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Two Bens and I got An Stuc
by smirnie71 » Mon Jul 15, 2013 1:38 pm
Route description: Ben Lawers and Beinn Ghlas
Munros included on this walk: An Stuc, Beinn Ghlas, Ben Lawers
Date walked: 11/07/2013
Time taken: 8 hours
Distance: 15 km
Ascent: 1360m16 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Months ago when I booked this time off I was so excited at the prospect of a day or twos hill walking in Scotland. In the mean time putting the house on the market, trying to get to grips with work and a general back slide in maintaining my fitness and healthy eating habits meant I was somewhat ambivalent by the time I jumped into Dave the van on Wednesday afternoon for the long drive north.
Although the tent was packed and I had everything I needed for a couple of days on the hill, I knew in my heart of hearts I wasn't going to be wild camping and would probably settle for a couple of day walks whilst sleeping in the van.
It all started off well enough and the drive up to Killin and on to Ben Lawers NNR passed without incident. I arrived at about 9.30pm and started getting ready to bed in for the night. There was one other arrival at the car park who was also planning an early start I guessed.
Things quickly went pear shaped as I managed to break the lock to the back door of the van. No amount of faffing with the screwdriver on my pen knife or ripping the ply wood cladding off got me access to the mechanism in order to fix it. From now on all ingress and egress was by climbing ungainly over the seats trying not to knock the hand break, gear stick or horn. I wasn't happy.
My alarm went off at 5.30am, I peered out of the window and saw .... nothing! The clag was well and truly down so I hit snooze several times before getting up an hour later. There was still clag but the forecast suggested it wouldn't last.
I packed my sack with everything I needed for the day, made a brew and headed up the very clearly marked path through the nature reserve.
Dew laden spider webs in Ben Lawers NNR
Low visibility at my breakfast stop in the nature reserve
As I headed off along the hill the humidity hit me like a train. Within minutes I was soaked through and felt like I was walking in a steam room.
There was not a soul in sight and the overwhelming sense was of utter silence, enveloped as I was in thick clag which deadened all sound. Occasionally I heard the tinkling of Edramucky burn.
After crossing the burn about half way up the reserve I stopped for breakfast, a mug of granola with cold water from the stream. I paced up and down the path whilst eating to avoid being eaten by the little midgey blighters.
From here it was on through the reserve, gently winding up hill, along a short board walk and through a gate in a high fence to emerge on to what I assumed was the flank of Beinn Ghlas. Navigation was easy enough as the path is very well built and easy to follow. After a hundred yards or so the path forked and I took the right fork heading north west up Beinn Ghlas. Still walking through clag at about the 650 metre contour line I turned to look behind me when all of a sudden the clag lifted a fraction and I realised I was indeed walking through clouds. Eerie wisps of cloud silently drew apart like curtains to reveal a hill side and sun only to close as quickly as it opened.
Now you see it... emerging above the clag, sun light reflecting and dancing on the clouds
A little further up the hill I realised I was going to be in for a real treat. The sun was blazing, blue skies were emerging and below me the valley of Loch Tay was filled with cloud. I was indeed treated to the most spectacular inversion, an inversion I hadn't dared dream I would see.
Cloud rolling up the hill side from Loch Tay
Beinn Ghlas revealed
Walking on clouds, Beinn Ghlas Summit
Buoyed by the incredible views of the hills, the inversion and the utter peace of the place I arrived at the summit of Beinn Ghlas with a spring in my step. It was just after 9am and I had the summit to myself. Time for a celebratory raised walking pole dance! I sat and took in the scene as peaks gradually appeared as if they were islands floating in the sky. I revelled in the peace and serenity I felt. This is living in the moment.
The clear path took me easily to the bealach between Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers where a path goes off to the left offering an easy walk round Beinn Ghlas to the nature reserve. I continued straight on and up Ben Lawers stopping briefly to chat with the first person I saw that morning. The pull up Ben Lawers was a little steeper but still easy going and I arrived to find a deserted summit, trig point and cairn proclaiming the highest point on this ridge and my second munro. I felt giddy with elation, I've never before strung together two or more munros and made up my mind then and there to go for An Stuc.
Leaving Beinn Ghlas for Ben Lawers, the path clear to see ahead.
Ben Lawers summit panorama with Lochan nan Cat and Lochan nan Uan at the foot An Stuc and Meall Garbh
Beinn Ghlas from Ben Lawers
Ben Lawers summit trig point looking back to Beinn Ghlas
Sitting above the clouds on Ben Lawers summit
Looking west from Ben Lawers summit, the cloud slowly lifting out of Loch Tay
An Stuc, Meall Garbh and Meall Greigh from Ben Lawers - didn't look too hard from here!
I rested on a wonderful warm rock, took photos, had a snack and got chatting with a guy who had trotted up from the bealach in 16 minutes because his mate was waiting for him. I shared my jelly babies with him and watched him set off again at the double. The path north towards An Stuc looked simple enough and filled with new found confidence I set off. By now the sun was beating down and there had been barely a whisper of wind all morning. Once I started making my way down the rocky bulk of Creag an Fhithich towards Bealach Dubh I realised how much descent there was before the steep climb up An Stuc. More over casting a backwards glance revealed that the trek back up Ben Lawers was going to be anything but easy. At this point my mind played its usual games with me. I wavered, considered walking back, looked ahead and decided that I was here now, I may as well continue. Nina 1 - Brain 0, I ignored my default setting of turning back when things look like too much hard work.
Bealach Dubh between Ben Lawers and An Stuc
As I headed up An Stuc I noticed drips coming from the rim of my cap. To my disgust I'd been glowing so hard my cap had become saturated and now sweat was dripping from it. Just to be clear, it was very hot and there wasn't a breath of air most of the day. Not my favourite walking conditions.
Progress up An Stuc was painfully slow and I wasn't relishing the prospect of the return up Lawers. I was overtaken by a guy on the way to the summit and stopped for a quick blether. Or rather I was bent over my poles puffing like Thomas the Tank engine while he breezed past. We met again at the summit and although I had company I was so overcome by having achieved munro number three that I burst in to tears. Must stop this summit snivelling nonsense. Anyhow, I found a shady spot with many midges, plonked myself down and tried to force half my salami roll down my throat. While I was sitting there a very strange, swirling, whistling wind screamed up the hill side from the north and disappeared almost as soon as it arrived. Most disconcerting, I was half expecting to see an army of dementors in its wake!
Somewhat more composed I wandered up on to the summit, had another wee chat with the nice man and took more photies.
An Stuc summit looking east to Meall Corranaich and Meall a Coire Leith with Tarmachan ridge in the back ground.
An Stuc and the path back up Ben Lawers
An Stuc is a very grassy hill and the midges were around in substantially higher numbers here so it was time to set off again. By now it was early afternoon and pretty hazy so I took it easy on the way down to the bealach. I turned to look back up An Stuc and saw a figure clad in a red top at the summit. A few minutes later as I was reascending Ben Lawers I saw the figure again, much further down. Within minutes the figure was over taking me. She was a fell runner with her collie dog. I jokingly asked whether she was training for the local ironman triathlon taking part that weekend. No she wasn't and off she flew up Ben Lawers.
I'll say here and now I hated that climb back up Ben Lawers. All the grind without the satisfaction of bagging another munro! It was a lot tougher than the first ascent and I more or less crawled back on to the summit plateau. There were quite a few people this time and I was feeling distinctly anti social so I headed to a quiet spot behind a rock, ate the rest of my lunch and tried to catch the odd breeze.
It must have been around now that I decided I didn't have the stomach for another day on the hills the following day, especially given I had a 5 hour drive back to Shropshire as well. The thought of midges, heat and climbing over van seats meant I was going to head to my father in laws for a sofa and a pillow that night if I could. Not to mention a cold beer!
Loch Tay from Ben Lawers
The walk down Ben Lawers was straight forward enough and I was happily taking in the scenery, enjoying the moment and my achievement. All of a sudden a familiar figure appeared coming towards me. It was the lady fell runner again. This time we stopped for a blether and I learnt she used to live very close to me in Shropshire, knows the Shropshire Hills well and had just covered seven summits on her run. And there was me feeling all smug about my four summits. Comparison however is odious and pretty redundant in this case.
It was nice to talk and I continued to the bealach with a big smile on my face. From here I took the path that goes around Beinn Ghlas, stopping to get water from a burn and soaking my cap in the cold water.
Looking north with flank of Meall Corranaich on the left
Meall Corranaich and Tarmachan Ridge
This path made for easy walking back to the nature reserve where the peace and tranquillity of the day were rudely shattered by encountering actual groups of people! Back at the car park I threw my pack in the van, drove straight to Killin and filled up with fresh water from the tap kindly provided outside the public toilets in the village and within an hour I was in Falkirk ready for pork pies and Rolo desserts, not to mention that cold beer.
It was a fantastic day, I exceeded my expectations by far, I didn't turn back when normally I would have and I did my first solo munro walk. This by far outweighed any tinge of regret I may feel about not staying for another day and walking the Tarmachan ridge.
by mrssanta » Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:09 pm
by smirnie71 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 2:40 pm
mrssanta wrote:well done that was a great effort.
Thank you very much, still grinning from ear to ear about this one, whilst trying not to melt in the midlands heat wave!
by Fatmanwalks » Thu Oct 15, 2015 12:13 pm
by smirnie71 » Thu Oct 15, 2015 1:40 pm
Have a fabulous time and enjoy what you do walk. An Stuc is a wee bugger!
by jmarkb » Thu Oct 15, 2015 1:57 pm
Fatmanwalks wrote:Really enjoyed your description of your walk. I'm heading there next weekend, 23rd October with a couple of friends with the intention of doing just the first two Bens, but hopefully talk them into going for An Stuc when we're at the top of Ben Lawers.
It is possible to do this without reascending Lawers: from the Bealach Dubh - drop down a little and traverse across at about the 900m contour to join the Beinn Ghlas bypass path. There is a trace of a path on the traverse, though it's easy to miss.
by LynneSingleSteps » Wed Aug 21, 2019 11:51 am