Our previous attempt at climbing Ben Vane in March of this year had to be abandoned after the weather turned on us close to the summit. We were pretty sure that we had made the right decision at the time – the lowering snow clouds chased us down the mountain – but the questions of how close we had come to the top and whether we should have pushed on through the weather had been prodding away at me ever since.
Come the better weather, come another try at Scotland’s lowest munro. Without waist-deep snow in the jagged gullies it was a different beast altogether. The sun was warm on our backs as we wound our way from Inveruglas Visitor Centre (£4 for all-day parking) to the base of the munro. The climb is unrelenting from then on, albeit on good footpaths until one reaches the higher slopes.
There are a few minor scrambles over boulders and through gaps in the rock that are great fun, and whenever you stop for a breather there are views of Loch Lomond and Loch Sloy Dam to look back upon. Less enticing, however, were the number of false summits as we climbed from the East. These tended to appear right at the crest of the slope we were climbing and numbered at least four – heart-breaking on each occasion.
Nevertheless, we managed the climb in just under three hours and were rewarded with a beautiful view East and South East, with barely a breath of wind. The summit is oddly flat, with room for not one but two summit cairns. After adding a stone to the pile we were on our way; the weather held out just long enough for us to eat our packed lunches on the way down and that was Ben Vane knocked off the list. Second time lucky. The rest of my annual leave really does need to go on doctoral work and writing…
*Thanks for reading, folks. Like and comments always appreciated!*
Matthew Richardson is a writer of short stories. His work has featured in Gold Dust magazine, Literally Stories, Near to the Knuckle, McStorytellers, Penny Shorts, Soft Cartel, Whatever Keeps the Lights On, and Shooter magazine. He is a doctoral student at the University of Dundee, a lucky husband, and a proud father.
Not necessarily in that order