On the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond
I was lucky enough to get a ticket for Runrig’s The Last Dance at Stirling Castle last Friday. What a fantastic night that was. So much talent on one stage! At least I still have my memories of Runrig and CDs to listen to even though there will be no more concerts. Of course one of the highlights was hearing Loch Lomond at the end of the concert. So, having heard this blasted out, sang until my voice was hoarse and danced until my joints were sore (old age you know!) it comes as no surprise to know that I have had this tune as an ear worm since then.
I was planning a hill walk for my day off from the tearoom and what else could it be but to go up the Munro Ben Lomond. My long suffering husband, Jim (aka Mr M) decided that he was going to come along despite his bad knees. I was a little concerned at this act of heroism from Mr M as he has not done any hill walking for some time and Ben Lomond is no mean feat standing at 3,193 ft (974 m). However, come Monday morning lunches were packed, flasks filled with tea, rucksacks filled with spare clothes and walking boots sorted. This all has to be done just before the walk of course because Beatrix (the border collie) gets so excited when she sees the rucksacks as she knows this means a play day on the hills.
The drive from Drymen to Rowardennan is a bit of adventure itself with its dipping, weaving and meandering single track road leading to the banks of Loch Lomond. By 9.30 am though we were there, rucksacks on our backs and Beatrix looking for a stone to take with her up the hill. It’s a collie thing! Of course, one of the drawbacks of walking in the summer is that your rucksack is packed out with spare clothes just in case. In winter, you have most of your clothes and waterproofs already on.
We had a bit of fun as we started the hill and just so that everyone had the same earworm as I did, we started our own version of Loch Lomond and I have to say that I was a star on air drum. I think there were nearly as many people up Ben Lomond today as there were at the Runrig concert on Friday night – just another hazard of summer walking.
The walk up the Ben is a glorious one, but a bit of a pull at times. National Trust for Scotland have done an excellent job of sorting the eroded paths to prevent Ben Lomond disappearing but also to help us folk who think we are real mountaineers have access to these wonderful hills. The views today were amazing. At one point as we were taking a break we were watching in amazement the clouds rising from the valley in front of us. The hills around were in an out of the clouds all day. The Cobbler (Ben Arthur) across Loch Lomond was as clear as I have ever seen it. The 360 degree vista seems to take in every mountain of Scotland and many a while was spent looking in awe at the finery Scotland has to offer. Scotland’s finery does not however, include the thousands of midges that had also climbed Ben Lomond with us today. Smidge certainly does the trick though.
Now I am a bit of a clumsy soul and also not that keen on ridges with steep drops so my route on Ben Lomond is to come down the same way I go up. No ptarmigan ridge for me! After taking in the photos and admiring the vista, we tucked into our packed lunches. A comfy spot found and we both enjoyed a bit of well-deserved relaxation. I decided it was time to get going again though when I heard to my horror that not only had Mr M fallen asleep at the top of the Ben, he was also snoring like a train! Oh the embarrassment!
Heading off the summit, it is a bit slow going to start with as the path is steep and rocky in places. I always remember being told, “take each step as though it might be your last” so I am never in a rush down the hills. By this time, Beatrix had realised that walking in summer was great as there are hundreds of people to fall for her border collie charms. Beatrix has her a smile and cute head tilt mastered that have people talking to her, hugging her, stroking her and, much to Beatrix’s delight, throwing her precious stone for her. I have to say that I felt a bit like I was out with my teenage daughter. She came along in the car with us, but spent the rest of the day chatting and playing with everyone else. Maybe she was hoping that all these rucksacks would also be filled with goodies for her.
The hightlight of the day I think though has to be when we about half way down the hill. Beatrix was a distance from us with a group of people and they were being totally taken in by her charms. It did not matter to Beatrix that these people spoke in a foreign language as they could still stroke her, cuddle her and throw her stone. Now I had noticed a couple of sheep on the hill, but Beatrix was far more interested in all the people she could get to throw her stone than the boring sheep. In the distance further back up the hill breaking the peace I could hear somebody shouting. The shouting started getting louder and turning into a roar. As I looked up the hill it was like something out of a cartoon strip. Sheep were running in all directions being chased by an enormous brown dog. The said dog was being chased by its owner who was howling at it to stop and also using some very short, fast words. The throngs of people on the hill walking, sitting, lying and chatting became aware of the chase and were flying in all directions. It looked like a game of human skittles. I had just enough about me to glance over to Beatrix who now was also aware of the chase. I could read her thoughts and could tell that she was now going to give chase and sort this mess out (well, she is a collie). I joined in the fracas and was shouting up to the people with Beatrix to grab hold of her collar for us. It turned into a bit of a game of charades as I realised they were not understanding a simple, “grab her collar”. Fortunately they realised just in time what I meant and grabbed Beatrix off her starting blocks before she could join in the chase. If looks could kill! Beatrix was not happy that I had spoiled the chase! Anyway I am pleased to say that no dogs, sheep or people were hurt in this story.
Disaster averted and we continued on our way back down to the car and home again safely. I have aching legs, Mr M has sore knees and Beatrix is asleep on her blanket twitching like she is re-running the day. And the ear worm. It is still there.