soon after, we entered this zone ourselves, and I frequently lost sight of my wife, lagging only a little behind.
This was neither our first nor our last ascent of a hill in the British mountains in poor visibility, and with the large path to guide us (+compass, map and GPS), navigation was not a problem. We remembered our past Glaramara (Lake District) experience, when we did the summit twice (having walked a nice circle) before resorting to the compass, and the many other hills which the clouds covered only during the few hours we were near the summit (which would happen again twice the following year in Ireland).
On the summit, we enjoyed the "stunning views of Loch Lomond" in our imagination.
The fog couldn't decide whether it was content with its current state of existence, or if it rather preferred to be rain. Both made our gear quite wet quite quickly, so we soon left the summit on the other side and went back down via the Ptarmigan ridge.
The few glimpse we caught of the surroundings made us think that this could really be a nice walk in different weather conditions. Still, we were both proud to have done our first Munro, and came back to Rowardennan quite happy.
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