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Ben Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin in brilliant sunshine

Ben Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin in brilliant sunshine


Postby rpkantharia » Tue Aug 18, 2015 2:11 pm

Route description: Ben Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin

Munros included on this walk: Ben Vorlich (Loch Earn), Stuc a'Chroin

Date walked: 17/08/2015

Time taken: 5.5 hours

Distance: 16 km

Ascent: 1150m

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Being relatively new to Scottish hills and mountains I opted to take on Ben Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin as part of a steady build up in difficulty. The route descriptions indicate that there would be several challenging elements throughout the walk.
I parked next to Loch Earn and started the walk through the eastern jentrance to Ardvorlich House, following the track up the slope parallel to the burn. The track is of a good quality and means it is virtually impossible to deviate during the climb. The sun was out and the climb was pretty warm, so I paused to put some shorts on before continuing up the slope. The track runs up to the crossing over the burn near the pool for the hydroelectric plant at the bottom of the hill, becoming a more narrow and uneven path.
At this point the path began to run across the hillside through the heather, slowly becoming steeper until a particularly steep section was reached. At the top of this part there is a short plateau before the final ascent to the summit. The final section took quite a bit of effort, but once at the top the views in all directions were more than worth it. The cairn at the opposite end of the summit ridge allows good views of the smaller hills to the east and down the glen. Another group let me borrow their binouculars to look at the deer resting on the peat directly below.
After a short break I continued downhill towards Stuc a'Chroin. I had been looking forward to a scramble up the face, but there wasn't a clear route to take, so I opted for the more obvious path further to the west. This route was still steep, but allowed me to reach the ridge and continue to climb toward the summit, leaving the secondary top to the left as I went. The approach to the summit was fairly easy and once again the views were worth the effort.
I then descended the way I had come before cutting across to the north to pick up the path around the western side of Ben Vorlich, marked by a line of posts to prevent damage to the surrounding heather. This route was fairly boggy and I found myself ankle deep in mud in places, but this was a better alternative to climbing back up Ben Vorlich to return to my car. The path rejoins the main route before continuing down to Loch Earn again.
Most of the other walkers I passed were only climbing Ben Vorlich, but the extra effort to take in Stuc a'Chroin was definitely repaid by the solitude and the views from the top.
rpkantharia
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Re: Ben Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin in brilliant sunshine

Postby KatTai » Tue Aug 18, 2015 5:45 pm

I've been reading reports on this walk, Ben Vorlich is on my to-do list but I'm umming and ahhing about including Stuc a'Chroin! If I do, it will be the non-scramble route I think! I'm not overly fond of scrambling.
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Re: Ben Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin in brilliant sunshine

Postby rpkantharia » Wed Sep 02, 2015 10:18 am

I had initially planned to do the scramble, but the other path looked more straightforward. I was speaking to someone this week about it, and he said the scramble isn't so bad once you get up close, but I had already decided not to take the risk. The traverse across to Stuc a'Chroin is definitely worth the extra effort.
rpkantharia
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Re: Ben Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin in brilliant sunshine

Postby Dave Hewitt » Wed Sep 02, 2015 1:41 pm

rpkantharia wrote:I had initially planned to do the scramble

People on here often now seem to describe the buttress route up Stuc a'Chroin as a "scramble", but it's not really. There's proper scrambling to be had if you take to the actual rocks to the left of the usual line (I've not tried this apart from a couple of brief sections, but a neighbour reckons there's an easy line there too although it needs a bit of route-finding). But the standard direct way up is really all just scree-path ledges and little stony grooves. It sort of zigzags up, drifting slightly right of centre. Once you cross the boulderfield at the bottom you angle up rightwards and if you're on the best bit of path (there are various alternatives and less-good options) you soon arrive at what is probably the key point (I wouldn't call it the crux as it's still very easy): a short straight-up shallow groove-gully which sometimes has a bit of seepage, and from the top of here you then head a bit right again. The section above all that is all just steep and slightly exposed walking, then high up you slant back left up a quite definite groove with lots of stony holds for hands and feet and suddenly pop out at the old Falkirk MC memorial cairn from where it's a ten-minute stroll to the actual summit.

There's a bit of hands-on stuff for sure, but it wouldn't qualify as a scramble in any actual book of such things - maybe grade 0.5 rather than grade 1, say. It's still pretty straightforward in the wet (I've been both up and down it in the wet despite being quite timid on proper scrambles), but it would be a different matter in the ice and/or snow, quite serious then.

What's become the usual avoiding path in the gully away over to the right when heading up is something that didn't seem to exist 20 years ago - it's a recent invention, a bit like that curious modern path up the end of Beinn a'Chroin that is both longer and more awkward than the old traditional way. The avoiding gully on Stuc is getting quite bare in places - it needs to be watched in its upper/middle section in descent in dry weather, as there's a gravelly bit that's becoming quite skiddy as more and more people use it. There's also the option (in summer at least) of the other, older, avoiding route round the corner to the left of the buttress - you go sort of flat left from the boulders and soon pick up a path which turns straight uphill and eventually pops out at the dip south of the Falkirk MC bump. This is definitely just a walk in summer conditions but is a steep one - probably about the same angle as the buttress route.

Fine hill, anyway. I like Vorlich (especially the back ridge), but I like Stuc better. Sounds like you had a good day there recently.
Dave Hewitt
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