Sunday on Ben Ledi

Early morning mists, Ben Ledi

Early morning mists, Ben Ledi

Well we’re at long last starting to get back out on the hills a little more regularly and last Sunday we took advantage of another fine day to head for the popular hill Ben Ledi.   It is situated just to the north west of Callander and stands right on the edge of the highlands …giving amazing views from it’s summit, to the bigger hills to the east, west and north, as well as out over the flatter countryside of the central belt to the south.   It’s also a relatively short distance from Glasgow and so, like Ben Lomond, it is a very popular place to walk.

As such we decided to try and get a fairly early start and arrived at the base of the hill about a quarter to nine.  It had been a beautiful drive up passing along the southern edge of the Highlands through Balloch, Drymen and Aberfoyle to Callander.  Anita spotted snow on Ben Lomond as we passed Balloch at the southern end of Loch Lomond and then said she could see another hill with a good covering of snow on, further to the east …where we were heading.  There certainly looked to be a little more snow than we’d been expecting but as the cloud levels were quite high and the sun was starting to break through, it looked like it was going to be a good day.

There was already a couple of cars parked at the start point and by the time we’d got the boots on and gear ready another couple had arrived along with two mini buses!   The path is a large well made one, a lot of work having to be done to combat the erosion caused by so many boots.  It climbs steeply up through dense mature conifers before breaking out onto the open hillside.  You get fine views right from this point and as we looked back across the glen a thick band of very low cloud drifted below us.  The path follows and then crosses a small stream heading for the broad shoulder of the hill and it was at this level that we reached the first snow.  It’s also on gaining this point that you can see west to the many lochs and hills of the Trossachs.

The summit of Ben Ledi

The summit of Ben Ledi

The path follows the broad grassy ridge gradually up before reaching a final steep section with a good drop developing on its eastern side.  The snow by this stage was a mixture of older and quite icy stuff with a coating of a few centimetres of fresh snow on top …it was lovely.  We decided to stop, have a sandwich, admire the view and put on the spiders …it looked like it might be a bit slippery on the steeper section so seeing as we had them we might as well use them.   As we sat here the occupants of the mini buses (a party of young people with their teachers) all arrived, had instructions about moving carefully in the snow, and then all moved off again.  We gave them a few minutes head start and followed.  It really was beautiful with the sun picking out many of the bigger hills around.  Stuc a’ Chroin to the east of us looked particularly dramatic against quite dark skies behind it and as we reached the summit the big hills around Ben Lawers and Glen Lyon showed up well.

It was the ridge leading away from the summit that really caught the eye though, covered in snow and lit by the sun, it looked stunning as it curved away.  We watched the school party head off along it and a chap from another small party came over and kindly pointed out that you could see all the way to the mountains on the Isle of Arran ….well, he and Anita could …but it was nice to know and I could certainly imagine what they were seeing.  We set off along the broad ridge enjoying the wonderful surroundings before it descended steeply and we were below the snow line.  The route back descends down quite steep slopes before meeting a large track that contours back around under the hill, before entering the forest once again.  We were back to the car by just after three in the afternoon and it had made a great little day.

North from the summit of Ben Ledi

North from the summit of Ben Ledi

Mind you, can’t always get it right.  We’d planned to head out again today but after seeing a forecast that said thick low cloud, we decided to give it a miss ….I have a lot of work on at the moment.  Of course, we got up this morning and there’s blue sky and it all looks great……. ****!

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