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Ben More - a pain-free option

Ben More - a pain-free option

Postby old danensian » Fri May 14, 2010 5:52 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ben More, Stob Binnein

Date walked: 11/05/2010

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 16 km

Ascent: 1420m

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Too often I’d looked up at Ben More, but too often I’d read the excruciating tales of those who had flogged up the unrelenting slope from Benmore Farm. It always reminded me of an image from Wainwright as he looked between his legs at an upside down version of Wasdale Head while slogging up the southern slopes of Kirk Fell.

Anyway, I’d also read Kinley’s report of the eastern horseshoe overlooking the Allt Coire Chaorach, which looked considerably more interesting and immeasurably less masochistic. I just needed the opportunity. So, as weekend commitments with family and friends drew us north, a two day hill window opened – as had promising weather.

After leaving the car just before 8.00am at the little lay-by (454276), I walked east over the bridge and across the field above to access the wooded hillside beyond. The map’s threat of perpetual gloom for the next half an hour or so was lifted after a few hundred metres when, just after fording the Allt Coire Chaorach, the path entered a vast open space that had been cleared. A further benefit was the view of the lower reaches of the ridge descending from Stob Creagach over Leaconn Riabhach.

Stob Creagach from cleared forest

With logging currently active in the area, footpath diversions had been set up that meant after another plunge into the forest I wasn’t too sure if I’d emerged from the gloom where I’d originally planned. Never mind: track; ladder over the deer fence; the lure of another track; stop and think. Never mind; cut back to the south east, lose height, cross obviously boggy ground: no. Never mind; miss out Stob Creagach and take a long rising pathless traverse to hit the ridge just below Meall na Dige: yes.

OK, it wasn’t a stroll in the park, but neither was it an unremitting slog or wet and boggy. In fact, it proved to be a nicely gradual climb over ground that allowed a good steady rhythm to be maintained and with the opportunity to enjoy the views of the remainder of the day’s route along the roller coaster skyline.

Icicles on Maill na Dige - Ben More in background

Meall na Dige, and the extensive views to the south and east, was reached just as one of the promised “wintry showers” arrived, but it proved to be little more than a flurry of hail that prompted a change from a cap to something woolly and warmer for the benefit of my ears. Then, up and along with a spring in the step – not the fortune for anyone dragging themselves up “the slope” I thought. And so, just short of three hours from the car, Stob Binnein was reached.

East from Meall na Dige

Stob Bennein and Ben More from Stob Coire an Lochain

Rime encrusted grass on summit of Stob Bineinn

Loch Tay and Ben Lawers from Stob Binnein

Then, the enormity of the gap between Stob Bennein and Ben More struck me. Two wee souls were scuttling across the bealach below, looking significantly smaller than I’d expected. Maybe I wasn’t going to be able to avoid the head-down, heart-pumping, lung-bursting, thigh-tiring plod fest after all. But, an hour later and I was enjoying the view down to Crianlarich in one direction and a succession of showers drifting across Ben Lawers in the opposite. A solitary guy arrived looking shattered – I knew which direction he’d just come from and the image of his slump across the trig point endorsed my decision on the route for the day.

Stob Coire an Lochain and Stob Binnein from Ben More

North east ridge down Ben More

The descent down the north east ridge opened up with each shoulder reached, the fragments of path becoming visible from above and leading down easy angled slopes – no knee-jarring, toe-crunching teetering or slithering downwards.

Tracks retraced through the forest saw me back at the car after a thoroughly enjoyable six hours out – and definitely a pain-free option for Ben More that wasn’t simply enjoying the vicarious pleasure of reading the reports of others as they suffered the aches and pains of effort a day or so later.
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old danensian
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Re: Ben More - a pain-free option

Postby kinley » Fri May 14, 2010 6:14 pm

Wow - think it took us about 8hrs - but we do doddle.

The unpredictable forestry ops are the only downside of this route I guess :?

Glad you enjoyed the route - looks a good day 8)

Re: Ben More - a pain-free option

Postby Graeme D » Fri May 14, 2010 8:52 pm

kinley wrote:The unpredictable forestry ops are the only downside of this route I guess

They certainly caught me out last summer - I tried to do these two via this route and got hopelessly and quite inexplicably bogged down (literally and metaphorically) in that forestry. My mood was not helped when trying to cross a stream and the dog decided to take a leap onto the rock I was occupying at that precise moment. I ended up going into the drink and badly cutting and bruising my arm and elbow. I eventually gave up the battle as a lost cause, returned to the car in a foul mood and seriously contemplated going home there and then before driving along the road a few miles and doing the slog from Benmore Farm, being quite rude and discourteous to a Dutch couple and their two kids I met on the track just above the farm, such was my displeasure at this turn of events. :evil:
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Re: Ben More - a pain-free option

Postby Les Sutherland » Fri May 14, 2010 11:11 pm

Hi old danensian
Did you remember to pick the wife up on the way home :lol:
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Les Sutherland
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Re: Ben More - a pain-free option

Postby old danensian » Mon May 17, 2010 7:43 pm

All present and correct as we headed south Les - also saw that the pair of you got a mention in the Pyke Munro report for that day.
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