The Return of The Fatdog
Retreating in a deluge of rain and an all encompassing swirling mist, Fatdog looked back at the shadow of Ben Venue and growled…“I’ll Be Back”.
After September’s water laden fiasco where discretion got the better part of valour, a return to complete Ben Venue was always on the cards.
We were supposed to be heading for the Cobbler but a bit of confusion over travel dates left me and The Fatdog standing forlornly at the side of the road waiting for our lift to arrive. FD’s look said it all.
“I should have known…you’ve got it wrong again, haven’t you!”.
It was 9.15…too late to head for Arrochar so assuring J that we weren’t heading for the unknown wilderness without a babysitter me and The Fatdog headed to sort out some unfinished business within easy striking distance of home.
Ben Venue – now you see it…
…now you don’t.
Ben Venue was clear of cloud as I changed into the walking gear in the car park at the end of Loch Achray. As luck would have it we arrived at the same time as another walker who was heading up as well. A babysitter, J would be pleased. So Russell and I teamed up for the day thus increasing The Fatdog’s chances of a decent lunch.
The NE approach to Ben Venue comprises a forest walk, a bog squelch and a summit haul. Well – to be more accurate 2 summit hauls.
The amble up the forest section was relatively uneventful, the bog was…um…boggy, but at least I could see where I was going this time. Heading up to the little bealach near at the end of this section was so much easier without the cascades of water experienced on the last trip.
It wasn’t long before we reached the cairn at (246900, 706100) where the path from the south joins. This was the point where The Fatdog and I sheltered on our last trip before turning back. I would have photographed our reaching base camp for posterity. Unfortunately the 50mph gusts of wind howling through this little valley made photography impossible and standing almost as difficult. The hats and gloves came out, the jackets sealed up and up we went onto the rocky part of the hill.
I struggled. I had done 4 Munros in as many weeks but this was the first time I’d experienced strong winds. My breathing went haywire and I found I was gulping for air. That knocked out my leg rhythm, so before I knew where I was I was having a hard time clambering up the final section of the hill.
The hill was becoming densely populated. We’d only seen a few people on the way up but there must have been a group of about 20 people milling about the twin summit area.
20 people means 20 rucksacks. 20 rucksacks means 20 lunches. 20 lunches means that, totally contrary the natural laws of the space time continuum, each rucksack appears to have a black hairy head wedged in it at the same time.
As I rounded the side of the south summit I found The Fatdog, her black, wet nose set 20mm from the face of each victim…pleading, cajoling and ultimately threatening until each and every individual handed over the due percentage of the contents of their lunchbox. I’ve got to hand it to FD, it’s a slick operation to watch.
As I mentioned at the start there are 2 summits on Ben Venue. The more southerly is marginally higher and is topped by a small cairn. The more northerly has a trig point…and that’s where we settled down for lunch. Then, with her black, wet nose set 20mm from my face The Fatdog was told to “bugger off”!.
The summit has all round good views.
Lunch finished we set off back down, passing our fellow walkers huddling nervously against the hillside, Fatdog giving them one last, long leer.
Although we hadn’t noticed them on the way up we found we were sharing the hill with a herd of long horned goats!
We bumped into 2 walkers who had fallen off the back of the summit group and who had had enough and were heading back down. We did try to convince them that they weren’t far from the summit but to no avail. They were first timers who had chosen the hill walking activity out of a range of pursuits and had decided this wasn’t for them. So our little group was now 4 and an ever-expanding Fatdog.
Our little procession snaked its way back down the hillside, through the bog and into the forest. There we picked up another 2 of the walking group who had dropped off the pace even earlier.
Back at the car park we said farewell to Russell and our walking companions.
I’ve given Russell this site address so hopefully he’s reading this report. “Hi Russell. Thanks for the company”.
Back in the car we set off for home…as usual The Fatdog snoring gently in the back and me listening to the somewhat alarming noises of The Fatdog’s overworked digestive system.
One week later I was back up Ben Venue with both of The Fatdogs – Maisie and her brother Murphy (my sister in law’s dog).