Ever since I walked to the shores of Loch Lomond and stayed at the Rowardennan Youth Hostel, I’d wanted to walk up Ben Lomond. I guess I could have tried it on my rest day but, well, at that point in time all I’d wanted to do was have a few beers and rest up before hitting the West Highland Way again.
When we took the girls there on holiday for the first time the thought crossed my mind. But, seeing as the girls were a couple of years younger (Eleni only being 7) I thought it was probably a bit too much to ask them to hike up with me, and doing it alone wouldn’t have been the same.
With all of us recovered from our amazing wedding day we left mum and dad at the cabin as we headed out to tackle Ben Lomond.
The morning was looking good, but knowing how the weather can change we all took our coats and headed off from the cabin and along the road to get to the start of the path up.
It wasn’t long before we reached the path and the uphill climb started through the trees to the track. It was only a quarter of a mile but it was a bit of a trial by fire for the girls as it was pretty steep. They did well and it wasn’t long before we hit the track.
At this point, the route was supposed to just cut across the track and carry on up pretty much in a straight line through the trees. But, due to the recent weather being so bad (I guess to allow the path to recover from all of the foot fall?) the path was closed and a diversion was in place. We had to head left along the track and make our way around and along the fencs line to meet up with the original route.
As we made our way along the fence line the mud got pretty thick and lots of fun was had slipping and sliding along before getting back onto the proper trail, which was considerably better and easier under foot compared to all of the mud and slippery grass we’d just endured.
The views over Loch Lomond were improving and while we were taking the detour we got a brilliant view of the Rowardennan Lodge Youth Hostel, where I stayed for a couple of nights on my LEJOG walk.
The weather was still holding and the girls were in good spirits as we carried on with our slow climb. Sadly though, things were beginning to cool down when we stopped for a bite to eat. The wind was beginning to pick up and coats were put on to take the edge off as we sat down and took the weight off for a little while.
Fed and watered, we carried on up the path, passing quite a few people coming down, and others overtaking us too. We didn’t care about that and everyone was having fun and enjoying the views, which by now were really turning into something special.
This was no easy stroll that’s for sure, and everyone was beginning to feel it. The girls were determined to get to the top though so we took another break – the girls sitting on some rocks – and off we headed again.
Sadly, the weather really did take a turn for the worse and the heavens opened! I put my camera in my pack to protect it from the rain and we carried on as best we could in the awful weather.
Visibility started to deteriorate, the rain kept on getting harder and harder, and the wind getting a lot harder, and frankly was beginning to become a bit of a concern for me. The girls wanted to carry on though and so we did for a bit further until I decided that we really weren’t going to make it to top today.
It was a difficult decision to make. The girls wanted to make it to the top and so did Shelli and I, but I really didn’t want to take them into a situation where they could potentially be in harm’s way. We’d made it 732m (2,402ft) up the 974m peak and, sadly, that would have to do.
We turned around and started to make our way back down the way we’d come up. The girls weren’t enjoying the rain much but they were still in pretty good spirits considering.
The rain eased off as we made our way down and soon we were back down in Rowardennan, and shortly after that we were back at the cabin. We were all soaked through but – amazingly – everyone was smiling and laughing!
What a great day! We didn’t make it to the top but the girls did amazingly well and I’m sure that some time in the future we’ll all make it to the top of Ben Lomond!
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