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Ben Lomond sunrise spectacular

Ben Lomond sunrise spectacular


Postby malky_c » Wed Nov 20, 2019 3:47 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ben Lomond

Grahams included on this walk: Cruinn a'Bheinn

Date walked: 17/11/2019

Time taken: 9.3 hours

Distance: 24 km

Ascent: 1375m

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Munros: Ben Lomond.
Grahams: Cruinn a' Bheinn.
Date: 17/11/2019.
Distance: 24 km.
Ascent: 1375 m.
Time: 9 hours, 20 minutes.
Weather: Sunny, cold and calm, with snow above 700m.
Plus a 29 mile bike ride back to Glasgow

"We should do something interesting tomorrow, but not quite as long as last Sunday's Glen Etive trip" said Jackie at lunchtime. Sounded good to me, so we had a look at the weather forecast in various places.

"Ooh look, it's going to be nice in the Ben Lomond/Trossachs area first thing in the morning" Jackie pointed out. We had a bit of a snigger at that, quickly calculating that we'd have to be up at 4 am in order to be on Ben Lomond at sunrise. Like that was going to happen.....

At 4am the following morning, our alarms went off and we dragged ourselves out of bed and got straight in the car, having packed up the previous evening. It was cold and frosty outside, and despite there being no traffic around, it still took us an hour to get to the carpark at Rowardennan. After some messing around (I decided we would be down so early that I'd cycle back to Glasgow, so looked for something to lock my bike to) we set off with headtorches on. It was probably around 5:45 when we left the carpark.


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Moon

The moon wasn't full, but it was pretty bright regardless, and temperatures were way down, meaning we had to watch out for patches of ice. If not for these, then the torches could probably have remained off.

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Lots of dark

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Dumbarton and Loch Lomond

Things began to lighten slightly as we hit the snowline, and the ice also increased. Not to worry - a little higher again and it hadn't had the chance to re-freeze, and away from the compressed snow on the path itself, the going was easy. I don't think I've ever heard it so quiet around Loch Lomond before - there is usually the sound of the A82 and boats in the loch.

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Loch Lomond

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Getting somewhere now...

Onto the final cone, and we made a short diversion to the eastern-most summit on the ridge. By now it was largely light, so we stayed put there for the sunrise. Well worth it with the snow on the hills and mist on the floors of the glens 8) .

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Final ascent to the summit ridge

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Final ascent to the summit ridge

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Ridge bounding Coire a' Bhathaich

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Arriving at the eastern summit

We ended up hanging around here for quite a time drinking tea, but even though the wind was almost non-existent, it was chilly! Eventually I wanted to move on to warm up a bit, so we carried on to the main summit, sticking to the ridge crest for part of the way. Once on the summit, it became fully light, and we hung around for even longer. Takes some doing to get Ben Lomond to yourselves - even at sunrise I expected one or two other folk to be there!

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Cruinn a' Bheinn and Crianlarich hills beyond

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Loch Ard and Flanders Moss

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East summit

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Summit ridge looking good

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Middle summit

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Loch Katrine hills and Ben More/Stob Binnein

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On the summit ridge - sun well up now

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Almost there!

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Loch Lomond

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Arrochar Alps

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Tarbert and Arrochar Alps

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Ben Vorlich and Ben Lui

While getting up had largely been OK without crampons, we didn't fancy descending the NW ridge towards Ptarmigan without them. Always a bit annoying putting them on for such a short stretch, but it was worth it. We probably would have managed down without them, but it would have taken far longer and would probably have been quite nerve-wracking. With crampons on, it was piece of cake.

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Heading down the NW ridge

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NW ridge and Ptarmigan

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Back up the NW ridge

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On our way down

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Across Cruinn a' Bheinn

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Jackie on the NW ridge

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Loch Lomond and Luss hills

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Tarbert and Arrochar Alps

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Luss hills, Ben Bowie and Arran in the distance

Down the initial steep bit, it was time to leave the good paths behind and strike out towards Cruinn a' Bheinn. We took crampons off here and continued down in the softer snow. Aside from the last mile back to Rowardennan on the WHW, plus one other person near Rowchoish, this was the only time we almost encountered people on the route. A close shave :lol: (I'm fine with meeting people on the hill, but it allowed us to say we had the whole of Ben Lomond to ourselves - a pretty rare event!)

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Back up Ben Lomond

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Finally down at Cruinn a' Bheinn level

We were descending fast, but it seemed to take ages to get down below the level of Cruinn a' Bheinn - that's how small it is. A couple of steep sections were traversed at the very bottom as we both managed to fall over, then we pushed through the deer fence on the col to make the short ascent of Cruinn a' Bheinn. Views from it are quite inferior to Ben Lomond, but it has a nice tucked away feel to it, being visible from very few spots on the A82. Even though it had only just gone 11, we decided that it was lunch time here.

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Ben Lomond

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Cruinn a' Bheinn and Ben Lomond

A short steep descent off the hill followed the line of a fence which had been removed before delivering us back to the other deer fence in the middle of a bog. Unlike last time I was here, the bog was largely frozen and a bit easier to cross, with an annoying short haggy ascent to join the good vehicle track which drops down to Cailness. This has spectacular views across the Arrochar Alps. Easy walking back to Rowardennan, so we thought (actually I had mentioned that the WHW north from here is quite rough and up/down, but it felt like we'd done the hard work being on a 'proper' path).

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Luss hills

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Inveruglas and Ben Vorlich

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Cobbler to Ben Vane

The WHW south was pretty good for a bit - we opted for the lower version which passed Rowchoish rather than the forestry track. Jackie would live to regret this....

Shortly before the bothy we passed the only other person we met away from Rowardennan. He was doing the WHW and nursing blisters at this point. Fortunately, although it felt late, it was only early afternoon at this point. We had a quick nosy at the bothy (nicer than expected) and continued on our way.

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Ben Vane

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Across the loch

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Ben Vorlich

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Rowchoish bothy

Some of the best views up and down the loch came just south of the bothy, but after this, the path got very twisty, and predictably after plunging right down to the shore of the loch, it would immediately go back up again. It was well built, but with absolutely massive steps in the steeper places - who are these designed for? Not short-arse Jackie, that's for sure - even I found them a bit on the large side :roll: .

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South on the WHW

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Cobbler peeking out

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Great autumn colours

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WHW goes on a bit...

As time rolled by and we passed the estimated time that I thought we would be back at Rowardennan, Jackie got more and more tired and annoyed :lol: . There was no denying that we were seeing some of the best Autumn colours we had seen this year, but the going wasn't fast!

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I'm sure this smile is forced

Eventually we hit the forestry track that traverses above the lochside path, which indicated that there wasn't far to go now. Perhaps we should have followed this for convenience, but there was no doubting that the scenery right down by the loch was better. People began appearing, out on Sunday afternoon strolls, and we eventually passed the YHA and arrived back at the car.

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Finally on the last bit!

Initially I thought we would just come back down over Ptarmigan, which would probably have had us back before midday, but I was glad Jackie had taken an interest in Cruinn a' Bheinn and suggested going that way - made things more interesting. So much for the easy weekend she was after :lol: .

I had originally envisaged a leisurely cycle home in the afternoon sunshine, possibly with a stop in Balmaha for a pint, but by this point it would be a rush to get down the shore of Loch Lomond in the last light, with most of the ride from Drymen onwards in twilight and darkness. I didn't actually have to do this, but I thought I might as well now that the bike was here. It was a good opportunity - we couldn't have both done it after driving here, but fortunately today Jackie had no interest in any further exertion :wink: .

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Cycle map

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Looking back to Ben Lomond

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Not actually much slower than driving home

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Conic Hill from near Balmaha

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Sunset from Balmaha

The cycle to Balmaha was really nice, with red last light on Conic Hill and the sunset just visible over the islands of Loch Lomond. Beyond that it was pleasant enough, but the light was failing. It is always a bit of a drag up to the Queen's View on the Bearsden road, and the downhill on the other side is less continuous than you might expect, but fortunately I have now done it enough times not to be caught out by any of this. A final bit of confusion trying to avoid the Christmas lights switch-on in George Square and I was home, only an hour behind Jackie.

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Last light on the loch

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Ben Lomond is back there somewhere

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Last of the daylight from the Queen's View

What a day 8) 8) .
Last edited by malky_c on Thu Nov 28, 2019 2:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
malky_c
 
Posts: 5937
Munros:282   Corbetts:222
Grahams:219   Donalds:74
Sub 2000:267   Hewitts:256
Wainwrights:104   Islands:34
Joined: Nov 22, 2009
Location: Glasgow

Re: Ben Lomond sunrise spectacular

Postby Chris Mac » Wed Nov 27, 2019 2:06 am

An epic day out Malky and you got some cracking photos! :clap:

A night ascent by headtorch is great fun and what surprised me the most was how you build a photographic memory of the path since there is nothing else to look at.

So that's what the view looks like from Ben Lomond! Well done with the 4am rise too. :lol:
User avatar
Chris Mac
 
Posts: 821
Munros:36   Corbetts:21
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Sub 2000:49   Hewitts:3
Wainwrights:10   
Joined: Sep 11, 2014

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