The talk of trainers in the post below is nothing compared to what folks were up to in times past. Ben Lomond attracts all sorts of folks, I know this from experience, and the Victorians were no less experimental in their approach to the mountains.

“Mountaineering Up and Down Ben Lomond” the illustration is called, and what a joy it is. Various styles of coming down it says under the top left image of the bloke in a bowler hat on a horse. Just below the horses nose and in the background are folk taking the quick way down, face first.
Elsewhere we we have beards and pipe smoking as was necessary to success until the late 70’s and umbrellas. I’ve mentioned this before, but walking a woman from Chile down off of Ben Lomond after we found her sheltering from a storm under a brolly near the summit is one of my abiding memories of a hill that already has so many memories for me.
Is that bloke top-centre trying to catch a rabbit? Has he dropped his hip flask down a crevice? Are these hazards still applicable today? Folks sitting admiring the view while trying to draw a breath without discomfort is certainly nothing new, although the tweed on the hill is more on a niche interest these days, usually accompanied by firearms and a fat wallet.
I have no idea if that’s meant to be the Rowardennan Hotel at the bottom, maybe the youth hotel building in times past?

I’ve often though of mountain biking Ben Lomond, but imagine riding it on a horse? Galloping up the tourist route with a Buff over your face waving and ice axe in the air shrieking like a maddie?
Gone too far with that one I think.

18 thoughts on “Geronimo”

  1. I particularly like the get up of the guy bottom right with the tam o’shanter bunnet and the hanky tucked in like some beau geste Scottish tribute. I to like the guy top left have taken a similar approach to extracating myself from a hill on serval occasions I might add, regardless of the footwear I had on (boots and trainers). It makes little difference. I’ve also done a good arse over tit once as well, a proper tum’le m’ cran(or wilkes).

    What happened to having fun in the hills?

  2. Looks like fun but have you seen the tourist route on the Ben these days. It would be an educashun just to sit at the bottom and watch the grockles on the way up. Like you we once found a wifie at the half way lochan who had become separated from her summiting come what may son. Quote “I think I’m lost & this girl here is too. She doesn’t speak English by the way” You gotta laff.

  3. Fun Tookie? It’s still there, mostly to be found when you’re ascending and other folk are descending :o)

    Alan, the last time I was on the Ben I got a cracking shot of a bloke in his pub outfit carrying his kit in a Farmfoods poly bag.

  4. a bloke in his pub outfit carrying his kit in a Farmfoods poly bag……..Mucho respect. Sounds like the ultimate lightweight gear freak. Wis he wearing trainers like you;)

  5. Apparently some young French guy died on The Ben a week ago. Don’t know any details but I think he was a walker and froze – although there might be more to it.

    Sometimes it isn’t about too much or too little gear, but just knowing when to stay at home and put your feet up.

    On a cheerier note, The Lake District was like the Med today. I’m burnt to a crisp.

  6. “On a cheerier note, The Lake District was like the Med today. I’m burnt to a crisp.”

    Perhaps that’s more hazardous than being too cold giving the melanoma rates they’ve just been quoting on the news.

  7. True true. Not normally a fan of hot weather but I was expecting rock climbing in the rain and it turned out pretty sweet.

    I’m back now safe and sound in good old Arctic Scotland.

  8. Knowing when to stay home or turn back is as vital a skill as any.
    How many accidents are caused by folk pushing on when they’re tired, the avalanche risk is severe or the weather’s horrendous purely because they’ve made the journey and set aside the time for the trip and are doing it regardless?

    Just got my two-for-one mini kids sunblocks from Boots for my summer rucksack.
    Too easy to burn my inner ginger on the hills without realising, and wide brimmed hats are good for me too. I remember Sandy getting heat stroke on this trip

    I wish you’d brought the weather up with you gypsymac.

  9. Never been to the top of the Ben on 4 attempts, the pub wins. I don’t want to get into a fight with Mother Nature she can kick you in the baws really hard an that’s definitely no fun. The mountain ain’t going anywhere and that way I can always go back and try again.

    regardless to what others say I’m no way as bad as that Belhaven advert ;)

  10. You can still feel the weather radiating off my poor wee face.

    Tookiebunten, keep going on the 5th attempt. There must at least be an offlicence up there judging by the number of beer cans I’ve picked up. Pretty sure there’s a chippy as well.

  11. You have just got to love the characters you meet on the hill. The best ones we met were about 15 years ago at the Braemar end of the lairig ghru. We were walking out from an over night camp when we were approached by two jean and t-shirt wearing Slovaks who were clutching Tesco bags and bottles of Irn bru. When my mate approached them they asked him for directions for Ben Macdui. Take it they didnae have a map then.

    Just finishing reading Scotlands Mountains Before The Mountaineers by Ian R Mitchell. Brilliant book once you get into it. Really opens your eyes how people lived and behaved on the hill in those days. The chapter about the OS boys was good. It was an eye opener to read how they used to walk 40 + miles a day, carry all there gear and did their surveys. Totally diferent way of life on the hill now.

  12. That is a fantastic book that, might be time for a re-read. I’m sure it made me laugh at times as well.

    I met a German fella on the top of Beinn Narnain years back and he asked me “Which mountain is zis?” (sorry, can’t do the accent) before heading to the Cobbler onec I pointed in the general direction.
    Another Nevis favourite was when I was sitting about half way down having a cuppa by headtoch light when a bloke in stonwashed denims and a leather jacket ran past me. This was a crisp February night too.

  13. It is indeed a good read. I take you’ve all read “Mountain Days and Bothy Nights”? Also has anyone read “The Hills are Stuffed with Swedish Girls” by Richard Happer? I haven’t read it but I just love the title.

    I can’t be too judgemental about the Ben. First time I did it was with a mate who’d never hill walked before and was wearing a pair of black dress shoes and a denim jacket. I think it was my third Munro and it just didn’t seem that odd to me at the time.


  14. Using the gear I have these days and doing the overnighters takes me back to my days where I was in Glen Coe in German para pants and Wrangler desiboots. There’s an innocence and freedom of early days in the hills that experience, knowledge and gear can erode.

    Read that Swedish girls book, it’s okay, it’s got its moments, good fun especially if you know the WHW route and all the characters seem oddly familiar.

  15. Don’t want to turn this into a book club or anything but check out “Rock and Roll Mountains” by Graham Forbes (ex Incredible String Band).

    If you grew up on music and the hills there’s a lot to recognize in there. It was like reading the life story of me and a lot of my mates. Without the metal though.

    I seem to be on this site an awfy lot at ungodly hours. I think it’s taken over from Chess Titans as my chosen break from work.

    Jings a need a life.

  16. Might have a look at that one, I’ve been managing to get time for my books of late and been really enjoying it. Just starting Neil Munro’s (best know for Para Handy Tales, the lead character of which I’m named after…) “The New Road” which is all full of Highland intrigue around the building of Wade’s road during the Jacobite shenanigans. All familiar places and events, so I’ve got high hopes for it.

    I’m on this place at ungoldy hours as well, usually trying to fix the spelling and grammar :o)

    The good news is, one way or another there’ll be some new mountains on here by Monday!

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