An ascent of Ben Lomond with a flat tyre


The summit ridge on Ben Lomond Posted by Picasa
Being on my own this weekend and the weather forecast for today being middling to passable, decided to drag my carcase up another mountain (this being the sort of thing it’s a damn sight easier to do in Scotland than it is in Somerset). Woke up early and had a substantial greasy breakfast and set off towards my orginal objectives in the Arrochar Alps. An hour later I was driving up Glen Kinglass towards the Rest and be Thankful and the hills around were all cloaked in low cloud. However, the view forward and towards Loch Lomond was far more promising, so decided to take the long drive around the south of Loch Lomond and do Ben Lomond itself. Coming down alongside the loch, there was a thin veil of cloud at the summit, but the sun was shining lower down and it augered well for the day.
Slight let-down on the approach to Rowardennan when a tyre went flat after running off the edge of the narrow road to allow an oncoming vehicle to pass. First job at the car park was to change the wheel and then get the boots on. Set off about 0950 and took the path up through the forest along the tourist track to the summit (I’ll save the Ptarmigan ridge route for a clear day). Set a nice steady pace and slowly passed groups of other walkers. Because this is such a popular path, there are several places where stone steps have been constructed and route-finding is hardly an issue unless there are a couple of feet of snow on the ground. The views gradually opened up over Loch Lomond and then came my favourite moment on any ascent, when the view on the other side of the ridge came into view. Feeling very good and the legs behaving themselves perfectly, I stopped just before the summit climb to put on a jumper and add a banana to the tank. Made the summit at 1140, which I considered to be a pretty good time. No-one up there, but the evidence of previous visitors was there in the form of orange peel and apple cores. Took a few photographs, but with the cloud swirling around the views were limited. This is a pretty mountain at the top, not massively grandiose or rocky, but gentle and green with swooping slopes down. I had a quick look at the route up from the Ptarmigan ridge, which has a few metres of exposure just before the summit, and logged that for future reference. Met a New Zealand lass on the top who now lives in Aberdeen. Her husband had gone off to watch the Open at St Andrews, so she headed off to climb this hill. Spent 20 minutes on the summit and then banged off back down the track to the car. There is no more virtuous feeling than walking back down a mountain passing all the later starters still puffing their way up!
Oh, the flat tyre bit? Went in to Dunbarton to get it fixed and discovered that I’d dented the rim of the wheel as well as trashing the tyre. Two minutes work with a lumphammer and Scotland’s engineering tradition had sorted out the dent and, with a new tyre, I was back on the road home, stopping only at Morrisons to get some goodies for supper (chorizo, cherry tomatoes, crisps and beer – a rare bachelor treat).
This makes Munro number 2, and at this rate I’ll finish my first round sometime around my 70th birthday; better get a few more in this summer and autumn.

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