What a cracking hill! Ben Vane (the little one by Loch Lubnaig not the Munro) is an absolute gem and I really don’t know why it has been ignored by me for so long and why it has been activated so few times.
There are several routes to the summit, I chose possibly the easiest. I’d parked by the farm at Ballimore at the end of the road from Balquhidder. This road is getting worse everytime I drive down it! There’s space for about 4 cars at the end with more spaces further back. It can get popular too, you can start walks for Ben Stacach SS-043, Creag Mhor SS-088, Ben Vane SS-031 and Beinn an t-Sidhein SS-127 from here! I was third in at 10.05. Note to self: next time you lock the car and leave it in the middle of nowhere remember to close the drivers window (wide open) and sunroof. D’Oh!
I wasn’t too sure if there was a path or not. None of the online research mentions a path from here, just one guide which says to follow the fence. So I did! Over the bridge and followed the Brig O’Turk right of way to the gate. Over the gate and instead of following the path I used when conquering Ben Stacach I turned left and followed the fence up hill. There was a quad bike track and I followed this. After a while the fence turns and stops running up hill but the track continued. So I followed the track up. And up and up. And then the quad bike track became a path. I thought it was an animal track but when I saw Vibram prints in it I knew it must be going where I wanted. This initial section is easy really on grassy slopes but a fair old pull. I just kept on huffing and puffing.
After climbing up the bank you hit the ridge. This is a gentle upwards slope and undulates a lot. And it’s boggy. There are some glorious bogs and peat hags. The path is quite easy to follow and whenever the path disappears and reappears 20ft further on you know that bit is soft! Luckily I never found anything deeper than a few inches. However, the wx changed here. It was cracking the flags back home but as I drove past Stirling it got much cloudier. Still it was T-shirt weather until I hit the ridge as that is when the wind hit me. Gloves, hat and fleece on and I continued. Having crossed the last of the bogs the ground steepens a lot. Another fair old pull and you’re at the top.
This really was easy. Yes, it’s a bit steep in places and you have to avoid the bogs but I did the climb in 2hrs elapsed. Not bad as it was busy and I spoke to 4 separate groups of walkers. It was proper Winter at the top, diabolically cold in the wind and there’s nowhere to hide. The lee side is far too steep to setup upon. So I had no choice but to rough it out. The LiPos worked OK. I spent an evening learning how to pack my new bag and that seems to have made much better use of the odd shaped space these new fangled framed rucksacks have. Mine has the bag held off your back with a mesh panel and so inside is lots of awkward curves.
60m seemed fair and I worked a good few and then the band just died. I could hear Terry G0VWP/p calling and calling so I qsy’d to the RSGB news and there were strong signals there. I worked Mark G0VOF amongst others. The only problem was that a few walkers got me talking so I missed a chunk of the reports to me and the guys on the news net have never sat at 821m in strong westerly or they’d get to the point a hell of a lot quicker. Gordon Adams G3LEQ appeared and so I knew I had time to read War and Peace whilst he made “a few quick comments.” I found Frank G3RMD but whilst he was strong with me I need to reply in CW for his report. After that a QSY to 40m CW. 7.032 was quiet and I managed to work LA1ENA/p (took a few attempts to get the call, sorry!) I was trying to work G4WSX when 7.032 was invaded by loads of stations and thus without a CW filter it became unusable. The antenna then fell down for the 3rd time because of the wind so I packed up in disgust! Well one and a half QSOs on the key is better than none. Must practice more.
The view from the summit was splendid. The north and east was in sunlight but I wasn’t. However, for 821m the view is spectacularly better than you would expect. Down to the farms at Imeroin and Ballimore shows a magnificent glen. Beinn an t-Sidhein (pronounced throat warbler mangrove, sorry Ben Sheen) looks wonderful as do the Arrochar Alps plus all the usual suspects for this area (Ben Lawers & friends, Ben More Stob Binnein etc. etc.) I strongly recommend that anyone visiting the area does this hill and I can see this may become a regular “don’t know what to do, do Ben Vane then” hill. In fact I was so taken by this hill I can see me doing it just for fun and no points it’s that good! Seriously.
Return was simply a retrace of my outward route. The bogs seemed much easier and I was back at the car to discover it locked but the windows open! I had a leisurely drive back in what seemed to be increasingly better weather the nearer I got home. Music today was provided by James Marshall Hendrix who sadly shuffled off his mortal coil and joined the choir eternal at the early age of 28 some 39 years ago last Friday. I can’t imagine what a 67 year old Hendrix would be like.
“It’s very far away,
It takes about a half a day,
to get there,
if we travel by, uh, my dragonfly”
Distance walked: 9.4km, total ascent: 663m, distance driven: 120 miles.