September Day Trip to Ben Vorlich (Loch Lomond)

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It would have been great to have had a clear, dry, midge free day for my final Munro ascent of Ben Vorlich.  However, it was dull and overcast from the start and by the time we all met up at the Bonnie Braes, the cloud was down to about 400-500 metres and a fine drizzle was setting in.  However, once we all got ourselves organised and away from the car parking by the Ardlui Hotel, it had almost stopped raining, but by then the midges had arrived and accompanied us throughout the early part of the ascent.

Although the rain had stopped by the time we started walking, it was so warm and humid that we were soon all quite damp!  The general view was that waterproofs would only have made things worse so we just plodded on in our personal clouds of midge repellent.  Underfoot conditions varied from moist to full swamp!!  As a result the ascent was made at a fairly leisurely pace.  Climbing up into the clag we made occasional stops to re-group and do a quick head count to make sure no one had sunk in the bog.  Hamish did his best but was ably rescued by James pulling him up by the rucksack straps!!

The lack of an obvious path made route finding in the mist quite demanding and there were a few short conference stops to debate the best line to take.  The GPS was much used for checking our progress towards the summit ridge and after about 3 hours walking we made it to the North Top.  I was instructed by those who have experience of these events to stop and let the tail-enders overtake me before I took my final steps through a triumphal Leki arch to the top of Ben Vorlich.  A memorable and very satisfying occasion.

Arriving at the summit  Arriving at the summit  Champers all round ...

The sun did make a welcome but brief appearance as I waited at the North Top but it was soon hidden again by the mist.  At least the breeze kept the midges away while the party consumed the celebratory drinks and the various photos were taken to record the event.  After a well-earned break and an occasional speech, we then set off on the descent which seemed extremely long, slipping and sliding down very wet long grass.  The last straw proved to be the difficulty in finding the exit route under the railway!!

It was almost dry again by the time we got back to the cars for a quick change before heading into the Ardlui Hotel where more celebrations followed.

Thanks to all who joined me on the day and to those who have shared many enjoyable days on the hill as I have worked my way around the Munros.

Richard Charnock-Smith


Jim Waterton wrote:

Just a few words to explain my part in Saturday's outing ...

As you probably know by now, I had emailed Richard to say I would try and make it to Ben Vorlich, but would go via the Sloy Dam .. mainly so that I could go at my own, now rather slow, pace.  Anyway, I reckoned that if the main party left Cathcart at 8:00, they would start from Ardlui around 9:30, and get to the summit about 12:30 (say between noon and 13:00).  Anyway, I left Glasgow at 7:00, and had my boots on at 8:00.  It was a bit of a grind, but I got to the summit at 11.30 .. about an hour slower than my previous times by that route .. and set about waiting for the main group's arrival.  The weather wasn't bad to start with; it was dry, and visibility was 200m with the prospect of improvement.  Of course, that was the signal for the rain to set in, and the visibility to deteriorate.  I spent a lonely 1 hour and 20 minutes at the summit.  I was quite surprised that NOBODY else at all appeared, particularly as I had seen another lone walker some 20 minutes behind me when I was at about 750m.  Then of course I realised that in all probability he had mistaken the trig-point for the summit.  So at 12:50 when I heard what sounded like a sizeable group chatting and taking photographs at the trig-point (which I couldn't see clearly, but could just make out the camera flash), I thought it might just be yourselves, having come up by the Little Hills.  So I went over to the trig-point, and found out it wasn't the Club.  But I did tell them they weren't actually at the summit, and they seemed duly thankful.  I suppose at that stage I might have gone back to the summit, but I didn't, and proceeded on the descent .. which I found as trying as the ascent.

So I'm sorry I missed you.  I spoke to Richard on the phone fairly late on Saturday evening, and he told me that you hadn't reached the summit until 14:00!  I would probably have been hypothermic by that stage!  That was my first Munro since Slioch (and the second octogenarian Munro ascent in the Club .. Ed!).

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September Weekend to Harris and St Kilda

Fri 21st:  James, Susan and David Anderson flew to Stornoway and then drove to Harris in their hired car.  Gordon, Andrew and Bob travelled in Gordon's car to Uig on Skye where they met Willie and Allan Boyd, who had also driven there .. and all went on the 2pm ferry in Willie's car onward to Tarbert (Harris) and finally on to the Cottage Hostel at Drinishader where we met up with James and co.  We all went out later to the Harris Inn in Tarbert and were all having a nice time until the dreaded news came that "St Kilda wasn't happening" due to poor sea conditions expected over the next 2 days!  All the harder to take when we all said how good the weather was looking!  Gordon desperately tried to arrange a St Kilda trip with another boat but this was not possible, and even a trip to the Shiant Islands could not be done(gutted!). 

Sat 22nd:  Susan and David dropped James off at our start point and then went on a sight seeing day.  The rest of us including James left from the car at Luskentyre beach to climb Beinn Dhubh where we were treated to some great panoramic views (inc St Kilda in the distance!) .. a good day.  We all went out at night to the Hebrides pub/restaurant where we had a great meal and a knees up .. the place was jumping!  Gordon even had a wee chat with Seumus (the boat skipper) who had been pointed out to him by a man whilst in the loo!

Beinn Dhubh at Losgaintir  Losgaintir beach from Beinn Dhubh  The Calanais Standing Stones

Sun23rd:  James, Susan and David headed off to the Butt of Lewis and back via Stornoway.  The rest of us went to see the Callanish Stones on Lewis which we missed on our last trip due to a faulty fuel gauge on our hired car.  We then went on to see a Broch at Carloway which was very interesting and in excellent condition.  We stopped on the way back at a nearby pub where the owner told us of a man who had tragically fallen off nearby cliffs the previous day.  The next stop was a wee look at Scalpay before heading back to the Cottage.  Another good night was had at the Hebrides.  

Mon 24th:  Having got the 7.30am ferry from Tarbert to Uig, Willie and Allan headed back home while Gordon, Andrew and Bob stopped in Glen Shiel to climb the Graham Biod an Fhithich which gave great views of The Saddle above and the Five Sisters of Kintail across the glen.  A special treat was also had when two jet fighters flew very close below us on our descent to the car before heading home.  James, Susan and David had earlier visited Leverburgh before catching their flight back home from Stornoway.  In summary it was a good weekend but "The Main Event" has merely been postponed until a later time!

Gordon King

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