Afternoon hike – Ben A’an

A sunny morning in Glasgow – so Adele and I decide to go for a wee jolly up Ben A’an. Reasons being – I’ve never been up Ben A’an before, it is small enough to do in a short afternoon and Adele told me she’d never climbed a hill before. Say what!

I’d heard about Ben A’an through a string of people who have told me its the best wee hill in the Trossachs for a short walk with great views, and it’s not far from Glasgow.

Ben A’an has its own car park at the foot of the hill which is just off the A821, you cross the road and are immediately onto the track. The walk begins with a lovely steep incline to ease those seized hips into action, up and out into the open.

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The path is extremely well maintained – and although most surrounding trees have been felled recently (which is kinda ugly) there is a nice breeze the whole way up.

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The rest of the walk provides a fantastic view of Ben A’an’s pointed summit. A good indication of how far you have left to stumble, and gives plenty photo ops!

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Onto the rocky summit of Ben A’aan – and Adele has ticked off her first hill. Wayhay!

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Almost the full length of Loch Katrine is in view from up here with Ben Venue in the distance.

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Overall, Ben A’an – perfect for a short walk, great for beginner hill walkers, ideal for kids and a nice one to ease yourself back into hill walking if you’ve not been out in a while i.e., me!

Thanks for reading – keep up with all my adventures @ronamcmillan

Rona x

Hot Weather Adventure Tips

This week the west coast of Scotland has been graced with what felt like endless hot sunny weather… although it has rudely come to an end now. So I am back inside for the first time in days covered in aftersun and drinking lots of water. Phew! As much as I LOVE the sun, I totally forget the strength of it… especially in Scotland. For some reason I feel I have immunity to the Scottish sun, as if it’s not really the same sun I’ve experienced in other parts of the world. And even when going up hills this week, or out on the water I kept forgetting that I needed to drink more and wear more suncream. Doh! Thankfully I’ve escaped unburnt, but I have defiantly been dehydrated more often than not this week – so my first hot weather adventure tip…

Water! I am going to admit something which is going to make me sound like such an idiot, however… I won’t make this mistake EVER again. We went for a scamper up Ben Lomond last Thursday in 25° heat with less than one litre of water between the two of us. Most of the assent was almost unenjoyable because we were so thirsty but we luckily found clean water to drink after the summit. I am now constantly drinking from a 2l bottle of water, and we bought a few big packs of 2l bottles to keep in the car so we will never be short! I read a bit about walking hydration online after that day – and the recommendation is to obviously drink LOTS of water before and during your walk, have some sports drinks that will replace electrolytes (body salt) on you as well, however avoid sugary drinks as they cause nausea and probably won’t rehydrate you very well. 

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Ben Lomond

Check the weather, and avoid the hottest part of the day for walking. On Tuesday we wanted to head to Glen Coe and Glen Etive to explore some hills and rivers, so decided to leave Glasgow really early to walk while the sun was still low in the sky. We were off the hillside by midday, and got to have a lovely lazy picnic afternoon in the shade. 

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Glen Etive

Remember to eat – the ONLY time I ever lose my appetite is when I’m overheating, and this has happened every single day this week… especially when exercising. It is so hard to force food down when your feeling exhausted from the sun, but amount of energy burnt in hot weather needs to be replaced with some food. On the go I totally recommend lightweight small energy bars and fruit, they’re packed with goodness and you don’t need to eat much to get the boost you need. 

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These guys are my favourite! Perk!er

Get framed and protect your eyes – block UVA and UVB with a pair of lightweight sunnies. I would recommend glasses with plastic lenses that are light and durable. Also make sure they fit really well, otherwise they’ll be slipping and sliding all over your sweaty face! 

Keep yourself cool – pick clothes and shoes that are going to be lightweight, breathable and made of fabric that isn’t going to cause you irritation when you start getting hot and sticky. A hat is also really helpful for keeping your head and face cool – I look incredibly dorky in a cap but I really need one to stop my scalp from burning and to keep the sun from my eyes. 

“Don’t get summit fever” Callum has said to me more than once this week. Listen to your body, and if your feeling dizzy and dehydrated be prepared to stop. We actually did turn back on a hill this week because I was feeling really unwell, I felt bad about it – but also knew it would be stupid to carry on in discomfort. 

Don’t be fooled by ocean breeze. The wind is so refreshing when it’s hot, but it is also very deceiving. The sun will still burn your skin! I found that checking the UV index gave me a good indication of how strong the sun was going to be for the day. 

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SUP boarding Loch Lomond 

And finally, listen to Ryan Gosling and “Get in the water”!

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We stumbled across Etive pools on our walk and couldn’t resist a swim to cool down!

Thanks for reading – I hope everyone has managed to enjoy the sun this week!

R x @ronamcmillan

How to spend more time doing what you love with the people you love

Plan your days and weeks ahead – there’s nothing more exciting than having a calendar full of things to look forward to.

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Tiree Ultra Marathon – Vivian

Check the weather – getting organised to make the best use of good weather is a million times better than being stuck twiddling your thumbs on a sunny day because everyone else is already off up hills, on the water or in a beer garden… FOMO really starts to kick in.

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Surf wake improvisation – Callum

Stick to your word – there’s nothing worse than really needing an adventure, and plans get cancelled. Doh! Sometimes we really rely on other people to get us going, so a cancelled plan can be a real downer.

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Firewood mission – Ewan & Angus

Don’t be afraid to contact people… even when you’ve not seen them in a long time – more often than not they’re going to be delighted to get that message. Better still, give them a call.

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The outdoor beauty – Emily

Go the distance – what a bummer when one of your best friends or family members moves across the country… but how appreciated is it when they make the effort to visit?

My mum is a 5 hour drive from Glasgow – the trip is pretty tiresome, but always worth it because I love her company, and I know we will always get up to something fun together.

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Red Point – Mum

Do things, that aren’t ‘ya thang’ – what if someone suggests meeting up to do something that you don’t really fancy doing? If not for any other reason, do it because they’re going to enjoy it.

My family was really keen to go and explore caves last weekend; I totally didn’t see the appeal of climbing into dark, damp smelly caves… but I went with them and actually really enjoyed it.

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Old mining caves – Kishorn

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And we found a cute newt!

Being present – how often do you turn into a tech zombie and realise you’ve been staring at a screen for an hour. I do, all the time – but having no signal up north is helping this problem!

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Tiree – Emily and I

Silence is ok – this is something my mum and I were chatting about recently. We are both relatively quiet people and find it pretty tricky when it comes to small talk… not because we aren’t friendly and interested in other people… we are just fairly shy. But once we decided we didn’t need to try and make conversation ALL the time – silence didn’t feel awkward, it was actually pretty nice.

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Sunny Applecross – Ewan

Encourage other people in things they do – going along to be a support for someone is hopefully going to be helpful for them, and also inspiring for you.

Last weekend my brother ran up the Bealach; my mum and I drove half the way up to give him water, I took some snaps and we met him at the top when he finished. It was really great watching him achieve something – even though the run was no bother at all for him, it would be something I would find difficult and now I feel pretty egged on to do the same run.

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Running up the Bealach – Angus

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Tiree Ultra – Angus and Gary

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Ultra running super Mum

And after all that – time alone seems to feel different. My itching restlessness is gone and I’m feeling content and pretty chilled. Being around other people who love doing what I love doing generally makes me a more productive and happier person.

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Beers, poems, hammock!

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Just a couple dudes I love – The Bros

Thanks for reading

R x @ronamcmillan

Bothy Culture

First Bothy adventure of the year - UAGS

Unless approached by sea, Uags Bothy is at the end of an extremely boggy scramble from Toscaig (south of Applecross). We (Callum, Ewan and I) did plan to paddle there in sea kayaks – launching from my mums front garden in Kishorn and exploring the coast line until we reached Uags. Typically the weather came in, and the wind would’ve made it impossible for my wee arms to manage the 10 mile paddle – Ewan and Callum would’ve been fine, but they kindly joined me for the walk instead!

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We left Kishorn in Ewan’s new van, excitedly arriving at Toscaig at 4pm – we expected to be over the hill and at the bothy for sunset.. which we almost made; if only the path didn’t keep disappearing from under our feet!

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Arriving at Uags, we saw the very last of the sun dip behind the Cuillin mountains on Skye – which the bothy looks straight out to. January adventure meant darkness at 5pm, so we set up camp inside the Bothy and began prepping dinner – steak, rocket, peppers, broccoli, camembert cheese? Possibly THE poshest bothy dinner ever, but so delicious! The rest of the evening was spent huddled round the small fireplace, listening to the flames crackle, we chatted and told stories – and once the Jura was finished we hunkered down for sleep.

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I can’t say it was the best sleep I’ve ever had; Callum convinced me the Bothy was ghost infested and the creaking of the building warming up with our presence totally spooked me… I think i’ll sleep in a tent next time! In the morning Ewan went beach scavenging for fire wood (to restock what we had used the night before) as Callum and I swept, and tidied up the inside of the Bothy.

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We walked back to Toscaig – following the correct path this time, and headed home for a bowl of mums soup! Great adventure with the best people!

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Bothy Etiquette
  • Leave the Bothy in as good (if not better) condition as you found it
  • Take ALL rubbish home
  • Don’t leave food – this encourage mice and other hungry rodents
  • Double check all the windows and doors are closed tight before leaving
  • Bring some extras to leave behind – maybe a lighter, some candles, fire lighters etc
  • Collect fire wood for the next visitor – and stack indoors to allow it to dry – but don’t cut live wood!
  • Respect and welcome other people visiting the Bothy at the same time as you!
Kit List
  • Roll mat
  • Sleeping bag
  • Torch
  • Candles + matches/lighter
  • Firewood + firelighters
  • Pan + spork + sharp knife
  • Bin bag
  • Hip flak/whole bottle
  • FOOD + water
  • Waterproofs + boots + socks (with spares) + LOTS more warm stuff
  • MAP!

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Thanks for reading!

R x