Friday 2 January 2015

Ben Lomond via Ptarmigan Ridge

View from the top:

Day broke as we motored up the M9 past Stirling and turned off for the country roads that would take us west. Pastoral fields roll down to the Forth with the Highland hills a backdrop frieze. I had never stopped, until now, to take a photo. Here's Ben Lomond from the south-east.

It was going to be an absolute cracker of a day. Knowing how fine the sunset is from Ben Lomond, I didn't want to finish the hill too soon. Delaying tactics were required. My companion Dave had never been to Duncryne, Tom Weir's daily walk and perhaps the finest viewpoint in the Lowlands. It certainly is part of my favourite half day out. It somehow seemed appropriate to make a pilgrimage to Tom's favourite spot, the day his statue was unveiled at Balmaha.

Loch Lomond from the Dumpling:

Before we knew it is was lunchtime and time to climb a hill! Dave wanted to ascend via the Ptarmigan Ridge, which I had never been up. A well-made - if icy - path took us quickly up the sides of Loch Lomond, a more intimate route than the tourist path.

Above us, across frost dappled slopes of an Ochil-y hue, a silhouetted ant-procession of walkers on the tourist path. Below, boats cavorted in the loch, making road-shaped bends in their wake.

For all the cars in the car park, we met only one other fellow on the way up the hill. The only route to beat this, I felt, was an ascent of the corrie from Comer farm to the north-east. Followed by a descent of Ptarmigan. Because you have to include Ptarmigan in your Ben Lomond itinerary. Because it contains places like this:

View west from Ptarmigan:

I stood for a long time, soaking in the atmosphere as the last of the day's other walkers passed us heading down Ptarmigan. So close and familiar, Ben Lomond. It is easy to forget what a fucking awesome hill it is.

View north from Ptarmigan Ridge:

The ridge joins the summit cone and narrows and steepens satisfyingly, views north-east into perpetual shade, south-west to the loch, and above to the summit.

Summit rocks from Ptarmigan approach:

The summit of Ben Lomond at the end of a fine winter's day:

Descent was made on icy paths in darkness. A fair price to pay for being taken, just for the moment, out of our own world and into the breathtaking otherworldliness of a Highland hill on a fine winter's day.


1 comment:

blueskyscotland said...

Great set of photographs. Ben Lomond is a surprisingly fine hill under snow conditions.