Footprints Across Scotland
Why not make a few of your own!
6th & 7th March 2010
A trip up Ben Ledi and Ben Vane to the north of Callander.
I was long overdue a trip to the south of Scotland so I decided to head off to Stirling and the Trossachs. After leaving a grey and misty north east the weather started to brighten as I passed around Perth; it wasn’t too long after that I reached Dunblane, it was then a short drive up to Callander. After parking near Corrieachcrombie bridge I made my way west up through Queen Elizabeth forest park on a good path. As the path cleared the tree line it started to turn south following the course of a small burn. It was feeling very warm out of the shade of the trees and there was little wind to cool the exertions of the climb. I felt a bit overloaded as a local guy paused briefly to exchange pleasantries before pushing on up the snowy path carrying no more than his dogs lead. We would pass again later near the top as he encouraged his playful dog downward with offers of breakfast. The open hillsides offered views over Loch Lubnaig to Beinn Each and Stuc a' Chroin.
Beinn Each and Loch Lubnaig
Ben Ledi’s eastern crags, Creag Ghorn, bar a direct approach from the east and the path takes a rising traverse to the south before finding its way onto the gently sloping south east ridge. The views to the west now opened up with Ben Lomond standing out as the most prominent hill.
Glen Finglas from Ben Ledi
There was a bit of a dip in the ridge before a final climb up snowier slopes brought first sight of the summit with its iron cross. Splendid wind sculptured ice adorned some of the rocks below the cross and the trig’ point at the summit.
Ben Ledi's Trig' point
As I neared the top I became aware that a dark shape was approaching from behind me, it was Enzo, a friendly black Labrador coming to say hello. His owner, Nathalie, was close behind trying to persuade him to calm his enthusiastic greeting. I soon discovered that Enzo had a thing about walking poles, he seemed to take great joy in running off with them, I needed to be on my guard.
The Hills of Crianlarich from Ben Ledi
After a short break and a handful of nuts it was time to continue, I was keeping my options open but decided that there was plenty of time to include Ben Vane in the round. An undulating broad ridge snakes its way over 3km of sometimes rough hillside; the path wandering between hard grass covered ground and softer patches of snow. Deeper pockets of snow lay in wait to catch the unwary, especially between some of the peat hags; these forced the occasional halt to proceedings while buried legs were extracted with some effort. Nathalie and Enzo had also decided to take in Ben Vane so I was enjoying some good company on the way across.
Striding out to Ben Vane
From the top of Ben Vane there was a wonderful panorama to the north, Ben More, Stob Binnien and the hills of Crianlarich stood proud still covered with the plentiful winter snows. After a sandwich and a mug of hot chocolate our small group turned around to head back in the direction of Ben Ledi.
The Hills of Crianlarich
On approaching Stuc Dhubh we turned east toward Ardnandave hill before following its south ridge down into Stank Glen, the last section dropping steeply through an old plantation before reaching a forest track. Some marker posts indicated smaller pathways down through the forest passing some waterfalls on the way before bringing us out on the main track that eventually led back to our cars.
Ben Ledi from Stuc Dubh
Nathalie headed off with Enzo while I made myself a brew and enjoyed the remainder of my lunch. There were plenty of B&B’s in Callender but most seemed closed for the winter; after trying a few at the top end of town I headed down the main street where I spotted one that was open year round. After settling in and enjoying a hot shower I nipped out for a bite to eat before returning to enjoy an good nights sleep; I was more than just a bit tied!
On Sunday refreshed and refuelled after a good breakfast I headed north out of Callander in search of a hill to climb. Passing Balquhidder and Lochearnhead I arrived at Killin contemplating a walk in Glen Lochay; but the tops here were still covered in mist so I decided to head on toward Glen Lyon. I nearly got stuck in snow at the Ben Lawers visitor centre when trying for the bridge of Balgie so turned around to then follow the shore of loch Tay to Kenmore. After getting a map from the post office shop I took the road north toward Loch Tummel stopping just after the junction were the road to Schiehallion braches off. There is a small car park here for visitors to an old lime kiln. It was still a bit grey but the high starting point would allow me to snow shoe from the car all the way up Meall Tairneachan. A couple of deer made light work of the snow underfoot and disappeared into the trees on my left. It wasn’t an overly steep climb but using the snow shoes certainly got the heart rate going. I was going to continue to Farragon hill but the mist descended as I reached Meall Tairneachchan so after finding the trig point through the cloud I took a leisurely lunch before heading down. I was back at the car around four so managed most of the drive back to Aberdeen in the daylight stopping briefly outside Kirriemuir to admire the sunset.
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