2009

Munro 1 – Ben Vorlich (Loch Lomond) 11/09/2009:

And so my journey had begun.

I was so keen to get started I left Bristol at 5am so as to give myself time that same day to conqueur a mountain immediately. I was booted up and ready to go just after lunchtime. I was very excited and the weather was looking perfect.

I tackled this one from the Loch Sloy side although like most Munros there are usually a number of different ways to the summit. After an extremely arduous trek up an extremely steep slope from the landrover track I eventually reached the ridge. I knew there was a path up the slope somewhere but I didn’t find it until about two-thirds up. I was already asking myself what on earth I’d let myself in for. Maybe the long drive followed by a Munro wasn’t a good way to start.

This image is on my way to the summit looking back towards Loch Lomond and helped me to remember why I was doing this, and that no matter how hard the going gets it will always definitely be worth it.

Having made the ridge it was a relatively easy undulating walk to the summit, although there are a few false ones to get past first. This image is at the summit cairn looking back to a trig point which is passed about 5 minutes earlier on the ridge.

 I couldn’t believe my luck with the weather for my first Munro. I was feeling so great to have got this one under my belt. I now truely felt I was on my way to number 283.

Munros 2, 3 and 4 – Ben Vane, Beinne Ime and Beinne Narnain 12/09/2009:

After my first Munro yesterday I was hoping I wouldn’t be too sore as I had planned a route today which would see me bag three Munros if all went well. Ben Vane is the Munro immediately next to the one I’d done yesterday so the walk-in was the same.

I’d been checking out the route up Ben Vane while doing Ben Vorlich yesterday and although it is one of the smaller Munros it still looked incredibly steep. The route up gave me an introduction to some easy scrambles and I was pleased I managed them without incident. After a few false summits I was soon on the first summit with it’s small lochan and cairn. There were great views in every direction. This is looking over to the hills around Loch Lomond from the summit.

A tricky descent to the west, and a harder ascent up the north shoulder of Beinne Ime soon saw me bag my second of the day. I’d read that the ascent this way could be hard and I can safely say they were right. I did it in small bites, a technique I have used successfully on many steep ascents since. This image was taken on the descent path just below the summit looking towards the famous peak of Ben Arthur (The Cobbler).

I had intended on including Ben Arthur in today’s walk as there is apparently a tricky manoeuvre called “Threading The Needle” to do done to reach the true summit. This involves crawling through a hole in the summit rock’s formation from the north side to the south which leads to a ledge around 1 metre wide, with a sheer drop of over 30 metres on one side. The ledge is steeply inclined, and a little exposed scramble is finally necessary to gain the summit – sounded exciting.

However, I was pretty tired by this point with a long way to go yet so instead I made my way leisurely up to the summit of Beinne Narnain. This shows it’s trig point with Beinne Ime in the background.

I was well pleased with my efforts, and the fact that I’d quadrupled my tally in just one day. The long walk back to the car ensured I slept like the proverbial log that night.

Munro 5 – Ben Bhuidhe 13/09/2009:

There is a long walk-in before any ascent is begun on this Munro. This got me to thinking about the possibility of using a mountain bike in future on sections such as this where the tracks are half decent. I eventually reached the point where I had to turn off and start my ascent, there were a few tricky scrambles through the gorge but nothing too bad. I was slowly getting used to these and they were not so bad as to be scary. After climbing out of the gorge on a very wet path I could at last see my target which had done a very good job at being elusive to the last.

The usual route taken, according to my book, was to ascend via a very steep gully to reach the ridge but from where I was the side of the mountain looked impregnable. I decided to head for a point on the ridge lower down which looked a bit easier. This took me away from the direction of the summit imitially but with great weather again I was certainly not in a rush to get it done.

I eventually reached the ridge and headed for the summit. I passed the point on the ridge where the steep gully path connected with it and it was certainly steep with loose looking rock/stones. All the way to the summit I was trying to decide if I should return via that route.

This image was taken at the summit cairn looking towards the north end of Loch Fyne, where I’d parked my car. It seemed such a long way away, probably because it was. No comment on the wind farms which are apparently becoming more prevalent on the Scottish hills.

I returned via the steep gully only because when I reached that point on the ridge there were some walkers coming up it and made it look not too bad. I only slipped on my backside the once. Once back on the track I so wished I’d thought about the mountain bike earlier. I wasn’t looking forward to the long walk-out.

Munro 6 – Ben Lomond 14/09/2009:

A nice early start for this iconic Munro. There were no navigation problems today as the ‘tourist’ route up the mountain is very well constructed. The early start saw me with the summit bagged and to myself for a half-hour before the next walker arrived. This is a popular mountain being the most southerly Munro, and being so close to Glasgow. I took my time to look around at all the other tops peaking out from below the low cloud covering wondering how long it would be before I had bagged them too. I was also hoping that one day I’d be able to name them all – maybe.

I decided to return via the Ptarmigan route and it was a good choice. The views back across Loch Lomond were stunning.

I took my time on the way down allowing me to reflect on the walks I had done during this first Munro venture. I was very happy with what I’d achieved. I also felt like I was slowly getting back to my roots, I was born in Scotland but was embarrassed to think I had never visited any of these fantastic places.

I wasn’t looking forward to the long journey back to Bristol later that afternoon/evening but at the same time was excited to get home so I could start planning my next trip to the Highlands.

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