Sunday, 5 May 2013

The 2 V's - Ben Vane & Ben Vorlich, Loch Lomond

Looking back through my most recent posts there hasn't been enough trip reports. I have been out, just not as frequently recently due to life really. I'm hoping to engineer more trips out with my new working pattern but as always the balance needs to be kept right. 

An opportunity came up mid week and I took it with both feet in walking boots. I had a window between dropping and picking up my daughter from nursery. I'm lucky enough to be in a stones throw from Loch Lomond so I had a think and settled on a Munro I hadn't been up in a while, Ben Vane. It's neighbour, Ben Vorlich, was an option too but I would need to see how progress up Vane went before deciding.

The drop off in Glasgow was made and I made good time up to Inveruglas to make the start on todays leg stretch. Leaving the car park at Inveruglas view point on Lock Lomond I took the short walk along the A82 before turning on to the tarmac track towards Loch Sloy dam.
Walking up a tarmac track seems like cheating when heading for a hill but it's there and it makes for a good start time wise. The weather couldn't have been better. The morning sky was saltire blue with only a couple of wisps of cloud.

There were some other mid week walkers on the track enjoying the good weather. The thought of getting Vorlich under my belt in my time window was positive. So I charged up the track making dood time.

As I made my way up the track I turned the winding route and found what looked to be construction work on a Bond baddies lair. In fact it is an electrical sub station from the dam to the power station on the main road.
Continuing through Dr No's lair I kept going until the turning on the tarmac to the bridge then on to a some more agreeable gravel. 

The next stage was to get off the hard stuff and on to something a little more soft. The foot of Ben Vane is a little boggy due to the run off and now with the lack of snow seen from where I stood there must have been a lot of water absorbed in to the ground in front of me.

Now I was making my way across the sloppy green mess that had been left by the water run off. All of us have spent years figuring out what can be walked on and what will swallow a boot on this type of terrain. With a couple of games of hop scotch and some leaps of faith I made it to dryer routes with my footwear on.

With Vorlich to my right, it was still an option at this stage and I was making good time. What I forgot about this mountain was its false summits. So there was a couple of dissapointments and as I got higher and the summit wasn't cracked my optimism for a second peak was dwindling.

The sky was still bluer than a blue thing and I was really enjoying being on the hill regardless of repeated false summits. I could see for miles the visibility was so good. Ben Lomond was at my back as I gained elevation.

As I approaced summit height I passed a gentleman in his senior years just plodding on. When I get to that stage I hope to be still out there on the trail, hopefully my body holds up. The last part turns into a bit of a scramble and with some nooks filled with snow still I did question the senior munroists likelyhood of getting up to the summit, basically because I struggled a bit.

Vane in the bag I sat on the plateau and had some lunch. Then not far behind me my veteran friend appeared. We had a quick chat, his intentions were to head back of into the glen and back home. I eyed Vorlich again after a time check and decided I would head down to the dam and make a decision there. The route off the back of Ben Vane was not well trodden ans a path had to be decided on not followed. 

At the start of the way down there was a lot of snow to be navigated. The first part that was a bit of a challenge had to be down climbed with the aid of an ice axe.

The next snow field had bum slide written all over it. I left a channel in the snow and was making good time. I felt I was dripping like a stone as I descended towards the dam.

As I looked across to the still potential ascent of Ben Vorlich I remind myself of the pitch of the route up. I plot my route mentally on the scene on the opposite side of the valley as drop down to the entrance to the walkway over the dam. 

Walking across the top of the dam past the structures built into it I couldn't help but feel I was stepping back in time. Whenever this was built it still held on to that time.

When I reached the other side the gate was locked with a rusty old padlock securing the next hurdle. An easy hop over the gate left me wit the next much bigger hurdle. A final time check because once I started up I wouldn't turn back until I reached the summit. It would be tight but I set off, straight up.

I pushed on up the vertical wall, the stone that was dropping on the opposite slope I felt now I was dragging it up. With the first destination along way behind me I was pushing hard to keep within my time window. I then came across the the regular path. This took me comfortably to the summit. 

Following a second lunch and a substantial intake of water after shedding some sweat coming up, I set off down the track. The weather changed a bit on the way down, the sky filled with more cloud and with a sprinkle of rain included. The path winds down the face of Vorlich, again through marshy patches down to the tarmac vein which runs up to the previously crossed dam. 

Now time was tight, I had week day traffic to contend with once I was back to the car. I pushed quickly down the tarmac, back to the car and made it with time to spare.

The change in weather towards the end of the day didn't cast a shadow on my day. I don't often go out on my own but conditions needed to be taken advantage of. I would like to have had a bit more time to enjoy my surrounding but this didn't take away from the day. Getting into the outdoors is like a therapy. As I said at the start sometimes life doesn't allow the amount of outdoor exposure we might like but it's always there waiting for us when we get the chance.