A stunning Loch Lomond cloud inversion Hogmanay up the Ben
by Chris Mac » Tue Jan 14, 2020 3:21 pm
Route description: Ben Lomond
Munros included on this walk: Ben Lomond
Date walked: 31/12/2019
Time taken: 5.32 hours
Distance: 13.2 km
Ascent: 1127m10 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
With no Hogmanay plans until later that evening and a dry, clear day forecast, all that was left was to decide where to go. I fancied something fairly nearby, high up and also relevant to mark the end of a year that had more downs than ups. It was an easy decision, my Mum only climbed one Munro and that was Ben Lomond. Almost 6 months earlier Iain and I had a great sunrise view of the Ben from our summit camp on Beinn a' Chliabhain and it would be the last time we were on Arran with Nellie.
I still had Ptarmigan to explore so the decision was made and off I went driving north through Glasgow. Past Mugdock I could see Ben Lomond and other hills were clear although it looked cloudy and slightly foggy around the loch. MWIS had mentioned a possible inversion and it looked like it was staying pretty low, this could get interesting!
I arrived at the car park to find it almost full just before 10am, it seems a lot of other people had the same idea today but before me! After squeezing the car into a bay that another was trying to hog, then having to double back to get my camera after 30 seconds of walking I was (eventually) making my way along the road:
Ben Lomond (1) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Across the Loch was Luss, or was it some mystical hidden land in the clouds, it was hard to tell:
Ben Lomond (2) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Even sticks were looking like swans and it was very chilly:
Ben Lomond (4) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
After walking along and passing a few vans and other walkers the ascent soon began and I was cursing wearing my winter lined trousers as I heated up. Visibility was poor:
Ben Lomond (5) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
A little higher up and the sun was trying to break through with no joy:
Ben Lomond (6) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Best if I break out of the clouds, the island of Beinn Bhreac across the loch:
Ben Lomond (7) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
This could be a special day:
Ben Lomond (8) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We were now coming out of the clouds and it was nothing like it was further down:
Ben Lomond (11) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
It may only be a cloud inversion over Loch Lomond and at low level but they all count and I doubt you get one like this that often:
Ben Lomond (12) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
As I made my way up Ptarmigan Ben Arthur and the other Arrochar hills were coming into view:
Ben Lomond (13) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The crags of Tom Fithich:
Ben Lomond (15) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I was quite glad that I hadn't decided to do a bigger route elsewhere as I was stopping to take photos regularly, it was hard not to:
Ben Lomond (17) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Now getting above the clouds:
Ben Lomond (18) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Now just an easy ascent to Ptarmigan now and although still fairly busy with people it's still a much more enjoyable ascent route than the tourist path:
Ben Lomond (19) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Enjoying the view of our wee Alps improving as I went:
Ben Lomond (20) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
And of course the loch of clouds I had just emerged from!
Ben Lomond (23) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Much more interesting than the other route:
Ben Lomond (24) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Lomond (26) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Someone has stolen the islands from the loch!
Ben Lomond (28) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ptarmigan summit dead centre:
Ben Lomond (31) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
One man and his dog sitting on a cracking lunch spot, well played:
Ben Lomond (34) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Not a bad view to enjoy! Goatfell and Caisteal Abhail peeking through in the distance as well:
Ben Lomond (36) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The final ascent route up the north face of Ben Lomond looks like fun:
Ben Lomond (37) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Everyone I chatted to as I passed was loving the day so far. That included a group of French people and one girl who when waiting for friends to catch up kept warning passers by about an icy section of path, cheers I said as I then had a slippy arm waving wobble straight away, she wasn't kidding! Thanks for the heads up, "maybe I need to stay here all day she joked."
Yes this really is Loch Lomond:
Ben Lomond (41) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Arrochar, I had been looking forward to this view as having been up all but one of them I love how they are all spaced out to give a good view of Ben Lomond and from here you can see why:
Ben Lomond (42) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The Brack, Glen Croe, Ben Arthur and Beinn an Lochain:
Ben Lomond (44) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
More of these later, i'm not even at the summit of Ptarmigan yet!
Ben Lomond (46) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The route ahead:
Ben Lomond (47) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The Crianlarich giants are now coming into view to the north:
Ben Lomond (53) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Looking up at Ben Lomond's summit as the group of French people pass by on the path:
Ben Lomond (54) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I decide to sit and have a break as i'm out of the wind a bit now. Although looking lovely and sunny there was still a bitey cold wind higher up:
Ben Lomond (57) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Conic Hill directly south, all the tourists will be getting a bonus view from there today!
Ben Lomond (58) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Looking north I attempt a Brocken spectre and fail miserably with no clouds on the other side:
Ben Lomond (59) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Vorlich, hill of the bay and it is easy to see why from here. Ben Lui, Ben Oss and Beinn Dubhcraig also showing off:
Ben Lomond (60) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Still plenty of people climbing up and down:
Ben Lomond (63) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Behind Ben Vane and Loch Sloy dam Ben Cruachan and Beinn Bhuidhe can be seen:
Ben Lomond (64) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Way out west the Paps of Jura are playing hide and seek in the clouds:
Ben Lomond (67) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Arthur. It wasn't surprising to see plenty of people on and around the tiny the summit today:
Ben Lomond (83) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Beinn Narnain and Beinn Ime, Roy will be raging to see them this clear compared to the end of last month when we were up both and saw nowt!
Ben Lomond (86) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Lomond (92) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Crianlarich/Balquhidder Munros with An Caisteal dead centre:
Ben Lomond (93) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben More and Stob Binnein:
Ben Lomond (94) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Right, enough photos or you will run out of daylight, time to get moving! Leaving Ptarmigan behind:
Ben Lomond (96) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Galloway Hills slightly visible to the south:
Ben Lomond (98) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The Tarmachan Ridge, Ben Lawers and co. were in view to the north east as I began the final ascent:
Ben Lomond (99) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
From Ben Lui to Beinn Dorain with Ben Nevis peeking out inbetween:
Ben Lomond (100) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
On the way up again:
Ben Lomond (101) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
It was tough going, not on the legs, deciding where to look! Loch Lomond with clouds instead of water or a 360 degree view from Ben Nevis, to Arran and beyond!
Ben Lomond (102) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The shadow of the Ben as I look north and north east:
Ben Lomond (104) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Final section, this is definitely the best way up Ben Lomond (until I try something crazier):
Ben Lomond (105) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
On the way up I passed a gentleman and his daughter and we got chatting. He was from the Borders and loves Skye and other areas so we blethered for ages about some of our trips as I pointed out some of the surrounding peaks which he appreciated. He promised to get to Arran as he hadn't visited yet and since he likes Skye I said it was an obvious follow up.
Getting a good view of home now:
Ben Lomond (106) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The cloud inversion was only the southern section of the loch, it was clear from Tarbet north:
Ben Lomond (108) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Final rocky scramble section of path:
Ben Lomond (109) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
It's not often you see this:
Ben Lomond (110) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I reached the summit, touched the trig point, dumped my bag and went to the wide angle lens, the only way to properly capture this scene:
Ben Lomond (112) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Lomond (114) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The summit wasn't as busy as I expected but there were still a good few people kicking about:
Ben Lomond (117) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The Southern Highlands:
Ben Lomond (118) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
With a chilly breeze at the top I was no longer cursing the winter-lined trousers:
Ben Lomond (119) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Trig point and loch:
Ben Lomond (122) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
South east over the summit ridge to the Ochils, Campsies and Stirlingshire:
Ben Lomond (124) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Looking east to the Lawers group and Strathyre mountains:
Ben Lomond (126) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
A couple of summit videos in 4k in case anyone wants to see more:
Ben Lomond (177) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Lomond (178) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I sat down to enjoy my lunch, feed a few greedy dogs and soak in the surroundings. It was glorious:
Ben Lomond (128) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The ridges of Arran to the south west:
Ben Lomond (131) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I could just make out Ailsa Craig although the Firth of Clyde was bright orange:
Ben Lomond (132) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Lui and co. with Ben Nevis:
Ben Lomond (134) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The biggest Ben, proving in one photo that the earth is definitely not flat!
Ben Lomond (135) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Over to the Tarmachan ridge and Ben Lawers with Loch Katrine down below:
Ben Lomond (136) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Another that owes me a view:
Ben Lomond (137) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
East to Strathyre again:
Ben Lomond (138) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Vorlich with Stuc a' Chroin and Beinn Each which Iain and I enjoyed traversing recently:
Ben Lomond (139) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Lomond (140) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Everyone was enjoying it up Ben Lomond today, people, dogs and the local Raven:
Ben Lomond (141) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Ledi and Ben Venue, looking very rocky from here despite diminutive stature:
Ben Lomond (142) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Loch Ard, Aberfoyle, Ochils and beyond:
Ben Lomond (143) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Dumgoyne, Tinto and Glasgow inbetween with even Hart Fell visible behind Tinto, what a viewpoint!
Ben Lomond (145) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Another look over to Arrochar as I can now make out the mountains of Mull beyond them:
Ben Lomond (146) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Conscious of the time I decide to head back down and several others have the same idea, looking down Coire a' Bhathaich as I head off the summit:
Ben Lomond (148) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I pop up and along the ridge to escape the main path for a bit, well worth it for the view back:
Ben Lomond (150) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
A guy was flying his drone on the summit, post the footage here if you are on WH please?!
Ben Lomond (152) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I sat for a while looking over to Arran and having a moment or two. A final look south:
Ben Lomond (154) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
It was well worthwhile going clockwise today to get to enjoy the cloud loch during the descent although the path had some very icy sections so care was required:
Ben Lomond (155) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Still a fair bit of snow up here:
Ben Lomond (156) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The evening light would make the descent even more enjoyable, everything was coming up Millhouse:
Ben Lomond (158) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Sithein, the fairy hill of Ben Lomond. Behind it are 6 or 7 Marilyns and a couple of Grahams, can you spot them all?
Ben Lomond (160) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Enjoying the loch of clouds on the way downhill:
Ben Lomond (163) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
On the flatter section of path heading along Sron Aonaich I wasn't going too fast, was looking where I was going and still using mainly the side of the path to avoid some icey sections, yet somehow I found myself going down in slow motion as a leg gave way on ice.
Luckily as soon as I realised I was a goner I think I resigned myself to the fall and did the drunken floppy thing and relaxed my whole body as when I dragged myself up off the ground, despite almost doing the splits, I was fine, no injury! I'll take that, I quickly move on before anyone has a chance to see my mishap!
Looking back at the Ben now glowing a bit more than usual:
Ben Lomond (165) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Progress down was fairly fast and done avoiding any more icey sections:
Ben Lomond (168) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Lomond (170) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The view was still blowing me away as the sun began to set behind Beinn Dubh:
Ben Lomond (172) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Lomond (173) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Last light on Ben Narnain and Ben Vane:
Ben Lomond (174) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The only thing left to do now was escape the sunshine and head back down into the murky depths of Loch Cloudmond!
Ben Lomond (175) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The temperature dropped so I put on another layer and descended into the mist:
Ben Lomond (176) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The final section back to the car took no time and after I got sorted and set off it was crazy as driving alongside the loch with foglights on you couldn't even see it as the visibility was that bad! As I exited the loch of fog en route to Dryman it had got a lot darker but before long I was back home, enjoying dinner then heading off to visit friends for the night, enjoy some good food and drink and have a fun catch up while mixing some records.
Outwith most of my adventures up the hills this year, 2019 was not a good one to say the least, however I will never forget how it ended.
Thanks Ben Lomond, that was a one of a kind walk, so good that i'm not sure if i'll be back as you will struggle to be able to top that one!
by Raynor » Tue Jan 14, 2020 3:36 pm
by Mountainlove » Tue Jan 14, 2020 8:35 pm
by Chris Mac » Thu Jan 16, 2020 10:19 am
Raynor wrote:Ooft that's some pretty unique cloud action you had going on there! And then the views at the top. Awesome Ptarmigan route is a belter. And that is one hell of a swanish stick. Had me fooled until I read the description
Cheers Raynor, yeah it was a special day and the view was amazing, glad I went back for more after disappointment the first time I went up with heads in the clouds and it was more than worth it.
Haha the swan stick fooled me at first as I walked past it!
Mountainlove wrote:What a cracking day you had. Great photos and report!
Thanks Mountainlove, I couldn't have picked a better day for it.
by dogplodder » Thu Jan 16, 2020 12:33 pm
by Grisu » Sat Jan 18, 2020 10:47 pm
by malky_c » Sat Jan 18, 2020 11:08 pm
by Sunset tripper » Tue Jan 21, 2020 11:26 pm
- Posts: 2484
- Joined: Nov 3, 2013
- Location: Inverness
by Chris Mac » Wed Jan 22, 2020 2:16 pm
dogplodder wrote:What a day you got - and it can't have been that cold with bare-headed folk at the summit. Fabulous conditions and a great way to end the decade!
Thanks very much, yes it was some way to end the year and decade, it certainly made up for the lack of view in March 2018 when I first climbed it!
Grisu wrote:What a day! Lucky you!!
Cheers, I still hope whoever had the drone on the summit sees this post and sends a link to his video, I would love to see it.
malky_c wrote:Great day for it . Didn’t occur to me to look that far south when picking our weather for Hogmanay!
Haha compared to your recent summit camp up there it may have been a bit too busy for your liking Malky! It looks like you got some good walking in over the holidays anyway.
Sunset tripper wrote:Brilliant pics Chris. What a cracking inversion.
Cheers mate, yeah although not a proper high level one it was still quite spectacular seeing clouds instead of the loch.
by Mal Grey » Wed Jan 22, 2020 8:32 pm
Not surprised you lingered all the way round taking more superb photos, more surprised that you came down at all!
by Chris Mac » Tue Jan 28, 2020 9:53 pm
Mal Grey wrote:Absolutely wonderful!
Not surprised you lingered all the way round taking more superb photos, more surprised that you came down at all!
Thanks Mal I was lucky and doubt i'll see similar again. Ben Lomond is an amazing viewpoint, even better than I thought it might be but to see clouds in the shape of the loch was brilliant. If I wasn't driving to see friends for Hogmanay I would have stayed longer for sunset and a head torch descent.
by Huff_n_Puff » Sun Feb 02, 2020 10:58 pm
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