Distance: 10 miles
Who with: JP, Susie
After cloud stopped play (view wise) yesterday, we had a de ja vu morning, leaving the campsite and heading back to Arrochar, parking at the same hotel, and heading up the same initial path from the village. This is not something I usually like doing, but we did so in search of the views that were promised by the BBC weather app and which we missedyesterday!
However, the forecast as it so often does in the UK changed from me going to sleep, to waking up and the cloud was thick set once again. Whilst frustrating, we walked up the valleyand decided to press on into the mist and cloud.
Surprisingly, or perhaps not surprisingly, we didn’t meet a single person all the way up to the head of the valley. We stopped and had a quick coffee and a snack, before continuing up the boggy slog up Ben Ime. The temperatures had plummeted since the previous day, and the mist was thick-set.
Appearing out of the mist was a gentleman in his late sixties (if not early seventies), I would say, who we got talking to – the kind of chap that I could have listened to literally all day. He grew up in the Arrochar area and proudly shared his tales of his experiences on these local mountains, having been up them over a hundred times over the years! He talked about how the area had changed, and some of the sticky spots he had got himself into over the years. Dressed in new, hi-tech outdoors gear, he shared how things had changed, and what he wore to walk the fells all those years ago as a boy. Now retired, he spent most days of the summer up the fells, and winters in Australia – sounded the life to me!
He continued to give us a warning from sad, and bitter experience for when we reached the summit, where there was a sharp drop which would be hidden by the clouds. It was on the summit of Ben Ime that he lost a close friend, in similar conditions, and he shared how he had made it a personal mission when on the fell to let people know of the dangers. Having visited the summit so many times, he told us he had gone far enough today, and was heading back down to the pub for a pint before heading home – a sound plan in my opinion!
It was great to meet such a character, and sparked a number of conversations between JP and I around some of the stories he shared. Fascinating bloke, who shared his significant life experiences and achievements in a humble, non-bragging way – which was so refreshing.
As we continued, we noticed the wind start to pick up and the mist getting thicker. Having heeded our new friend’s advicewe cautiously approached the summit, where we instantly saw the edge that he had warned us about. It is easy to see how unaware walkers could get caught out on such a summit. A howling wind was cutting us in half at this point, so we got a quick selfie, and retraced our steps (carefully) back down off the summit.
Ten minutes further on, we met another couple of walkers (father and son), who were heading up, also questioning their sanity in such conditions. We passed on the note of caution about the summit and its hidden hazards, and shared the sad story, which like us, appeared thankful for the warning.
As we trudged on, we eventually broke through the mist, and back onto the path at the head of the valley, where we took the advice of the local and headed to the pub, which was most welcome by the time we arrived. There is nothing better than a pint of Tenants after a long, wet and cold slog up a fell…the first pint was so refreshing I decided to take advantage of having a chauffeur (JP) and have another!
We eventually made our way back to Luss campsite, where we freshened up and visited the pub in the village for a nice steak and a couple more pints. Susie, the Patterdale Terrier, enjoyed a rare relaxed moment curled up under the table enjoying bits of steak and potatoes from my plate…a well-earned treat for her after 3 days up in the hills!
The campsite at Luss is nice, and well kept, but unsurprisingly, it is extremely noisy being adjacent to the busy A-road, which is one of the few routes into/out of the heart of Scotland, and the 40ft wagons make a hell of a noise in the early hours when they go hurtling past. Not conducive to my much needed beauty sleep!