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Blustery Ben Vorlich - cobweb blaster

Blustery Ben Vorlich - cobweb blaster


Postby Chris Mac » Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:31 am

Route description: Ben Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin

Munros included on this walk: Ben Vorlich (Loch Earn)

Date walked: 19/03/2017

Time taken: 3.3 hours

Distance: 10.4 km

Ascent: 920m

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Ben-Vorlich-from-Loch-Earn.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Finally... a chance to hit the hills again to climb Munro number 10. With our other halves working today, Gregor the Claw and I conspired to go walkies and his suggestion of Ben Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin, two he had climbed years ago, sounded great.

I have had my eye on these two since climbing Ben More & Stob Binnein last May, then doing the Meall nan Tarmachan ridge with Gregor last August, both hills being very prominent from these viewpoints and it seems to be the way i've been going for some time, climb a hill, enjoy views of surrounding hills, then go and climb the ones that stand out at the next available opportunity.

It wasn't going to be perfect conditions but good enough to get out, decent visibility, around 10 degrees, rain to start the day then clearing up in the afternoon although the MWIS said to expect snow, strong gusts of around 30mph and the temperature at 900m being -15.... hmmm.... extra woolies packed, let's do this.

A minor issue was my taxi service being required to deliver and pick up Y from a rare 9-5 Sunday shift, so a 5pm deadline left it tight to bag both Munros and this was playing on my mind during planning as I don't like being rushed. So we decided to go for it and see how things panned out, then decide at the top of Ben Vorlich if we would go the extra distance. Sorted.

After the morning delivery I was in the west end to collect the Claw for bang on 9am but our first pit stop for a roll'n'sausage on Great Western Road provided a 15 minute delay, not the best start! Where did all of these early Sunday morning breakfast munchers come from?

We were soon heading up the M80 towards Stirling then Callander before turning off for the single track road on the south side of Loch Earn, parking at Ardvorlich where it was already fairly busy on arrival just after half 10. We got ready but I made the mistake of deciding to take a slightly smaller rucksack while getting ready at the boot, switching over my gear from one to the other...

Ben Vorlich from Ardvorlich, looking good:
Image20170319_104604 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Image20170319_105136 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

We set off along the road...
Image20170319_105127 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

...over the bridge, turn right, follow the "hillwalkers this way" signs so we don't end up in Ardvorlich House's living room asking for directions, chuckling at the thought of this happening a few times pre-signage! :lol:

The first part of the walk is a nice easy intro for us, both needing to blow away the cobwebs and build up some hill-fitness for the season ahead, height being gained gradually with plenty of flat bits as we look down on Ardovrlich:
Image20170319_105848 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Image20170319_105851 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Unfortunately at this point I realise my rucksack is feeling a bit light and realise i've forgotten to take the good camera, ah well, no summit zoom shots but I have my new S7 camera phone which will be more than adequate.

Through a few fences and over some stiles and Vorlich edges ever closer...
Image20170319_110246 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Image20170319_110332 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

The surrounding hills are very scenic:
Image20170319_111548 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

The good path turns into a stream briefly but we're enjoying the easy intro and make good pace, overtaking a few walkers and catching up with others up ahead:
Image20170319_113054 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Image20170319_113907 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

We can make out the Loch tay Munros, Ben Lawers, Beinn Ghlas and Gregor's fav the Tarmachan Ridge but they are shrouded in clouds as the path steepens:
Image20170319_114240 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Image20170319_114952 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Image20170319_120527 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Gregor is taking the fairly fast pace in his stride and with only a couple of quick water breaks we're soon more than half way up at around the hour mark:
Image20170319_120921 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

During our quick break I then realise that during my haste to leave the car and set off on schedule, while switching to a smaller bag I not only forgot the good camera but also my lunch! As I say, I don't like being rushed by a "get back to Glasgow for 5pm" deadline, but not to worry, i'm not a great eater during walks, had a decent brekkie and it means my piece will be the reward for returning to the car in one piece!

The views open up looking back, nice:
Image20170319_120952 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

It's quite a busy hill today as per the many cars parked at the start, we meet a fair few folk coming down and in the second half of the ascent the majority of them have pink wind-blasted faces, it's getting quite blustery now especially at the summit as the descending walkers verbally confirm, maybe the MWIS was right, still doesn't feel that cold though, then we reach the second last part of the north ridge of Sgiath nam Tarmachan... with the trig point now visible, however...
Image20170319_121812 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Popping over to the flat bit we are met with the fiercest of gusts, icy cold, tough to stay vertical, gloves on, jings!
Image20170319_121937 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

At least the summit trig point is in view, we forge ahead... Gregor now sporting his superb Tom Weir-esque bunnet:
Image20170319_121942 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

It is clearing up a bit now, looking back the Lawers group Munros are now visible and looking lovely as the light changes the colours constantly and the S7 camera, with less/bigger pixels and a larger lens, does a great job of catching the scenery very accurately:
Image20170319_121946 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

We press on, at roughly a 45 degree angle trying to deflect the icy wind gusts that keep trying to blow us off the hill, only the final ascent to do now and we're still making good time despite having a quick blether with most of the people we pass:
Image20170319_122201 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

More patches of snow appear and the final steep section actually takes no time to climb as we go into "Ben More mode", head down, keep on going...
Image20170319_122908 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

A brief leg-burn is felt, a mix of being out of practice and due to our sit-down break about two thirds of the way up, but Ben More mode works and the summit trig point, along with snowy ridge, is upon us in no time:
Image20170319_123515 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Image20170319_123520 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Image20170319_123523 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Image20170319_123529 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Image20170319_123727 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Visibility has been decent most of the way but in typical fashion it gets worse just as we approach the summit! :roll:
Image20170319_123734 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

The whole time we're still fighting against the very strong wind which makes the final part a bit trickier than it should be. We take the path on the inside to edge on the side of caution so as not to get blown off the edge of the mountain!

Made it, Munro number 10 finally done to go with my Sub-2000 number 10 that I climbed in January. I've a feeling this will be a good year of walking ahead and quite like the idea of doing the Munros, Corbetts, Grahams and Sub-2000's equally, for me it's not about the bagging, just getting out there and enjoying myself, the scenery, taking lots of pics and spending time on the mountains with friends while making many more, even if just for a day or quick chat, almost everyone we met was very nice and had a smile on their pinky/red face, even if it was due to being frozen that way by the icy wind blasts! :D

Trig point, fence post and secondary summit with cairn along the wee ridge to the east:
Image20170319_123806 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Stuc a'Chroin instantly fills the view to the south west and looks great, a craggy beast:
Image20170319_123810 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Ben More and Stob Binnein, the twin giants to the west and slightly north, two of my favourite hills, are still shrouded in clouds and I hope that they at least give me a proper look by the time we head down, as the view of Ben Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin that I got from there last year was great and the favour needs to be returned:
Image20170319_123813 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Now, it's not like we didn't have prior warning of the power of the wind gusts at the summit but jeez-oh, it is intense, as this sequence of photos showing the Claw reaching the top will show... :shock: :crazy: :lol:
Image20170319_123815 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Image20170319_123855 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Image20170319_123858 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Image20170319_123901 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Image20170319_123903 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Image20170319_123905 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

:lol: :lol: :lol:

Number 10 done and it feels good. I lived in Stirling for a few years when I was at Uni and these two hills were in the background a lot so it feels fitting to make Ben Vorlich my tenth Munro as I sit atop the trig point for my usual pose, hoping that a strong gust won't make it my last!
Image20170319_123949 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

A couple of older walkers we met on the final section said they were dropping down to Sgiath nam Tarmachan for lunch as it was too windy at the top but we decide to fly in the face of convention and head to the cairn at the secondary summit which is only 1m lower:
Image20170319_124149 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Image20170319_124122 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

It's not looking like great conditions next door and is getting worse, we're already thinking of making this a single Munro outing...
Image20170319_124131 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

The four lads we passed here said hello and one of them had short/trousers on, very brave, as by this point even with gloves on and changing to my Kyle hat with furry ears, my hands and face were already starting to go numb! Looks like the MWIS wasn't far off with it's forecast...

Stuc a'Chroin in its full glory from Ben Vorlich:
Image20170319_124245 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

The four lads back at the trig point of Ben Vorlich's summit, Stuc a'Chroin to the left, definitely my favourite photo of the day:
Image20170319_124259 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Onwards to summit 2 for a break:
Image20170319_124336 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

I pop my wee stone on the top of the cairn, then watch in amazement as it resists the gusts!
Image20170319_124449 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

We settle at the cairn to have a well earned coffee and snack, it's still pretty wild but we're feeling adventurous and the Claw even decides to change top and is stood there briefly with bare skin above the waist! :crazy:
Image20170319_124517 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Image20170319_125256 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

The wee coffee flask and hot drink works wonders, as does some chocolate, despite the wind trying to blow it off the mountain:
Image20170319_125310 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

With no big camera to take some zoom shots with and the weather changing so fast due to the wind, which Gregor likened to watching a time-llapse video in real time the clouds were moving that fast, I decide to attempt some panoramas which to my surprise work out quite well despite the camera zig-zagging instead of moving left to right in a straight line:
Image20170319_125314 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

To the south east we can make out the Ochils, Dumyat and Wallace Monument:
Image20170319_125318 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

The view west is non-existant and Stuc a'Chroin is now getting the cloud treatment:
Image20170319_125321 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Although we had made the summit in 1 hour and 50 minutes, our fight against the wind and this being our opening big walk of the year, we feel it is best to not bite off more than we can chew and decide against adding an extra couple of hours to the walk to take in Ben Vorlich's stunning neighbour, conscious of our 5pm deadline.

"Aye, we can regurgitate Stuc a'Chroin another time" says the Claw :lol: making us think that we'll do that along with Beinn Each from Loch Lubnaig another day, and maybe even climb Vorlich again so we get the fun of the scrambly bit inbetween them.

We head back to the summit and the twins are starting to clear as we look down at the same route we came up and decide to head back to the car with plenty of time to spare, mission accomplished anyway, the cobwebs have been well and truely blasted away, the legs and feet actually feel not bad and we're in high spirits from the scenery, exercise, socialising and whole experience.
Image20170319_125756 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

We joke to the other walkers approaching the top that they should put a few rocks in their rucksacks to help with stability and prevent them being blown away!
Image20170319_130319 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

And just as we make our way down my wish is granted and Ben More and Stob Binnein decide to show themselves, braw, just what I wanted, cheers!
Image20170319_130322 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

With a pole each to help ease the knees into the descent we continue down. I've not been a fan of walking poles but had decided to take the spare anyway and was glad I did as a pole each helped us get down at a decent pace with more stability and less strain on auld knees:
Image20170319_132721 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Making very good progress I look up and spot a large bird of prey and we watch as it swoops down on the hunt for prey. It was huge but not an eagle, had pointy wings and a fair bit of white on them, possibly a buzzard and another great event for what has been a very enjoyable walk to this point.

Without the superzoom bridge camera I still fire off a few shots (with the camera!) but it's hard to make out much as it's moving away from us at some speed:
Image20170319_133034 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Before long we're down onto the easy bit again, enjoying the view over to the Loch Tay hills before they go into hiding as we drop in altitude:
Image20170319_133723 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Already a future trip to the Lawers group is forming in my head when we're ready for a bigger expedition:
Image20170319_133728 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

A look back at our conquest for the day as we continue down:
Image20170319_135029 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

It's a bit nicer now and we're all smiles, chuffed at our very enjoyable short outing and with plenty of time to get back to Glasgow for the 5pm deadline:
Image20170319_135414 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

We say cheerio to the bigger hills to the north...
Image20170319_135942 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

And the sun is even out briefly as we look back at Ben Vorlich:
Image20170319_135946 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Just after this fence we meet a couple sitting eating on a rock who ask us if the bridge across to the east where we are is the way up the hill... "erm... no just keep heading the way we came", we say, "but you're leaving it a bit late, it takes at least 2 hours to the summit from here and it's very chilly at the top". They didn't look like experienced walkers so hopefully they took our advice and didn't go for it as it was almost half 2 by this point and they were lunching about 5 minutes into the start of the walk!
Image20170319_141205 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Almost back at the car as Loch Earn approaches, I look forward to a late lunch which we joke we have definitely "Earned"... :roll:
Image20170319_141856 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Finish line in sight:
Image20170319_142113 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

We spare a thought for the American couple we met on the way down who thought that the second last section was approaching the summit, only for us to say they still had another 20 mins or so of climbing to do and that it was very blustery at the top, which resulted in the guy's girlfriend sitting down, grabbing his jacket and saying she didn't want to go any further! :D

To their credit, while we sat for half an hour or so in the car munching, we hadn't seen them following us down so maybe they went for it even if one of them was very against the thought. I'm sure it will build character and the views will change opinions, or it will be a very short hillwalking career!

Loch Earn looking moody:
Image20170319_142551 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

Back at the car we take a final look at Ben Vorlich, which has luckily been clear almost all day, unlike the surrounding hills, well chosen Gregor, how did you know?! :clap:
Image20170319_142957 by Chris Mac, on Flickr

So we reeled in our double-Munro plans and instead enjoyed a very entertaining walk up a great mountain, battling the elements, chatting away to the steady stream of fellow walkers (it was busy but not too busy, just right), building up our hill fitness again while discussing hills walked previously and planning more that are yet to come.

The Claw is a brilliant walking companion and i'm looking forward to more expeditions with him, his humour and coffee are a joy to behold during a hike up a hill.

After our late lunch I set off and despite being caught behind yet another very slow driver after Callander (the same happened coming back from Meall nan Tarmachan last August but the driver was clearly drunk due to the erratic driving and extra caution they were showing) we made a pit stop in the west end at Casa de Claw for a coffee and I made my pick up at 5pm with 3 minutes to spare! That definitely wouldn't have happened if we'd gone for Stuc a' Chroin so it still awaits conquering and that will be a tale for another day. We were quite chuffed at our 3 and a half hour time for this walk which was not bad for a first big walk in a while.

A cracking day out on the hills which had a little bit of everything, including a tumble from Gregor on the way down which I probably shouldn't mention since it was just after I was saying that most hillwalking accidents happen on the way down due to people not paying attention and rushing, which we weren't doing, but to his credit the Claw bounced right back up like nothing had happened, much to my relief. :clap: :lol:

Where to next, who knows, possibly Arrochar or maybe back to Strathyre, where many more Munros, Corbetts and other hills await our next adventure.... :D
User avatar
Chris Mac
 
Posts: 821
Munros:40   Corbetts:22
Grahams:10   Donalds:10
Sub 2000:50   Hewitts:3
Wainwrights:10   
Joined: Sep 11, 2014

Re: Blustery Ben Vorlich - cobweb blaster

Postby rockhopper » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:46 pm

Good to see it turned out nicely for you - does make for a good walk and viewpoint. Thirty years last month since I was first up here - not much has changed other than there are a lot fewer trees on the other side of the loch - cheers :)
User avatar
rockhopper
 
Posts: 6647
Munros:282   Corbetts:218
Grahams:64   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:9   Hewitts:2
Wainwrights:3   Islands:19
Joined: May 31, 2009
Location: Glasgow

Re: Blustery Ben Vorlich - cobweb blaster

Postby Mal Grey » Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:53 pm

An entertaining read! :clap:
User avatar
Mal Grey
Wanderer
 
Posts: 3400
Munros:110   Corbetts:20
Grahams:9   
Sub 2000:3   Hewitts:113
Wainwrights:71   Islands:5
Joined: Dec 1, 2011
Location: Surrey, probably in a canoe! www.wildernessisastateofmind.co.uk

Re: Blustery Ben Vorlich - cobweb blaster

Postby Chris Mac » Tue Mar 21, 2017 9:08 pm

rockhopper wrote:Good to see it turned out nicely for you - does make for a good walk and viewpoint. Thirty years last month since I was first up here - not much has changed other than there are a lot fewer trees on the other side of the loch - cheers :)

Aye it was nice for us while all around wasn't as clear, although the wind gusts were pretty brutal! Looking forward to returning to do Stuc a'Chroin on a clearer day to get the nice views west.

Mal Grey wrote:An entertaining read! :clap:

Thanks, looking forward to heading further north this year to see some bigger hills like you've been taking cracking photos of. :)
User avatar
Chris Mac
 
Posts: 821
Munros:40   Corbetts:22
Grahams:10   Donalds:10
Sub 2000:50   Hewitts:3
Wainwrights:10   
Joined: Sep 11, 2014

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