Tuesday 21 October 2008

Stormy Weather on Ben Lomond

With talks in Glasgow and Edinburgh bookending last week,rather than return home for the short intervening period I spent a few days in the Loch Lomond area, somewhere I rarely visit as it’s the most distant part of the Highlands from my home. The forecast was for stormy weather and this time it was right. However rather than the blanket of cloud hiding the hills and the constant rain that stormy weather can mean I had three days of fast moving violent squalls with bursts of heavy rain, tremendous winds and flashes of sunlight, which was invigorating and exciting. The first afternoon I walked along the eastern shore of Loch Lomond, following the West Highland Way, watching the clouds tumbling over the Arrochar Alps and the wind-driven rain crashing on the stony beaches. The woods were dripping with moisture and I had a damp camp deep amongst the autumn-tinted trees, sheltered from the wind but not the rain. Leaving the forest the next day I climbed up onto the boggy ground to the north of Ben Lomond, where my overtrousers were needed to keep the waist high reeds from soaking me as well as shedding the frequent showers as I crossed the sodden land to the north ridge, which in turn led to the top section of the rocky Ptarmigan Ridge. Blasts of storm force winds had me clinging to the rocks in places to avoid being blown off the mountain. Dense wet cloud enshrouded me long before I reached the top. Hoping there might be a clearance I found shelter on the steep slopes east of the summit cairn and sat down to wait and a snack of grain bars and water. Another walker bemoaned the lack of a view. Then a touch of blue appeared for a second as a swirl of cloud parted. Hazy shapes appeared in the distance. Soon the dense ever-changing mass of cloud was writhing and twisting above the hills, ripped and torn by the wind. Loch Lomond spread out to the lowlands, a shining grey and hard silver with gold flashes where the sun touched it. Standing still was difficult and I took photographs lying down. The dramatic sky accompanied me down the south side of the mountain to a high camp partly sheltered from the wind. Intermittent heavy rain ensured that my tent, soaked from the night before, stayed wet despite the wind. The storm now came from the north-west and the temperature fell. There was ice round the edge of the tent at dawn. As I descended back to Loch Lomond and the drive to Edinburgh the still savage storm gave rainbows over the distant hills, curves of colour against the grey clouds and silhouetted slopes. The whole trip had barely lasted 48 hours but it felt far longer due to the intensity of the weather and the constant feeling of exhilaration.

Photo info: Loch Lomond from Ben Lomond. Canon EOS 450D, Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS@28mm, f5.6@1/1250, ISO 200, raw file converted to JPEG in Lightroom 2.

1 comment:

  1. What a fantastic shot, the landscape puts where I live to absolute shame. I did get a great shot of the sun, a loch and some dead bracken from somewhere (on my drive to see Nessy!) the other week - oh how I long to return.

    Just in case you are all wondering - I didn't see Nessy in the loch, she was sitting by my side in the car ;-)