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Prow'd to make it up #40! Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin

Prow'd to make it up #40! Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Sun Jul 29, 2012 12:37 pm

Route description: Ben Vorlich and Stùc a' Chròin

Munros included on this walk: Ben Vorlich (Loch Earn), Stùc a' Chròin

Date walked: 25/07/2012

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 13.5 km

Ascent: 1140m

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A precious mid-week Annual Leave day in the summer, and it was actually sunny – surely shome mishtake :? ... However, I didn’t take twice asking and decided to tackle Ben Vorlich and Stuc A’Chroin, which I’d been meaning to get ticked off for a while but had been leaving for better weather.
Lochearnhead was a quick and scenic drive from Milngavie, and South Loch Earnside was looking very scenic in the sunshine :D .
Ben Vorlich & Stuc a'Chroin 001.jpg

It was busy though: I had had a full day’s walking in Arran the day before and a late return home on the last boat, and therefore didn’t get my usual Early Start. As a result, I was lucky to find what was just about the last parking space at the East Gates of Ardvorlich House where the route starts. I’d never been along the South Loch Earn road before, and found Ardvorlich House and its gates fairly impressive:
Ben Vorlich & Stuc a'Chroin 002.jpg

The route started on a series of well maintained Landrover tracks, with big signs saying “HILL WALKERS” steering me in the right direction and avoiding the House and its gardens. Eventually the main track leading up to the hills left the environs of the House at a sawmill and a big pile of logs, to go through a pedestrian gate to head straight up towards Ben Vorlich. Soon after this, there was a lovely initial view of Vorlich through the trees:
Ben Vorlich & Stuc a'Chroin 003.jpg

The track ends just after a bridge over a fast-flowing burn, with signs on both sides saying “DEEP WATER” (Health & Safety everywhere nowadays :lol: !) – however, a well-maintained stony path continues on in the same direction, heading steadily uphill due south onto Ben Vorlich’s NNE ridge. It continued to be a lovely day, and I could see at least four parties on the path ahead of me – these are very popular hills, being the nearest two Munros to Edinburgh.
Ben Vorlich & Stuc a'Chroin 004.jpg

Although there are a few steeper sections, the path is well maintained and it gave a very easy plod up to Ben Vorlich’s summit. So far, this was all very straightforward, if enjoyable, but I was worried that the next bit would prove to be something of a challenge – the famous Prow of Stuc A’Chroin :-| .
However, while plodding up Vorlich’s NNE ridge, there were some bonny views north to Loch Earn and the Lawers hills to provide distraction :) :
Ben Vorlich & Stuc a'Chroin 005.jpg

On arriving at the summit, it did indeed resemble Sauchiehall Street on a Saturday morning in the run-up to Christmas :wtf: . Ah well, at least it was sociable! Vorlich has twin summits, with the first northern one (adorned with a Trig Point) being slightly higher, although the second cairned one to the south has the better views:
Ben Vorlich & Stuc a'Chroin 010.jpg

Among the available vistas from the cairned South Top was a panoramic view south-west to that famous Prow, which was indeed looking a bit scary from here :shock: :
Ben Vorlich & Stuc a'Chroin 013.jpg

I also got a quick shot of the main summit, although there was a fairly large group crowded round it at the time, mainly taking photos of the Prow of Stuc a’Chroin. The stuff around the Trig Point isn’t mine!
Ben Vorlich & Stuc a'Chroin 011.jpg

Having passed the time of day, I pressed on towards Stuc a’Chroin. Even the descent path from Ben Vorlich was fairly steep and required the occasional use of hands for balance on the rockier bits, although it remained straightforward enough. Predictably, the Bealach an Dubh Choirein (“Bealach of the Dark Corries” – ooh, scary; very Dark-side :wtf: !) was extremely squelchy despite the sunshine. It had after all been p***ing it down earlier in the week. There was however a line of old rusty metal fence posts (possibly of some unknown occult significance to the Sith) to mark the way. Also, that Prow provided distraction enough, as it loomed closer:
Ben Vorlich & Stuc a'Chroin 015.jpg

And closer still:
Ben Vorlich & Stuc a'Chroin 016.jpg

I was beginning to worry how best to tackle this. There is a Bypass Path, which is clearly visible to the right (north) side of the Prow; however, that had a number of drawbacks: firstly it would miss out on all the “fun” (?) of the Prow; secondly it would require a right squelchy descent down from the Bealach an Dubh Choirein (and never underestimate the Dark Side of the Force, Annekin :lol: ...); thirdly it looked only slightly less steep than the Prow itself, and surfaced with scrabbly scree into the bargain. I opted to stay on the main path up the Prow. But how does the path get itself up there, over thon boulderfield and then thon steep rocky nose?
Actually, I needn’t have worried too much – the Path finds an intricate and rather clever way across the easiest section of the boulders, requiring no more than minor and entertaining scrambling, and then cuts up the nose of the Prow well to the left of the rockiest sections. It was undeniably steep, and it did require the use of hands for balance from time to time, but it wasn’t nearly as hard as it had looked from the bottom. There was the added bonus that every time I stopped for breath (not infrequently), I could look back down and have a pleasant wee “did I really climb up that thing?” moment:
Ben Vorlich & Stuc a'Chroin 017.jpg

Soon enough, the Path topped out at a small cairn, with Stuc a’Chroin’s summit just to the south. Immediately to the northeast was the lower cairned top of the Prow itself. A pair of ravens were perched right on top of its cairn, continuing to give it a certain Dark-side ambience:
Ben Vorlich & Stuc a'Chroin 019.jpg

There was also a fine view back round the side of the Prow to Ben Vorlich:
Ben Vorlich & Stuc a'Chroin 018.jpg

Stuc a’Chroin’s fine summit is an excellent viewpoint :D , with twin cairns, the first one marking the true summit by the looks of it, but the second one having the better views. I took a few photos from both, just for good measure.
Ben Vorlich & Stuc a'Chroin 020.jpg
Ben Vorlich & Stuc a'Chroin 023.jpg
Ben Vorlich & Stuc a'Chroin 024.jpg
Ben Vorlich & Stuc a'Chroin 025.jpg

Come to think of it, what is it about Vorlichs and Chroins for confusing summit environs? The Lomond-side Ben Vorlich also has a notoriously confusing summit, with the Trig Point being on a false summit shortly before the main cairned summit (understandably, it’s fooled a good few people in bad weather). Beinn a’Chroin in the Crianlarich Range has no fewer than three summits, with ongoing debate as to whether the Centre Top or the East Top is highest (it’s probably safest just to go up all three just in case). And for that matter, why four hills (two Munros and two Corbetts) all in the same general region of the Southern Highlands and called Beinn a’Chroin, Stuc a’Chroin, Beinn a’Choin and Stob a’Choin :wtf: ? Once more the question presents itself as to whether those early map-makers were simply Having A Laugh :? ...
Anyway, having taken the air, I thought I would go back down by the Prow Bypass Path, for the sake of variety. This probably was a slightly quicker way down, but it proved to be just as steep and slippery on descent as it had looked from back at the Bealach an Dubh Choirein.
Ben Vorlich & Stuc a'Chroin 026.jpg

However, the Prow looked even more impressive when viewed from this angle:
Ben Vorlich & Stuc a'Chroin 028.jpg

The Bypass Path slowed me right down, as I had no great desire to go scree-surfing this late in the day :o ! However, the Prow Bypass Path does rather niftily link up with the Ben Vorlich Bypass Path (the wee path that cuts round the western flanks of Vorlich to reach the main path back to Ardvorlich House) in the vicinity of the western flanks of the Bealach an Dubh Choirein – in fact, in one of the two Dark Corries in question, come to think of it. This prevents an awful lot of re-ascent :D .
Having made it safely (if slowly) down the Prow Bypass Path, it was just a matter of donning snorkel and flippers :( to negotiate the extremely boggy Ben Vorlich Bypass Path. The first bit is the worst, where it cuts round from the Bealach an Dubh Choirein to the north-west ridge of Vorlich.
However, on approach to the NW ridge, things improve considerably, with the path drying up, and very nice views opening up north towards the Tarmachan Ridge and the Lawers range. Interesting contrast between the knobbliness of the Tarmachans and the smoothness of the Lawers peaks:
Ben Vorlich & Stuc a'Chroin 029.jpg

From the NW ridge of Vorlich, there is an alternative descent option of continuing on down the ridge over Ben Our. However, I stayed on the Ben Vorlich Bypass Path, which now cuts across the next corrie (called the Coire Buidhe - the Yellow Corrie - I believe, although it didn’t look any more saffron-tinted than any other bit of mountainside in these environs :? ) to reach the main path back to Ardvorlich on the NNW ridge of Ben Vorlich. Although this bit of path also got a bit boggy in the middle, it was far better than the previous section, and continued to give fine views north over Loch Earn.
Ben Vorlich & Stuc a'Chroin 033.jpg

All the same, it was something of a relief to reach the junction with the main thoroughfare back down to Ardvorlich House, where all difficulties ended.
Ben Vorlich & Stuc a'Chroin 035.jpg

Stuc a’Chroin made Munro Number Forty for me. Having been very definitely non-sporty for most of my life, and indeed having usually been the guy picked last for the football teams at school (after the chap with one leg and the chap with the Labrador :( ), this has given me a real sense of achievement. The great thing about the Munros is how achievable a goal most of them turn out to be for the average punter. Okay, I’m probably not ready for the Cuillin Ridge or even the Aonach Eagach just yet, but so far most of the harder ones within a day’s drive of Glasgow have proven to be surprisingly do-able when I’ve actually gotten round to them :D . The plan now is to try to get to 50 by the end of the year...
Last edited by bobble_hat_kenny on Fri Aug 10, 2012 2:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Prow'd to make it up #40! Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin

Postby mrssanta » Sun Jul 29, 2012 5:15 pm

nicely done Kenny. We get our holidays at the end of this week and hope to camp somewhere on ben Vorlich on saturday night. See any good spots?
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Re: Prow'd to make it up #40! Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin

Postby madasa mongoose » Sun Jul 29, 2012 6:47 pm

Congratulations on reaching the big 40! Beautiful photos there. I've climbed these hills several times but never had views as good as those :thumbup:
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Re: Prow'd to make it up #40! Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin

Postby tomyboy73 » Sun Jul 29, 2012 7:26 pm

well done Kenny, your reports always give me a laugh. When i did these two i took the by-pass path up stuc a chroin, wish i scrambled up the prow now
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Re: Prow'd to make it up #40! Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:26 pm

mrssanta wrote:nicely done Kenny. We get our holidays at the end of this week and hope to camp somewhere on ben Vorlich on saturday night. See any good spots?

Thanks! Re: camping - not sure :? ; I suppose it depends where you're starting from - the low point on the NW ridge before it heads back up to Ben Our might have possibilities though; less squelchy than a lot of the terrain thereabouts. Probably various likely spots to the south of Stuc A'Chroin too. The vicinity of the Trade Route up from Ardvorlich House might just be a bit too busy if you're looking to get away from it all!
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Re: Prow'd to make it up #40! Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin

Postby Sabbathstevie » Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:04 pm

Great report! In particular, your description of the scramble up the prow has done the best job to date of reassuring me that it's completely do-able (as an unscrambled novice) so many thanks for sharing. :clap:
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Re: Prow'd to make it up #40! Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin

Postby tullius0618 » Fri Sep 14, 2012 9:34 am

Great report Kenny, and thanks for the detail on Stuc a Chroin, I'm returning to Vorlich this weekend so I can "finish the job", and it's good to get some advance knowledge!
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Re: Prow'd to make it up #40! Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin

Postby anxious-ambler » Fri Sep 14, 2012 2:08 pm

Great report!! Great to see what these hills look like - did them both 2 weeks ago but couldn't see much at all from the summits. Really struggled with the scramble up Stuc A'Chroin and the boggy descent but you've made it seem easy :) Congrats on #40!
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Re: Prow'd to make it up #40! Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin

Postby gammy leg walker » Fri Sep 14, 2012 9:14 pm

May the force be with you young "skywalker" on your quest for 50 by the year end.
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