Monday

It was a bit like the old days. I looked at my watch, I looked at the patchy cloud and the spots of rain landing on the windscreen. There was nothing to be done ’til tomorrow, so I headed home, grabbed some kit, packed a rucksack and picked up a pair of still unworn test boots in the porch as I set off to try and beat dusk to the summit.

I’m spoiled for choice for quickies here, but I had been wanting to visit a familiar and now neglected wee cracker. Before I rediscovered my love for the Kilpatricks I was out here all the time and it wasn’t long before I was crossing the Duke’s Pass and peering through the rain over Loch Achray at pointy wee Ben A’an.
It was pissing down so I got my waterproofs in in the motor and was relieved to find that the boots were a decent fit. Hood up, I crossed the road from the little muddy car park and plodded up the leaf-cover path path as it led me into country that is busting with memories going back more years than I have fingers and toes.

Ben A’an is a tourist spot, and after the Foot and Mouth crisis it was one of the first hills to re-open and it suffered horrendous erosion on its thin soil cover almost immediately. It’s got no worse, and no better and you can still feel its true nature as an outpost of the Highlands if you pick your time of day and your season with a little thought.
I was alone as I wandered through the trees with silent footsteps on soft ground, the light now weak as the sun sank behind Ben Venue. The clouds started to break up and the rain diminished to lone pulses, wandering around looking for an unsuspecting target.

Breaking from the treeline there’s a sudden feeling of space, the view behind you includes the flames of the Grangemouth refinery far distant, the Campsies and even a glimpse of Glasgow who’s water supply runs from Loch Katrine right below you.
The top is a modest 454m, it’s pointy, rocky and feels mountainous. The fact that it’s not even as high as the heathery bank just to its NE doesn’t worry it, or the happy soul standing on its summit rocks.

I wandered about the top with a flask of coffee and my insulated jacket zipped up tight.  Some of the clouds glowed pink with last of the sun, Ben Ledi struggled to throw off it’s wispy shroud of pure white, the sky was a cold grey-blue where the brightest of stars fought to see who would sparkle first.
I lingered, almost until it was completely dark. It had been too long, in more ways than one.
I descended in the creeping darkness, waiting as long as I could to use my headtorch. For no other reason that it meant having to turn my hat round back to front and I didn’t want the wet skip on the back of my neck.

The moon broke through in the car park and I drove to Aberfoyle before I saw another car. I had a lot of thoughts, how many days in the hills I’d missed in the past few weeks, how boots affect your movement, how eVent still gets condensation, how the colours of autumn are fading so quickly and how as I get closer to home I was feeling ill-er and ill-er.
That last point became the focus as I launched into the most horrendous 24 hours of physical horror later in the evening (the raven on the summit a few photies above was an omen right enough).
I’m sitting here sipping tea and looking forward to some food tonight, maybe, and I’ll be at home for a week or so. I’m left with one thought.
Thank Jimmy I got off my arse when I did, in the nick of time is plenty of time.

19 thoughts on “Monday

  1. Good man !
    I have just spent the day in E vent doing mountain biking sessions.
    Amazingly I was still dry including my feat !
    Indeed Autumn is slipping out of our fingers and still no hill time !
    Whats the forecast for the weekend dare I say ?

  2. Sorry to hear you were not well. Ben Venue and surrounds is one of the few places I have been in Scotland, fortunately is was the quiet season when I was there as well. These peaks whet my appetite for more, now all I need to do is find a reason to fly to the UK.

  3. It’s a lovely spot the Trossachs, so close to Glasgow and it’s still beautiful Highland scenery. With more trees than usual too!
    It’s not all Glen Coe and the Cairngorms.

  4. Glad you managed to get out there before the lurgy got you. There’s nothing wrong with wee hills, they can be just as much fun as bigguns!

  5. Absolutely.

    I’ll be going back sooner too. There’s countless ways to descend so you can do a circular route, none of which will have you standing upright in the thick heather for too long.
    Climbing crags too, it’s a wee wonderland.

  6. Agree with you ptc, it’s a wee stoater of a hill

    We did the circular route with the very steep descent through the woods – very entertaining :-D

    Hope the lergy has retreated

  7. Good old Ben A’an. Love it and been up there lots, e.g.

    http://cairn-in-the-mist.blogspot.com/2008/08/old-stand-by-ben-aan.html

    often using it as a fitness test when I haven’t the time to get anywhere else. Car park to the top in 30 minutes with no running and I feel I am doing OK…It is getting harder though (Last time it was 31 minutes. http://cairn-in-the-mist.blogspot.com/2009/01/againben-aan.html) I’ll have to get back soon – can’t believe it was January since I was there.

    Hope you are feeling better soon.

  8. Normal services resumes then? – kinda! 5th photo (summit rocks?) is cool.

    Now post-sickness food. Cannae beat heinz tomato soup, a slice of mothers pride plain loaf bread and a bottle of Lucozade (or Irn Bru!). Works a treat! :o)

  9. Another local hill I keep driving past. Well I’ve been up Ben Lomond finally so this is next on the thingsto do when I cannae be arsed drivin far.

    Hope you’re feelin better soon.

    i

  10. Another local hill I keep driving past. Well I’ve been up Ben Lomond finally so this is next on the “things to do when I cannae be arsed drivin far list”.

    Hope you’re feelin better soon.

  11. Not just for tourists, it’s the perfect training ground for the kids, plenty of interest for them with the forested parts and a wee bit of hands on stuff (if your 3′ tall) near the top, and then some magic views. Always a hit.

  12. Hey folks.
    It feels like a hundred years ago looking at these photies, it’s been a long week.
    Ben A’an isn’t wee, I think it’s ben taken from the northwest and shrunk to fit in with the surroundings :o)

    Snuck out to the studio last night for a couple of hours. It was proper wintery last night. Excited!

  13. Here, the boots thing…
    I grabbed the Hi-Tec eVent lined/Ion Mask treated boots (not as daft as it sounds it turns out, more later). Some test kit I chose, some turns up. I’m glad I get some kit I wouldn’t actually chose myself, I have to keep updating my reference point or I become the forum dweller who constatntly replies to every question or point raised with the “This is what I do and it’s perfect, no need to try anything else ever, because you’re all wrong”.
    It would be so easy for me to do that with footwear :o)

    Turns out that ascending was fine once a little stiffness left the ankle cuff, there was no traversing at all where I would probably have suffered but I found the descent difficult. I couldn’t react to the terrain at all well, I felt unstable at times, lost confidence and found myself gingery sticking a foot down at times.
    The soles are great very grippy, but the lack of ankle mobility was a real handicap. I’ll get back into the groove as winter progresses no doubt, but this was a great wee reminder.

    But, the Hi-Tecs look like a great boot for winter with aluminium Kahtoolas.

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