Over the Royal Wedding and Mayday bank holliday weekend I headed, with friends up to Scotland.
Staying in the Arrochar Hotel, just a stones throw from Loch Lomond, Friday was taken up by driving north and packing.
Saturday morning at 9.30 we arrived at the Cruise Loch Lomond ferry at Tarbet, for the 10 O clock ferry across the Loch to the foot of Ben Lomond, one of Scotland's 283 Munros (mountains over 3000ft).
On arrival we had the chance to see some of the runners competing in a 53 mile race up the west Highland Way.
Once everyone was ready we set off up the trial towards Ptarmigan ridge, keeping away from the tourist route and heading for the steeper slightly harder climb. As we were relying on the ferry for the return journey back to Tarbet we had a farily reasonable time limit to get to the summit and back. We eventually climbed out from the lee of the main ridge and the wind, which we would have to put up with started to make its presence.
After a quick stop for lunch near Ptarmigan ridge we set off for the last climb up the steeper side to the summit, this was quite hard going and required some rest stops, but after a short and tiring haul we arrived at the summit.
This is me at the summit of Ben Lomond with the southern end of Loch Lomond in the background. We did not hang around at the top, as the wind was really uncomfortable, so we found some shelter on the descent on the easier, but less spectacular tourist route back down the mountain.
This is the view from the Carpark at the base of Ben Lomond, waiting for the ferry.
The following day we set off around Loch Long to climb up Ben Arthur, which is more commonly called The Cobbler. This mountain is often overlooked by hardy walkers because it is just short of being a Munro, but is probably more interesting to hike up than its neighbor Ben Narnain.
After a steep initial climb of around 1000ft you get to a more gental slop which glides you up to 2000ft before the steep steps up to the summit. There is another route, which is listed as being a bit of a scramble, but most of us chose to take the steps.
Like Ben Lomond, The Cobbler has that last steep and hard climb to get to the top. Unlike Ben Lomond, instead of being a single peak, The Cobbler is a short ridge with a number of peaks.
At the top of the central peak is this rock, if you check the Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cobbler) it will inform you of how to get to the true summit.
With my fear of heights and the wind I opted not to go all the way to the summit.
This is the view from the Central peak to the Northerly peak with Ben Narnain in the Background.
The return back down the moutain was by the same route, and then back to Ben Arthur's Bothy for a well earned cider, before an excellent meal at Ballyhenna restaurant.
We had a short walk along the Loch Lomond on Monday morning before setting off on the return journey back to Newcastle.
And here is a cuddly toy from Kentucky that I pulled from a geocache on Ben Athur, with the hope of helping him on his way to the London Olympics.
Main achievement this weekend: my first Munro.