It was going so well! The tail end of the holiday saw a few more activity filled days, so there was less time to work on the photographs. Events further conspired against me after a mishap with the internet at the house meaning we lost all connectivity and I wasn’t able to upload any images. Once back from Scotland, real life and work happened and I didn’t manage to find the time. But here I am!
Sorry for the delay! This is coming late, but not too late. Enjoy!
What visit to Scotland is complete without climbing a large hill or mountain? As mentioned, we were in Scotland to celebrate Rhod’s birthday. He’s got a huge love for Scotland and its mountains, and had recounted a tale from his childhood when he’d climbed Ben Lawers and had been able to see the Paps of Jura in the distance, and the incredible view around. Ben Lawers was visible from Cauldhame, and not too far to drive, so off we set to climb the UK’s 10th highest mountain (3,984ft, 1,214m) – and my first Munro! – in the hope of some good views from above. The forecast was promising, but the clouds not so much…
A short drive through the stunning Trossachs later, and we arrived at the start of the ascent. Without too much ado, we began our ascent of the mountain.
(Brief aside – this gallery is a combination of shots from my camera, and some from my mobile. Although not a tricky ascent, the walk was sometimes strenuous and it was sometimes easier to grab my phone than my camera from the bag!)
There aren’t a whole ton of photos of the ascent because I was busy coercing my thighs into movement. I’m not well accustomed to walking uphill! Nonetheless, as we got higher, the views got bigger. It started to get harder to take it all in, under the steely grey skies.
What they don’t tell you is that to climb Ben Lawers, which is a big Munro in its own right, you have to first climb a slightly smaller Munro called Beinn Ghlas (3,619ft, 1,103m) and then descend again before climbing Ben Lawers. Beinn Ghlas is apparently Gaelic for “grey-green mountain”, which is pretty appropriate, if a little unimaginative. Ben Lawers translates to “Hill of the loud stream or hoof or claw mountain” according to Wikipedia – a far more evocative title.
This is the view from the start of the ascent up Ben Lawers, looking back towards Beinn Ghlas.
We climbed higher and higher, and as we did a small miracle happened – the sun came out! Scattered clouds flung shadows down onto the mountains below, creating beautiful texture on the land.
Before long – and by before long, I mean a length of time of puffing, panting and aching thighs, we made it to the summit. I’ve got a few photospheres from the summit that I’ll share at some point, but in the mean time, here’s the view looking northeast towards An Stuc and beyond. The lochan is called Lochan nan Cat – “small lake of the cat”.
On top of the summit is the obligatory trig point, and a small cairn (below). Ben Lawers is close to 4000ft, close enough that in 1878 twenty men spent a day building a large cairn in the hope that they could push the height up. The ordnance survey didn’t take the cairn into consideration, as it was man-made – and the cairn itself has since been removed.
As the clouds lifted and the sky cleared, the sun started to pick up and reflect off features in the landscape. Sheep, rockfaces, lochans and paths all started to glint in the sun. The distant mountains were clear and beautiful.
I’ll post more pictures of the summit at another point, including some photospheres and other panoramas.
We began to descend again…
Near the summit of Ben Lawers was this mysteriously triangular lochan, trapped between the rocks.
In the pass between Ben Lawers and Beinn Ghlas is a series of small lochans and boulders; they were reflecting the sky beautifully and looked quite inviting…were the water not so cold!
Instead of climbing over Beinn Ghlas again, we descended alongside the smaller Munro to a pass in the valley, beside another Munro, Meall Corranaich. The path was criss-crossed with small streams, running with cool and sweet tasting water.
Eventually we made our way around the edges of Beinn Ghlas and entered into the valley in which the carpark sat – still some distance away. The sun was beating down by this point, and it was beautifully warm.
The path wound ever onwards down the slope – it seemed to take forever to descend! Loch Tay came into view in the bottom of the valley.
As we got lower and the clouds thinner, the sun cast beautiful shadows across the bumpy landscape. This hillside was beautiful – photos really don’t do it justice.
Further down the path, I came across a large black beetle. He wasn’t impressed that I was so close when I took this shot, and was hissing loudly!
Further down the path, we entered the nature reserve near the carpark, which is an absolutely idyllic place. It’s dotted with small trees, rushing streams and abundant wildflowers – all fenced off to stop it getting munched by the local deer. This is the view back up towards the mountain in the background.
With weary legs and aching feet, we finally made it back to the car and headed for home.
And, would you believe – forty years after his first ascent, Rhod once more saw the Paps of Jura from the peak of Ben Lawers? Prayers for good weather were definitely answered!