View from the start of the walk.
The mountain in the centre is Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers is beyond it and not yet visible.
This is about two hours into the climb and I'd already had enough. It's about halfway, but still not at the summit of Beinn Ghlas. It was only going to get steeper from here, we foolishly took the path directly up Beinn Ghlas not realising there was a longer, but more gently climbing route around the shoulder of the mountain. It was only the thought of what I might see at the top that kept me going!
Looking back at the summit of Beinn Ghlas. We'd been walking for three and a half hours now and our destination was in sight.
Facing the other direction and there they are, the crags of Ben Lawers! I actually had a spring in my step again now. A small downhill section to look forward to at last. There were also some plants to see here on the ridge between Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers.
Dwarf Willow - Salix herbacea
This is one of the smallest woody plants in the world, you can see just how small by the rabbit droppings in the foreground.
Dwarf Cudweed - Gnaphalium supinum
Although you can't see in this photo these grassy ledges are awash with colours from mountain flowers and one of the most striking is ....
Alpine Forget-me-not - Myostois alpestris
The ledges are just covered in these beautiful flowers which are the most amazing bright blue...except when they are pink!
The large flowered and exceptionally hairy Alpine Mouse-ear
Alpine Mouse-ear - Cerastium alpinum
Alpine Meadow-grass - Poa alpina
This species is viviparous, meaning just formed seeds germinate on the mother plant giving a very distinctive appearance.
Roseroot - Sedum rosea
Net-leaved Willow - Salix reticulata
Mountain Speedwell - Verronica serpyllifolia ssp. humifusa
This orange 'stuff' was a puzzle. Moss? Lichen? Fungus? Actually it turns out to be an algae called
Hoary Whitlowgrass - Draba incana
This is the flower that the thought of seeing kept me going on the long hard climb up.
It's Alpine Gentian (or Snow Gentian) very small, very blue and very beautiful. We were amazed at how may there were, we counted a good fifty plants and didn't really cover a lot of ground as we still had the summit to tackle, so our time here was shorter than we'd have liked. I was also hoping to see Rock Speedwell and Alpine Fleabane in this area but unfortunately we couldn't find either of these. Good excuse for another visit though and I was more than happy with seeing the Alpine Gentian.
Alpine Gentian - Gentiana nivalis
To give you an idea of size I gave it the 'Polo Mint Treatment'.
There were more rare plants to look for on the summit and so we made the final ascent which took another grueling half hour.
View back from just below the summit.
Moss Campion - Silene acaulis
Not looking at its best having all but 'gone over' and the same can be said for...
Mossy Saxifrage - Saxifraga hypnoides
Starry Saxifrage - Saxifraga stellaris
Mossy Cyphel - Minuartia sedoides
Rock Whitlowgrass - Draba norvegica
Unfortunately we were too late for this and as you can see it is in seed. Still great to find though.
Alpine Pearlwort - Sagina saginoides
Alpine Saxifrage - Saxifraga nivalis
Drooping Saxifrage - Saxifraga cernua
This very rare plant rarely flowers, when it does it has one large flower at the top of the plant, more usually it reproduces by bulbils as seen here.
Mountain Saffron - Solorina crocea
A very eye-catching lichen growing around the summit.
I'm on top of a mountain... Never thought it would happen!
Looking back to Ben Lawers from pathway down the Shepherd's Track
(the way we should have ascended)
The Shepherd's Path, complete with sheep, looking toward the way back, just one and a half hours walking to go.
We arrived back at the car at 7.30 having set of at 8.30 in the morning.
Eleven hours of agony and ecstasy! Worth every excruciating step!