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My First Ever Wild Camp
by ScotFinn65 » Sat Mar 28, 2020 11:29 am
Route description: Ben More and Stob Binnein
Munros included on this walk: Beinn Tulaichean, Ben More, Cruach Ardrain, Stob Binnein
Date walked: 07/09/2018
Time taken: 12 hours
Distance: 23.5 km
Ascent: 2300m5 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).
I had been thinking about wild camping for a while. Inspired by the fantastic pictures on WH and some Social Media pages, I got the bug to be alone in the hills and sleep in a tent. Those pictures of summit camps where the tents are light up in the evening sky just look fantastic.
I had visited Scotland in late July and began Munro climbing, achieving a modest total of 16 . Not the most experienced walker but still I wanted to try wild camping.
I had planned my second trip from Finland in early September, complicating things slightly with stalking season. However, before I could undertake this new challenge, l would have to choose some gear.
I started by studying all the walk reports on here and the gear and equipment threads. I checked the guided walks' web pages for lists of what would be required. I also picked up the courage to ask a couple of the people on WalkHighands site, who's wild camp reports l had admired so much. To my surprise, they responded with excellent information.
I wanted to get some balance between comfort, functionality and weight but also keep the costs reasonable. Not an easy trick 😉
After some months had passed, l had acquired all the basic kit that l thought l would need. But it seemed like a lot How was l ever going to carry all this!
Next up was planning the route. I wanted to bag a couple of Munros each day and camp in between. I needed the walks to be relatively short and reasonably close to the start, in case l needed to bail out for any reason. I decided that the Crianlarich hills would suit my purpose nicely.
As part of my preparation, l checked the WalkHighands stalking information and contacted the estates which l was passing through with plans for my routes and camps. One thing l really wanted to note in this report was just how quickly they responded, how helpful they were and how positive their replies were. I cannot speak highly enough of my experience with these 2 estates.
On the morning of the walk, l flew in from Finland, hired the car and drove to the car park at the end of the public road at Inverlochlarig. I packed my rucksack, secured the car and headed for the style.
Two things occurred to me. 1. That start looks steep. 2. That bag feels heavy.
I was heading out for 2 nights (3 walking days). I had been advised by all sources to try not to exceed 15kgs and here l was with 17.3kgs, including food and drink. I didn't consider anything in the bag excessive (at this point) but will come back to the contents and my learning a bit later
The start was indeed steep but the weather was good, clear but not too warm. I was in great spirits and looking forward to my adventure. I took it easy in the ascent and frequently looked back to check the farm and surroundings.
Soon the views would open up even more across the glen to the peaks opposite and even further. I even took a seat and took my time to absorb the views and the freedom of the hills. I had no rush as the daylight was good and even with the worst case scenario, I should get to my intended camp site way before sunset.
Carrying on over styles and a clear path, I was feeling the weight of my bag. The stops became more frequent but it didn't affect my mood. The views opened up even further afield. Across the loch and in the distance I could recognize Ben Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin (my first ever Munros)
Pretty soon the gradient eased when I reached the minor top of Stob Invercarnaig. Then there was a flattish stretch for a few hundred meters that helped me to get my breathe back and head for the Munro Top of Stob Coire an Lochain (1065m). I could see across to my targets in the west of Glen Inverlochlaraig for tomorrow.
From here the final 100m of ascent to the first Munro was not bad but a thin veil of mist was approaching by the time I reached the summit of Stob Binnein
I took the usual summit photos, rested the pack for a while, then header down toward the bealach and Ben More. The walk was pleasant and pretty easy at this stage but the thin mist prevented any spectacular views.
As I approached the low point between the two Munros, my plan was to drop the rucksack and head up Ben More with minimal luggage. The bealach was clear but the clag could be seen on the patch heading up to Ben More. As I was stashing my rucksack below a large boulder, I noticed another walker coming in the opposite direction.
I watched the path as the man descended toward me. It looked manageable as it snaked from side to side rather than a "straight up" like the other side of Stob Binnein. When he approached we had a bit of a discussion as we were (apparently) the only 2 people on these hills. He revealed be was not too confident on continuing Stob Binnein on his own with the clag on top. I assured him it was pretty easy and less ascent than the Ben More which I was going to do.
We agreed to each do our respective summits and then return to the bealach and wait to ensure each other was safe before progressing on our planned paths. It seemed like a good idea and safety conscious, looking our for each other.
I headed up Ben More. I was skipping up the track as it felt sooooo light now, without the rucksack. There was a little bit of a scramble and slight navigation before the summit could be reached. I managed to go up one way and without too much difficulties and, before too long, reached the trig point.
The guy heading in the other direction had told me that he found the trig point but couldn't see the Cairn. This started to worry me as there, only 30m or so away(seen Trig picture), was a massive cairn. Perhaps the clag had gotten better by the time I had reach the summit area.
Anyhow, I didn't think too much more about it at this point. I was happy with my ascent and also navigating a slightly different route past the scrambly part on the way down.
As I meandered down the path I kept watching for the other man descending from Stob Binnein. I also scoured the bealach but no sign yet. Ok. So I must have been quite fast and he didn't look particularly fast, so maybe I will reach the bealach before him, despite having the longer journey.
When I go the the bealach, I kept expecting to see him coming down the nice path from Stob Binnein but..... .nothing! I sat down and had a snack and a drink as I thought about the rest of my route for the day. The descent to the glen looked ok but I couldn't see any path. I am sure there must be one but the only visible one was heading the opposite direction from where I was going.
Still my "friend" didn't appear. Now I started to think it would have been a good idea to exchange phone numbers. I was beginning to worry. Still no sign on the horizon. What should I do? I had now been at the bealach 25 minutes and was thinking, maybe I should just head on my way as his track was easy and he should not have encountered trouble going up and down.
On the other hand, I could not live with myself if something had happened to him and I had just left him lying on a hill. I will wait a bit longer.
After another 10 or 15 minutes there was still no sign, so there was only one thing for it. I had to go up and check it out. I started up the hill again, keeping my eyes on the horizon. Sure enough after about 200m of walking he appeared on the horizon, emerging from the clag. I retreated back to the bealach, keen to hear what adventure he had encountered
When he arrived, I asked him how it was. He repied, "great!" He had an easy and pleasant walk. I then enquired about the timing. He revealed he enjoyed it so much he decided to sit down on the ridge and have a break and a "scotch egg"
I know exactly what I wanted to do with his scotch egg There I was, missing almost an hour from my day, waiting for him and he was sunning himself on the summit with his scotch egg. He didn't blink an eye or give a thought to me waiting there. Maybe just my selfish streak but I grabbed my pack and headed down the hill, kicking every tuft that I came across.
Now for the next part. My water was now low and the plan was to camp in glen Inverlochlarig bet not until I had reached the below the bealach between Beinn Tulaichean and Cruach Ardrain.
During the descent, heading for the large boulder (described in several WH walk reports) the day started to catch up with me. The early rise in Finland, the plane journey, the airport, the car journey and that heavy pack. The steps started to hurt and I could feel my fuel getting low. So I decided to camp at the first decent spot that I could find.
There is a slight ridge between the two halves of the glen running from north to south. I wanted to get, at least, over the ridge.
I stopped for water before the ridge in a free flowing burn coming off the side of Stob Binnein. This was a killer. The 2 liters for my dinner and breakfast took me to breaking point for the day. I stumbled over the ridge and onward, looking for a dry flat spot. There was plenty boggy ground and nothing away from the low lying marsh that was flat. Then I found an excellent pitch in a flat but raised spot. It didn't come a moment too soon.
I pitched my tent and started about making my dinner. Happy with my day's efforts and delighted to get the pack off.
I had my dinner then wandered around a bit taking some pictures. The sun was setting in the west, over the top of Stob Coire Bhuide but I would not see it, being so low down. However, I could see it hitting the ridge of Stob Binnein.
I was very satisfied with my location and my first trek to wild camping. Not the longest, not the most scenic, definitely not a summit camp but exactly what I has wanted for my first time.
I woke pretty early, about 06:30. The sleep was fairly good despite the wind flapping the tent most of the night. I never sleep well in tents, so I was quite satisfied with the gear and my pitch. I will learn to get the tent a little more tight though
I made myself some coffee and porridge for breakfast, packed up the tent and then the rucksack and left no trace at all.
The plan was now to head up to the bealach between Beinn Tulaichean and Cruach Ardrain, take the southern Munro first then Cruach Ardrain before heading over to Beinn a'Chroin.
The morning was fairly nice, although not as clear as yesterday. The mist was skirting around the summits but the walks were clear.
I headed down the glen before choosing my starting point to ascend the hill
The ascent seemed never ending. The bag was not bothering me today but the trudge up the hill was tough going until I hit flat area just before the final stretch to the bealach. Eventually the bealach was reached and I could get some views of both the of the Munros, in either direction.
The walk to the summit of Beinn Tulaichean was very pleasant and it was hard to think the effort from the bealach deserved to achieve a Munro (but I'll take it ).
When I reached the summit a met another loan walker coming from the Inverlochlarig. We exchanged pleasantries and discussed the weather. He informed me that the forecast for later in the day and especially tomorrow had taken a turn for the worse. It sounded really bad and not the weather that wanted to camp out in.
As we walked toward Cruach Ardrain, I could see my descent and re-ascent to Beinn a'Chroin. It looked awful. This, may have been alright on a normal hillwalking day, however, with the camping stuff and the weather forecast, I decided to leave the overnight and other 3 Munros for another time.
I proceeded up the track to Cruach Ardrain, enjoying the ascent without the big pack again. Going was easy although a thin clag was starting to spoil the views. I made my way up to the summit area, only to find it was a false summit and through the clag, I could just about make out the true summit. Another 2 or 3 minutes later I was at the cairn.
I returned to the bealach to pick up my bag, happy with my decision to head back to the car as the imminent weather front was closing in and the path (or lack of it) and re-ascent to Ben a'Chroin did not suit those conditions.
I made my way directly from the bealach toward the path in glen inverlochlarig. At some points it was easy to follow, in others it was just a matter of free-styling my way across the rough grass. Eventually making it to the track, it was then an easy trek back to Inverlochlarig farm and then to the car park. The weather held out for me until I got the car and back along the single track road to the main road toward Crianlarich.
All in all I was very happy with my camping experience but learned a lot about my pack (see in the Gear Forum). A couple of hours later the rain started and it did not stop for 3 days. Instead of wild camping, I checked into the Red Squirrel in Glen Coe and braved it out for a couple of nights but on the third day, I had to give up and move to the Hostel down the road. My tent was bone dry inside despite taking the soaking for almost 3 full days torrential rain. It couldn't have been a better test for my first wild camp in the dry and then the wet-test form my tent in the relative security of the campsite.
I am looking forward to the next camp and may try to get the courage to camp out on a summit.
by Mountainlove » Sat Mar 28, 2020 4:15 pm
by ScotFinn65 » Sat Mar 28, 2020 4:43 pm
Mountainlove wrote:I am glad you had such a great first experience! Had to laugh about the experience that the bag was heavy and the mountain looked steep... I think that everytime . The good thing is that at some point you get used to the weight. Well done for camping in heavy rain for 3 days... But your tent looks pretty roomy... Great choice. Hope you will have many more great day next time you visit Scotland!
Yes, l was very happy with the space. A 2 person tent is certainly needed for that amount of time. I was looking forward to July this year...... but who knows
by celt54321 » Sat Mar 28, 2020 5:57 pm
by ScotFinn65 » Thu Apr 02, 2020 6:48 pm
celt54321 wrote:Well done on your first wild camp,glad it was a good experience for you.was really looking forward to getting back to the hills proper this year,my last proper trip was with a guide on tower ridge....late august last year...alas its not to be..maybe you might be able to get out late on this saeson you never know..well done again.
Thanks..... celt54321............ I have booked to come over this summer and was hoping to do more. My plane is booked 1 July and much accommodation and airlines have basically cancelled until 30 June. So I just need to wait and see if this lock-down is extended or things clear in time (somehow doubt it). Good luck and Stay Safe!