For me the road to Ben Lomond is well worn, from Drymen, Balmaha and onto the windy never ending road through the shores of Loch Lomond to Rowardennan. That route never changes for me or the thousands of people who each year embark on the closest Munro to Glasgow and the South. Scotland’s most southerly Munro Ben Lomond waits.
The 2 routes up to the summit are just as well worn as the road to Ben Lomond although many more prefer the tourist route that leaves and arrives through the visitors information block from the car park. A Much clearer view of the top of the Ben is viewed these days due to the tree’s being taken away and who knows in time the top will remain hidden again until the walk is well underway and the layers have been stripped back due to the heat! Not a lot has changed over my many decades up the Ben, the road, the tourist path has some obvious changes to me but probably goes unnoticed by the majority of first timers.
Today’s hike was by the steeper less trodden Ptarmigan Ridge, the loch below opens up as quickly as the ascent and changes with every 50 ft gained. A few false summits to reach the ridge then a steady undulating walk to the last scramble up the side of the Ben to reach the summit, all in all, steeper harder and faster than the tourist route and a challenging scramble at the end. The enjoyable and steady decline down the tourist route is always welcomed as are the views across Loch Lomond.
I’ve tried to highlight the subtle changes over the years yet until today one thing had always remained the same, my trusted Brasher boots have walked Ben Lomond well over 20 times in just about every conceivable weather permutation and not to mention frequently all in the same day!!
A few things crossed my mind as I reflect on my own dilemma of my new walking boots v my old tried and test, very reliable and most certainly comfortable walking boot. I cannot tell you enough how much I love and trust my old boots. They have walked with me over many mountains and hills, and my beloved west highland way several times, they have kept me dry and blister free, they have walked through water, snow, muddy puddles! Slide down icy mountains and walked hot hazy paths all over the UK and abroad. You may get the impression that there is a bootromance going on here! There is, I’m loyal and probably stubborn.
Today my old faithful Brashers stayed in their bag in the shed and with a hint of excitement and trepidation I packed my new Supalite ll GTX boots from Berghaus. The keen walker will know they are Brashers yet now owned and improved by Berghaus. Can this be so? I found them yes light, yes easy to wear, waterproof, my feet remained dry, they never hurt my ankles with the new improved foam added. I confess my old ones did hurt after a while. Great grip in the rain soaked steps on the way down and very good ankle support. The newness is a thrill yet I think in time my feet will adjust to the boot as it will to me and I hope that we will walk many of Scotland’s peaks, ways and tracks in all weather. I’m not the lightest on my feet and going down Munro’s isn’t the most comfortable yet with the new boots comes a stronger shock absorbing base that also allows itself to be flexible enough to cope with all our shapes and sizes!
The boots Supalite appeal isn’t really felt by someone my size yet it offers durability, safety and protection with the added bonus of not being an additional weight to carry. They are in this instance used for walking Scotland’s Munro’s yet I know I’d trust them enough to walk my beloved West Highland Way. I like them and wonder if they will last the course like my tried and tested Brashers time can only answer that, that and the winding road to not just Ben Lomond but many of Scotland’s and the UK’s leading walkways and mountains. I maybe wrong here but I think they are good enough to be put away and used infrequently or frequently by the fair weather walker, holiday walker or occasional trek around the local forest brigade. They also sit well with me on bigger walks, higher peaks and in all weather, yet i haven’t tried them in the snow yet! The cost of newness comes in at around £150 and offers value for money after some 18 years of the old Brashers and the countless times I’ve used them they will give me value for money.
Change isn’t a bad thing and I think we are guilty of choosing our tried and tested old reliable routes that keep us safe, protected and comfortable. Yet with change comes old feelings that newness brings, comfort, protection and the feel good factor that is safety in my mind.
Meanwhile after a blustery day on the Ben I’m away to explain to my old Brashers that I’ll be spending a little more time with my new Supalite ll GTX Berghaus boots. Wish me luck!!