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Ben More and Stob Binnein from the South - Inverlochlarig

Ben More and Stob Binnein from the South - Inverlochlarig


Postby DougT » Sun Aug 17, 2014 12:25 pm

Route description: Ben More and Stob Binnein

Munros included on this walk: Ben More, Stob Binnein

Date walked: 09/08/2014

Time taken: 7.5 hours

Distance: 13.4 km

Ascent: 1644m

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The Inspiration
From high ground in and around Glasgow, on a clear day, the gap between the Campsie Fells and the Kilpatrick Hills yields a spectacular window to the highlands. From the right angle, sharp highland mountain peaks can be clearly seen on Glasgow's northern horizon.
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Mountains on Glasgow's horizon from Thortonhall, East Kilbride - 18 April 2014

The Research
Playing with the viewing angles from google earth, which helpfully had a similar pattern of lying snow as in a series of photos I took around Easter, I figured these to be the Crianlarich Hills, Stob Binnein and Ben More 40 miles away. Next step was walkhighlands, of course, for advice on routes and difficulty. Most advice said to do it from Inverlochlarig in the south. A steep grassy start, followed by a nice ridge walk to the summits. There were no reports of scrambling or narrow ridges (I'm not good with heights), so they seemed like good bet.

Heights and Vertigo
So, I was mentioning heights - there must be other hillwalkers out there like me who might be put off trying a new walk in case it's too exposed, high, narrow, or otherwise scary, so if that sounds familiar this report is for you. Of course, everyone is different. What scares one person is OK for someone else, even if they both profess to have a height problem.…. Like Muriel Gray in the Munro Show as she scales the inaccessible pinnacle on Sgurr Dearg or traverses Aonach Eagach. She is scared of heights apparently …. hmmm really. I’m probably looking for 5m-10m of flatish ridge top to feel OK. To help you calibrate this report to make it meaningful here are my reference points:

Crib Goch, Sgurr Dearg, Striding Edge – you must be joking. Absolutely no chance of me going anywhere near these.

Ben Lomond – Frequent speed walk, absolutely OK always, including going down the Ptarmigan path, but I reckon going up would be a bit hairy at the top if it was a first attempt.

Ben Lawers – a little shaky on the ridge at the Ben Ghlas end on the way out but OK coming back. Bit shakey towards summit of Ben Lawers, but OK on way down. Up always seems trickier when you don't know what possible drops are just out of sight.

Friarton Bridge on the M90 at Perth - It’s horrible… 40mph max and keep in the right lane. There a lot of truckers out there that don’t mind admitting to this one.


The Walk
Enough of the minority interest content, there will be plenty more later. The weather forecast had been a bit inconsistent for my chosen day, veering from heavy showers and lightning to unbroken sunshine, but by early morning on the day it had settled to a low cloud start and then increasing sunshine with the possibility of a light shower ... but no lightning - phew.

I set off from the east of Glasgow around 8.45 and it took 1.5 hrs to go the 60 miles to Inverlochlarig. The last 8 miles are along the Balquhidder road west of the A84 on the north shore of Loch Voil and then Loch Doine. It's very narrow, single track with occasional grass in the middle. Car park is to the left of the road, opposite the stile that marks the start of the path. Straight ahead, a white fence announces "End of public road".

InverL.jpg
Inverlochlarig

I reckoned if I managed Stob Binnein I'd be happy. Ben More was probably going to take too long. The weather seemed OKish, perhaps the hint of some rain in the wind. I set off over the stile at 10.40. It's a very steep grassy hillside with some crags at the top. The path is little more than deep footprints in places with a few loose stones, but it's obvious enough until it starts to flatten out at 700m. There’s a fence and small stile at about 600m, which I reached after 40 minutes. A good excuse to take a couple of minutes break for a picture and to admire the view. It’s a useful landmark for the way down – more about that later. Oh .. and it was here that I remembered I'd left my walking poles in the car boot, and my chocolate. I reminded myself to never put my rucksack on the back seat again. The way back down here was going to be tough.

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The fence and stile at 600m

BTW - as for some of the other pics I took this one on the way down - much more sunny. After the fence, the path takes detour to the right to go round the crags and then, suddenly it flattens out and you are on open moorland, a little boggy in places. The path disappears, but it’s pretty obvious where you are going so long as the visibility is good – there’s a cairn about 1km on at 880m which marks the start of the ridge. Head for that. On the way some really nice views open up to the east, across the lochs and towards Ben Vorlich.

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Lochs Voil and Doine with Ben Vorlich in the distance

After 550m of hard slog this was pretty much perfect. Warm, a little sunny and not too windy. The cairn at the start of the ridge was reached in 1hr 20 minutes - opening up views all the way up to Stob Coire an Lochain. I eyed the ridge carefully for height, narrowness. It looked ok at the start. I wasn't going home just yet.

RidgeCairntoStobCoireanLochan690.jpg
Looking up the ridge to Stob Coire an Lochain

Its a very gentle incline and so on went the jacket. It's just under 2km from the cairn to Stob Coire an Lochain, and about 300m (horizontal) before it the ridge narrows a bit and rises over crags. Slight crisis of confidence here resolved by 10 minutes stop. Wasn't far from turning back, but that would have been pretty rubbish. The wind had picked up a bit but not enough to worry me about being blown over. Tucked hood inside jacket though just to be sure. decided it might make all the difference.

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Looking back down at the tricky bit

Once over that, Stob Binnein came into view and Stob Coire an Lochain was reached at the 2hrs mark. The path goes quite near the edge here, but the ridge is wide enough to give lots of extra room if you need it.

Stob Binnein comes into view690.jpg
Stob Coire an Lochain cairn on the right with Stob Binnein behind

20 minutes later found me at the summit of Stob Binnein. There's a very short steep bit just before the summit where hands help, but you couldn't really call it scrambling. You are conscious that the hill has come to a point so there isn't a lot of room, especially on the left but its fine and then you are there at the cairn.

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Stob Binnein Summit path

The summit is wide enough and it helps there is only a gentle slope down to Ben More.
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Ben More from Stob Binnein

The clouds were starting to clear a little more now and I figured I'd extend my plans on to Ben More. Heading down the 300m dip to the bealach the wind started to get going. By the bottom it was funnelling through like a hurricane and this continued most of the way up the other side towards Ben More. Very close to the summit the path heads right over a some large rocks with maybe a 5ft step. No obvious hand or foot holds. There was a guy coming down - I invited him to go first. It was quite a jump. I wasn't going to get up that so investigated an alternative route round to the right. Easy.

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The avoidable big step at Ben More summit - bottom right

Reached the summit 3hrs and 30 minutes into the walk. After the hurricane down below, the summit was amazingly calm so hung around for 30 minute taking pictures. There were a few people about who mainly came up from the Benmore Farm side.

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Benmore Summit looking back towards Stob Binnein and the ridge up

So - time to head back. Decided since the weather was clearing nicely I'd retrace my steps over Stob Binnein and down the ridge rather than any alternative down into the glen from the bealach.

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Stob Binnein from ben More

Back in hurricane force winds as I rounded the side of the rock where that big step was, I bumped into a couple eating sandwiches. Having had no more than a banana since breakfast I was feeling hungry and I started to wonder if there was much prevalence of sandwich-theft in the hills. Back up Stob Binnein and food hallucinations were starting big time, Szechuan Chicken mainly. Over the top and down the ridge, the sun was warm and the wind dropped. Lovely.

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The ridge back down from Stob Binnein

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Stob Coire an Lochain closeup from the same angle


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Ben Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin with the Lomond hills way off in Fife just nestled between

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Home straight - almost

Now - the path back is obvious, until you get to the cairn at the end of the ridge at about 880m. Then you have that open moor area where the path disappears before the steep descent. The tricky part is finding your way across the moor to the path. Make sure you set yourself some kind of a landmark so you can find the path on the way back down. I did not and so missed the path by about 300m and so had lots more fun working round the crags than I should have. It's not a huge deal in daylight, but it is very steep and the risk of twisted knee or ankle on loose stones or wet grass is greatly increased. Also by now I was pretty tired, absolutely starving, and of course had left my walking poles in the car. In the dark, even with good lights this would have been very tricky so leave yourself plenty of time if the nights are getting shorter.

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The way back down - off piste

If you do miss the path at first you'll eventually pick it up with the fence and the stile at 600m. The last 500m down was tough, and it felt so good to get onto level ground and look back up that hill.

InverlochlarigStyle.jpg
Glad that's over

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Overall - a really nice grassy ridge walk, great views, no scary drops, but it is a big all day walk, and at the end when you are tired and hungry (unless unlike me you took adequate food) that steep hillside is tough. Don't expect to get down any quicker than you got up.

p.s that chocolate I left in the car had gone liquid in the sun, and jamming it into the cold air vent on the way home didn't make a lot of difference. :D
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Re: Ben More and Stob Binnein from the South - Inverlochlari

Postby ExpatEddie » Sun Aug 17, 2014 1:17 pm

Well done on this walk knowing your limitations. I did this same route a few years and each time I think about it I wish I had done it differently. In hindsight I wish we had descended right at the bealach after coming off Ben More, This would have brought us out through Inverlochlarig Glen and onto the track avoiding doing the same Munro twice on the same walk. It would also avoid that steep descent off Stob Binnien which absolutely cream crackered me.

Enjoyed reliving the walk in your photos. Interesting to see something on that one-inch graph paper I used - oh so long ago :lol:
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Re: Ben More and Stob Binnein from the South - Inverlochlari

Postby Gordie12 » Sun Aug 17, 2014 6:43 pm

Great report - thanks for posting.

I can confirm there is previous for sandwich theft in the hills. Many moons ago two wild goats nicked my dairylea and raspberry jam sannies (out of my open rucksack) at the top of Ben Vrackie whilst I lay in the sun taking in the views. Once they had finished they lay either side of me and had a snooze. I headed back to the car starving but they seemed quite content with themselves.
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Re: Ben More and Stob Binnein from the South - Inverlochlari

Postby dogplodder » Sun Aug 17, 2014 7:48 pm

That looks a fine way to do these two - appeals far more than the ascent from Benmore. I'll refer back to this when our time comes! :D

Gordie12 wrote:Great report - thanks for posting.

I can confirm there is previous for sandwich theft in the hills. Many moons ago two wild goats nicked my dairylea and raspberry jam sannies (out of my open rucksack) at the top of Ben Vrackie whilst I lay in the sun taking in the views. Once they had finished they lay either side of me and had a snooze. I headed back to the car starving but they seemed quite content with themselves.


Those two goats on Ben Vrackie have form. :twisted:

Back in the early 90s they tried to get into my (closed) rucksack and walked with us for most of the way down until we reached a stile they couldn't cross. Felt a bit sorry for them like they were cursed hikers destined to live out their days trying to scrounge food off folk. :wink:
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Re: Ben More and Stob Binnein from the South - Inverlochlari

Postby Gordie12 » Sun Aug 17, 2014 8:45 pm

dogplodder wrote:That looks a fine way to do these two - appeals far more than the ascent from Benmore. I'll refer back to this when our time comes! :D

Gordie12 wrote:Great report - thanks for posting.

I can confirm there is previous for sandwich theft in the hills. Many moons ago two wild goats nicked my dairylea and raspberry jam sannies (out of my open rucksack) at the top of Ben Vrackie whilst I lay in the sun taking in the views. Once they had finished they lay either side of me and had a snooze. I headed back to the car starving but they seemed quite content with themselves.


Those two goats on Ben Vrackie have form. :twisted:

Back in the early 90s they tried to get into my (closed) rucksack and walked with us for most of the way down until we reached a stile they couldn't cross. Felt a bit sorry for them like they were cursed hikers destined to live out their days trying to scrounge food off folk. :wink:


Hi dogplodder - my tale was from the early nineties so probably the same two goats!! Been on Ben Vrackie several times over the last few years and never seen any sign of them so assume there are no wild goats left in the area - shame really, even although they ate my food I enjoyed spending half an hour on the summit with them.
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Re: Ben More and Stob Binnein from the South - Inverlochlari

Postby bar72 » Sat Aug 23, 2014 8:03 pm

Friarton Bridge on the M90 at Perth - It’s horrible… 40mph max and keep in the right lane. There a lot of truckers out there that don’t mind admitting to this one.


I agree. I alway drive my Artic over their in lane 2. Half a chance if i get blown over :clap:

Planned on all 4 of the Easterly Munro's today but i went and did Meall Buidhe at Loch an Daimh, Killin, first, as the clag was everywhere at 06:00. Wouldn't have had enough daylight so settled for these 2 but descended right at the bealach to head down Inverlochlarig Glen. Brutal on the hips / knees as i was walking at a constant angle as i headed SW to avoid the crags. I wish i'd went back up and over Stob Binnien as the ground was saturated and rivers running everywhere. A serious slog out.

On a + note, i had my new Paramo's on and they held dry in the several light to heavy showers that was up there today :D :D
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Re: Ben More and Stob Binnein from the South - Inverlochlari

Postby IndoorMunroist » Tue Jan 26, 2016 7:42 pm

Beautiful pictures.

'They lay either side of me and had a snooze'.

*Holding sides*
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