There were many reasons for heading up to Scotland this summer, one of those was to get a couple of good Scottish Quality Mountain Days in the logbook for our Mountain Leader Assessment. The other was to get a first taste of what this amazing country has to offer. Ben Lawers gave us both of these, in spades...
Ben Lawers is the 10th highest mountain in Scotland at 1,214m, it is also the highest mountain in the southern Scottish highlands so we felt it was a good starting point. The height however is slightly undermined by the starting point to the walk which is a car park set high up the side of the mountain. There were many routes we could have taken, but we decided that we would take the 'flip flop' route up as we had the kids with us. They are a hardy pair but we felt a 12 hour day was perhaps beyond their remit considering this was a holiday for them.
The climb up was, despite the high level starting point, arduous and at times relentless. The start was truly beautiful. You make your way through a stunning National Trust Nature Reserve which follows up beside a tumbling stream. There is a wide range of native and rare flora which, if you have time deserves your attention.
From here you can see a clear path up on to Beinn Ghlas which must be climbed in order to pass up and on to Ben Lawers. We were able to keep the kids going with this peak in sight as it was to be the highest they had ever been at 1,103m. Their excitement on reaching this milestone was a joy and from there the climb up on to our goal was relatively easy.
We were blessed with good weather, there was little wind and despite cloud cover it was warm and the visibility afforded us views all the way to Ben Nevis. Standing up there made us realise just how vast Scotland is. When we walk locally on the Brecon Beacons, or in the Lakes or Snowdonia you reach a peak and can see for miles, but you can always see the end of the mountains. Here they go on forever, in every direction. It was totally mesmerising.
After a very smug lunch break where we chatted to our fellow walkers we decided to descend a slightly different way behind Beinn Ghlas and through a beautiful valley where we were almost alone.
As we descended we noticed a couple of guys spraying themselves liberally with Smidge just at the gate back in to the nature reserve. We smiled, unknowingly and strode blithley ahead of them. Ummmm, little did we know. I have never experienced the notorious scottish midgie and they certainly lived up to their reputation. As soon as one of us stood still we were liberally covered. So, after a quick, and thorough spray of Skin So Soft we battled on and back to the car.
it was a long day, we bagged ourselves our first Munros (two!!!) and have well and truly caught the Scotland bug. Plans are already afoot for more journeys north and for more climbs. This was but a small taste of what is to come and I am beside myself with excitement for what Scotland has in store for us.
I have fallen in love with this place, hook, line and sinker...