Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Ptarmigan & Ben Lomond

Walk Summary
First Munros of day show themselves - The Arrochar Alps
With last nights rain forecast to last all morning and the prospect of dry clear intervals in the afternoon, there was not any rush to get an early start today.
There would be plenty of time to complete the planned 7½ miles with daylight to spare, as long as there were not any deviations to plan. By past experience there were no guarantees but this time the walked route shown in blue below more or less corresponded exactly with the planned red route.
This will be my 20th Munro and to my surprise will be the first one I have done solo. Not such a big deal I know, especially having completed most of the English Nuttalls alone, but while no walk in the hills should be taken for granted with the extra height, remoteness and more extreme weather, the Munros deserve that additional amount of respect.

Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 01 October 2014
Walkers - Steve Smith
Accommodation - Milarrochy Bay Camping and Caravanning Club Site
Start Point - Rowardennan Scottish Forestry Commission car park (GR - NS 35984 98636)
Start Time - 11:21
Finish Point 
Rowardennan Scottish Forestry Commission car park (GR - NS 35984 98636)
Finish Time - 16:37
Duration - 5hrs 16mins
Average pace - 1.44mph
Distance Walked - 7.59miles
Height Ascended - 1030.88metres

Other walks on this trip

30th Conic Hill & Gualann
01st Ptarmigan & Ben Lomond
03rd Meall Corranaich & Meall a' Choire Leith
04th Ben More & Stob Binnein
05th Not quite Meall Buide (Glen Lyon)
07th Cruach Ardrain & Beinn Tulaichean
08th Beinn Dorain & Beinn an Dothaidh hammerhead
10th Ben Challum [Beinn Challuim]
12th Beinn a' Chreachain & Beinn Achaladair
13th The Tyndrum Grandslam

Peaks visited
Munro (282)

Ben Lomond (20)
Murdo (443)

Ben Lomond (28)
Corbett (221)
Graham (224)
Marilyn (1218S - 1552E,W&S))
Ben Lomond (21S - 92E,W&S)
Hump (2168S - 2976E,W&S)
Ben Lomond (27S - 149E,W&S)
S: Scotland. 
E,W&S:England,Wales & Scotland

GPX can be downloaded from www.shareyouradventure.com
Walk Description
Contouring round the 426m spot height
Ptarmigan comes in to view for the first time
Walk start and parking at Rowardennan Scottish Forestry Commission car park. £3.00 all day charge (well until 23:59), which I think is acceptable with toilet facilities and information centre. Shame some of it can't go to local Mountain Rescue. Inspite of the late start it was still raining when I set off making it difficult to know what to wear to start off warm and remain cool when ascent began. 
Before that I had to find the start of the ascent. The plan was to follow Loch Lomond north past the Youth Hostel then turn right up a track near Rowchnock. It turns out the track is access to the private property. The start of the ascent is a well defined path through the woods immediately on the right after bridge over a stream. I even mistakenly doubled back to check out the track to the Ben Lomond Centre.This did not bode well for the rest of the walk, but as it turned out was the only navigational challenge I had all walk. Try not to make the same mistake yourself.
Summit area of the Corbett Top of Munro Ptarmigan.
Ben Lomond beyond
Time in the woods is short lived and unless you like walking in woods, apart from passing a waterfall just before the first fence, nothing really worth noting. Look back though as you clear the woods you will be rewarded by the first of many of the days great views over Loch Lomond. By now the rain had stopped, skies cleared and the sun had come out, prompting me to ditch the waterproof before I got wet from the inside.
Enjoy the various views as they reveal themselves, including The Arrochar Alps during the ascent, they are the one thing that kept me going during the 3 mile, 3 hour ascent to the Ptarmigan summit from about sea level. A tough ascent that needed a lunch break to refuel behind Tom Fithich and just before Ptarmigan final ascent.
During the final ascent I came across a couple of abandoned rucksacks, then some newly created steps and finally 4 people ahead repairing the path.   I caught up with them at the 731m spot height and they passed me again whilst I was photographing Ptarmigan summit area. The path passes below the summit, so if you want to bag it don't get carried away and cut off left from the path as the path starts to descend south of the summit.

Inveruglas from NE ridge
just below summit of Ben Lomond
Ben Lomond
Leaving the summit area from the north east and rejoin the path as it descends in to Bealach Buidhe. It's a bit boggy at the bottom but some strategically placed stepping stones avoids the worst. Probably these had been placed by earlier colleagues of the people maintaining the paths I was about to pass again. The path ascends out of Bealach Buidhe at a fairly steady rate. It is not until it turns to the south east that the true ascent really begins. Ahead is the steep part of the walk. Not quite a scramble although hands were placed on rocks a couple of times to steady myself. It was because of this part I chose to tackle the walk anti-clockwise on the basis given a choice, I would sooner ascend difficult bits rather than descend. In addition the SMC guidebook described this ridge as an alternative descent whilst additionally Ralph Storer described the descent as "...more intricate and more fun..." and "...by no means the 'leisurely afternoon stroll' of the Tourist Path".
Not that unusual, but they were also
carrying out path maintenance.
As it turned out I did not think it was too bad, but maybe that is because of the invaluable scrambling experience I gained on the Cuillin Ridge earlier in the year. The other bonus from this approach is the lack of false summits, the trig point appears more or less in front of your nose end when you complete the second and probably hardest of the two "scrambly" bits.
The abiding memory however was not the scramble but the guys doing the path repairs. They somehow managed to pass me more than once, carry out path maintenance and still reach the summit before me. Well I did take a number of photo stops.

Don't forget to look back at
Ben Lomond on the way down.

From Sròn Aonaich
After photos all that remained was the descent down the tourist route. After a slightly tricky bit on crags at top of Coire a' Bhàthaich it was a '...leisurely afternoon stroll...', easy to navigate down a well defined broad path down the ridge over Sròn Aonaich and to Rowardennan Forest at the bottom and walks end at van and car park. Be prepared though for nearly 4 miles and 1¾ hours walking before reaching walks end at Rowardennan car park.

More Photographs

Ben Lomond with Ben More and Cruach Ardrain beyond to the north
More photographs to follow

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