Thursday, 1 June 2017

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: THAT TIME I TRIED TO CLIMB BEN A'AN . . .

Ben A'an had been on my to-do list for some time. It was on my to-climb list as well - yes, I genuinely do have one of those. It was not too high, and it had good views of Loch Achray and Loch Katrine. I imagined it would be a difficult climb, but it wouldn't take too long, so how hard could it actually be?!?



I really need to stop underestimating things, don't I?

When you read things like "relatively easy by hillwalking standards", this does not actually mean easy. Especially when you're nowhere near peak condition.

And that pun in the previous sentence was completely unintentional - but actually pretty fitting since I actually didn't make it to the peak of this particular mountain!


A picture from very early on in the climb - I was already knackered!!!
 

Ben A'an, despite its fab views, is not a Munro, or even particularly high. It's actually described as a "mountain in miniature" - which makes it sound far cuter than reality dictates. We decided to head there early last month, on an unexpectedly warm Saturday afternoon. By the time we got there, after being stuck in the middle of some sort of long distance cycling race for what seemed like forever, the car park was stowed and there were people all over the place!

I have to admit at that point I was secretly hoping we wouldn't find a space and we could just forget about the whole climbing idea (which, I should add, had been my idea!) but the fella very inconveniently managed to get us parked. (How rude.)

Parking paid for, we crossed the road (the car park is very conveniently right next to the hill) and started to climb.

Everything I had read about Ben A'an had told me that the climb starts straight away, steep from the outset. For some reason I had chosen to ignore this and the fact I was already out of puff within the first minute or two of the walk was very infuriating to me. Then it was straight onto a set of steps. I was already absolutely knackered. The fella was already way ahead of me as well. (Selfish.)


Not too high up at this point, but the view of Loch Achray is pretty special.


I never quite recovered from that first stretch of slope. Even on the occasions when the path levelled out and I had time to catch my breath, I just felt absolutely knackered. Looking back, however, I could see some amazing views, and I had to just keep telling myself "it'll be worth it for the view at the top".


Cute little bridge. I liked it cos it was flat.

I just couldn't make it in the end though. My mind defeated me, and I just couldn't do the last bit of climb, no matter how much I told myself I wanted to see that view, and I wanted a picture of myself up there too. No matter how "Instagrammable" that picture would have been. Instead I sat on a rock and wheezed while my heartbeat slowed down, hoping not too many people could hear me, then we headed back the way we came.


If you make it to the top you can see both Loch Achray and Loch Katrine. Since I did NOT make it to the top this was my only view of Loch Katrine during the walk. (I think)


Minor annoyances were the little kids who made it to the top that day. (I later jealously looked at someone's picture on instagram of their three year old, who had coped better with the mountain than I had and had reached the summit.) The major annoyance were the random family on the last stretch of steps on the way down who basically started, for no reason, running down the steps behind us, which stressed me out no end as I am not good with people effectively chasing me when I had wobbly legs from the climb and WAS WALKING DOWN A STEEP HILL, FFS! They eventually pushed past and the dad nearly fell over in the process. I kinda wish he had. Wanker. There should be fines for people who behave like selfish arseholes on hills. Or I should be allowed to push them over. Either or.

I'm sad I never made it to the top though. I still want to do it. Maybe this time I'll be a bit more prepared for the actual hard work it takes to climb. And maybe definitely I'll try to do it on a day that isn't a weekend or a public holiday when there aren't quite as many kids taunting me purely by their ability to make it to the summit when I can't.


The peak of Ben Venue, Ben A'an's tougher neighbour. Probably won't make it up that one either.

If you haven't been up Ben A'an (and aren't scared of a bit of hard work to do it) then I'd definitely recommend it. Maybe I'll even see you at the top? (Probably on Instagram when I don't make it there myself again...)


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