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Issue 91 - Above the clouds

Scotland Magazine Issue 91
February 2017

 

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Above the clouds

Keith Fergus surveys Perthshire from the peak of Ben Lawers

Rising 1214 metres above sea level, the magnificent peak of Ben Lawers is a real favourite among hillwalkers. It also happens to be the highest mountain in Perthshire and the ninth highest in Scotland. Situated on the northern bank of Loch Tay, it neighbours the villages of Kenmore, which can be found at the northern tip of the loch, and Dull. The latter settlement is famously twinned with the US town of Boring, Oregon.

Much of this mountain’s popularity is on account of its accessibility as the path leading to the top begins at the 450-metre contour, high above the icy waters of the loch. However, even if one disregards this rather elevated start point, the climb onto Ben Lawers is nevertheless one of the finest in the Southern Highlands and, especially when combined with the neighbouring mountain of Beinn Ghlas, makes for a spectacular hike. An even more challenging route crosses Beinn Ghlas, Ben Lawers and another five Munros (Scottish mountains over 914 metres in height), including An Stuc and Meall Corranaich, making it a true classic of Scottish hillwalking.

There is some conjecture as to the origin of the name Lawers. It may come from the Gaelic word 'labhar’ (loud), which perhaps relates to the Lawers Burn that cascades from the mountain slopes all the way to Loch Tay. Another suggestion is that it derives from another Gaelic word, 'ladhar' (hoof or claw), which may refer to the shape of the corries and peaks along the length of the ridge when seen from a distance.

Wherever its name came from, the compact summit of Ben Lawers offers a magnificent panorama that extends across much of the Southern and Central Highlands, including the mountains above Bridge of Orchy, Schiehallion’s sharp cone, and the twin peaks of Ben Vorlich and Stuc a' Chroin.