Took me a wee while, to put this one up as the photo files from my wee point and shoot Samsung are currently enjoying a one month long holiday to Thailand inside my brother's camera. When I recieve them I'll edit the post to include them.
I started off with the remnants of a nasty cold still in my system, but the day was absolutely glorious and Stuc A'Chroin was the only hill I'd attempted so far that had gotten away. My thinking was that I didn't want to do Ben Vorlich again and due to having the cold during the previous week, a corbett would make for an easier climb than than two munros.
So at 10:10am I was parked up at the layby on the southbound A84, just outside Strathryre. My Astra was the only car in the layby, although a couple were parked on the verge across the road by Lock Lubnaig.
It's not easy to see which layby to choose, but if you look for the small green "right of way" signs and a small stretch of crash barrier on the northbound side of road, by a tiny bridge over a burn flowing into Loch Lubnaig. Just off the road there is a rather oppresive looking, large double doored garage, the path starts off to the left of it. A lodge house, guarded by dogs lies over to the right.
The path is initially fairly steep and hemmed in between trees on your left and a barb topped wire fence to your right. The folks in that lodge house must really like walkers!
The path here is littered with fallen branches and tree roots and a little care is needed with the footing. However, a track is soon reached and a left hand turn taken, soon after a large double gate is circumvented by using a smaller kissing gate to the left. Here the walking is easy along a the through route to Loch Earn. Over to your left the lower slopes of Creag a'Gheata are covered in pine trees and Meall Liath stands to your right as you enter Glen Ample, the Ardchullarie Burn winds it's way along just over the left of the path, making for a pleasant scene.
Soon the good track reaches a sign post. Straight on the Loch Earn, back the way to Loch Lubnaig and right.... straight up the hill to Beinn Each. Be careful here, the first few foot steps are grassy, surprisingly boggy and slippy, but soon becomes an easy slope up the lowest reaches of Beinn Each on a good, clear path.
Under normal circumstances Beinn Each would have been a straight forward walk up a moderately steep path. However in the 27C heat and with a bunged up nose, I found my breath short and had to pit stop twice on the way up for water and a breather. Beinn Each does have 3 false summits and the path crosses over the top of some interesting crags between the first and second false summits. Once the second false summit is reach a fairly large cone of rock can be seen up above, which kinda lets you know the third false summit isn't the real summit before you reach it! Once the cone is passed, the real summit is reached within a couple of hundred metres and is marked with a minute cairn. In the great weather we had last Saturday, the summit was joyous. Views over the Lowlands to the south, Ben Ledi, Glen Ample and of course, the mighty Stuc A'Chroin. However if you are here in poor weather take care as the summit has two rusted off metal posts at the top, which conveniently for a trip stick just an inch our two out of the ground. There is also a rather nasty wee peat hag at just a few yards to the east of the tiny summit cairn.
Once at the summit, I sat and enjoyed a banana, the fine views and some more water, along with a decongestant tablet!
All the while pondering, "to Stuc or not to Stuc?" That was the question.
I re-read the WH route and saw that there is a bail route at Bealach Glas, if Stuc was going to present too much of a challenge and decided to go for it as I didn't want to have missed it twice and if I didn't want to do Vorlich again, I certainly didn't want to do Each again! At the top of Each 5 paths come to meet, take the one to immediate left of the one you arrived up and soon an obvious, but rocky path leads you down through the crags and height is rapidly lost. Follow the fence posts, but in snowy conditions, don't go too close to them as they often stand in the middle of puddles, boggy bits, mud and hags. Some are even arranged to look like modern art!
As you approach at spot height 706M, on the map, a solid wall of rock faces you and path is less obvious. Follow the rock wall round your right and stay close to it and the path will soon be picked up as it hugs close to cliff above, with Coire nan Saighead below. Once the cliff have been gotten around, the path crosses a level stretch of ground and straight into what in wet conditions could be a quagmire. In the heat of day, this had completely dried out, but the area the dried out mud covered was quite extensive and in wet conditions I imagine this could be very tricky as the path leads right into it! To avoid it, keep to the left, just below some more cliffs and skirt round the edge of the potential bog. The path then finally reaches the narrow Bealach nan Cabar and seems to disappear. Just follow the fence post and begin the steep, but short assault up to the point marked 735M on the map and the summit of the small peak between Each and Sa'C. This is a rather nice little peak, if insignificant and a small, easy scramble is needed both to reach it and to get down from it. As I lost a bit more height down into Bealach Glas I was more exposed to the winds and as I looked across to my right, down over Coire an Lochain, I could see guys in microlights and a glider perform aerobics in the strong wind rattling up the glen. At the foot of Stuc, I took another breather on a big rock and weighed up the task ahead. The ground was rocky and steep, yet the effects of the decongestant were kicking in and on I followed the path straight up the side of the mountain. A line of fence posts, standing in file, like a line of soldiers clearly mark the way up to a false summit and then a small descent, before the final push up to the summit itself. In this small dip the wind was ferocious and I had to brace myself in it's grip... no wonder those guys were able to stay up so long in the glider, still performing tricks... only now I was higher than them! But from here, the summit was in sight, the massive cairn at the southern end of the summit plateau visible for about the last hundred metres of the climb.
At the stop, I met the first people I had seen since parking the Astra on the banks of Loch Lubnaig. One of whom kindly took my picture by the northern cairn. Here the views over to Vorlich were magnificent and I sat in a sheltered wee nook to enjoy lunch. I had reached the summit of Stuc about 1:30pm, 90 minutes after leaving Each. As I was finishing my lunch, someone must've parked the bus at the Stuc's door cause all of a sudden people were every where and I spoke to a nice couple with their spaniel. I followed the main path down the the cairn where it branches off to head over to Ben Vorlich, then kept walking down the north west ridge on a feignt, grassy path until I reached some hags on the my left hand side. (From the cairn, the views back south are magnificent of the ascent route.)
Conscious of not wanting to walk too far down the ridge, due the tall deer fence around the inpentriable forestry down below, I found the very top of a small burn and followed it down to where it joins the main flow of the Allt Coire Chroisg. I crossed the ACC here and contoured round the hill a bit. The forestry climbs higher up the hill than the map shows and I was beginning to tir. Sooooo to hell with re-climbing half way up Beinn Each, over rough ground, to skirt around trees!! Instead I followed the fence down to where the ACC ducks underneath it and I did likewise! Be careful if you choose to do as the fence is at the top of a small waterfall and the water level was very low when I did it.
I could see through the trees, to my left and could see grassy land just beyond them, after a brief battle with some pines, I found myself in a fire break between the trees and straight down the hill I went, crossing over a small burn that appeared half way down, as when needed to keep on good ground. A forestry commision track that is beginning to grass over, is crossed before following the burn a little further down the hill to the right of way path. A left turn is taken and the good path fords many small streams and climbs back up towards the sign post that marks the beginning of the route up Beinn Each. By this time I was burning up, all my water was gone and sun was relentless and I felt each step of the long walk out along the track.
Over-heated and parched I reached the Astra, now joined by several other cars in it's layby. one kindly chap presented me with a chilled can of lager. He'd bet his mate I'd be back before they left...and just as they were packing up to head back to Airdrie, I made it back, winning him £10 and me a cold one! In all it took me 7 hours, but without my cold, the heat and the battle with the pine trees, I recon I could've done it in 6.
Also if you're tackling this route, there is no clear mark as to when to leave the NW ridge of Stuc and the ground is rough, once the small grassy trail is left behind, following at best small sheep trails. On to this, the trees and deer fence either have to be conquered or skirted around, which is easier said than done. Given this if I was to do it again I'd descend Stuc the way I went up and either take the bail out route at Bealach nan Cabar down, or go back over Beinn Each and descent the way you came. It took me 3.5 hours to go up two mountains and 3.5 to get down, so the re-ascent of Each would, at worst, take the same time as walking out down the NW ridge, by my estimation, but at least it's on a decent path with a clear route ahead..... or if you can pull a two car trick, continue over Ben Vorlich and down to Loch Earn.
I'll add my photos when I have them
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