Ben A'an - Dr.'s orders for Gammy Leg Walker

Route: Ben A'an

Date walked: 16/12/2012

Time taken: 2.3 hours

Distance: 3.7km

Ascent: 340m

Well, after a year's time away from Scotland I finally returned for a bit of closure to my life as a postgraduate at St Andrews. Last Friday I successfully defended my PhD thesis titled 'The Apocalyptic Tradition in Seventeenth-Century Scotland'. It has been a long, tough, soul-destroying struggle, but I can now say that my time as a student is officially over. I have thoroughly enjoyed researching and writing about my niche of Scottish history and I have learned a great deal more than most Americans ever will about the history of this fine country and the fascinating people who shaped its past. For that I feel truly blessed.

I am also truly blessed to have discovered the joys of hillwalking and to have met some individuals of the hillwalking community who have become great friends. I will certainly cherish our walks together and have frequent flashbacks to the many laughs we have had on our shared adventures. I would like to thank Paul and Helen again for running this website which in many ways saved me from abadoning my PhD midway through my time in St Andrews.

When I started packing for my short 5 day trip back to Scotland last week, I knew I would regret not packing gear for a day on the hills. Although I figured it would be extremely cold and that I might encounter snow, I packed as much as possible so that I could stay warm and dry. By the time I made it to the airport, 3/4 of my suitcase was made up of hillwalking gear. That's dedication!

I had been making some preliminary walking plans with Gammy Leg Walker who I would be staying with over the weekend. The night before our walk the whisky and beer flowed at his place, but strangely there was no hangover to deal with Sunday morning. With the cloud down and rain a possibility, we opted for a short walk up Ben A'an near Callander. It was dry most of the day, but the cloud wasn't going anywhere. Rarely in my time walking with GLW did we have views on our walks - thus I dubbed him Gammy Clag Walker. No matter though, our conversations along the way up and down the hills outweigh any potential views we could get.

GLW had not been out on the hills in quite some time due to an ankle injury, so Dr. Stretch was ok with prescribing an easy day out. We took our time and enjoyed the forest walk and its spooky atmosphere. After the forest section we emerged to a clearing and could see the summit of Ben A'an in the fog. Up the steps through the fog we went. At the top we caught some fleeting views of Loch Katrine below. Despite the clag, it felt great to be back on top of a Scottish hill with my pal. Loading my suitcase full of gear was well worth it!

Gammy's ankle held up fine and I believe he enjoyed his first day out in months. Hopefully he'll make a full recovery and get back to the munros early in 2013. After the walk we took a drive across the countryside to see some areas of Scotland that I had not visited during my 5 years in St Andrews. I really enjoyed this, especially since I no longer had any PhD stress to deal with!

Just want to say thanks to GLW and his family for the hospitality during my stay. I never wanted for a beer, a coffee, or a meal. In addition, big thanks to Jonny616 for the Cuban cigar - it made it back to the US despite our embargo! Also, I have to thank Jockstar and Su for taking care of me during the 3 days I stayed at their place in St Andrews, and for Nathan making the trip up to have a meal with us. In all honesty, the experiences I've had in the Scottish hills and the friendships I've made through hillwalking are more valuable to me than any academic degree that I've earned. I am certain that I will visit again soon, hopefully in June for graduation, and I will be back to strap on my boots, cross a few bogs, and scale a few munros in the near future!

All the best to everyone and Happy Holidays!

Dr Stretch

Gettin started.jpg
Gettin started

Forest path.jpg
Forest path

Ben A'an path.jpg
Ben A'an path

Forest stream along the path.jpg
Forest stream along the path

Ben A'an.jpg
Ben A'an

Ben A'an summit area.jpg
Ben A'an summit area

First summit for the Dr.jpg
First summit for the Dr.

Gammy Clag Walker.jpg
The Clag Walker

GLW standard clag - Loch Katrine.jpg
GLW standard clag- Loch Katrine

Loch Achray.jpg
Loch Achray

Lake of Menteith.jpg
Lake of Menteith

Walkhighlanders - GLW, Stretch, JB Likes A Beer, Alan S, Jonny616.jpg
WH members - GLW, Stretch, JB Likes A Beer, Alan S, Jonny616

Victory cigar with Jockstar.jpg
Victory cigar with Jockstar

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This post is not published on the Walkhighlands forum
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User avatar
Location: Morristown, Tennessee
Occupation: Former PhD student, future employee.
Interests: Fishing, hiking, camping, and solving the world's problems.
Activity: Munro compleatist
Pub: Sligachan Hotel
Mountain: Bidean nam Bian
Place: Glencoe
Gear: Scarpa SLM3's
Camera: Canon Rebel Xti
Ideal day out: Any day on the hill beats a day in the office.

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