Boys (and Girls) Weekend – Going “Mental” on Ben Ledi   6 comments

The final part of our Southern Highlands Odyssey/Opus/Trilogy

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

The previous days downpour continued well into the night. On the valley floor where once were fields, there were now lakes. Not a promising sign. The previous night’s discussions had centered on trip back down memory lane to all the pubs we used to frequent in the last century. Slightly worrying that we are a) that old and b) have been to enough pubs to generate hours of tedious chat. We did however also manage to cover the topic of the next days forecast from MWIS. Now MWIS are prone to sprinkling a dusting of gloom over every forecast, especially the wind. Anyone who reads the forecast regularly has the word “buffeting” imprinted in their psyche. This time the focus was on the phrase “periods of appalling to near-zero visibility”. Not a phrase you really want to hear when planning a day out in the Scottish Highlands.

The morning didn’t bode well. Dark and stormy skies with bursts of torrential rain punctuated breakfast and an excessive period of faffing about. There was some promise between the hate, prompting the usual comments of “its blueing up” from me and EWO to much derision

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

The plan was for a shortish day on a mountain near the road home. Ben Ledi fitted the bill. As if to put us off we drove through a horrific downpour on the drive over and after a brief respite we were hit with another burst of heavy rain while we suited and booted. When I poked my head out of the car where I’d been sensibly hiding, everyone had buggered off and started the walk. Damn, I was going to have to go walking in the rain

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

The weather turned a little nicer on the steep path through the trees. It was almost spring-like at times.

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

Black clouds all around betrayed the optimism and it was only a matter of time. A few early starters passed on the way down. “It’s mental up there!”. Terrific. It started to rain and then snow, huge flakes of wet snow.

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

Just before the path reaches the ridge we stopped for a bite. Eating lunch in “mental” conditions didn’t seem to be too good an idea. It was a pretty damp and grim pre-lunch, morale was low, We were near the ridge so pressed on into the gloom.

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

And then our luck changed. As we crested the ridge we hit the full force of the wind but the skies cleared sufficiently for some views of the Southern Highlands and the Trossachs. It was all rather fine and spirits were lifted immensely.

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

There were  still storm clouds all around but the shafts of sunlight were a bonus we hadn’t expected. The wind was wild  and snow and spindrift filled the air but I love the challenge of a proper wild winter down in the mountains. Ben Ledi is just a stroll really but load it with snow and blast it with a gale of wind and you have a proper challenge.

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

As we climbed the ridge we were blasted and pummelled by showers of snow but never in the cloud. It’s actually a fine ridge as well and I for one was loving it. An amazing transformation from the gloom of the soggy, snowy lunch stop.

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

As we crested the summit all our investments came in and the skies cleared to reveal panoramic views of storm clad mountains with wisps of blue sky all around. We all spent several minutes just aghast that during a spell of truly nasty weather we had arrived on the summit during the best, albeit short spell of weather of the day. We were truly blessed.

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

As Old Father Sheffield arrived on the summit me and ED grinned at each other and began playing air guitar with our ice axes. Why, you may ask. We were both reminded of a day back in the late 80’s in the Fannichs on a day not unlike this one. Both me and ED were loving the wild conditions but OFS hated it and was one well pi55ed off mountain man when he joined us on the summit. Seeing me and ED grinning wildly and playing air guitar with ice axes did nothing to improve his mood, that climbing hills in blizzards and hail-storms was not fun. He took one look, issued forth a stream of verbal insults and foul-mouthed abuse in our direction. This made us laugh even more (more Schadenfreude), so after another volley he promptly left in huff and went back to the car. Its his way. Today he merely shook his head in disbelief that two middle-aged family men should still find such things funny. He really doesn’t understand why we never grow up and probably never will. It’s a source of constant bemusement to him and ever-increasing satisfaction for us. I don’t ever want to grow up and be serious, sad day when I do

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

Back to the day in hand. The views were awesome, especially the curving corniced ridge that led north. Many photos were taken and we all shared the pleasure of this moment of good fortune.

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

pass of leny, loch lubnaig, southern highlands, trossachs, ben ledi, stank glen, garbh uisge

It couldn’t last though. Everything started to darken and we all agreed it was time to get hell out of there before things went “mental” again. A brisk wander along the fabulous ridge before a descent down to the marvellously named Stank Glen in a ferocious and icy wind – “mental” indeed. We were even treated to a “period of appalling to near-zero visibility” in a snow-storm. I looked up after a few seconds fiddling with my gaiters and everyone had disappeared into the mist, even though they were only a few yards ahead. The descent back to the cars was uneventful, save for some very deep, wet and tiresome snow – I doubt we’d have made the ridge if we’d come up that way – and a soggy brew on a puddled boulder.

Despite the weather being largely awful another great weekend. We laughed and chatted with old friends, we skiied downhill, we skiied the mountains and  we got great views from a summit. Some warm winter sunshine would have been good this wasn’t a bad substitute. 3 days in Scotland and 3 days walking is a pretty good result

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6 responses to “Boys (and Girls) Weekend – Going “Mental” on Ben Ledi

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  1. I did one of those not-remotely scientific Facebook surveys this week which purported to tell me ‘how old I feel’ or somesuch nonsense. I got 19. That’s pretty growed up don’t you think? I was expecting 12.
    Top notch day I thought. Even the grotty bits were good, but obviously the changeable bit on the ridge made it, before it turned back to grotty.

    Like

    beatingthebounds
    • You did one of those FB surveys, shame on you. Still, considerably less than your real age so a result. I wonder what OFS score would have been 🙂
      I though it was a cracking day. I really like cold stormy winter days like that. Its rain I’m not fond of

      Like

  2. Glad you got some nice weather at the top! Looks like some awesome views!

    Like

    • We were VERY lucky to get the views. the rest of the day had some really unpleasant weather. But I’ll take whatever luck I can. Sometimes the stormy and atmospheric scenes are better than the cloudless blue sky ones. I always enjoy the challenge of a wild day as well

      Like

  3. You all look very rugged there posing on the summit….

    Like

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