Our first full day in Drymen, we decided to go exploring. But, by the time we reached the starting point of the Ben Lomond trail, it was already after 1pm. With an estimated 4-6 hour trek ahead of us, I did warn that we would be returning in the dark.
Undeterred, Chris insisted we climb Ben Lomond. So we set off along the Main Path to the summit from Rowardennan.
You almost immediately start to climb through the lower trees. It was a perfect day as the sun joined us for short bursts and we were only slightly spattered by the expected Scottish rain. Trees in full autumn colour, the views were spectacular as I stopped every 5 minutes to take photographs.
The path is well-trodden and definitely one of the easier trails I have climbed. Obviously, it is a popular walk. Today, however, we almost had the mountain to ourselves.
This first section of the walk is fairly steep, with uneven steps climbing the high gradient sides. As with most mountain climbs, we did not immediately begin to climb Ben Lomond, but circled around onto the ridge via its neighbouring mounts.
Upon reaching the ridge, the trail evened out and became almost easy as we meandered along. Inclining gradually, the views only got better. Every time we turned around, we gasped with the beauty presented before us.
As the sun broke through and drizzle continued in the surrounding valleys, a weird phenomenon occurred. Not a drop of rain fell on us as we observed an incredible full rainbow that kept us company for the rest of the journey.
As we got further towards the summit, which loomed through the cloud before us, we met more and more people returning. Only 20 minutes left, 15 minutes, 5 minutes. Their estimations were definitely optimistic as we struggled up the last steep climb to the summit.
One hundred metres from the top, my legs suddenly gave way – I’m not as fit as I once was! Chris had to seriously use his powers of persuasion to get me that last little bit. I could not turn back now!
But we made it. Utterly exhausted and now a little wet as the rain drew in. The top of Ben Lomond was soaked with huge puddles everywhere. The view was worth the pain.
With the light fading, we could not stay long at the top. It now became a race to the bottom before darkness ensued. Our knees buckling as we traversed the steep steps to the bottom, the journey seemed much longer than on our way up.
At points, we slipped and ankles were twisted, but we continued with the backdrop of a pink and purple sunset. Truly beautiful and something we would not have seen had we not been walking down the mountain at this time.
Nevertheless, the last couple of hundred metres were attempted in complete darkness. With the aid of our mobile phones, we were able to make out the path and get down safely.
Definitely exhausted and muscles that hadn’t been used in a long time aching, we were very satisfied to have completed Ben Lomond. Absolutely worth it.