A mere hour from Glasgow, this challenging Munro has long been one of Scotland’s most popular summits. But the steep path to its summit is suffering under the pressure.
A proud Munro
Ben Vane claims Munro status by a mere two feet, but with its imposing pyramid shape its prowess as a mountain is comparable to any of its neighbours in the Arrochar Alps. Indeed it has been one of Scotland’s most popular walks over many years – an accolade that has led to its paths becoming increasingly trampled. Flanked on three sides by Beinn Ime, Beinn Narnain and Ben Vorlich, Ben Vane offers a range of exhilarating walks at any time of the year on its own and is an integral component of an ever popular ‘three peaks’ walk.
The views from the summit overlooking the Alps are superb and a spectacular vista to the east towards Loch Lomond, Loch Arklet and Loch Katrine makes the climb well worth the effort. The mountain on any day can hold a variety of wildlife with mountain hare, raven, wheatear and ptarmigan not uncommon. You may even spot an occasional golden eagle or peregrine.
A people’s mountain
From the shores of Loch Lomond, Ben Vane is less than an hour’s walk from the Inveruglas visitor centre car park, which itself is only just over an hour’s drive or bus ride from the centre of Glasgow.
Proximity to the city has meant that the hill and those around it have been a favourite with local walkers and climbers since the mid-19th century. The first climbing group in Scotland – the Cobbler Club – was set up in the Arrochar Alps in 1866. By the 1930s climbers, often workers and unemployed people from the Clyde shipyards and factories of Glasgow, came by bike, foot, bus and train to climb the peaks and escape the city.
The lower hill also still bears the scars of industrial history. Remnants of the long-gone conveyor which once transported quarried stone across its slopes to the Loch Sloy dam during its construction in the 1940’s are still visible.
Hidden behind A’Chrois on first approach, Ben Vane today presents itself rising above a dense blanket of forestry as a rough pyramid of rock and grass. The walk itself is quite short by hillwalking standards but it is steep and unrelenting, with boggy ground near the bottom and false summits near the top.
The path has suffered badly from drainage and erosion issues. The combination of popularity and steepness has seen a sharp decline in the integrity of the path line. As walkers seek new routes to avoid awkward sections, the path has spread and widened across the hillside, with heavy wear causing further damage to the top soil. Deep, worn trod lines now also channel water onto the path, which has severely exacerbated the issue.
Following a detailed survey, it has been decided to split the path into four sections, each of which will be treated differently when it comes to repair and improvement work. All the work will be within the existing path line scar and aim to draw walkers into a single area of use, reducing erosion and promoting habitat regeneration. The path is designed to be both hard wearing and low maintenance which will be effective for years to come.
The work is a serious undertaking – the steepest sections are extremely difficult to work on! Find out more, and how you can contribute, in the video below.
Please donate today and protect Ben Vane for the future.
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