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Ben Lomond - my first hike after 7-years hiatus

Ben Lomond - my first hike after 7-years hiatus

Postby LucieK » Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:31 pm

Route description: Ben Lomond

Date walked: 22/08/2018

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 12 km

Ascent: 1062m

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This was my first hike after a 7-years hiatus. I did a warm-up walk along the River Kelvin two days prior, but I would not consider that a hike, rather a city park walk. My last proper hillwalking took place in the area of Grampian Mountains nearby Breamar, so it felt appropriate to start hiking again in Scotland (and it just worked out with my overall vacation plans). The day started off, well, interestingly. It was the one day in the whole week that the weather forecast steadily predicted as dry. It started with a proper rain. I guess the “stray shower” predicted for the day before really got “stray.” Then the first bus to Buchannan Station was delayed by 10 min or so. I made it to the bus to Tarbet about 3 minutes before it left. Everything seemed going well, until the bus stopped half way to my destination and the drive announced we were waiting for a mechanic, who would be there probably in an hour, about the same time the only morning ferry from Tarbet to Rowardennan Pier was supposed to leave. I felt my heart sinking a little. But across the aisle was Andrew, a guy working for the hostel at Rowardennan Pier, also trying to catch the ferry. We decided to split a taxi (no Uber available in the area at that moment) and before we even called the company, Pjotr, another hiker on the bus, joined in. At the end, there was four of us splitting the cost and making it to Tarbet on time, with about 15 min to spare and admire the cloudy, drizzly morning view of Loch Lomond, while Ben was shyly hiding in the clouds.

Here, in the Czech Republic, we say that bad (and good) things come in threes. I hoped these were my “three” – rain, delayed bus, and broken bus, and that the day will get better from then on. And it did. By the time we crossed Loch Lomond it stopped drizzling and the sun started to come out. I headed toward the Rowardennan car par, as I decided to take the easier way up and safe the steeper way via Ptarmigan for descent. The day started to warm up, so I took off my layers, but not for long. With elevation gained, the wind got stronger and colder, so all my layers came back on eventually. The views of Loch Lomond and the surrounding hills along the way were amazing and low laying clouds added some dramatic effect to them. I met few hikers, some sheep, and two RUNNERS on my way up – one was running up the hill, the other one down. By the end of the day it would be 3 runners (one up, two down). I was surprised and started feeling little bit inadequate with my efforts… Is this a Scottish / Highland thing – running up the Munros? Are the locals like, “well, here we don’t walk the hills, we RUN THEM!”? Don’t get me wrong – I’m not making fun of the runners. As someone who started running regularly again this year, after few-years break, I have the outmost respect for these guys. I’m just wondering if this is a local thing or something. :o

I caught up with Pjotr at the summit. We chatted briefly and then he headed off, while I enjoyed the spectacular views from Ben and a lunch in a freezing wind. Seriously, the last time my hands were frozen like this was in the winter! (Mental note – bring gloves to Scotland even in summer!) Despite the wind, I couldn’t have picked a better spot with better views for my lunch break. I only wondered about the ravens - were they waiting for me to drop part of my lunch for them or were they waiting for me to drop, so they can feast on me? They seemed eager, yet cautious, and they kept a respectful distance, so I never found out what their plan was.

With some sustenance in me and qzillion pictures taken, I started my descent. I knew it would be steep, the contours on the map were clear on that point. But there were few moments, when the road seem to just end with a sheer drop, and I briefly questioned my decision to descend this way. But only for a fleeting moment – the road was there and I loved the ruggedness of this part of the Munro. I aslo prefer steep descend over steep ascent. The views of Loch Lomond and surrounding hills continued to be spectacular and I kept stopping to take pictures. The descent via Ptarmigan continues to be quite steep all the way down to Loch Lomond and the trail can get quite muddy (there was quite a bit of running water on the ascent road as well, but not that much mud). As I was getting down, the air was getting warmer and I started shedding my layers again, finishing the hike in just a short-sleeve T-shirt. I also met more people on my way down than on my way up – the warmer sunny afternoon seemed to entice more people to come out (those not dependent on the return ferry schedule or perhaps staying in the local hostels?). Everyone was quite nice, friendly, and respectful, sometimes stopping and chatting for a little bit.

I started my hike around 10 am, was done with my lunch on Ben around 12:30 pm and back down by the Rowardennan Pier around 3 pm. Overall, the hike took about 6 hours with about 4 hours of actual walking (yes, I do stop a lot to take pictures and I did take my time on the summit). I wandered the beaches between the Pier and the car par, taking more pictures, before sitting down at the hostel for an afternoon snack and little rest before the ferry came. Pjotr joined me later (he finished the hike about an hour earlier than me) and we ended up chatting all the way back to Glasgow about hiking in the Highlands. So many ideas where to go next time I’m in Scotland!

Ready for my hike; Rowardennan Pier
Rowardennan Peir with Ptarmigan and Ben Lomond
Let's do this!
one of the first views of Loch Lomond from the track; Skyline feature of the ViewRanger application
the views were amazing; Loch Lomond
Fellow travellers
Made it!
Panorama view from Ben Lomond 1
Panorama view from Ben Lomond 2
Waiting for lunch...
a memorial to those who have lost their lives for their country

Ben-Lomond.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Last edited by LucieK on Mon Apr 20, 2020 12:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ben Lomond - my first hike after 7-years hiatus

Postby dogplodder » Thu Sep 06, 2018 11:34 am

This was my first Munro when I was a kid with no camera. Seeing your photos makes me want to go back! :D
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Re: Ben Lomond - my first hike after 7-years hiatus

Postby LucieK » Fri Sep 07, 2018 10:23 am

dogplodder wrote:This was my first Munro when I was a kid with no camera. Seeing your photos makes me want to go back! :D

I'm glad my pictures brought back good memories. And I completely understand wanting to go back - if I could, I would be booking a flight back to Scotland and the Highlands this minute. Sadly, the vacation is over and the reality is back on...
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