Southern Highlands Weekend – Sunshine and Snow on Day 3   21 comments

EWO had been telling us that the weather forecast for the Sunday was great, but as I hope you’re starting to realise, he ALWAYS says that. The law of averages says that sometimes he’ll be right and today was one of those days. There was low cloud but it was clearly thin and out west you could see the clear blue sky. After saying farewell and thanks to our hosts at Suie Lodge we all agreed that Ben Vane down by Loch Lomond was a good choice as a shortish day on the way home for most of us.

Ben Vane, 8.6 miles, 3,100 feet of ascent

By the time we reached the car park at Inveruglas the sun was out, the sky was blue and it was a stunning morning. The views across the Loch to Ben Lomond was classic southern highlands.

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Ben Lomond across Looch Lomond - early morning

We strolled up the access road that leads to Loch Sloy in bright warm sunshine. The only down-side of this area are the strings of power lines and electrical substations that are part of the Loch Sloy HEP scheme. The upside is that Arrochar Alps as these hills are known are dramatic and rocky. I did Ben Vane on the very first of these weekend gatherings and a few of the others but for some reason I haven’t really explored them properly, surprising seeing as they are the most Southerly munros. Ben Vane itself rises dramatically as a rocky sentinel and looks pretty impregnable from this angle. Fortunately there is an excellent path that turns all the crags with only one very short easy scramble near the top.

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Ben Vane - our target for the day

The newly formed “Low-level walking and beer drinking club”, namely TBM and ED had picked another suitable route and they headed off to walk the Three Lochs Way and we guessed find a pub to partake of some beers. You can read his report of the day here

The rest of us started the steep climb towards the top.

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MM and EWO on the lower slopes

As is my style I decided a halfway stop for some lunch and a brew was on the cards and I was joined by EWO and GM. Everyone else decided it was too cold for that and carried on without a break till they got to the top. We were caught in a couple of heavy snow showers on the climb but they were pretty moderate and were adding a very flattering cap of snow to all the surrounding hills.

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GM looking across Loch Arklet to Loch Katrine

As we crested the final rocky knolls the sun came out in full force and the views were quite simply breathtaking. Across Loch Sloy was Ben Vorlich, one of my first munros back in the 80’s. Across to the west was Ben Arthur or The Cobbler, possibly my first Corbett back in the 80’s and a mountain that needs another visit on a better day than when I first climbed it

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Ben Vane - final approach

The low light, scudding cloud and snow were creating some superb vistas and I was in my element. On an isolated and steep mountain like Ben Vane it’s like walking in the sky and it makes you want to shout out loud to exclaim your good fortune that you’re there to enjoy it.

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GM and the view east

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Playing catch up

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EWO and OFS approach the summit

The summit views were equally sensational. Most of us wandered around for ages taking photos, playing name that peak, and generally taking it all in. The views across Loch Lomond to Ben Lomond were particularly magnificent. The dusting of snow had given a wintry feel to the day and as ever I didn’t really want to go down.

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Ben Lomond and Loch Lomond

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Time to leave

It would have been a superb time for a leisurely stop but Ben Vane is an isolated summit and the wind seemed to be blasting it from every direction so a summit stop was out of the question. The rest of the party were stomping about impatiently waiting to head down so we decided to find somewhere lower down, especially as some of the party had been allowed to stop for lunch yet!

The views continued as we headed down and the weather continued to clear.

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Ben Lomond and the lower slopes of Beinn Narnain

The main group disappeared and seemed intent on completing the whole walk without a pause. This is never an option for me and me, EWO, GM and OFS found a little sheltered spot overhanging the edge with excellent views across to the Beinn Ime, The Cobbler and Beinn Narnain. Time for a second lunch and another brew. A trifle cold I have to admit but a sensational spot to enjoy the situation. I’ve said many times if you don’t stop to take it all in, what’s the point.

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Lunch v2.0

Days like this in Scotland in winter are a rare commodity and need to be savoured. We’ve been doing these weekends for 7 years now and we’ve only had a couple of days this good.

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Ben Arthur/The Cobbler

Suitably refreshed and enchanted we plunged down the steep lower slopes to the pretty valley at the bottom. It would be a great wild camp spot if you could find a dry spot, I warn you it was exceedingly wet down here but it is stunning especially as the sky was now pretty much clear and we were in the full sunshine.

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Ben Lomond

We came across the rest of the party who had now finally decided their conscripts were to be allowed a rest. We all headed down together, past another small piece of HEP engineering that me and GM had some fun scrambling about on and found a rather dead sheep squashed against the outflow. Reminded me of my rather nice lamb shank I had for tea the night before

The walk back down the road to the car could have been a drag but in the clear afternoon sunshine I really enjoyed it. Even found time to ask MM some stupid questions about what would happen if we touched some of the scary looking bits of the sub-station on the way down with fairly obvious answers (he’s an engineer you know). When we got back to the car the views across the loch were as good as in the morning, a fitting finale to a cracker of a day.

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Ben Lomond across Loch Lomond - evening light

We said goodbyes to some of the crew and headed over to Arrochar to collect TBM and ED. They were ensconced in a local ale house enjoying the beers, warm fire and good food. As they rolled out they appeared to both be very “happy” – must have been the stunning views across the loch that was putting them in such a good mood.

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View across Loch Long from Arrochar

More goodbyes and it was time to head back to Berwick for a mighty fine roast dinner and pudding that Jane and her sister had prepared and a very long drive back to Hereford via Stafford. Home by 2am, completely knackered and wiped out for the rest of the week but worth every missing minute of sleep. It’s become another fixture in my yearly calendar of regular get-togethers and I’m already looking forward to the gathering of the clans in 2013. It’s great that everyone really seems to enjoy it and this year we had some new recruits and some old friends we hadn’t seen for a few years. Weekends don’t come much better. Enjoy the slide-show.

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21 responses to “Southern Highlands Weekend – Sunshine and Snow on Day 3

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  1. A stunning looking day there – and some more good music! Made me think that I should really be practising my banjo skills while I’m laid up.
    How many are there in your group when you’re out on these walks? Sometimes it looks like quite a large gathering!
    Btw, did you realise that my Dixie dog is named after the Dixie Chicks?

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    • I came across this band when looking for tunes with “Black Mountain” in the title and they are pretty good. Get practising 🙂

      Sometimes we all walk together, sometimes we go our seperate ways. There were 10 of us on this walk but it was a “take it easy” group and a “route march” group, I think you can guess what group was mine! I do most of walking solo so it’s nice to have some company.

      I always thought Dixie was a bit of chick!

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  2. Days that good come far and few between – I guessed that you’d had a day to relish.
    I’ve never done any of these hills – how did we manage to drive past them for so many years?

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    beatingthebounds
    • It was top drawer – at least you got some decent views across Loch Long – and some beer!

      I think like all the Southern Highlands the lower slopes are steep grass which is a bit off-putting but once above 2000 feet they are very good. I think we’ll have to go up here again next year. The Cobbler is particularly good

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  3. Another walk that I’m hugely envious of – what a great day for it too.

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    • Quite lucky to get such a clear day in the middle of a pretty ordinary spell of weather. Days like that are a rare breed in Scotland and Ben Vane is a cracking mountain

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  4. Cracking day, cracking walk, and I bet the craic was great too!

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    • Sure was!

      I only get to meet up with some of my old pals on this annual gathering so it’s great to meet up and catch up and tell the old stories! Some poor unfortunates have to put up with several more times a year

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  5. Andy – a series of first rate trip reports in an area which is always a pleasure to walk. Cracking photos as well.

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    • Thanks Mark – always great to combine some great walking and catching up with old friends, the glorious views on the last day was the icing on the cake. Time to get out again this weekend I think

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  6. This is the only way I know to contact you!. I can’t see a contact email address on the blog – assuming I haven’t missed it, could you add one?.
    I’ve tried three times to post a comment here in the normal way and WordPress won’t let me – it complains about not being logged in. Not only that, when I hit the Back button (as instructed) it wipes out my comment.
    It seems to be a known problem:-

    http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/readers-cant-leave-comments-2

    GeoffC at http://v-g.me.uk

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  7. Test post: did my previous comment about problems with WordPress get through?. It didn’t appear, no acknowledgement.
    Trying a solution now…

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    • Hi Geoff. sorry about not noticing your comment and problem. WordPress had put it in my spam folder. I’ve had this problem once on another WordPress blog once but I can’t remember which one! I seem to be getting other comments ok and your test comment did come through for me to approve as a first-time comment as per my settings so you should be ok to comment straight through from now on

      Let me know if you get any more problems (email below) but I’ll check my spam folder regularly from now on.

      andymadley”at”hotmail”dot”co”dot”uk”

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  8. Ah, the first one didn’t disappear into thin air then!. That last one produced the correct ‘awaiting moderation’.
    WordPress are not fixing it apparently, this is a much better thread, it shows many users up in arms about it:-

    http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/commenting-bugs?replies=40

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  9. WordPress is really starting to brass me off, and I’m not alone as you can see from that second forum thread. Many people have given up commenting on WP blogs altogether. I had already abandoned the Comment Notification feature because I had to reply to a confirmation email from WP for EVERY SINGLE POST I made on a WP blog, even ones I comment on regularly. Life’s too short.

    To make those last two posts I had to create a brand new email address that WP has never heard of, that was the only way.

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    • I’ll put a comment up there later – the whole point of blogs is to be open and easy to use. I’m sure I can cope with the odd rogue comment (or whatever WordPress think they are protecting us all from with this new policy) if it means people can read and comment on my blog. Like you if I wasn’t able to comment easily or people couldn’t do so on mine I’d probably give up

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  10. What a great way to catch up with old friends.
    Sounds like you had three great days walking, saving the best till last!
    Very much enjoyed reading, thanks Paul.

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    • Thanks Paul, glad you enjoyed the reports. We’ve all really come to love and look forward to this weekend and it’s a regular fixture in the calendar now. That last day was pretty special with some cracking views. Off to Rum this weekend but I don’t think the weather is too promising 😦

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