Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers [Munro 4 & 5]
Earlier today I walked up Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers with my brother and son. On the new count Beinn Ghlas was number 4 and Ben Lawers the fifth Munro. Only another 278 to go!
It was a two hour drive from our house, but we had an early start and got there just before 10. The car park had a £3 parking fee, although free for members of the National Trust for Scotland. We started off at 10:05. You can see the detail of our route on OS Maps – I plotted this one using the aerial photos of Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers because the footpath was suspiciously straight and it suggested three hours was enough to do two munros!
Translated from Gaelic this is Grey Mountain. It’s in a nature reserve, although we didn’t see any notable wildlife, unlike when we went up Driesh and Mayar last month.
The path up was pretty obvious, and under active maintenance by NTS volunteers. We spent the early part of the walk stripping off layers. It was lovely and sunny.
The weather held all the way to the summit. We stopped just below it about one o’clock and had a lunch within about 50m of the top. The views were awesome.
Ben Lawers is on the other side of Beinn Ghlas. It’s hard to be certain how it has been anglicised from the Gaelic. My best guess is that it might have been Beinn Laghach, which translates loosely to Mount Pleasant. It has the distinction of being the 10th highest mountain in Scotland (and also in the UK, because it’s even higher than Snowdon).
Almost as soon as we stepped off the summit of Beinn Ghlas onto the ridge between them the wind came up. It got stronger as we walked along the ridge, to the point that if we threw a stone straight up it got blown sideways. We had a bit of fun jumping up to be blown.
By the time we started climbing up Ben Lawers from the ridge it was getting in the way. It took us over an hour to climb 150m over a distance of about half a kilometre. If we’d moved at my usual rate that would have been a bit under half an hour.
We had to stop several times in the lee on the way up. We also put on waterproofs and took off hats. It was decidedly colder than it had been earlier.
About 20m below the summit we saw the cloud start to come down. I raced ahead to see if I could make it before the cloud came down. I didn’t quite manage it. We had a rest and a snack on the summit of Ben Lawers in the shelter of the cairn. We started back down at just after 1430.
The cloud hadn’t just covered the summit of Ben Lawers. As we made our way off in the teeth of the wind it started raining. It wasn’t very heavy, but the wind brought it in horizontally. I saw a couple coming up towards us in it, and the woman had bright orange legs. I’m not sure if it was a (fake) tan or if the windchill had turned her legs that colour. Not long before that I’d made Alex put on his waterproof because he’d shown signs of wind burn on his arms.
The rain persisted most of the way back down. It was a pretty easy walk, apart from the terrific wind near the top. I think it was probably on the upper end of Force 7 on the summit.
We made it back to the car park just after 1630. So we spent almost exactly 6.5 hours on the walk. We covered 10.6km and climbed 930m vertically. Definitely a good day out!