Welcome to another episode of Mother Murphy’s Diaries.
My plan for this Monday’s hike was to go up above Loch an Daimh in Glen Lyon and climb the Munro Stuchd an Lochain. Glen Lyon is one of my favourite places to walk in. Apparently as well as having the most fantastic scenery, there is a local legend that Pontius Pilate was born in the village of Fortingall! I think the very first time I climbed Stuchd an Lochain it was a glorious day and the views just literally blew me away. On a good day, you get to see Ben Lawers, Rannoch Moor, the peaks of Glen Coe and Ben Nevis beyond. The access road up from Killin is often impassable in winter for mere mortals such as me so this really needs to be tackled in the summer months. However, you know the saying, “the best laid plans of mice and men”.
On Sunday night, Mr M decided that he was going to come walking with me again and put up with the pain of his damaged knees. I decided a quick change of plan was in order as the chosen hill was incredibly steep and boggy at the start (which means incredibly steep and boggy on the way back too on my route). Being the kind, loving wife I am, I thought I would find a more knee-friendly walk. Ben Ledi came to mind - nice easy climb with no nasty bits. If the small car park was full we could then drive on a little further and tackle Ben Lawers.
So, lunches made, flasks filled, waterproofs, walking boots and Beatrix packed into the car, we were off. The drive to the start of the walk takes you past Stirling Castle, along the A85 and alongside Blair Drummond safari park and through Callander. You then get the lovely drive up along the rising Falls of Lenny. Limited car parking is available just by the junction of the Strathyre Lodges. It did cross my mind that as we were a little late setting off, we might not get parked but lo and behold, spaces were there waiting for me.
By 10.00 am we were ready to tackle the hill. What could go wrong? Mind you, let’s not forget that this is the same hill I found myself totally lost on one of our winter whiteouts this year which resulted in me cancelling my good friend Salena’s friendship membership when she failed to answer her phone as I called for help from the top of the mountain!
Anyway, as I have already said, I am a kind, loving, considerate wife so was thinking about the hike and decided that an easier route for sore knees was required. I decided that doing the climb straight from the car park and then descending down into Stank Glen for a gentle stroll back down the valley would be a lovely change. Off we went.
The weather was perfect. It was sunny, warm and no wind – not quite shorts and t-shirts but still very pleasant. Even Mr M took his winter fleece off. The path up Ben Ledi has been made much easier by the National Trust for Scotland to prevent further erosion, but it is still a long, long, steep at times, climb up to the top – with many false summits on the way. The views down loch lubnaig were stunning and I thought we were in for some cracking views when we eventually reached the top. Then it started, just a little bit of mist at first. Very quickly, the clouds blew across the valley and surrounded Ben Ledi. Jackets and waterproofs were quickly put on. A tip when buying waterproof trousers – always make sure the zip on the legs goes all the way up the leg so you can put on your waterproof trousers on the hill without having to remove your boots first. I learned this lesson many years ago.
Now the views of Ben Ledi looked exactly like the ones in winter. I could see just about to the end of my arm. We did find a bit of a sheltered spot on the top though to have our lunch. What more do you need on a wet, windy, misty day on the top of the hill but a flask of hot tea and a Bev’s Ginger Cream. Ok, bit of a view would have been nice. Refreshed and full, we set off for the gentle stroll down the hill and into the valley below.
All I can say is that the walk completed in the opposite direction to my usual route is not quite so easy. In fact I think Mr M would compare it to something like the North face of the Eiger. It would be fair to say that we had one or two exchanges of opinions on the way down but we managed and live to tell the tale again. We even managed to pick some bilberries, brambles and rosehips for making into wild berry jelly jam. I have never seen so many bilberries on one place. I decided that I will now call Ben Ledi the Bilberry Hill. Mr M said he doesn’t care what I call it so long as he never has to climb it again!
Everything is always better after a good night’s sleep.
In my last blog I was telling you how I had Runrig’s Loch Lomond playing constantly in my head. It was driving me slightly mad but oh how I wish I could turn the clock back! This week I have a different ear worm. In the tearoom last week were chatting to people about the song There Was An Old Woman. You know, the one where she swallows a fly, then a spider to catch the fly, then a bird to catch the spider to catch the fly….. I was surprised at how many people did not know that song. Some people even thought we had made it up. So this is my earworm this week which, for somebody who suffers with arachnophobia, is possibly the worst song to have running through my head.
With this in mind, the big cake at the tearoom this week will be The Old Woman. This is decorated as a spider’s web but is flavoured with chocolate, orange and vanilla and, in theory, once sliced into, should have a chequered design. Time will tell.
I will leave you this week with the words of the song, best performed by Burt Ives which you can get on utube.
There was an old lady...